Posted on: Wednesday - Dec 27, 2017

Posted by: Miles Hutcherson

Worldwide, when Tennessee comes up in conversation, the mind immediately gravitates to hand crafted whiskey, slow-cooked barbeque and the best music in America. They are woven into the fabric of our state and broadcast to the world, showing our contributions to American culture and quality craftsmanship.

However, when considering craftsmanship and culture in Tennessee, it would be foolish not to consider the booming craft brewing industry.

Since 2012, Tennessee’s brewing industry has grown eight times faster than the national average, and people are taking notice. Tennessee is now home to 66 craft breweries that produce over 250,000 barrels of beer a year. The recent surge in the industry has created opportunities for beer drinkers in Tennessee to buy local, and the response has been an annual economic impact of over $1 billion.  

The brewing industry’s contributions to Tennessee do not simply end with economic impact, they also have a significant cultural impact. Taprooms have opened across the state serving artisan food that pair with their beer selections, and many locations feature live music acts across a multitude of genres. These taprooms have become a Tennessee cultural hub where customers can drink, eat and listen local. 

Additionally, diverse beer lineups and a mission to serve different beer audiences has allowed breweries to feel comfortable collaborating with each other. This has created a culture where breweries can come together to test their best ideas and create an even higher quality product for customers.

We spoke with representatives from Mill Creek Brewing Company, TailGate Brewery and Wisacre Brewing Company to discuss the impact of the craft brewing industry in Tennessee.


Mill Creek Brewing Company

Mill Creek Brewing Company was founded in 2015 after a family trip to the Smoky Mountains sparked a love for craft beer in Chris Going’s family. Going decided, after years of home brewing, he would brew the beer for the family trip to the mountains. Chris brewed four beers for the trip that are now mainstays in the Mill Creek taproom: Farmhouse Ale, IPA, Lager, and Citrus-Infused Wheat Beer. The result was an overwhelming success that converted his family to Tennessee craft beer drinkers and ignited aspirations to found a brewery.

The brewery is located in historic Nolensville and has built a strong relationship with the community. The namesake, Mill Creek, is a tributary that branches off of the Cumberland River and runs only a few hundred yards behind the brewery.

The taproom always offers the four original beers on draft, and seasonal beers also appear on tap on a rotating basis. Visitors can play a multitude of free games the brewery offers, enjoy artisan food from Chago’s Cantina or simply lounge at the large communal style tables handmade by the founder of the brewery himself.

Mill Creek Brewing Company produces over 3,000 barrels of beer per year and in the next year they expect that output to double. Mill Creek is currently distributing across Tennessee, Alabama and Kentucky. To learn more about Mill Creek Brewing Company, visit their website.


TailGate Brewery 

TailGate Brewery was founded in 2007 in San Diego, California. Wesley Keegan started the brewery during the height of the recession as an ode to his father’s vision to open a brewery with that namesake. By 2014, TailGate was distributing to 14 states, but Wesley saw an opportunity in the Tennessee craft beer market and decided to move operations to Nashville.

When the Nashville headquarters opened in 2014, Keegan was the only employee. Currently, the brewery employs over 70 people and they have since opened a second location on Music Row. 

The beer selection at TailGate is expansive and welcoming to any type of beer or cider drinker, but there is one in particular that has caught the eye of those in Tennessee and across the pond. The Peanut Butter Milk Stout is TailGate’s most popular beer and is currently being distributed in Tennessee, Britain and Sweden. The international demand for the product has led to a brewery expansion and a new canning line capable of filling 200 cans per minute, 150 more than the average. The test brewery at TailGate alone is larger than most craft beer operations.  A large test brewery, and a rapid canning line allows them to create a diverse lineup of products that reach a wide audience. 

To learn more about TailGate Brewery, visit their website.


Wisacre Brewing Company

Wisacre was founded in 2013 by Davin and Kellan Barstoch after over 10 years of working in the brewing industry. Davin attended Doeman’s Academy, a brewing school in Germany, to develop his craft and brought that knowledge with him back to Memphis to set up shop. 

Since then, Davin has won five brewing awards for his work, which he incorporates at Wisacre.

Memphis was chosen as the ideal location for Wisacre due to the soft water. Similar to the limestone filtered streams that provide ideal water for whiskey in Tennessee, the soft water of Memphis is perfect for brewing beer.

That translates directly to high quality beer, which comes through in their most popular beer, Tiny Bomb. In less than five years, Wisacre has grown to distribute to nine states and as far as Chicago and New Jersey. Currently, Wisacre stands as the 133rd largest craft brewery in America, and is one of only four to be that large and founded in 2013 or later. The tremendous growth is a testament to the appetite in Tennessee for high quality, local beer.

The taproom features over 10 beers on draft, live music and food trucks. Visitors can enjoy local beer and food while listening to the sounds of Memphis. To learn more about Wisacre, visit their website.