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i>August, 2001

By Bobby Bush

Just past Bohannon Brewing in downtown Nashville and around a corner, I was greeted by a store side sign proclaiming 99 beers. So down a dank stairwell we trod into Beer Sellar. Yes indeed, there were at least 99 beers. Fifty of those were on tap. Darts, pool tables and plenty of seating, this five year old pub really knows beer. As did our cute, outgoing bartender Jenny.

Scanning the tap handles mounted two high on the bar back, we spied Spaten Munich, Starapramen Pilsner, Redhook ESB, Anchor Steam, Pyramid Hefe, Fling Down, Sierra Nevada Porter, Arrogant Bastard, Bass, Tennetís, Boddington and Abitaís Purple Haze. Only three taps were out, not a bad ratio. About the only new beer to these bloodshot eyes was Gerst, a beer originally brewed in Nashville, according to Jenny, and now made in Pittsburgh. With time for only one beer before moving on, I chose the potent Belgian Maresous 8. As expected it was sweet with hints of pickled beets and a dry sugary finish. Beer Sellar is indeed a wondrous beer cellar/seller.

Just a few blocks away, across the street from the Frist Museum, we discovered another 76 beers on tap. Part of a chain of multi-tap beer houses, Flying Saucer (thereís one in Raleigh) had a back bar of shiny pennies and taps sporting the likes of Rogue, Abita, Sierra Nevada, Pyramid and many many imports. Plates (saucers) decorated the ceiling and walls. I selected a Salvator dopplebock. A heavy, deep copper-hued German lager, it was smooth and tempting with sugary caramel malt flavor. Talking with the bartender, we learned that the only local beers on tap were actually leftovers from New Knoxville Brewing, a microbrewery that had been out of business for at least four months. Surprisingly, neither New Knoxville XX nor Mild were showing the effect of age. But since they were hiding behind Rogue tap handles, the UFO patrons were oblivious to its existence.

One thing garnered from the experience of these two Nashville beer bars: if you want locally brewed beer, go to a brewpub.

So thatís exactly what we did for dinner. We headed to Boscos Nashville Brewing Company. Situated near a huge hospital and Vanderbilt University, Boscos has been abrewing since 1992. Almost ten years later, itís still humping.

Every week day, a lucky happy-hour patron wins the right to drive a spigot into a pin of cask-conditioned ale. Though we missed the 5:30 cellarmaster ceremony, the Isle of Skye Scottish Ale still left in the small keg, served at room temp, was smooth, foamy and sultry in almost a feminine manner. From a wide curved bar we tried the others as well. Award-winning Famous Flaming Stone Bier, brewed using a traditional German technique, was golden clear. Smooth and subtly sweet with minty aftertaste, this was one great session brew. A 1997, 2000 and 2001 Real Ale Fest medalist, IPA opened with an inviting fruity flavor and texture which quickly subsided revealing intense hop bitterness from mid-mouth onward. A lagered German ale, dark copper Germantown Alt was bittersweet like dark chocolate, finishing quickly, while the draft version of Isle of Skye revealed more chocolate than its cask counterpart. Edís Porter, a London style reddish brown porter, was honey blessed creating a malty near-addictive taste.

Brewer Fred Scheer, whoís been in that position for just over a year, also crafts a few specials/seasonals in his upstairs brewery. Boscos Tennessee Cream Ale had a slick, light mouthfeel, i.e. a good summer drink. A ďsuper premium version of [the] normally brewed Alt beer,Ē Boscos Smoky Alt was darker and richer than Boscosí regular Alt. It was so good that, unfortunately, my glass was empty before I got the total effect. Brewed with Tennessee wildflower honey, Boscos Honey Rye was a pleasant sipping beer but I found no hint of rye. Unusual for a brewpub, Boscos also bottle conditions several ales. Per state law, they must be consumed on the premises. Drat!

Boscosí smoked duck spring roll appetizer and Moroccan spiced venison chops provided fitting accompaniment for such an amazing array of beer. Hey, thereís no way you can go wrong with Boscos.

Come along for another great Nashville brewpub, Blackstone
.

This article first appeared in Focus, a weekly paper published in Hickory, North Carolina.

© Bobby Bush

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