If it seems like your pants have gradually shrunk a little in the last couple of years, the craft beer explosion in Nashville might be responsible for at least some of it.
Chris Chamberlain, author of the recently released Nashville Beer: A Heady History of Music City Brewing (American Palate 2014) walked us through a history of brewing in Nashville which began with a few small pre-Civil War breweries to the powerhouse Gerst Brewery to today’s impressive array of craft breweries, brew pubs, taprooms and beer tasting festivals. The insightful guide showcases the diverse backstories of the creative and hardworking folks who dedicate themselves to beer. If you love craft beer you will enjoy all that this resource offers.
As he immersed himself in the brewing community to research the book, Chris was impressed to discover that, much like the Nashville’s songwriting community, the people of our city’s beer culture have developed a close-knit and collaborative kinship whose members are willing to share knowledge, recipes, sources of ingredients and advice. The collective efforts are impressive. We’ve never had better beer than we have today.
Each beer offers a distinct personality, style and season, so getting familiar with our local beers and beer outposts, is a fun exercise, even if it requires a little exercise. Just strap on your Fitbit and get your steps in. The beers are worth it.
Some of the breweries with taprooms are food challenged so here’s one of our favorite snacks to go with your growler – pickled bologna. A jar of these, a plastic fork, fresh saltines, and a good beer glass and you’re living the Nashville craft brew dream.
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- 1 ½ cups distilled or cider vinegar
- ½ cup water
- 1 medium onion, cut into very thin slices
- 1 tablespoon pickling spice
- 1 tablespoon crushed red pepper
- 4 cloves garlic, crushed
- 6 bay leaves
- 1 pound ring bologna, thinly sliced (we use Boar’s Head Ring Bologna)
Combine the ingredients in a covered container so that the bologna is submerged in the liquid. Refrigerate at least one day.
Serve with plenty of fresh saltine crackers and a Nashville-brewed craft beer.
Have fun with the spice mix. Pickling spice substitutes include whole mustard seed, whole black peppercorns, whole allspice, or celery seed. For more heat add red pepper or hot pepper sauce.