Craft beer has caught Memphis by storm, and now small-batch breweries are popping up all over town.
Get the skinny on the latest local beers to hit the Bluff City, beer-related events and an itinerary that will ensure you don’t miss an ounce of suds.
Ghost River Brewing knows that “great water makes great beer” and in Memphis we are lucky enough to have an ample supply. Ghost River beer is made from water that has trickled through the Wolf River into the Ghost River wetlands and finally into the Memphis Sands Aquifer. Through the long journey the water becomes soft, mineral free and ripe for beer making.
Ghost River make 3 beers available all year - Golden Ale, Copperhead Red and Glacial Pale Ale. Depending on the season, you can also find an additional beer added to their stacked lineup.
The award-winning Copperhead Red goes great with anything off the grill, especially hamburgers or steak. Originally brewed exclusively for the Memphis Redbirds, this caramel, malty-flavored beer was the winner of the 2011 GABF Silver Medal and is now available throughout Memphis.
Peek behind the velvet curtain and watch the story of the water that goes into making great Ghost River beer.
Owners and brothers Davin and Kellan Bartosch are living the dream. Their small taproom and brewery on Broad Avenue makes beer on a 20 BBL JV Northwest Brewhouse (the finest American made brewing equipment) and is the first craft brewery in Tennessee to can their beer.
Try the Tiny Bomb, an American Pilsner that is made with German and American pilsner malt and spiked with local wildflower honey. Tiny Bomb won a bronze medal at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival (GABF) competition. Their Ananda IPA (Indian Pale Ale) has a velvety texture with notes of citrus. Wiseacre also offers seasonal beers, which get switched out every few months.
Wiseacre gives tours on Saturdays at noon through reservation. Tours last about 45 minutes, are capped at 40 people, and are first come, first served. $10 gets you a 45 minute in-depth tour and a take home taster glass.
The taproom is open Thursday and Friday 4 - 9 p.m and Saturday 1- 9 p.m. for a taste or to pick up a growler to go. Note that Wiseacre is credit card only, no cash is accepted at this establishment.
High Cotton Brewing Company
The name High Cotton doesn’t just pay homage to the brewer’s southern roots, but also the way they pick their ingredients and the painstaking trial and error process.
Try their Siason, a refreshing summertime beer with citrusy hops and a little black pepper spice. Or order the Scottish Ale, a malty deep amber beer that will take you back to the land of kilts and bagpipes.
The taproom at High Cotton is located at 598 Monroe Ave., just a short walk South of the Orleans trolley stop on the Madison (yellow) line. Check their website for hours and a current list of beers available. High Cotton also self-distributes their beer at various restaurants around Memphis.
Memphis Made is a small production brewery located in the vibrant Cooper-Young neighborhood of Memphis. The tap room at Memphis Made is open every Friday from 4 - 9 p.m and every Saturday from 1 p.m. - 9 p.m. You can also sample their beers at bars and eateries throughout Memphis, including the Flying Saucer, Central BBQ, Young Ave Deli and The Growler Memphis.
The Parkways Pale Ale gets its name from the parkway system that set early boundaries for the city. This American pale ale combine Nugget and Delta hops which come together to make a spicy and slightly sweet brew.
Planning your beer weekend
If you’re planning to visit Memphis and sample some of our great craft beer, you may need a little assistance. Check out the itinerary below to get your fill of beer and the great culture and history of Memphis.
Start your evening fun at the Wiseacre taproom. Grab a Tiny Bomb, and if the weather cooperates, sit outside on the patio. Wiseacre doesn’t serve food, but have no fear. Just down the street on Broad Avenue is Maximo's on Broad.
For a nightcap, roam the Cooper-Young neighborhood and hit up Young Ave Deli. The deli has a wide selection of brews, bands and billiards. They also serve High Cotton beer which we raved about above. If Young Ave Deli is too crowded for your taste, jump the corner to Hammer & Ale, a craft beer lover's paradise serving over 20 craft beers on tap.
You can’t come to Memphis without taking in some of our music history. Cruise on over to Sun Studio. In that small building right on the edge of Downtown Memphis, greats like Elvis Presley, Johnny Cash, Carl Perkins and Roy Orbison planted the roots of rock ‘n’ roll. Tours last roughy 45 minutes and are well worth the $12 admission.
Just down the street from Sun Studio is the High Cotton Brewing Company. Every Saturday the tap room at High Cotton opens at 2 p.m for thristy music fans. High Cotton has a great lineup of seasonal beers. Sample them all.
The Pyramid Vodka tasting room (open Wednesday - Friday 2 p.m. - 5 p.m. and Saturday 10 a.m. - 2 p.m.) gives 30 minute tours of their distillery. See the full process and sample this local vodka. For more information about the tasting room, see the Pyramid Vodka website.
In Memphis, we go crazy for our sports teams. Whether it’s The University of Memphis football at Liberty Bowl Memorial Stadium, the Memphis Redbirds (Triple-A affiliate of the St. Louis Cardinals) at AutoZone Park or the NBA’s Memphis Grizzlies at FedExForum, you’re bound to find a game going on. Our suggestion? Pick your poison and get ready for some fast-paced, hard-hitting, one-on-one, sports-loving action.
Hog & Hominy is perfect for dinner. The small, East Memphis restaurant is what happens when you cross southern soul with Italian heritage - foodies and critics love it. Try a John T. Edge burger or a cheddar dog with a Ghost River beer and life is good. Delizioso y’all!
For your after dinner evening adventures, go hear live music on famed Beale Street. Named by USA Today as “Best Iconic American Street.” You won’t necessarily find many craft beers on Beale, but you will find live music and entertainment creeping out of every corner and crevice, screaming “Come on in!”
For a little more mellow vibe, venture to the Flying Saucer in Downtown Memphis. They know just a little thing about beer. While there, tell the bartender you want a Memphis Made Parkways Pale Ale.
A little hair of the dog will cure whatever trouble you may have gotten into on Beale. Dial up brunch at Boscos Squared in Overton Square. Chuck Skypeck started Boscos in the mid-1990s. The Boscos Famous Flaming Stone, brewed right on site, is always cold and always on tap (so are four other handcrafted beers).
Overton Square provides plenty of shopping and entertainment opportunities. Take in an indie movie at Studio on the Square, stroll through the shops or head just a short distance north for the Memphis Zoo and Memphis Brooks Museum of Art.
Beer festivals and events
- Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest - Each fall, about 20-30 small, craft brewers gather for a one-day regional beer festival in Midtown Memphis. The event planners really focus on making sure you’re not standing in line all day, so they typically cap the number of tickets that are sold. Hear Q&A with the titans of industry and taste 80-100 perfect pours.
- Memphis Brewfest - Beers, breweries and enthusiasts from the region gather in Downtown Memphis each spring for a sampling of fresh beers of all colors, styles and tastes. Beer tasting is included with your ticket price and the organizers typically limit the number of attendees so everyone gets a taste. See the website for times and locations. http://www.memphisbrewfest.com/
- Zoobrew - At the Memphis Zoo twice a year during Memorial and Labor Day weekends, Zoobrew lets you mix and mingle alongside a lion, giraffe and gorilla.
- Art on Tap - Dixon Gallery and Gardens throws an annual event featuring local and regional beers from Wiseacre, High Cotton Brewing, Abita, Goose Island, Yazoo, and more. Food from local restaurants and live music are included with your ticket price.