In Memphis, you don’t have to be a beer snob to appreciate locally crafted brews. One sip and you get it: Memphis craft beer tastes good. By the bottom of your glass, you realize a few more things: You’re getting an authentic taste of the city, you’re surrounded by locals, and you’re in a really cool neighborhood. That’s Memphis’s craft beer scene. Here's how to enjoy it.
1. Order Local
The question “What’s on tap?” has evolved into “Whad’ya have that’s local?” From Downtown to East Memphis, your restaurant server or bartender will be ready with an answer that includes at least one of the following: Ghost River, High Cotton, Memphis Made, Wiseacre, Crosstown, Meddlesome, Grind City, Hampline, Beale Street Brewing.
2. Hang at a Microbrewery
Eight of Memphis’ nine breweries offer taprooms where you can enjoy their latest creations:
High Cotton Brewing Co.
At High Cotton Brewing Co., take your pick from 10 beers on tap. You can’t go wrong with the Belgian Golden Ale, Porter or Hefeweizen. Whatever you sip, it’ll be solid—the guys behind High Cotton came up together as the geekiest of home brewers, and they’re meticulous about quality. High Cotton repurposes a carriage house that’s at least a century old, so along with your drink, you’ll get your fill of reclaimed wood and exposed brick. Grab a seat inside or on the patio, choose a board or card game if you’re so inclined, and settle in.
Crosstown Brewing Co.
Just outside the vertical urban village, Crosstown Concourse, you’ll find Crosstown Brewing Co. With over a dozen beers on tap — from the refreshing Terraplane pilsner to the sweet Solstice Mint Chocolate Stout to the fruity Animal Frequency IPA — Crosstown Brewing’s selection will impress the pickiest of beer connoisseurs. With regular food trucks and free delivery from Concourse restaurants, this taproom is perfect for weekend hangouts.
Ghost River Brewing Co.
Spend the day at Ghost River, located downtown on Beale Street and in the South Main Arts District. Ghost River Brewing Co.’s South Main Street taproom features indoor and outdoor space, including an excellent patio. Pick from a selection of 11 brews on tap, like Grindhouse, an American-style cream ale; Rocket 88 oatmeal stout and the malty, barrel-aged Dom’s Magic. Plus, food trucks stop by every weekend so you can pair your beer with some tasty grub.
Meddlesome Brewing Company
If you’re in the Cordova area, a stop at Meddlesome Brewing Company is a must. With 10 craft concoctions on tap, like the 201 Hoplar West Coast IPA and She Devil Belgian golden ale, Meddlesome’s taproom has quickly become a local-favorite watering hole. Plus, the house-made cream soda and root beer offer good non-alcoholic options. While the taproom doesn’t serve food, local food trucks make regular stops outside the location. Check the brewery’s calendar for the upcoming food truck schedule.
Memphis Made Brewing Co.
At Memphis Made Brewing Co., expect a different experience every visit. Fireside, a malty amber ale, and the Junt cream ale are among four offerings on tap year-round. The surprise comes in discovering what limited releases are on tap—maybe Memphis as Truck, a coffee stout brewed in collaboration with French Truck Coffee. All told, you’ll find a variety of selections on tap and ample space to hang. Memphis Made’s taproom is a warehouse that’s opened its bays wide, inviting you in for a seat at the cozy bar or a game of corn hole or giant Jenga. Kids are welcome.
Grind City Brewing Co.
Grind City Brewing Co. is one of Memphis' newer brewery-taprooms. Located in Uptown (just north of Downtown Memphis), the taproom offers a casual indoor drinking space that leads to a sprawling outdoor area. Post up at a picnic table for views of Bass Pro Shops at the Pyramid and the Hernando de Soto Bridge, and grab a brew, like the Viva Las Lager honey lager or The Godhopper hazy IPA.
At Wiseacre Brewing, order taster-size glasses or pints of the seven to 10 beers on tap, a combination of the brewery’s year-round selections and seasonal and specialty brews. As the brothers behind this brewery traveled and worked extensively in the U.S. and Europe to hone their craft, expect a creative, globally informed selection. Yet it’s Wiseacre’s Tiny Bomb, an American Pilsner sweetened with local wildflower honey, that won over judges at the 2014 Great American Beer Festival. Plus, this local favorite just opened a second taproom in downtown Memphis, where you can enjoy their classic brews and Little Bettie pizza from renowned chefs Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman.
Hampline Brewing Company
Memphis recently welcomed Hampline Brewing Company to town. Certified Master Brewer Wes Osier focuses on bringing new brewing styles to Memphis, which shows in the brewery’s unique beers. From the Memphis Natch lager and Le Lazer saison to the Average Bear blackberry sour gose, you’ll want to try them all. The taproom features indoor seating as well as a patio and picnic area perfect to enjoy food truck fare paired with Hampline’s expertly crafted beer.
3. GET TO A BREWPUB
Before the craft beer boom, there had to be a pioneer. In Memphis, that’s Boscos Restaurant and Brewing Co. Boscos began brewing small-batch beer in the early 1990s, making it the first brewpub in Memphis—and in all of Tennessee. Through the years, Boscos’s beers have earned several national awards. What’s the best way to taste them? Request a patio table at Boscos Squared brewpub, with a view of buzzy Overton Square. Order a flight of beer featuring award-winners like the Flaming Stone—its caramel profile is created by the immersion of hot stones during the brewing process. Boscos’s menu is full of bright salads and wood-fired pizzas that pair perfectly with each microbrew—ask your server for recommendations.
4. FIND A TAP ROOM
The beer-tasting equivalent of “playing the field,” sipping in a tap room gives you the option to check out several locally-made beers before (or without) committing to one. Locally owned Hammer & Ale features microbrews from Memphis and beyond on 24 taps, and serves a menu that’s small but well-crafted with house-made specialties. Find it in Memphis’s Cooper-Young neighborhood. Downtown Memphis is home to Flying Saucer Draught Emporium. The chain tap room offers some-200 selections, including local brands.
5. MAKE BEER YOUR SOUVENIR
Have extra room in your hotel mini-fridge? Note that breweries in Memphis, tap rooms, liquor stores and some grocery stores sell 6- and 12-packs of local craft beer, like Space Age Sippin, It's 901 Somewhere and Love & Hoppiness from Beale Street Brewing Company, one of the city's newest breweries.