Thursday, October 20, 2011

Memphis Beer Beat: Q&A with Andy Ashby pt. 2: A Critique of the Local Beer Scene

Posted By on Thu, Oct 20, 2011 at 3:46 PM

For those of you who missed the first post with Andy, he’s one of the founders/organizers of the Cooper Young Regional Beer Fest. Last week, we talked a bit about the condition of the local beer scene over a couple pints of the now award-winning Ghost River Copperhead Red.

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How do you see Memphis in terms of beer enthusiasm/advocacy...that sort of thing?

I think Memphis is an untapped market. There’s plenty of room for a craft brewery to set up here, but we’re not like a big city like New York or L.A. where you just run a bunch of advertisements. We’ve got a small town feel...everybody knows everybody. So you really need that in-person presence.

This is kind of like the frontier for beer. Like most things, trends begin at the coasts and make their way in, and [craft beer has] only recently begun hitting Memphis.

What will it take to continue that growth?

Hopefully someone will realize there’s enough room for another brewery or brewpub in Memphis. And we’ve been getting more beer-oriented bars opening. Once people can see that we can have two breweries, who knows where it’ll go. Take Nashville. Ten years ago, they may have only had Blackstone, now they’re scene is blowing up. I think people going over to Nashville bring that [enthusiasm] back [to Memphis].

I wish people cared about craft beer the way they do about college football teams. When I used to work at the [Flying] Saucer, I’d get people coming up to me to order a Budweiser or Bud Light, and I’m like, ‘Look, man, I’ve got 75 beers on tap and 125 different bottled beers behind me. You want to try something different?’ and they would just look at you so strangely.

I think the thing is if you’re, say, an Ole’ Miss guy, why wouldn’t you drink Lazy Magnolia, which is brewed in Kiln, MS? It just seems natural to me [to try local beer], instead of drinking the same thing all of the time. You can break the craft beer scene down to the regional level.

[There are 9 microbreweries and 15 brewpubs currently scattered throughout Tennessee, and nearly 20 breweries/brewpubs currently in the works, according to craftbeer.com]

Do you try to convert folks to craft beer?

You can’t come at people from a “you’re wrong, I’m right” kind of angle. I typically argue that, yeah, I really enjoy a good hamburger, but I also want to have a steak from time to time. Vary your life up a little bit.There’s more to life than light domestics.

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