Nov 24, 2021

Axios Nashville

Happy Wednesday, and happy Thanksgiving in advance! We will return with our next newsletter on Monday.

  • Today's weather: 59 degrees, partly sunny and breezy. Thursday will have a high of 50, and rain is likely.

Situational awareness: Nashville SC advanced in the MLS playoffs with a win over Orlando.

Today's newsletter is 791 words — a 3-minute read.

1 big thing: Beer nerds brace for Black Friday

People wait in line for Bourbon County beers in Austin, Texas in 2013. Photo: Rick Kern/Getty Images for Goose Island

By sunrise on Black Friday, shoppers thirsty for a once-a-year deal will begin to line up in front in front of select Nashville liquor stores across the city.

  • It's part of a relatively new tradition that has turned Black Friday into a national beer holiday.
  • The object of suds nerds' affection is rare beers — mostly barrel-aged high alcohol stouts.

What's happening: In addition to special beers from Nashville breweries, the headliner is the annual Bourbon County series by the Chicago brewery Goose Island, which launched the Black Friday tradition.

Why it matters: Benjamin Hale, beer buyer at south Nashville's Craft Brewed, says Black Friday is the shop's best-selling day of the year.

  • "Bourbon County created this whole situation with it being a day for barrel-aged beers and stouts in general," Hale tells Axios.

The latest: Following Goose Island's lead with the Bourbon County series, several Nashville breweries have joined in with special Black Friday releases. Hale says Blackstone, Southern Grist, and Bearded Iris are among the local breweries with unique releases on Black Friday.

How it works: People will start lining up at 6am, perhaps earlier, Hale says.

  • "It's a lot of dudes, a lot of middle-aged guys. It's not necessarily a youngish crowd."
  • Craft Brewed will open its tasting room at 8am, giving drinkers a chance to try a Bourbon County variety on draft and get a ticket to buy bottles. Shoppers are limited to one bottle per variety and availability varies from store to store.

The bottom line: "It's definitely a party," Hale says. "In past years we've had DJs. This year we're doing a pop-up with Brave Idiot hot chicken. It's a fun environment."

2. Biggest beer release of the year is all about the barrels

Goose Island Bourbon County Blanton's Stout. Photo provided by Goose Island Brewing Company

For this year's Bourbon County beers, Chicago's Goose Island is returning to what made the brewery the OG in the first place: its barrels.

What to know: Bourbon County Brand Stout easily ranks as the most widely anticipated beer release each year, writes John Frank, our resident beer nerd at Axios Denver.

What's new: The 2021 lineup features the original stout — the first-ever bourbon-barrel-aged beer — and seven limited-edition variants.

  • The beers are winning rave reviews for the refined wood and spirit characteristics imparted by the barrels from distilleries that include Old Forester, Blanton's, and Elijah Craig.

💭 John's thought bubble: In a virtual tasting with Goose Island's beer wizards, three editions of this year's Bourbon County stouts stood out:

  • Bourbon County Stout: The original this year is the best I remember, with strong baker's chocolate and vanilla notes that make it silky. It's also intentionally lower in alcohol at 14%.
  • Reserve Blanton's: The beer rested for 18 months in barrels that once held the much-hyped Blanton's Original Single Barrel Bourbon. A sip reveals a maple note that compliments the oak and tobacco flavors.
  • Double Barrel Toasted Barrel: The expression of the barrels from Elijah Craig barrels is more prominent than any other variant and features rich flavors of marshmallow and dark fruit.
3. The Setlist

Illustration: Brendan Lynch/Axios

🎤 Jimmie Allen and Mickey Guyton were among the Nashville artists to receive Grammy Award nominations on Tuesday. (The Tennessean)

🥼 A Hendersonville company has earned $55 million from a no-bid state contract to do contact tracing. (Tennessee Lookout)

🎓 The state announced 88.7% of students graduated on time this year, down slightly from the year before. (Tennessee Department of Education)

4. Metro wins sidewalk lawsuit

Illustration: Maura Losch/Axios

Metro quietly scored a crucial legal victory last week in a long-running dispute over the landmark sidewalk legislation that became law in 2017.

Why it matters: The court ruling defending Councilmember Angie Henderson's legislation means a stricter sidewalk requirement for developers will remain in place.

  • The sidewalk law requires home builders with developments on or near busy roads to either build new sidewalks or pay into a paving fund.

Driving the news: Led by libertarian think tank Beacon Center, plaintiffs sued the city last year seeking to throw out the law, calling it too onerous.

  • Federal judge Aleta Trauger sided with Metro last week.

What they're saying: Henderson tells Axios that Nashville is "woefully behind on walkable infrastructure due to a lack of sidewalk requirements for over 70 years."

  • "This was watershed legislation for Nashville's built environment, and when you deliver a county-wide land-use policy improvement like this, there will be some hiccups and unhappy people," Henderson says.

The other side: Beacon Center director of litigation Jason Coleman tells Axios an appeal to the Sixth Circuit is coming.

  • "This lawsuit boils down to property rights," Coleman says. "If Metro Nashville wants to solve its sidewalk problem, Metro should pay for them, rather than forcing private property owners to build them or pay into a fund for sidewalks that are built nowhere near their home."

Our picks:

🦃 Nate is thankful for his sisters Melissa and Janis who will be in Nashville this Thanksgiving.

🛫 Adam is hitting the road to visit with his boyfriend Forrest's family. Please send reading recommendations for the plane.

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