The Volunteer State was really getting crafty on Saturday at the first annual Guild Fest!
Hosted by Little Harpeth Brewing, there were more than 20 Tennessee breweries on hand featuring a variety of beer styles, including quite a few limited-release beers. This event benefited The Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild, which is a non-profit organization that promotes and represents professional brewers throughout the state.
The beer festival took place on a chilly day, but there was so much great local beer, live bands, food trucks and more going on, the weather was hardly a detractor. There was a great crowd in attendance who appreciated specialty beers.
Some of the highlighted beers included Yazoo’s Sue infused with cherries, Wiseacre’s Kerfluffle oatmeal stout, Jackalope’s The Dark Knight chocolate porter cask conditioned beer, Calfkiller’s All Hallows Ale pumpkin beer and many more! If you didn’t attend the festival, you really missed out, since many of these beers were one-time-only offerings.
Even though many of my favorite breweries were participants, I made quite a few new friends throughout the evening.
During the beer festival, I spoke with Mallory Siler, who is a volunteer working to promote the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild.
Please tell me a little about making preparations for Guild Fest.
– “This was such an interesting project to be involved with, just because it was banding together with these guys who make these great crafts. So, how do you really begin to start marketing an event like this, where it’s kind of a one-stop shop, kind of thing? Once we decided to do the festival, we started seeking out sponsors and realized these breweries have such a love for their craft, it was really easy to start signing people up.”
How was this location chosen?
– “Nashville was a good base to start with, because I think the majority of brewers are here, but also Little Harpeth has such great views of the city. We back right up to the skyline. Knowing what we needed, in terms of space, and then also just from aesthetic purposes, having the Nashville skyline… it kind of just made sense.”
Will Guild Fest have rotating locations in future years?
– “We don’t know. I think that’s still up for debate. At some point, we would like it to rotate in different cities, but it could be back in Nashville next year or Memphis or some other place.”
How would you sum up working with the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild?
– “It’s been such a great experience. I’m just a volunteer, but everyone has been so welcoming. It really has been just like an extended family. I really understand what’s it’s like to be in this community — even from an outsider, who’s not associated with a specific brewery. It’s been a blast. I can’t wait for next year’s festival.”
After the fest ended, I got a quick interview with Little Harpeth Brewing’s Head Brewer Steve Scoville (pictured left).
How was your Guild Fest experience?
– “I think everybody had a good time and that’s a success. It doesn’t matter what the numbers say. If everybody who participated had a good time, then it was a good beer festival.”
“We worked hard, over a period of three or four months, to put it together. It’s the first time that we’ve done this, for the guild. It’s the first time I’ve ever been involved in organizing a beer festival. A lot of great people helped us out: Mallory Siler, Kellan Bartosch, Linus Hall, Bailey Spaulding… a lot of people were part of this, it just happened to be put together in our backyard.”
What would you like to see for future Guild Fests?
– “We would like to see Guild Fests in Memphis, Knoxville, Chattanooga in the Tri-Cities area and again in Nashville because the Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild represents all of the breweries across the state and we need to get the message out to the consumers that we’re dedicated to providing good, quality products and great experiences for all the people of Tennessee.”
Do you think Guild Fest will return to Nashville next year?
– “I would like for us to have a festival experience in each of those locations, each year. It would be nice to figure out how to make that happen, because that would allow the Brewers Guild to start getting together the resources to go to the folks in the public arena, our legislatures, our lawmakers and so forth and try to work with them, to bring about positive change, for the consumers in Tennessee, related to beer and related beverages.”
Would you be interested in hosting another beer festival at Little Harpeth?
– “Hell yes.”
At the end of the evening, I caught up with Little Harpeth Brewing’s Founder Michael Kwas (pictured right) to get his festival feedback.
How does it feel to host a beer festival at your brewery?
– “It’s a huge honor, just because there’s so many other people in the state of Tennessee who have been making great beer for a long time and we’ve been trying to operate a business for maybe six months. To have that fortune and privilege to have people want to show up to our backyard and throw a party together, that’s a huge compliment.”
What are your thoughts about Guild Fest?
– “I think it went very well. We had a lot of people show up and a lot of people were really excited about the beers that were present. My favorite part, personally, was drinking beer from breweries that are not normally available in this area. You know, often, you will go to beer festivals and the beer that you drink is available at the bar or the store down the street. But with this, we get everybody together from across the entire state, breweries that are from far and away and everywhere in between and we give them one-day distribution deals and they’re available here.”
“My rule, today, as I was working the Little Harpeth booth: I am not drinking Little Harpeth beer. There is no excuse for that. So, I got to drink beer from Memphis, Tullahoma, Knoxville and everywhere in between. That’s what made it fun for me.”
Would you be willing to travel to another city for the next Guild Fest?
– “Oh, Hell yeah. The next one should not be in Nashville. It should be somewhere else. You know, we just did it here because Linus from Yazoo started the Guild and it was logistically easy. The next one probably shouldn’t be in Nashville. It’s not about the middle of the state, it’s about everybody in the entire state. It’s going to be a little ball, bouncing around, for a long time.”
Will Little Harpeth release a winter seasonal this year?
– “We’re going to try to release a winter seasonal by mid December, which will be a version of our Doppelbock, which normally weighs in about 10 percent, but we’re going to bump her down to about 6.2 and then put some food ingredients in there. I think we’ve experimented with allspice, cinnamon, nutmeg and ginger. I had a couple sommelier buddies come over and dabble with mixing those food ingredients, but the goal is to have our Doppelbock with a winter-spice aromatic nature about it, but it’ll drink like beer. It won’t drink like a bowl of potpourri. Hopefully, we’ll pull that off by mid-December.”
For More Information:
– Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild Website
– Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild Facebook
– Little Harpeth’s Website
– Little Harpeth’s Facebook
– Little Harpeth’s Twitter
– Little Harpeth’s Untappd