On Friday, November 13th, Mantra Artisan Ales held its grand opening and welcomed customers into its Franklin, Tennessee brewery. Guests were welcomed to try the different spice-infused craft-beer selections and by looking at the snaking line of customers that led from the bar and out the front door, spilling into the parking lot and remaining there throughout the evening, they were enjoying what they were drinking, continuously coming back for more.
Currently open five days a week (Wednesday through Sunday), Mantra’s taproom offers an incredible selection of beer styles. Customers can expect at least 10 different taps to be available at any given time, in addition to the brewery’s seasonal offerings and nitro coffee. Original craft sodas will soon be added to that list as well, along with unique packaged snacks of the brewery’s global munchie bar that were hand selected by Chef Maneet, both of which are created at the brewery. Visitors can soon expect an upcoming food menu, which is currently in the planning stages, to be available in 2016.
After being open for business for one week, the brewery hosted a media mixer event, where founders Maneet Chauhan, Derrick Morse, Vivek Deora and Kaleigh Morse discussed the brewery’s vision and craft-beer offerings that are currently being served at the taproom and available to go from the growler-filling station. Brewer Chad Frost was the only business partner missing, who was conducting a tap takeover at a nearby bar.
Derrick Morse admitted that brewing 14 different beers and putting them on tap within 45 days was a bit of a rush, but ultimately, it was a successful venture. Looking ahead, you can expect to see quite a few additional sour beers appearing on the beer menu, in the near future.
Several Flagship Beers:
– Battleground: Pays homage to the Battle of Franklin, but also refers to the multi fermentation of two yeast strains.This light beer has a little spicy characteristic on the back end and just happens to be Derrick’s lawnmower beer.
– Nouveau: This is basically a Belgian session beer. Its medium-sized body reveals a plum-raisin characteristic and a banana-clove flavor, with
a taste of toffee on the back end that’s not very high in alcohol. This is Derrick’s favorite beer style.
– Saffron IPA: This is the beer that started the idea for the brewery. With the price of Saffron being around $300 per ounce, this was the most expensive beer that Derrick has ever brewed. Its flavor profile includes a taste similar to a shortbread cookie with citrus and floral characteristics, which pairs well with extremely spicy foods.
– Japa: This milk Chai stout is extremely viscous, getting the roasted chocolate colors from its dark malts and a Chai tea flavor on the back end. It is served served both on CO2 and nitro (which gives more of a flavor characteristic like a cask beer). Easily one of my favorite dark beers, ever.
Other craft-beer offerings include a rotating Randall, ReinCownation, Citra Saison, Tart la Blanche, Sun Salutation, Summer Salt, Tamarind Pucker and Revolutionary.
The journey for Vivek and Maneet to open a brewery began in a friend’s New Jersey garage, while they tried to pair wine with Indian food, before ultimately deciding beers paired better. When meeting Derrick, they immediately knew they had the same mindset for creating great spice-infused beers. Derrick and Kayleigh have been in the beer industry for almost seven years now, having contemplated opening a brewery for a long time. Offering eclectic, fun beer flavors, they view their brewery as a hub for business and for the community.
Each of the founders was gracious to give me a few minutes of their time to ask them a few questions about Mantra Artisan Ales:
Please tell about your future plans or dreams for Mantra Artisan Ales.
– “This brewery was my dream, come true. We couldn’t be more ecstatic. I always wanted to do it. Maneet and I moved here from New York and we were working with a brewer from New York, but then, as karma would have it, our son was born here, on the day we opened our restaurant in The Gulch.
When he was born here, it gave us ample time to get used to the place. We started loving Tennessee and Nashville, so we moved here.”
“Mantra is a globally inspired boutique brewery. We provide highly intellectually provocative offerings to the people. They are unique in their own right. We would like to go regional by the end of the coming year. The state of Tennessee will be covered by February or March and then we’ll hit the neighboring states by the end of next year. I have a background where I spent a lot of time running a chain of restaurants between Singapore, Indonesia and China, and I have a lot of people reaching out to me now, because craft beer is a craze, worldwide. Those are some dreams — if you want to call them plans, great — but those are the dreams.”
As a fan of spicy foods, discuss marrying spices with beers and future possible combinations.
– “Derrick and I have often spoken, and what we have right now, the Sun Salutation, is a mango-chili beer. It’s phenomenal. It’s got the acidity and the freshness of the fruit and the chili’s actually a combination of primarily habaneros and a bunch of different other peppers. So, we juiced them, and then we induced the chili juice at the last level. So, it’s a fruit-forward beer, with a back heat. I do want to work with Derrick on getting some of the Trinidad scorpion and ghost peppers, anything which is 1.4 million to 2.5 million Scoville Units is what we’d like to work with. It’s in the process. We’ll soon surprise everybody, once we come out with it by the end of this year.”
What does Mantra mean to you?
– “What’s your mantra? A mantra for success, a mantra for reaching your dreams, a mantra for stars aligning together allowing you to contribute and give back. To give you an idea, we are giving 10 cents back for every pint we pour of Battleground to the Battlefield Society. We are starting off with the taproom and we’ll see how it goes, with bottling.”
“My mantra: Thank God for beer. Cheers.”
What did you think about the grand opening?
– “I loved the grand opening. We had an excellent opening night. We had excellent opening weekend. All these tap takeovers are going great. I don’t really know, exactly, what we’ve done to deserve this, but I’m not going to look a gift horse in the mouth. It’s just good stuff.”
What does Mantra mean to you?
– “We wanted to make it a holistic, green, very yogi, very kind of Boulder. I grew up in Boulder, my wife grew up in Denver. We grew up believing the environment is very important. We want to represent that with in not only brand, but also our logo and the way we do business. When people see our package design, it’s going to have a very warm feeling to it. Two of the five members of the company are female. We very much want to embrace the fact that we are multicultural, that we have various different degrees from the molecular biology side, all the way to the hospitality side.”
“How do we marry all that into one cultural feel? We felt that our logo almost embodies all five of us into one beautiful logo that is easily identifiable and has an upward feeling. If you look at the logo, you see the lotus flower pointing up, the hop cone pointing up and the yogi in his lotus pose pointing up, meaning growth. This brewery is an ability for me to show my roots, of where I grew up. Mantra gives me an ability to express that, but in a way that isn’t overtly ‘Let’s hug trees.’ We’re making beer. It’s not quite as holistic as everyone thinks it is.”
What were your thoughts about the grand opening?
– “I am extraordinarily overwhelmed with the amount of love, support and community that we received from the people of Nashville, the hipsters of East Nashville, to our new neighbors we’re choosing to build our family with. Everyone is utterly surprised and it’s one of the few times I’m speechless.”
What does Mantra mean to you?
– “For our family, it’s to be present in the moment and that’s the most basic ingredient of our beer, along with the atmosphere of our taproom. We want people to come here to celebrate togetherness, celebrate community and to enjoy the love and attention that was brought to the beer and the space, creating a relaxing, new environment.”
To what do you attribute the booming craft-beer scene of Nashville?
– “Nationally, the craft-beer market — even on what can be perceived as a wide scale — is really a small community. We’re good friends with people in Colorado, in Asheville and on the West Coast. Everyone is growing, supporting each other. The boom, right now, in Nashville, kind of piggybacks the foodie scene, all the chefs coming here and the restaurant explosion, which is blowing up the scene with flavor and ideas that have never previously been here, begs for pairings with craft beer. I think Phase 2 is coming, where transplants like Derrick and myself and other breweries are opening, where the kids are getting into town, getting their toes wet, being a little more radical than the parents, but so grateful and interconnected with everyone. Obviously, my background is with Black Abbey and to have the love and support system from them from the ground up, having seen what they’ve encountered and to apply it to us, is a gift.”
What direction would you like to see the local craft-beer scene head into the near future?
– “I would love to see everyone continue to grow and take direction of their own niche. Nashville is getting a great start, through the three-and-a-half years I’ve been here. Obviously, to see the acceleration pattern and the whiplash of the market is amazing. To see everyone get their toes wet, while at the same time grow as brewers and as professionals, everyone is supporting each other and building up the craft-beer market, as a whole. We’re all pushing the limits to change the laws, to allow for even more experimentation. We’re on a good path. It’s very cool to be a part of the beginning of a market.”
What were your initial thoughts of starting a brewery?
– “It started off as a conversation, but the brewery idea is Vivek’s brainchild. It’s his baby. I kind of came along for the ride, so to speak. It seemed like such a lofty thought, but you don’t realize everything that goes into it. At the end of the day, it’s not about what you’re doing, but it’s about the people. You know, like what they say: It’s not what you know, it’s who you know. To us, just finding Derrick seemed like the stars aligned, it was something which was meant to happen, it was kismet, it was destiny and that’s what happened.”
What does Nashville mean to you?
– “When my local partners first approached me for opening a place in Nashville, my first thought was, ‘Who the hell goes to Nashville?’ And then I landed in Nashville and I realized I go to Nashville! To me, it was love at first landing. The Southern hospitality is so charming, you feel welcome here. Beyond that, it’s such a sophisticated group of people. A place like Mantra is doing so well in Franklin because of the clientele. They appreciate this. Also, the culinary scene is so exciting, over here. There are all of these young chefs who are showing off their culinary skills, instead of pulling each other down. That’s what I love about this community.”
What does it mean to you to promote Nashville as a place everybody must visit?
– “With our new concepts opening, we have convinced three more people to move to Nashville and the only reason we’re doing it is because we love the city so much. When I told everybody I was opening a place in Nashville and then I was moving to Nashville, people couldn’t believe I was becoming a Southern girl. Your heart finds a home and you stay there. That is what Nashville means to me.”
What does Mantra mean to you?
– “My mantra is: Nothing ventured, nothing gained. Mantra is a labor of love. The amount of hard work that I have seen, being put in by Derrick, Chad, Kaleigh and Vivek… there is so much passion which has gone into this place, it’s more than a business. It’s life. That, to me, is the most incredible part about Mantra.”
What does 2016 bring for you?
– “At the present moment, we are looking at opening two other concepts right next to Chauhan. 2015 found me wearing a chef’s hat, a restaurateur’s hat and a brewer’s hat. For 2016, I’ll be wearing more of a restaurateur hat, with us giving flavors to Nashville, which people are still craving, but still aren’t here.”
That’s a wrap!