America’s craft brewery boom has put a renewed focus on drinking local beers. But in many parts of the country, we’ve also seen renewed interest – and sometimes renewed incentives – for brewing beer with local ingredients as well. That trend has now extended to Tennessee where the state has launched a new bring “barley back to Tennessee” campaign – and to promote the initiative, the Tennessee Department of Agriculture is touting the release of what it’s calling the “first documented professional ‘all-Tennessee’ grain beer.”
Brewed today by Nashville’s Tennessee Brew Works – and created in conjunction with the state’s Department of Agriculture, Tennessee State Parks, and barley grower Batey Farms – State Park Blonde Ale uses grains grown a mere 30 miles or so from the brewery – and to boot, proceeds from the beer will benefit state parks.
“Until today, grains used in Tennessee Craft Beers were sourced from an array of suppliers ranging from the Midwest, Canada, Germany, United Kingdom and Belgium,” an announcement proclaimed. Though back in the 19th century, when brewing happened locally by necessity, it’s possible an all-Tennessee grain beer was produced, or more recently that small batches were produced by homebrewers, but the qualifiers of first “documented professional” beer make the claim that this is truly a first that much more legit.
Hammering the point home, next week, Tennessee Brew Works will be whipping up a second beer using all local grains: a Belgian-style wheat beer called Southern Wit. “Our ultimate goal is to entice breweries, distilleries and farms around the state to participate; creating economies of scale that benefit all of us and bring our industries closer to agricultural self-sufficiency within Tennessee,” Christian Spears, president of the brewery, said in a statement. “The potential of this initiative is limitless.”
Tom Womack, Tennessee Department of Agriculture’s Deputy Commissioner, also spoke to the benefit of encouraging local producers to use local ingredients. “Helping Tennessee farmers take advantage of new crops and technologies will help expand our rural economy,” he said. “The exponential growth of breweries and distilleries in the state represents a tremendous opportunity to develop a supply chain between local farmers and businesses.”
Of course, Tennesseans have to do their part, too, and support these beers by drinking them. State Park Blonde Ale is set to land both in six-packs of bottles and on draft in mid-November.
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