Hey, Clarksville! Hope you’re having a great week. Do you have any plans for the weekend? Looking for a place to hang out and enjoy a nice cold one? I’ve got a great company I wanted to tell you guys about in this week’s #FeatureFriday.
Family, fun, friends. Caring, community, craftsmanship. The Tennessee Valley Brewing Company has the distinction of being Clarksville’s first nanobrewery, and I’d like to tell you a few reasons why they are also one of Clarksville’s favorite places to grab a brewski.
The owners, Wendy and Eric Brannstrom, aren’t originally from the area, but they have come to call Clarksville home, and have embraced the community like family. Their heart for the community and giving back is evident in just about everything they do, from their work they do with local charities like Big Brothers & Big Sisters, YAIPaks, Manna Cafe, Bikers Who Care and the United Way, to donating their spent hops and grains to local farmers to use for feed for their animals.
They epitomize the idea of keeping it local, right down to the water they use in their brewing. Eric uses Clarksville tap water and the only thing he does to prepare the water he uses in his brews is to filter out the chlorine.
The Tennessee Valley Brewing Company has something for just about everyone with 10 beers on tap, from stouts to ambers to reds to nut browns, just to name a few. Some are their base beers they always have available and they round out the options with special batches of a few seasonal beers throughout the year. Some see operating a nanobrewery as an opportunity to experiment with different types and flavors of beers since they are already crafting their beer offerings in smaller batches, and Eric and Wendy are adventurous when it comes to creating new flavors.
They also offer three ciders year round for those with gluten sensitivities looking to enjoy an alcoholic beverage. The canned ciders come from Gypsy Circus Cider Company, Tennessee’s original cidery, located in Kingsport, Tennessee.
So whether you consider yourself a beer aficionado, a craft brew connoisseur, you want to expand your beer drinking palate, or you don’t have a clue what to order, Eric, Wendy or their beerista, the magnificent Maggie, can help you out.
Want to know what beer to pair with your favorite food? They are a wealth of information in that arena as well. They even offer sample size or flights of beer if you want to sample several different beers.
Eric and Wendy both have ties to the Army and their unique beers do too. Eric was asked to make a beer especially for the 5th Special Forces Group stationed here at Fort Campbell, and he was more than happy to oblige.
A group of people from the unit were sitting around, enjoying some cold ones and discussing what they wanted in the beer made especially for them. As they discussed how they wanted it to taste, they agreed upon a name for their request…”Snake Eater.”
Rumor has it that those in Special Forces have to kill a snake and eat it as part of their survival training. I don’t know whether that is true, but Wendy says Snake Eater is their best selling beer. Another crowd favorite is the Screaming Eagle, specially requested by a Command Sergeant Major out of the 101st Airborne Division.
One of Eric’s specially crafted brews is called “Pachyderm Punch” after the 6th Battalion, 101st Aviation Regiment, 101st Airborne Division who are nicknamed “Pachyderms” because their mission is to do the heavy lifting, like pachyderms can, with their Ch-47F Chinook helicopters. An interesting fact about this beer is that Eric uses Chinook hops in this beer. How cool is that??? So creative!
The Tennessee Valley Brewing Company has become a favorite local hangout for a number of reasons. Eric and Wendy have created a fun place to enjoy great beer with friends and family. If you visit the taproom you’ll know why. There is a spirit of comradery that fills the air, a spirit of belonging. I think that is something that is important, especially in a military town where friends and family are often deployed or transferred.
There are a couple of things you notice about the decor of the taproom. One is a large wooden flag mounted on the wall near the front of the taproom. The flag is surrounded by unit patches given to Eric and Wendy by their patrons. It’s obvious by the sheer number of unit patches surrounding the flag that the community has a special love for Wendy and Eric, and not just because of their beer.
Another decor standout is the collection of beer mugs hanging on the wall behind the bar and along the hall. There are 200 mugs in all, each with their own number. For $50 you can become a member of the Mug Club. Mug Club membership includes a 20-ounce handcrafted pottery mug, which hangs on the wall, ready and waiting for you to come in and enjoy your favorite beer, or try a new one, at a discounted price, 20 ounces for the price of a pint, 16 ounces.
Mug Club members also get notified first and get first dibs at upcoming events and new beers making their debut. The membership is good for one year, at which point you have the option of purchasing a newly designed mug so you can continue to enjoy the other perks as well. Last year’s mugs are red and black, the colors of Austin Peay State University. The upcoming year’s mugs will be yellow and black, the colors of the Nashville Predators hockey team.
In a military town that has a highly transitory population, it’s inevitable that at some point a Mug Club member will be deployed. Mugs belonging to deployed personnel have a small flag sticker placed on them to signify the owner’s status. Here’s another place where the feeling of belonging comes into play. Customers can purchase wooden nickels to place inside the mugs of deployed members, like they’re saying “Hey, let me buy you a drink.” When the deployed member returns, they can use the wooden nickels to purchase a beer or two, or if they have several coins, they can “buy” a beer for their friends if they choose.
There are also pewter mugs with engraved names hanging on the walls. Pewter mugs are for those special people who have supported Wendy and Eric along the way to help get their business up and running. As a special “Thank you,” to those people, they become permanent members of the Mug Club. They enjoy the reduced price craft beers and enjoy first dibs and notifications, but they don’t have to pay the yearly fee.
And if you’re celebrating something, or just feeling the urge to be a bit different, you can drink out of the Drinking Horn. It’s just what it sounds like…a beautifully engraved horn…and you can ask to drink out of it.
Tennessee Valley Brewing Company keeps an active social calendar, with fun stuff to do all week long. One crowd favorite is Trivia Tuesdays. Local radio personality, Joe Padula, keeps things interesting with his own brand of humor as he emcees this fast-paced, hilarious game night.
They also have comedy nights, live music, and themed parties throughout the year. Ring in 2020 at their Roaring 20s themed New Year’s Eve party. No cover charge, but free tickets are going fast.
The Tennessee Valley Brewing Company, is located at 2088 Lowe’s Drive, Suite H, Clarksville, TN 37040 in the small strip mall area next to Kroger and China King Buffet. Their hours of operation are Monday-Thursday from 3:00 p.m.-9:00 p.m., Friday-Saturday from 12:00 p.m.-12:00 a.m., and Sunday from 12:00 p.m.-8:00 p.m. Their phone number is