The Food Biz: From mattresses to suds

New breweries Broadcast and Fat Bottom to operate from former Fluffo site

Nashville’s pint glass is overflowing when it comes to brewery news. Two new operations, Broadcast Brewing Co. and Fat Bottom Brewing, are working to open in separate sections of a former warehouse at Main Street and Ninth in East Nashville. It’s the old Fluffo Mattress site, and the breweries are the first tenants in the redevelopment.

Both will brew on the premises, and both plan to be “packaging breweries,” selling primarily to restaurants. Both will have tap rooms so customers can sample their hand-crafted beers. In fact, when the complex is completed, it will include an interior courtyard that will be a shared beer garden for both businesses. (Developer Dan Heller said he wasn’t ready to share details of the Fluffo project as a whole.)

Fat Bottom Brewing has the head start, with opening planned for mid-May. Owner Ben Bredesen, son of former Gov. Phil Bredesen, left the health care software industry last year to work on the brewery project full time. He signed a lease for the space at 900 Main St. a couple months ago, and construction has just begun on the site.

Bredesen, who’s been brewing as a hobby for nearly eight years, said he wants to create beers that are “bigger and more exciting” than standard local brews. Another signature twist is his beers won’t be filtered. Unfiltered beers have a unique cloudy appearance and deliver subtle flavors that many beer connoisseurs prize.

“Filtration makes beer more stable for shipping, but it eliminates a lot of the hops flavors and aromas,” Bredesen said.

As for specific beer names and descriptions, Bredesen said that’s a work in progress. He noted that one beer he’s working on is an unfiltered wheat beer infused with ginger — the working title is simply Ginger. He said the concept can be confusing, because “ginger” and “beer” make people think of ginger ale, which isn’t anything like his Ginger brew.

“It’s definitely got that ginger spiciness, but the taste is much closer to a pale ale,” Bredesen said. He’s working with a marketing consultant to come up with names for his beers. For a theme, they’re looking at using women’s names — like Ginger — to go along with the Fat Bottom logo. (It features an image of a voluptuous 1940s-style pin-up girl.)

Since Fat Bottom will be a packaging brewery, the tap room will be just a small part of the business, so expect hours to be limited.

Bredesen, 31, is the sole principal in the company. He’s hired consultants and other professionals to help, but doesn’t have partners to share the workload and decisions. “It’s stressful at times, but it’s also nice to build something up myself,” he said.

For updates on the brewery, follow @FatBottomBrews on Twitter, which includes a link to the brewery’s blog.

Meanwhile, Mike Causey — another longtime home brewer going professional — just signed the lease on the other brewery space at the Fluffo site. He expects to open by sometime this fall. Part of the lag time, he said, is ordering brewery equipment. Because of an explosion of interest in craft brewing across the U.S., there’s a waiting list to get equipment shipped.

The “Broadcast” in Broadcast Brewing Co. is partly a reference to Causey’s previous career running a media production company, making videos and websites. Plus, Causey said, “Radio is integral to the history of what’s happening in Nashville.” It’s also an “analog, hands-on” medium. “We use that kind of as our inspiration. And of course, getting the message out about good beer,” he said.

Another inspiration, Causey added, is Nashville’s culinary scene, with chefs “taking good Southern ingredients and taking it up a notch.”

“I really like the creativity that’s going on in restaurants,” he said. “We want to mirror that in beer.” Causey hopes to source as many ingredients locally as possible, but since Nashville’s not yet a big producer of, say, hops, he’ll start by getting smaller ingredients like honey from nearby farms.

Like Bredesen, Causey isn’t ready to share specifics about his brews. But he’s firm on a couple points. “We won’t be making anything wacky,” he said. And he plans to focus on so-called session beers, which are lighter and more quaffable than many artisan brews. “It’s easy-drinking beer that still retains the flavor of craft beer,” Causey said.

Finally, he plans to have a line of higher-alcohol beers, “for people who like stronger tastes,” which will be available only in the tap room. Helping Causey wrangle the varieties is his brewing partner Phillip Ratliff.

Causey plans to broadcast the progress of Broadcast in the coming months. Go to broadcastbrew.com.

Both Causey and Bredesen said they welcome another brewery as a neighbor. “I really believe that the more craft breweries there are in Nashville, the better we will all do,” Bredesen wrote on his brewery’s blog. “ And I’m excited to create a brewery complex in East Nashville.”