by Chris Chamberlain

Even though “beer” isn’t in the name of the festival, last month’s Music City Food + Wine Festival didn’t completely ignore the world of malt and hops. The event was stretched out to three days this year, kicking off with a new Friday night session under the tasting tents followed by a Saturday filled with tastings, chef demos and educational panels, the always popular Harvest Night where celebrity chefs offered up small plates to their fans, and members of the Family Stone entertained the assembled masses. Sunday was dedicated to the Gospel Brunch, separated from the rest of the fest this year for the first time to throw a little extra spotlight on the event.

Among more than 100 tasting tables and tents in Bicentennial Mall Park were lots and lots of spirits and wine purveyors. In fact, it was a pretty boozy weekend all around. Local, regional and international beers were also represented, and they were offering up some hard-to-find brews at some of the tents.


The Napa Smith crew braves the steamy weather to share a toast with Nashville

The Kings of Leon are major sponsors of the Music City Food + Wine Festival, and the rock band took advantage of the event to launch their new limited release Revelry Amber Ale, produced in partnership with Hap & Harry’s. The members of the band are reputedly big fans of Hap & Harry’s, and appreciate a little taste of home when they are on the road. Here’s the official story of the birth of the brand:

The story behind the collaboration between Hap & Harry’s and Kings of Leon began in 2016.  While the band was recording their seventh studio album called WALLS, in Los Angeles, they realized they could not find their favorite Tennessee-based beer, Hap & Harry’s.  Since this beer is only distributed in Tennessee, they contacted the brewery and requested a few cases.

“It was cool that the band thought to reach out to us,” recalls Nic Donahue, son-in-law to Robert Lipman, the creator of Hap & Harry’s Tennessee Beers. Lipman created the beer in honor of the friendship between his grandfather, Harry Lipman, and Hap Motlow of the legendary Jack Daniel family. “I got to meet the Kings at the Music City Food + Wine Festival. We discovered we have a lot in common: kids the same age, a passion for food and music and that both of our families live here in Nashville.  Add to that the fact that we all appreciate the opportunity to enjoy great beer with great friends.”

“We call Nashville home, and Hap & Harry’s has become our go-to local craft beer. As we began planning Music City Food + Wine Festival and the first concert at Nashville’s minor league ballpark, we thought we’d develop a special edition beer to celebrate those two events and raise some money for a cause near and dear to our heart in the process,” said Kings of Leon drummer, Nathan Followill.

Hap & Harry’s with Kings of Leon’s Revelry Ale

The beer is light-bodied and sessionable, similar in flavor and appearance to Gerst if Nashvillians are looking for a point of comparison. Net proceeds of Hap & Harry’s Kings of Leon Revelry Ale will be donated to The Arthritis Foundation to fund research and treatment of Juvenile Rheumatoid Arthritis.

Speaking of collaborations, Grayton Beer Company was offering samples of a beer that hasn’t even been released to the market yet, their Dubbel Barrel brewed in Florida and aged in used barrels from Nashville’s Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. The vanilla and rye spice donated to the blend from Green Brier’s barrels nicely complemented the cherry/orange peel essence of the Dubbel to mimic an Old Fashioned cocktail. Aged an extra 6-9 months in oak, this beer was nicely complex and should benefit from cellaring in the 750 ml cork-and-cage bottles once they reach retail.

Guinness brought an entire beer truck and featured their 200th Anniversary Export Stout as well as their Irish Wheat. Bell’s Brewery out of Kalamazoo was a particularly popular tasting stop for craft beer fans. Not only were they handing out some of the best swag at the entire festival including free sunglasses that weren’t too ugly to wear in public, they were also serving up some rare and delicious beers. A highlight was their Oarsman, a tart, low ABV beer that was perfect for a warm autumn afternoon.

The organizers of Nuit Belge, Nashville’s finest food and beer event were promoting their upcoming season by handing out some exceptional beers, including Lindeman’s Oude Gueuze Cuvée René and several beers from Blackberry Farm Brewery. You could do a lot worse than just hanging out by the Nuit Belge table. Last, but not least, Tennessee Brew Works poured four of their beers as well as taking the chance to showcase the culinary talents of the brewery’s chef, Jay Mitchell.

Hopefully next year even more breweries will take part in the Music City Food + Wine Festival, because by the end of the day on Saturday, some of the festival-goers had gotten a little sloppy on all those spirits. Beer drinkers show much better moderation.