Quality Beers Need Quality Equipment

By Jon Wallace

In 2012, Fat Bottom Brewing was the first brewery to open its doors in East Nashville, an up and coming neighborhood home to musicians, songwriters and visual artists. After a bumpy start, the brewery made a commitment to support its quality, which helped establish a loyal following in the city and across the state.

A decade before starting the business, owner Ben Bredesen started brewing beer when his wife bought him a book on home brewing. “She encouraged me to make my own beer instead of spending so much money buying it,” said Bredesen. It was a decision she immediately regretted. From filling their bath tub with test recipes to storing mountains of bottles in their closet, his home brewing project enveloped their entire home.

In 2012, Bredesen moved his brewing project into a 5,000-square-foot facility in East Nashville and named it Fat Bottom Brewing. The name caught the eyes of intrigued guests, and the beer kept them coming back for more. Bredesen used the recipes he perfected at home and scaled them to fit the new 15-barrel brew house.

The whole Fat Bottom experience was novel. Fat Bottom wasn’t just the first brewery in East Nashville, it was the first production brewery in the city to offer food.

During their first year in business, Fat Bottom produced a total of 400 barrels of beer. Soon after, Bredesen decided to start canning beers, and business exploded. Production doubled that year, and then doubled again, and demand quickly exceeded their capacity. There was no denying that Fat Bottom was outgrowing their East Nashville home and needed a bigger space to match the booming demand.

In 2015, Bredesen scoured for locations inside the interstate loop in the heart of Music City. With no initial luck, he expanded his search and stumbled upon a vacant lot in The Nations neighborhood of West Nashville. The area reminded Bredesen of East Nashville back in 2005 when he first moved to the neighborhood. Like East Nashville, The Nations was developing its character – new construction was going up, more people were moving in and businesses were popping up. There was no question this would be Fat Bottom’s new home.

Since the beginning of this year, their new 33,000-square-foot multi-use facility has housed their brewing and canning operations, a taproom, restaurant, beer garden and private event space.

Despite Fat Bottom’s major expansion, business success and continued plans to grow, quality is still at the heart of the story.

With their move to The Nations, Bredesen knew that capital investments needed to be made for quality assurance. They wanted to upgrade their equipment from the original oil-injected piston compressor for better energy efficiency, production quality and workplace satisfaction.

“Air runs a lot of the equipment we use,” explained Bredesen. “I wanted better control over the air quality in the system, specifically in the brewing, kegging and canning processes.”

After exploring several options, Bredesen chose the Atlas Copco SF 22, an oil-free scroll compressor that delivers clean and dry air, which is an instrument for applications throughout the brewing facility. The new system gave Bredesen and his team peace of mind that oil wouldn’t infiltrate the process and cause issues with product quality.

Improving workplace quality was also top of mind. Bredesen wanted a new compressor that would significantly reduce noise pollution in the brewery, and the SF22 does just that. Its slow speed of scroll compression is much quieter than the original oil-injected piston compressor they had in East Nashville.

“The scroll systems for air quality and noise of the device is so much better,” said Bredesen. “We typically have three people running the canning line, and they don’t even notice that the compressor is running.”

The new compressor system has helped Fat Bottom produce close to 7,500 barrels in its new space while increasing capacity for production. Unlike their previous system, Fat Bottom’s new SF22 compressor is able to control air output depending on production demand so no energy is wasted.

When it comes to the future of Fat Bottom, Bredesen is excited about opportunities to expand their beer portfolio with the new Atlas Copco compressor system. The SF22 will help in Bredesen’s plans to open an on-site bottle shop and growler filling station called The Nations’ Tiniest Beer Store in the near future.

In the meantime, you can visit Fat Bottom Brewing at 800 44th Ave. N in Nashville, TN.