by Don Else

First, as a bit of background, Rock Bottom is a chain restaurant which is part of Chattanooga based CraftWorks. It includes Rock Bottom, Big River, Gordon Biersch and Old Chicago, among others.  

The most important thing, though, is the Rock Bottom breweries in each location are completely autonomous. Every recipe, every decision, even the location’s events and marketing, are driven by the brewery. It is a totally local brewery that acts as the heart of a chain restaurant.  

As for community involvement, Thomas Mercado, Head Brewer at Rock Bottom Nashville, likes to look a little harder for smaller organizations that could use some marketing and fundraising help, rather than look for the low hanging fruit.  

To bring marketing and awareness help, he likes to make special beers, or collaborations, with the group. The Barbershop Harmony Society held what amounted to a national convention of Barbershop Quartets late last year. They came up with Barbers Hop ale, a rich Belgian style pale.

More locally, he teamed up with the Nashville Rollergirls. They came up with the Juke and Hops, XPA (extra pale ale). This bright, refreshing pale featured a great dose of dry hopping, and raised 10% for the group with every sale.

More recently is one near and dear to Thomas’ heart, the Papa’s Pale. This will be a west coast pale (think Sierra Nevada). But most importantly, it is being made to celebrate the first birthday of his daughter.  This beer will raise a dollar per pint for his own local initiative.

As a new and active participating father, he discovered a prohibitive lack of baby changing stations in restrooms. A bigger place, like Bridgestone Arena, will have family stations if others are not so equipped. Mid and smaller sized places? Almost certainly not at all. Mercado’s crusade is to get baby changing stations into any and all local craft beer places that are interested, male and female sides alike. So far the reaction has been great, and some installs are already in place.

Supporting this great cause, I’ll be enjoying some Papa’s Pale soon at Rock Bottom Nashville at Second and Broadway.