Over the past couple of years, the Nashville Farmer’s Market has really concentrated on becoming a gathering spot for Middle Tennessee residents who are looking to shop for local products in a welcoming environment that also offers dining and drinking options. In addition to reconfiguring the market sheds to feature more farmers and producers, market management has sought local entrepreneurs to develop these opportunities for food and bev.

When Eric Woodard moved to Nashville from Texas three years ago, he had no intention of being one of those entrepreneurs, at least when it came to running a taproom. Instead, he tried his hand remodeling old houses to flip in Nashville’s white hot real estate market, and five months in, finally sold his first listing.

After all that time floating drywall and refinishing vintage hardwood floors, Woodard figured he deserved an afternoon of relaxation and headed over to Nashville Farmer’s Market in search of some spicy food and cold beer. He did manage to score some great Indian fare at Swagruha, but he was stymied in his search for a beer to enjoy with his Chicken Tikka Masala.

His disappointment made him wonder if he wasn’t the only one who might be in a similar predicament. Perhaps he should have been eating Turkish food, because kismet was about to strike him in a big way. As he headed for the door at the Market, Woodard read a sign posted by Nashville Farmer’s Market management looking for a few new restaurant concepts to occupy the then vacant spaces along the southwest stretch of the Market House food court. Already familiar with the rapid growth of Nashville’s craft beer scene and the aggressive expansion plans of the Market, Woodard figured that combining the two would be a bet worth making.

He put his idea on paper in the form of a business plan and quickly landed meetings with the Market’s Board of Directors. A few short months later The Picnic Tap opened and has been going strong ever since, showcasing a lineup of 15 rotating taps of craft brews from Nashville and surrounding areas. The Picnic Tap’s focus on local beers has dovetailed nicely with the Market’s dedication to featuring regional growers and producers, and customers have latched on to the new relationship. Plus, it’s always great to have access to some fantastic beers during a trip to shop for groceries.

The Picnic Tap offers pints, tasting flights and growler fills seven days a week, and Eric and his hardworking crew regularly host Pint Nites featuring limited release and seasonal beers in the fall and spring. The bar at The Picnic Tap has become a popular place for several of Nashville’s brewers to launch new releases and a dedicated crew of fans have become regular attendees at these special events. After a successful first year of collaborating with Nashville breweries for a series of special cask-conditioned beer releases, The Picnic Tap is going even bigger with their Second Annual Winter Cask Ale Rotational Series, which will feature a one-of-a-kind cask conditioned beers every weekend late December through mid March. The Picnic Tap is also expanding, adding outdoor patio seating in early 2017.

If you’re a fan of local Middle Tennessee beers and cask-conditioned brews in particular, make your way down to the Picnic Tap early and often. Follow them on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thepicnictap for the latest news on their special events.

By Chris Chamberlain | Photography by Brandon Lunday