Tag Archives: Tennessee

Travel: Flying Saucer in Nashville, TN

Ready for the last post about our recent trip to Nashville? First, we had Sammy B’s, then we had Crawdaddy’s. After that it was Mantra Artisan Ales. And rounding out the Nashville posts, I bring you…Flying Saucer.

We also saw a concert while we were in Nashville, but it wasn’t all that exciting. It was One Republic, their third show of the tour. We were there to see Fitz and the Tantrums, who either pulled out of the tour or were never supposed to be on it in the first place….even though I’m 99.99% positive they were listed when I bought the tickets. I’m still bitter about it.

Moving on. Here’s photo proof that we did do something besides eat. And drink.

Nashville Flying Saucer

One of our friends recommended we stop in Flying Saucer while we were in Nashville (he knows us well). Since the concert was over at 10:00pm and neither of us was tired, we made the stop! It turned out well, since we were also both hungry. (We’d grabbed a quick Aldi chicken salad dinner in between Mantra and the concert. While yummy, it didn’t have much staying power!)

We parked in the lot behind the building, and I snapped a few photos of the back side of Union Station Hotel . The light hitting it was breathtaking. I didn’t actually know what the building was when I took the picture – just that it was beautiful!

The back of Nashville’s Union Station Hotel

The inside of the Flying Saucer is a beer lover’s dream, with dark wood, lots of saucers (more on that in a moment), and a tap wall that made me swoon.

Inside the Nashville Flying Saucer

Closeup of the Tap Wall at the Nashville Flying Saucer

The Beer

I’d never been to a Flying Saucer. Jimmie had, and I guess they’re all fairly similar. Tons and tons and tons of beer. 200 beers, to be exact. There’s so much beer that it gets its own double-sided menu.

  Beer menu at Nashville Flying Saucer

If you’re a hardcore beer fan, you can join their UFO club and they’ll track your progress. Once you’ve had all the beers, you get a fun reward – your very own saucer on the wall. If you make the rounds more than once, you get a fancier saucer. We saw some that said people had done all 200 beers….9 times. Impressive.

UFO Club Saucers at the Nashville Flying Saucer

UFO Club Saucers at the Nashville Flying Saucer

We ordered a Ghost Flight, which is 4 unknown beers. You rate them on the restuarant’s website, and then whichever beer ends up getting the highest rating gets added to the taps. We weren’t super impressed with any of them. We knew we had a Mexican style lager, and one of the others was a honey pale ale, but the third was pretty unremarkable. (They ran out of the 4th ghost beer, so gave us more gose.) Regardless, it was a fun experience, and yes, we did rate our beers! Our second flight had a Scotch ale, a Gose, and two IPAs. The Anderson Valley Gose was our favorite.

Ghost flight at the Nashville Flying Saucer

Ghost flight at the Nashville Flying Saucer

The Food

The menu at the Flying Saucer has about a million delicious-sounding things on it, all of them designed to pair extremely well with beer. Pretzels, brats, cheese…I wanted all of it.

Eventually we settled on a pepperoni and mushroom pizza and the Saucer Bratzel, which is a pretzel topped with cheese and beer brats. The pretzel was definitely the star of the show. The pizza wasn’t terrible either, but don’t go for the pizza. Go for the pretzel.

Pizza, beer, and saucer bratzel at Nashville's Flying Saucer

Pizza, beer, and saucer bratzel at Nashville’s Flying Saucer

I’m sorry I don’t have a picture of just the pretzel because you really should see that in all its glory. Guess you’ll just have to take a trip and try it yourself!

That wraps up our two-day Nashville trip – hard to believe we ate so much in two days, huh?! I’m sure we’ll be back that way soon, so where else should we try?

Travel: Mantra Artisan Ales in Franklin, TN

If you’ve been here a while, you know I’m a big beer fan. If you’re new (welcome, friend!), I write about beer a lot – some of these posts are really old, though, so be gentle. Check out our trips to Yazoo, Jackalope, Asheville, Asheville again, and Asheville a third time. Better yet, search my page for “Beer” (there’s even a tag at the bottom of this post), and enjoy.

Anyway, surprise! Here’s another brewery post!

A few months ago I discovered Mantra Artisan Ales when I had their Guru Gish at a book club meeting. It tasted like a Reese’s cup in a pint glass. I immediately decided I was in love with Mantra. I tried their Saffron IPA at a local beer garden, and from that moment on, knew it was just a matter of time before I’d make it to the taproom. So, when we traveled to Nashville recently and found ourselves with a few extra hours before our concert, we made the 30ish minute drive south to Franklin to check it out.

Mantra Artisan Ales

Mantra Artisan Ales is in perhaps the most unassuming location I’ve ever seen. It’s a business park. And then there’s this little brewery.

Outside Mantra Artisan Ales in Franklin, TN

We weren’t really expecting much on that first glance, but as soon as we walked inside we realized you should never judge a taproom by its location.

The Taproom at Mantra

They’ve got all their beers (all 20-something of them) listed on televisions above the bar. It made for terrible photos, sorry.

Tap Wall at Mantra

I loved everything about the taproom, from the tap handles to the bathroom mural.

Mural at Mantra Brewing

And yes, they have lots of t-shirts with that fantastic Mantra logo. They’re super soft and I bought a tank top.

Merchandise at Mantra

The Beer

We didn’t know before we got there, but Mantra is known for their sours. Roughly half of their taps were sour beers when we visited. I’m not a huge sour fan, but Jimmie is. We started with two flights, one each.

Jimmie had the Cherry Love (sour red), Tacenda (sour), Cassis (sour red), and ReinCOWnation (milk stout). Cherry Love was my least favorite – it tasted like medicine. Cassis was reminiscent of wine, so I enjoyed that one. ReinCOWnation was yummy, and Tacenda was very heavy on the muscadine.

I had Annika (wild ale), Chocolate Wit, Randall (IPA), and Roots (IPA). Annika was one of our favorites. I was really disappointed I couldn’t taste the carrots in the Roots IPA. Randall was ok, and the chocolate wit wasn’t my thing.

For our third flight we had Imli (sour), Noueveau (Belgian Dubbel), La Tian (peppercorn saison), and Big Juicy Dank (IPA). I liked La Tian, and Jimmie liked Imli. We were three flights in, so I forgot to take a picture until after we’d finished.

Tasting all the beers at Mantra

We really enjoyed our afternoon tasting at Mantra. We sat in the taproom and played Valley of the Kings, a fun little card game, and drank beer after beer. They know their beer at Mantra…even the ones I wasn’t crazy about, I could tell they were done well. And the atmosphere was perfect, laid back and friendly. I’d go back in a heartbeat.

What other breweries do you know and love? I’m always on the hunt for a good one, so let’s hear your recommendations!

Travel: DelMonaco Winery & Vineyards in Baxter, TN

All the best people were born in July.

I can say that, since both Jimmie and I are July babies. We also happen to have a dozen or so friends who were also born in July. It’s a good month for a birthday.

A few weeks ago, a couple of our July-birthday friends invited us to take a wine tour for a joint birthday celebration. Turns out there’s a wine trail not too far from us (two, actually), so we loaded up the car and headed west to DelMonaco Winery and Vineyards in Baxter, TN.

We had a great day with friends new and old!

For those not familiar with the area, Baxter is one exit past Cookeville on the way to Nashville. Remember Cookeville from my Crawdaddy’s post? Anyway, I’m not sure there’s much in Baxter, though apparently there is a really good restaurant that we didn’t get to. Next time. (For those interested, DelMonaco is part of the Upper Cumberland Wine Trail.)

DelMonaco Winery & Vineyards

DelMonaco is one of the few wineries in Tennessee that grows their own grapes. In addition to the wine, they’ve also got an incredible event space. It’s genius, really, since as our tour guide told us, they make just as much money from their events as they do from their wine. If you live in Middle or East Tennessee and need a wedding venue, definitely check them out.

We paid $15 each for the tour and tasting, which got us a 45 minute tour and samples of all 14 wines. Yes, that’s a lot of wine. Most of DelMonaco’s wines are sweet wines, typical for the area. I learned that for the most part, the grapes we’re familiar with (Cabernet, Merlot, Chardonnay, etc.) don’t survive in the U.S. Only the West Coast and a few places in New England have any real luck with them. Bad soil, pests, fungi, and inhospitable climates cause problems everywhere else.

But, that just means American winemakers have had to get creative. Some wineries purchase those more elusive grapes. Others grow America-friendly grapes like Muscadine and Concord. Still others make wines out of fruits, such as strawberries, blackberries, and peaches.

Needless to say, this wine drinker learned a lot on the tour.

The Tour

First of all, it was hot as blazes. Our tour guide took us through the venue first, showing us their different event spaces. I loved the Grand Bella, the main room. It’s got these gorgeous glass doors all around. You’ll have to take my word for it, since I failed to turn around and take a picture.

The Grand Bella at DelMonaco Winery

The outdoor areas are very nice too, and have killer views of the vineyard.

I absolutely adore this picture of us in front of the vineyards.

Next we walked down to the vineyard, where we learned a little more about the history of the place and some of the fun events they host. There’s a wine train – the train tracks run right by the winery – that brings people in from Nashville. You ride a train (drink wine), tour the winery (drink wine), and have a party (drink wine). It sounds like it might be one of the best things ever.

Concord Grapes at the DelMonaco Winery

We didn’t wander the vineyard (we were all melting), but we did snap lots of photos.

Another good one!

And some of us might have tried the grapes.

I’m thinking about framing this one and hanging it in my kitchen. That’d work, right?

Concord grapes are divine, friends.

Where the magic happens!

After the grapes, we went into the blessedly cool air-conditioned wine-making room (I can’t remember the proper term, sorry). There we got to hear about how they make the wine, how they bottle the wine, how they label the wine, and how they store the wine. All I remember was that it’s very similar to making beer, and that they do only about 4,000 cases of wine a year. I should have taken better notes, but I’ll just go back for the wine train and update you then.

On a side note – I was very disappointed to know that they don’t actually crush grapes in a giant vat with their bare feet. I’ve wanted to do that ever since watching the (albeit terrible) movie, A Walk in the Clouds. Anyone with me??

The Tasting

We actually did the tasting before the tour, since we were waiting on another couple to meet us there. Fourteen wines is a lot, and since you taste from dry to sweet, it quickly becomes A LOT.

DelMonaco Winery Wine Tasting List….side A.

Jimmie and I are dry-wine drinkers, so for the most part, we had a hard time with the wines. We could appreciate the flavors, and there were a few that we would have been able to drink a glass of if we’d needed to. There were a couple that I’d have added carbonation to, and a handful that I simply could not finish my taster of. But, we also liked some – the Chardonnay was quite good, and I typically don’t like Chardonnay. It’s got apricot and fig flavors, and oddly enough, you can actually taste the fig. The Merlot and Noiret were also good, though slightly too fruity.

Don’t let our experience put you off though – our sweet-wine loving friends bought like 8 bottles. They loved the wines.

I took like 8 pictures before I’d let anyone drink it. I’m that person.

After our tasting, we bought a bottle of Chardonnay and took it to the patio for a picnic lunch of cheeses, fruits, veggies, and meats. It was a wonderful meal, despite the heat, and the wine paired perfectly with the food.

Our glorious picnic

It was a fun-filled (HOT) day, and despite not loving all the sweet wines, wine is wine, so we left happy. It’s nice to know we have such a beautiful, relaxing place here in Tennessee, and I can see myself going back with a group of girlfriends to spend some lazy Saturday.

I believe you can order DelMonaco’s wines from their website, or if you’re local, it’s a quick day trip. And if anyone does that train, I want to tag along.