It's a big week guys. It's a really big week. The Brooklyn Brewery Mash has finally come to Nashville.
If you haven't picked up a Brooklyn Brew at your local grocery store (or at the Taproom), here's the back story: Brooklyn Brewery was started in 1984 when owner and founder Steve Hindy, moved to the Park Slope neighborhood after a stint in the Middle East. Apparently, since beer (and all alcohol for that matter) is hard to come by in Muslim areas, Steve had grown a knack for home brewing. Like a true hipster (before that word was even invented), Steve quit his day job and put all his energies into "bringing good beer back to New York City." Now, over two decades later, Brooklyn Brewery isn't just confined to New York—they're spreading the beer gospel around the country—particularly with their latest creative endeavor, The Mash.
Throughout this year, Brooklyn Brewery is packing up and heading out to 11 different cities. They've already made stops in Austin and New Orleans, hosting beer tastings, dinner events, comedy nights and more. Now it's Nashville's turn to get a taste.
With The Mash finally upon us, and plenty of great events to choose from like a raging dance party at the Stone Fox, or a slow food dinner at Peter Nappi featuring Holly Williams, or a gathering with three unparalleled female entrepreneurs at Imogene and Willie, it might be hard to decide what to choose. So to navigate the Mash's hectic itinerary, I caught up with Brooklyn Brewery's Home Chef Andrew Gerson, to learn more about the vision behind this nationwide tour.
GIBSON: So tell me what it means to be a house chef at a brewery—I've never heard of that position.
GERSON: It's really sort of an evolution of Garrett Oliver, our Brewmaster at the brewery. He's been a longtime slow food man, really wrote The Brewmaster's Table which is like, the guide to beer pairings with food. So this was a continuation of that ideal. That food is such an important part of our culture, so is beer, and they meld so well together, that it made sense to to honor that connection with an actual position at the brewery. There will be a test kitchen, we're in the process of building that out hopefully in December.
GIBSON: Rumor has it you can speak Italian. Is that true?
GERSON: It is very true. I lived there off an on for three years. I did a two year masters in Italy, at the University of Gastronomic Sciences, that was actually in Italian.
GIBSON: Say something in Italian?
GERSON: (I don't know Italian, but it sounded legit and he told me he said) "I'm really excited to be in Nashville and to do the MASH tour here."
GIBSON: Tell us a little about The Mash, where did the idea come from to take a brewery on the road?
GERSON: Mash is a process in brewing, where malted barley is put into a big kettle, water is added, and you create what is called wert—it's the rich malty sugar liquid that makes beer. The idea of bringing together different cultures—you know there's this cultural revolution going on in Brooklyn, and there's this cultural mash of music, art, literature, food, and good beer and other good beverages. So the idea wasn't to come in and say "Hey we're Brooklyn, and we're coming to show you how great we are," it's to meld the culture of Brooklyn with all the cultures of the cities we're visiting. And to bring out something beautiful...
GIBSON: I hear that ticket sales will benefit Slow Food USA. Why is that important to Brooklyn Brewery?
GERSON: Yeah! Garrett was one of the founding members of Slow Food USA, and my university in Italy was founded by Slow Food, so we both have very strong Slow Food roots, and more than that, we want to a desire to support the local sustainable food movement. Each city has a individual chapter, and each chapter can choose where it goes—it supports farmers, butchers, people who are using artisan and craft skills and applying them to the food world.
GIBSON: What were you most excited about experiencing in Nashville?
GERSON: I'm excited about M.L. Rose tonight, and we're working with BurgerUP. I'm looking forward to seeing Peter Nappi's studio when we do our slow supper there on Thursday. And with any free time I have, I'm just very excited to go to some local honky tonks.
GIBSON:Has anyone recommended a good one to go to?
GERSON: We've had some recommendations but I'm always open to suggestions.
GIBSON: Roberts. Period.
GERSON: Roberts? Awesome.
GIBSON: People will look at this long list of events, and as much as they might want to, they might not be able to go to every single one, so if you could only choose one event to attend this week, what would you choose?
GERSON: I would say the slow supper event. I mean, I'm very excited for so much of what we're doing. But for me, it's one of our more special events. It's out of the box, and it's usually in a really interesting space, and it's all about communal eating: people coming together and sharing good food and good beer. And to us that's the most important aspect to this whole MASH trip.
Thanks so much to Andrew and all the fine folks at Brooklyn Brewery for making it out to Nashville! Can't wait to eat some of your delicious food and enjoy what this MASH has to offer.
What about you - what event would you go to?