Beer Bracket Unfiltered: Memphis Made


Memphis Made co-founders Andy Ashby and Drew Barton.
  • Memphis Made co-founders Andy Ashby and Drew Barton.

For those thirsty for more on the Memphis beer scene, we're presenting barely edited versions of the interviews done by Toby Sells for our cover story on the Memphis Flyer and Aldo's Beer Bracket Challenge.

Here's the Memphis Made interview with company co-founders Andy Ashby and Drew Barton.

Memphis Flyer: I’ll start with the hard-hitting question I’ve been asking everyone. What is going on at Memphis Made?

Drew Barton: Beer?


DB: Well, the newest thing is we’re going to be getting some bottles back in the market soon.

MF: (Points to bottling machine.) Is that a temporary bottling line?

DB: I mean it’s temporary as in it will run until we break it.

So, we’re going to start doing (750 milliliter bottles), which is the same format we did earlier. It’ll be exclusively high gravity to get some different things out there.

MF: What’s the first beer you’ll put out?

DB: Soulless Ginger will be the first thing in the bottle.

MF: Describe that beer for me.

DB: It’s one of our cult favorites, Soulful Ginger, kicked up since we can do higher alcohol now. A little more alcohol, a lot more ginger, way less soul.

MF: When will it be on shelves?

DB: In the next few weeks.

Andy Ashby: Keep it vague.

DB: Alright. Vaguely soon. Soonish.

AA: We did some hand bottling and some mobile canning. But this is our first more-permanent solution.

MF: So, with that, Memphis Made will be available more regularly in stores?

DB: Yeah, in more package stores. We’ll certainly be on the shelves of the growler shops that we’re in right now because they carry bottled products. And we’ll also be in — we cant’ say the names specially — but we’ll be in “grocery stores.” Can you put that in quotes? A few convenience stores.

AA: It’ll be small-batch stuff. So, it’s not going to be everywhere all the time. We’r north of 150 accounts in Shelby County. Basically, some of the places we’re at now are going have it, including some grocery stores.

MF: Y’all opened in 2013, right?

DB: Put out our first beers in 2013, yeah.

AA: October 2013.

MF: When did y’all open the taproom?

DB: Thanksgiving weekend of 2014, almost a year later.

MF: How’s it going? (Laughs.)

DB: Pretty damn good! No, it’s great. We’re tired but we’re happy. We threw out the business plan a long time ago.

AA: We started with six accounts from day one. Now we’re at more than 150. It started off, basically, just Drew and I and now we have employees and have the taproom open.

MF: Y’all just extended the taproom hours, too. Y’all are now open on Mondays and Thursdays and later hours on the weekends.

AA: Yep. Five days a week, the taproom is open from when we used to not have a taproom at all.

As we’re getting bigger, we’re not really looking outward as much. We’re looking more inward, doing more stuff in the community and in our taproom.

MF: Almost more than any other taproom location, y’all are in the most-trafficked area.

DB: Oh, yeah. And we chose it for that reason. We both live in the neighborhood. So, we wanted something close to home and have something that wa amore vibrant in our neighborhood.

MF: Do you see more causal foot traffic? Or, is it that people are seeking you out?

DB: It’s a good mix of those things. We have a lot of people who walk, bike, and push their stroller. Some publication named us the most family-friendly brewery in Memphis.

MF: Which one?

DB: I think it was Thrillist. (Laughs.)

MF: That’s fine. I love Thrillist.

MF: I’ve been talking a lot about beer names. How do you come up with your beer names?

DB: We don’t really have a process by any means.

AA: Yes, that’s a great way to say it.

DB: Procrastination tends to be a huge part of the recipe. We wait until the very last minute to name something.

AA: Sometimes.

DB: Well, for the most part. There have literally been times when we have named it and sent it out that day.

MF: if you were lucky enough to live in Memphis on a particular day and time, you witnessed the Rockbone fiasco go down in real time.

DB: Yeah, and we go to immortalize it with a beer name.

MF: What is the biggest-selling beer y’all have?

DB: Fireside (Amber). By far.

MF: Even more than Lucid (Kolsch)?

DB: Way more.

MF: Is that surprising to y’all?

DB: I’m baffled by it.

MF: What is that?

AA: It’s different but it’s accessible. Every brewer out there has an IPA but a nice, malty amber that drinkable? People just really tend to gravitate towards it.

It’s also very adaptable. It started a s fall seasonal. We started as seaonsal brewery. So, we had two different beer every quarter. So, Fireside started a s fan seasonal. Then, we did it as a fal and winter seasonal.
Every year we took it away and I’d get lambasted. People would ask, why are you taking away this beer? I totally love it!

I remember the first year we made it year-round. It was spring and it was fine. But summer hit and I was worried. Is this amber gonna sell well when it’s 110 degrees out? And it didn’t miss a beat. It’s pretty crazy. I didn’t see it either.

MF: How did you come up with Fireside? The name, I remember, was originally Fireside Ninja and the name was from another brewery.

DB: Yes, we got permission from that brewery. The beer itself, that was so long ago when I designed it, I don’t…we just wanted something easy to drink, for sure. It’s got a healthy base of Munich malt. I love Munich malt.

We’re probably — as far as our size goes — we’re probably one of the biggest users of Munich malt in at least the Southeast, possibly the U.S.

That Munich gives it a nice little bread, biscuit-y base. Then, the flaked oats and barley in there make it nice and smooth. There’s a kiss of hops in there, just enough to balance it out but. Enough not to really offend any novice beer drinker but enough to let even a hardcore beer drinker know, hey, it’s got hops in it.

MF: Other breweries have said they sell a lot of darker beers, even in the summer. What does that say about the Memphis beer consumer?

DB: It shows a more malt-forward palette. Just because the coast loves it’s hops, doesn’t necessarily mean that makes it any better of a beer.

(Dark beers) are just what the market wants. We will certainly do some hoppy beers along the way for the hoppy beer market but I think as an overall, a lot of our beers tends to be less hoppy. Things like Soulful Ginger. It’s neither hoppy or malty. It’s nice and dry. It’s not very hoppy.

Rye Felicia is malty. Slumber Party is nice and malty. Nut ReMix is malty with a little bit of hops.

MF: What’s next?

DB: We will continue to be as focused as we can on the local market. We don’t sell beer outside the local market. We have a good base out in the city. We’re really just trying to give more and more people an opportunity to come and try it (at the taproom) with out extended hours and days.

We want to do more things here and have more on-site events. Do more small-batch stuff that only available in the taproom. We just want to get more people in here to say hey and have a beer with us.

AA: There’s a lot of different ways to grow. Since we self-distribute in Shelby County. We’re not looking to get outside of that. We’re trying to find ways to grow in other ways.

The Memphis beer market will mature this year. Wee finally have the high-gravity thing out of the way. We have some more breweries coming online.

We had three breweries open up in 2013, but here it is four years later. I think we’ve all learned a lot and we’ll start hitting our stride. We’ll be pushing more beers out there and educating people. I think the whole beer scene is going to start to get more mature.

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