To say beer is just now having its day in the Memphis sun would imply that it has only had one.
Not so, according to numerous Flyer stories from 1998. Beer, it seemed, was pouring all over Memphis 16 years ago, and the Flyer covered every drop.
By the mid-1990s, Bosco's Pizza Kitchen and Brewery was open in the Saddle Creek shopping center. A brewery in the old Greyhound Station on Union had come and gone. Breckenridge Brewery had opened on Main Street, and the Flying Saucer was open on Peabody Place.
In 1998, Corky's Ribs & BBQ, had introduced its very own beer, according to a Flyer story. Brewed and bottled by Denver's Breckenridge Brewery, Corky's beer was an amber ale created to complement the restaurant's signature barbecue.
The brewpub chain Hops made its Memphis debut in 1998 at 7065 Winchester Road, an address that's close to the present-day Malco Majestic Cinema. The Florida-based chain offered Memphis customers tours of its on-site microbrewery and made an amber and a lager.
In 1998, hand-crafted, high-gravity beers arrived in Memphis.
"Following the lead of Nashville, in the past month Memphis-area liquor stores have started stocking their shelves with beer," a Flyer story reads.
The beers were typically European imports, such as Orval or Chimay, or North American brands such as Rogue.
"There's a large beer-drinking population here in Memphis, and they've always wanted better-tasting beers, beers that are a little stronger than your typical American beer," said Frank Sullivan, a manager of Joe's Liquor in Midtown. "So those people are ecstatic that we've started stocking these beers."
In September 1998, Breckenridge Brewery closed, which caught its employees by surprise when they showed up for their shifts and found new locks on the doors. The Memphis store's closing was likely part of a national strategic move by its parent company, the Flyer reported.
The closing made way for another brewpub, Gordon Biersch, to open in the same space, but it only lasted a couple years. The space sat dormant until Majestic Grille opened there in 2006. Breckenridge's brewing equipment is still in the Majestic, but is hidden behind big walls.
Bosco's remained open but moved to Overton Square in 2000. It remained there through the Square's long dormancy and is now at the center of the area's revival. Many have said the brewpub's continued success laid the groundwork for much of craft beer's newfound success in Memphis.
The Flying Saucer also remains open in its original location on Peabody. It's been a headquarters for Memphis beer drinkers, with its ever-changing menu of beers pouring from its huge wall of draft taps.
Corky's still proudly serves "Corky's Memphis Brew" by the mug or pitcher. Hops closed in 2004. Beers you won't find in any Tennessee grocery store can still be found at just about any liquor store in town.
Beer is indeed on the front burner of the Memphis drinking and dining scene after a watershed 2013 that saw three micro-breweries and two growler shops open. If locally made craft beer keeps its foothold in Memphis as it has in other cities, the scene will continue to grow and change.
Beers will change, too. New beers are on the way for the spring and summer. Check out this week's cover story — our Spring Beer Guide — to find a fresh beer for what are sure to be warmer days ahead.