Last night I attended a tapping of Mantra Artisan Ales. Mantra is the newest brewery in the Nashville area. I had the good fortune of speaking with Chad Frost, one of the two brewers at Mantra.
Chad has a quality background. Like me, he started in the IT world working with data analytics. As our conversation wound around, it became clear that he is a bit of a geek at heart. He intends to wire up their taproom so a tweet is automatically sent when they put a new beer on tap. He also wants a visual gauge so you can see how much beer is left in a keg.
He became a homebrewer and then interned at Cool Springs Brewery, the most creative of Nashville breweries. After his internship was over, he decided to get serious and ultimately ended up in Berlin for 6 months taking the Certified Brewmaster course at Versuchs- und Lehranstalt für Brauerei in Berlin (VLB) Berlin.
He had kept in touch with Derrick Morse under whom he had interned at Cool Springs. One thing leads to another and they decide to build a brewery and snatched up the old Turtle Anarchy location in Franklin as soon as it became available. Through a bit of serendipity, Derek met with Maneet Chauhan and Vivek Deora of the Chauhan Ale & Masala House. Those two were very interested in coming up with beer to pair with their Indian-inspired cuisine. Cool Springs even brewed their in-house beer for them. Through discussions, Maneet and Vivek were able to supply the missing capital to fully get the brewery off the ground.
And they are a very ambitious crew. Most breweries launch with 4 or 5 signature beers and build up from there. Not with Mantra. They are launching with 17 beers of varied styles, from Stouts to Sours.
Last night I had the Japa Chai Milk Stout which is pretty great. I will leave it to the words of others to describe this. One comment I heard was "it tastes like it has a hint of five spice". My palate isn't smart enough to know what five spice really tastes like. But Chad mentioned that they used a spice blend form a local company in the beer so that is probably what contributed to the beer flavor. He also mentioned that they brew a super concentrated chai tea which is added to the stout.
I also had their Belgian Amber. I'm not a huge fan of Belgian beer (or of ambers for that matter). But this had a unique enough taste so it wasn't sweet like so many ambers and it wasn't as fruity as most Belgians. This one met in the middle and worked really well. I also had their Saffron Cardamom ale a few weeks ago at the Tennessee Guild Fest event but I can't say that I remember it. Not their fault….so many beers to sample! But I will give it a full taste in the next few days and I'm sure that – like the other two I've had – it will be a really good beer.