‘Farm to Tap’: Tennessee Encourages Homegrown Farm Products in Local Beers

by Jennifer Shea

The Tennessee Craft Brewers Guild wants to make sure your craft beer contains only the freshest ingredients. So it’s launching a statewide campaign to urge Tennessee brewers to use homegrown farm products in their craft beers.

The Tennessee General Assembly is funding the campaign with a $350,000 appropriation, according to a press release. The guild’s initiative promises to boost support for local businesses at a time when global supply chains are snarled.

“Craft brewers in Tennessee are creative and innovative,” Sharon Cheek, the guild’s executive director, said in a statement. Moreover, “many have already discovered the advantages of using Tennessee-grown products in their offerings. Farm To Tap is a tremendous opportunity to give an economic boost to our farm economy, provide new product lines for the ever-growing craft brewing sector, and give consumers more ways to support local businesses.”

Tennessee Embraces Farm-Fresh Products in Craft Beers

The guild has partnered with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture on the effort, which aims to goose demand for the state’s farm products.

Kyle Hensley is a business development consultant for the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. So he’s been collaborating with the guild, the University of Tennessee and the state’s agriculture extension agents on the promotional campaign.

“This is a logical complement to the state’s successful Pick Tennessee Products campaign, which connects customers to locally grown or locally made products and farm-related activities,” Hensley said in a statement. “Grain products like wheat and barley are certainly common ingredients in many craft beers. [But] Tennessee farmers produce other ingredients – like strawberries, watermelon, other fruits, nuts and honey — which are becoming increasingly popular with craft beer enthusiasts.”

“We want to help our brewers familiarize themselves with what is available and how best to procure the produce,” he added.

Trade Group Is Traveling Across the State Raising Awareness

On Nov. 16, the guild launched their campaign with an event at Harding House Brewing in Nashville. Then it held events in Knoxville and Memphis in early December. It’s also planning “Farm to Tap” festivals for February and March across East, Middle and West Tennessee.

Meanwhile, Tennessee breweries who want to join in the fun can go to https://www.farmtotap.org.

So where does their campaign go from here? They’re looking to highlight brewers who are already using farm products in their beers. And they plan to hold small meetings for brewers who need to be introduced to the concept. Also, look for more festivals and events in future months.

“We want to identify and spotlight ‘pioneers’ in our industry who have already discovered the positives of using Tennessee farm products,” Cheek explained. “And [we want to] introduce farmers and brewers to the concept in one-on-one meetings, small group sessions, and large-scale festivals and other events. We plan to get the word out through as many means as possible within our resources.”

Locally brewed craft beers with ingredients fresh from a farm? Sign us up. Cheers, Outsiders!