Arts & Culturewilliam orten carlton ort

William Orten Carlton = ORT

Well, I did it – I finally made it to Nashville to salvage what was left of my house. My friend of over 15 years’ duration, Ron Arrington, accompanied me because he wanted to visit Gruhn Guitars, which is right around the corner from the Brohannon Brewing Company, makers of Market Street Pilsener Draft Beer… but I’m getting ahead of myself. Thirsty, that’s what I must be, unbeknownst.

I can’t really say it was a fun trip, because such trips generally aren’t; but there are plenty of good things to say about my situation: first, I’m not in trouble (at least yet), and if I keep working on things like getting my house secured, evicting the homeless people from the premises, and fixing the place up so I can rent it, I won’t get in dutch with anyone but the bank. Second, since most of the furniture I left in the house is gone, I no longer have to worry about where to put it nor how to transit it, so thank God for small pleasures such as those. Plus, right adjacent to my house is a plethora of groov(e)y thrift stores to plunder through in my spare time; The Ranch House Restaurant is only a mile up Gallatin Pike – WHAT a place!! – I mentioned it in the December 5, 1990 issue (for those of you who save such things), and they put liver and onions and turnip greens on the menu so Ron and I could munch down on that before we left out of Nashville Tuesday night… he liked the place so much that he virtually accused me of thinking it up and then writing myself into the plot midstream; and there’s Market Street Beer. I’ll get back to that later. There is, needless to say, a lot to keep me busy both here and in Nashville. Now, about Athens.

Because I’m writing this ahead on December 17th, I cannot possibly wish anyone a Happy New Year except in advance; the same is true regards my saying Merry Christmas or Chappy Chanukah or Happy Holidaze, so hope you have one or more of these in advance, and in retrospect by the time you’re reading this. Does that make sense? Even Ed Tant could have said that more succinctly, but maybe not as much from the heart, so I’ll let it stand on that basis. Here’s hoping your New Year is as groov(e)y as your December Holiday-Of-Choice.

Ron and I attacked the house problem first, did our checkin with the Codes Department next, then did our best to secure everything. Next trip up, I’ll be working on obtaining funds to rework the house to bring it up-to-code so I can move everything remaining out and rent it. It’s in a good location, so fixed-up it can rent for a lot more per month than my house payment is.

All available time spent on business and all caught up, we drove from the Codes Office back to downtown, where we parked on Famous Lower Broadway. Ron took off to visit Gruhn Guitars and while there met someone who custom-makes banjos. For the record, he already knows quite how to play it: Ron used to be in North Georgia Bluegrass Band that used to play at RuDene’s Deli at The Station back circa 1976. He was my roommate then and we’re still friends after all these years. We have managed to put up with each other well, I guess.

While Ron gaped and gawked and picked and plucked, I strolled around the corner to 134-2nd Avenue, North, passing several Paul-Thomas-type stores, a florist, a restaurant, and lotsa other stuff in my hustle up the street. Second Avenue was known as Market Street in years past, and the late 19th Century character of the buildings reflects that. Nashville is an old city, folks: log houses attest to the fact that the frontier existed there as early as the mid-1700’s.

The 35-gallon mini-brew kettle motioned to me through the window. I was there. Prying the heavy door open, the scent of cooking grain wafted up from the basement. If you love coffee, the smell of the fresh brew is music to your soul; likewise, a lover of malt beverages such as myself is soothed by the odor of cooking mash. It is something not smelled often, and never forgotten once experienced. I thought of my friend Melissa and her love of Mere Bulles’ Wine Bar just up the street; she has been ill, but is recovering nicely; perhaps next trip to Nashville to visit her sister, she will treat herself to a visit to the brewery and a taste of Market Street on draft in their glorious taproom overlooking the Cumberland River.

Digression over, I half-floated up to the receptionist, spewing out “So THIS is where you make the stuff!” She was amused. “Yes, right here, and right there, and all over the place!” came her reply. The Bohannon Brewing Company, makers of Market Street Beer, is doing well, succeeding beyond anyone’s wildest dreams. “We’re gonna have to add another couple of fermentation tanks if this keeps up, and I hope it does,” lamented Lindsey Bohannon, Market Street’s president. Unlike some microbrewery presidents, Lindsey appeared at the time of my visit in a suit and tie, but I could imagine him in coveralls down in the basement, wrench in hand, if the need should arise. I didn’t get to talk to the brewmaster, but I did get to meet nearly everybody else. They are incredibly grateful to The Globe for selling Market Street in the caselots they do, and presented me with some point-of-sale stuff to give to the Globites as a token of their appreciation. While there, I sauntered into the lead-glass-inlaid taproom, circa 1880 and virtually unchanged, where the folks presented me with a fresh Market Street Pilsener Draft. It’s too good to tell you about now, so I’ll save it for later. They also gave me samples of the Oktoberfest on draft, which is available around Nashville in bottles – I plan to bring plently back, as it will not be sold locally. They also had just finished up and readied for consumption a Winter Brew. “I think it’s ready,” Lindsey offered. “Here, follow me… think we’ve got a treat for you.” He led the way down the stiars and into the fermentation room, where he took my glass and turned a spigot, revealing a tank full of opaque near-black liquid. He offered it to me, yeasty head on top, awaiting my approval. I tasted it. “This is AMAZING!” I spluttered in all caps. “Is this the Winter Brew?” “Sure is, and you’re the first one to taste it except us,” Lindsey beamed. “Mighty good stuff. Y’see, we think beer should be a food and not basically water with some grain thrown in as incidentals, and we’re commited to that concept. We’re determined to sell better, fresher brew than anyone else, even if it costs a little more than national brands. And you know what? We’re really doing well; we have exceeded all projections.” He pointed to the six filtering tanks. “There’s space here for two more, and they’re gonna be installed as soon as we can get to it. There’s only one tankful of Holiday Brew, though: do you think we can sell more of it?” “You bet,” I swigged, “especially if you bottle it. I’d buy several cases, and I’m only one consumer.” “Maybe then it would be a good idea,” Lindsey offered. “I’m pretty sold on that concept myself. You’ll have to see to it that your friends at The Globe get some of this ten… maybe we can work something out…” I’m looking forward to my potential rols as beer courier, folks, and promise not to drink it all up while in transit.

If you haven’t managed to try Market Street Beer, please do so. It’s available at A.B.C. Package and the Copper Kettle on Gaines School Road, in addition to The Globe. I don’t know who else carries it locally, but it is also sold in several Atlanta locales. Their other markets are Memphis, Knoxville and Johnson City, Tennessee; Bowling Green and Louisville, Kentucky (statewide there); Roanoke, Virginia and statewide out of Richmond; Charlotte, North Carolina plus some other locations; and expansion is going next to Mississippi and Louisiana, as well as The District of Columbia. I recommend anything they make highly; this is the closest we have here (due to draconian beer laws in Georgia) to having a local microbrew. Again, nobody asked me to write about this: what goes in my columns is from my heart and is my words and nobody else’s, except when quoting. I just think these folks are worth it, and I’m glad to give them the space.

Keep the music coming and I’ll try to write about that for the next issue. Until then, my mother is cooking liver & onions, and (30) awaits me somewhere. Had a good Holiday, and see you soonly. (30)