Two Breweries to Visit in Nashville, Bearded Iris and Smith & Lentz

As somebody who will always search for a city’s best coffee, hamburger, donut, pizza, record store and breweries, it’s no surprise that Nashville hits all these notes. In the end, the city has so much more to offer a traveler.

Being that my time there was a Sunday through Wednesday, many of the breweries were not open on Monday through Wednesday. So on Sunday, when I arrived late in the afternoon, I had to make a quick stop-in to these two places before they closed early. Dammit, open longer on Sunday, peops!

As I pointed out with super cool coffee place Barista Parlor, Main Street into Gallatin in East Nashville is a hub of trendy shops and old school places. Two blocks away from Bolton’s Hot Chicken is Smith & Lentz Brewery. Opened in 2015 by two guys names … ummm … Smith and Lentz, it’s open seven days a week. It’s neighborhood joint popular with young families and beer idiots like me.

Super friendly people working there who pointed me over to the next brewery in this post and to confirm the best beer bars and bottle shops I was going to visit.

Here’s what I had:

  • Coffee Stout
  • Away In Bruges Belgian Pale Ale
  • German Cologne Kölsch
  • German Pils

A Lyft took me to my next destination, Bearded Iris. While we driving there we passed construction upon construction along the Cumberland River. It’s all going to be upscale mixed use commercial and residential mid-rise buildings.

I hope Bearded Iris owns their building because when they get big, they can sell it for triple the money. Cha-ching. In any event, it’s a bit out of the way in a warehouse area, but the space is amazing as you can see in the photos.

The first thing you’ll notice is the bar and back bar. Sure it looks like they moved a vintage church inside, but in fact, everything was built new and aged. The only aspect they re-used were the columns. Everything else was made by skilled artisans.

Even the floor which looks like marbled tile. It’s not, it’s painted linoleum. Along the walls, you can admire the local art work.

In the huge space, you’re likely to talk to a musician who will drop the name of the band or bands they’ve played with and opened for. I have feeling that happens a lot in Nashville.

As for the beer, it was the best I had in Nashville. It’s all simple IPAs and pale ales. No flights, but you can get half pours. It’s great cold beer to down on a warm day.

Here’s what I had:

  • Pipsqueak Session IPA (Enigma, Simcoe and Palisade)
  • Scatterbrain New England IPA (Simcoe)
  • Homestyle New England IPA (Mosaic)
  • Noisemaker Pale Ale (Citra)

Nashville’s Barista Parlor Could Be the Coolest Coffee Shop in America

Coffee joints could be the best places to go local in a city. Tourists either go to Starbucks or to their hotel’s continental breakfast. Survey says …. LAME.

No matter where I wake up in my travels, I have to visit, what I call, the “pretentious hipster coffee” places. The PHCs use terms like single origin, fair trade and sustainable practices. The location should be in a gentrified area or be a previous, unrelated business. More importantly, their coffee menu should be simple and a flat white/cappuccino should be one size and pastries  should be Instragrammable.

Barista Parlor in Nashville fits everything. Even when you throw out my criteria, the coffee was amazing. Coffee snobs can do the cupping thing and people who just want a damn cup of coffee will be satisfied.

The original location in East Nashville is housed in a former autoshop just like imogene + willie (must be a thing). It’s on the same street (Main into Gallatin) as other similar trendy businesses and old school dive bars and diners.

The spacious area is designed for those who want to have impromptu business meetings with long tables or like me, just want to interact with nobody and settle in at a long wood bar made with re-purposed wood. When you put in your order, you get a long stand with some fun picture number on it to take to your table, so they can bring your order out to you.

As you can see, the space is super fun, with art work, free to play vinyl, your odd knick-knack and brickabrak, and best of all, beans to take home. The box is in the shape of a motor oil can. As a warning, they do sell-out of their specialty beans, so take what you can get.

I loved the place so much I went back again before I drove out of town. I just loved the retro-designs, the variety of coffee and gangster donut selection. I think it’s a must-visit even if you’re not a coffee junkie and just want to see a funky space. When I go back to Nashville, I’ll make a b-line there.

Nashville’s imogene + willie Make the Best Jeans in America

I had a list of things and activities I wanted to do in Nashville. In the past couple of years, the city has become a year-long party and culture town — for good and bad. Never the less, I had other ideas then to get sloshed or go honkey-tonkin’.

Buy jeans? Yeah. We’re not talking Levi’s, Wrangler’s or Lee’s — the brands you might expect that they wear in the one of the most laid back cities in America. I wanted jeans that were designed and made in America. I didn’t care about the cost, the jeans I were going to buy would be well-made, last a lifetime and never go out of style.

There’s a store in Nashville that is a must for seekers of style. imogene + willie is housed in a former gas station in the Melrose section south of downtown. They are known worldwide for their jeans, t-shirts and Nashville cool.  J.Crew and Anthropologie sold their stuff at one time. Although, in 2016, they moved their HQ to Los Angeles quietly, which upset locals and their investors.

Even though you can buy them online, if I’m going to spend $250 for jeans, I want to see them in person and see them on my person (I did the same thing in Tokyo). I walked in 15 minutes before closing and told the young lady salesperson wearing a floppy hat the size of car tire, “I’m walking out of here with a pair of jeans.” She lined up their entire selection in different sizes and I tried them all on until I found the perfect pair — the Charlie Wauseon.

As an added bonus for buying them in person, they’ll alter the length so you can have the right cuff so it breaks at your shoe. For an insider tip, have it sent to your home address and you won’t pay sales tax. Granted, you won’t be able to wear them right out of the store, but the tailoring and saving $30 is worth it.

The jeans are amazing. They were waiting for me when I got home, and wore them pretty much every day for the whole summer. The jeans have their cross emblem, no garish designs, gold brass rivets and have a lived-in wash. It feels like a one-of-a-kind, custom-made jean.

Yes,  they are amazingly expensive compared to your run-of-the-mill $60 Levi’s made in some Asian  country. If you are buying imogene + willie, you are making a “Made in U.S.A” statement, but also buying something that will last ad won’t look like dad jeans. Their other clothing items I’d skip like the $80 white t-shirt and such.



Two Craft Beer Places in Atlanta to Visit That Are Within Walking Distance

While Atlanta is not a craft beer destination like Portland, Seattle or Denver, you’ll only need a handful of great beer bars to discover locally brewed beers. Krug Street Market has bottle shop and bar Hop City, which has plenty of local goodness, there’s two places you can tell your Lyft or Uber driver to head to for something after hours.

The Porter Beer Bar is in the funky Little Five Points area, which historically has been its “artsy” area (code for upscale hipsters that wishes it was like Williamsburg and West Village NYC). Surrounded by tattoo parlors, cafes and other trendy bars, PBB has an extensive draft and bottle and has that Belgium beer bar decor. With a high turnover of taps, it always seems that I pick the drafts that juuuuust kick … or they are too lazy to reprint the beer menu that morning or install a chalk board.

In any event, they have a excellent selection of local, regional, Canadian and Belgium beers. It’s not a question of what to have, it’s what NOT to have (stuff you can get anyway).

Here’s what I had while admiring the vintage luggage:

  • Jekyll Brewing — Southern Juice IPA
  • The Southern Brewing Company — Wild Wanderings
  • Brasserie Dieu du Ciel! — Équinoxe du Printemps

No need to taxi over, just a five minute walk down the street is one of the few brewpubs in the city, Wrecking Bar Brewpub. Even better, it’s housed in an old mansion that dates back to 1900. On the downside, it was featured in Guy Fieri’s abomination of a travel shows, Diners, Dives and Douchebags or something along those lines.

Grab a bar stool or, like I did, grab a couch and a pint and drink your way through their beer line-up.

  • Just the Tip of the Cap English Mild
  • Sow Your Wild Oatmeal Porter
  •  Breaking Bob Kölsch

Chase Sapphire Reserve — My One Year Anniversary and Thoughts on Lounge Access

Today is an important anniversary in my travel — one year since I applied and was accepted for the iconic Chase Sapphire Reserve. As you remember, Chase knocked down the 100,000 mile bonus to 50,000 a little over a year ago, which caused a rush to apply before the deadline. I jumped on board that bad boy, because I’m flushed with miles from my main card, the Virgin Atlantic Visa.

Since then, I easily passed the $4,000 charge threshold to get the 100K by charging my rent on Plastiq. Then, I detailed ways you get earn triple miles by charging at coffee houses, breweries, parking, public transport, tolls and ordering food online. With my maneuvering, I earned 155,149 miles in one year. Holla!

With my flights to Vancouver and Denver for a quick trip, I’ve used some of the other travel perks from the card and ways to earn more miles.

For the 3X miles, it’s obvious, but charging your baggage fees will get you triple miles. Normally, with airline credit cards, your bag is checked for free. It’s a good thing if you travel frequently, which offsets the $95 annual fees of something like the the Delta travel card. I had that at one point, but canceled because I wasn’t flying Delta enough and cashed in my bonus miles for a free round trip to Miami.

Then just like in the U.S., some places in Vancouver that you would think would earn 3x miles does not. Two coffee places and a brewery were just a normal mile. It depends how the business registers to the credit card company (restaurant vs. retail store).

While the card comes with some amazing perks like Global Entry and Pre-TSA (which I had before I got the card), the only perk I’ve taken advantage of is the Complimentary Airport Lounge Access via Priority Pass Select. It’s more like “taking advantage of” in air quotes. While it seems like a cool perk, it’s nothing to go out of your way to use.

With my trip through six airports, only Vancouver International terminal I was able to use the lounge. The others (Denver, Newark, Salt Lake City, Phoenix, Minneapolis), the lounges that were part of Priority Pass Select were in other terminals.

The lounge in Vancouver could be accessed by anybody willing to pay $25 an hour. When I arrived, it was way crowded with tourist yahoos clamoring over free cans of soda, cheap wine, rice pilaf and orange chicken. On top of that, one bathroom for both sexes. When I got an open seat, I had everybody and their mother rolling their luggage over my feat. After 30 minutes, I determined being out in the terminal was a better use of my time.

The others perks, like travel, late baggage and trip delay insurance, I hope not to use.