How Fat Bottom is Welcoming Breweries to CBC 2018

The 2018 Craft Brewers Conference begins on Monday, April 30 and that means breweries in Nashville are gearing up for the craziness and fun.

For Fat Bottom Brewing, that means the release of a slew of collaborations dubbed Collaboration Nation.

This annual exclusive release project by the Nashville brewery intends to continue the industry spirit of camaraderie and collaboration by using beer as a medium for impacting positive change in communities. The beers will be served at Fat Bottom’s taproom and key accounts across Nashville throughout the conference, with a portion of the proceeds being donated to a charity of each brewery’s choice.

Brewmaster Drew Yeager said he was at GABF and he really enjoyed sampling all the amazing beer being made in this country.

“It reminded me how much I love what I do and what I love about this industry,” he said. “I brought up the idea to Zach Easterwood, who handles our marketing and brand development, and he told me I was crazy.

“[It] just made me want to figure out how to make it work even more.”

Easterwood added that since the CBC 2018 is such a big deal to everyone, this gave the Fat Bottom crew the opportunity to partner with national breweries and vendors they might not have connected with others.

“Collaboration Nations is a way for us to celebrate the best parts of our industry, and then share that with others,” Easterwood said. “When you boil it down, it’s just good people making good beer. Everyone has so much going on, that when you have the chance to slow down and appreciate the reasons we all jumped into this industry, it helps bring perspective and a sense of nostalgia.”

The participating breweries include Arts District of Los Angeles.; Brewery Vivant of Grand Rapids, Mich.; Dark Sky of Flagstaff, Ariz.; Foothills in Winston-Salem, N.C.; Goodwood  in Louisville, Ky.; Gun Hill in the Bronx; Monday Night in Atlanta and the Pink Boots Society.

Suppliers: Anton Parr, BSG, Hopsteiner, Microstar Kegs, Omega Yeast Labs and Oregon Fruit are also participating.

Yeager said there wasn’t a set way that Fat Bottom reached out to the breweries. He started with some existing relationships he had in the industry, some not even to ask for them to join, but to see where they saw flaws with the concept.

“Once I had a few breweries on board, I reached out to some of the vendors we work with to see if they would be interested in donating raw materials or equipment,” he noted. “One side benefit to that was asking the vendors to put us in touch with some of the breweries they work with that were making great quality beer. I did reach out to some breweries just by phone or email where I went through the generic “contact us” information on the phone.

“Initially, it was a grind but just getting my head wrapped around the concept. Once we got a few people involved, all the other pieces started falling into place very easily.”

It has been all hands on deck since the beginning of March to make sure they could fit the extra beers in with their normal production.

“As always, brewing is not brewing without a few unexpected pivot moments,” Yeager pointed out. “Two days before our collaboration brew with Monday Night, the motor on our lauter rakes went out. I had to beg Premier Stainless to find one to sell me to keep our production going.

“The Monday Night guys and I spent half of our collaboration day installing the new motor and gearbox listening to Rage Against The Machine.”

Yeager said this project has been one of the best things he’s seen turned from concept into reality. That being said, it hasn’t been easy.

“It would not have been possible without my very patient wife dealing with our 2-year-old and newborn at home while I was working after hours on this project,” he said. “I also want to commend all of the breweries for being flexible, prompt in communication and willing to help in any way possible.

“Not to mention the vendors, which most of them donated 100 percent of the raw materials and made the procurement process very easy on me. Lastly, my brewing team for working overtime and dealing with an ever-changing production schedule.”

His hope is that this year during CBC Fat Bottom will get interest from breweries that want to participate for next year. That way they have the time to do some barrel-aged and sour beers, which will spread out the added pressure to the brewey’s production schedule and add value to the project.

“I think the South has been undervalued in craft beer for a while, and I’m hoping CBC 2018 helps to change that perception,” Yeager said. “We focus a lot of our time and energy on the objective quality of our beer and I am excited to have brewers from all over the country come and validate all of my team’s hard work. I think it will be great for our staff to get a chance to feel the true scale of the industry that we are in.”

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