With an undergraduate degree in biological anthropology from Harvard and a law degree from Vanderbilt Law School, it might come as a surprise that Bailey Spaulding now holds the title of CEO & Brewmaster at Jackalope Brewing Company. It was at law school that Bailey began on the path of opening a brewery. She found the combination of art, science and history intriguing and the ritual of writing a recipe and sharing beer with friends personal. A Vermont native, Bailey had lived in a sea of breweries, and after law school graduation, she decided to bring this beer culture to the creative community of Nashville and fill the beer gap. “I felt like I could be a part of something, helping to create a real craft beer culture here,” she tells us. And that she did. In the last six years, Jackalope has remained a staple, a trailblazer in the brewery community, and Bailey has led the charge. Welcome Bailey Spaulding as today’s FACE of the South!
What makes Jackalope so unique?
Being a positive and active part of our community is incredibly important to us. It definitely adds another layer of complexity but makes our work that much more fulfilling. For example, in our taproom, 20% of the proceeds from our featured seasonal beer always goes to a different (usually local) nonprofit. We’ve figured out that over the past six years we’ve donated over $35,000 to 40+ different nonprofits just through that program. We also have an amazing group of people on our team, and we really like for our consumers to feel like they know us! There is a personal story behind pretty much everything we do at the brewery, which makes it very honest work. For example, I did a semester at the University of St. Andrews when I was in college and have thrown Robert Burns Day (he was the national poet of Scotland, and they have big dinners in his honor in January) parties pretty much every year since then. So every year we throw a Robbie Burns Day Highland Games event at the brewery, and this year brewed a Scottish Pale Ale to go with it.
How would you describe Jackalope’s beers? How do you develop the flavors?
Our beers are typically based in classic styles with our own twist. There’s no set way that we develop new brews. Typically there will be a style or ingredient that we are interested in, and I’ll build a recipe around that. Sometimes the ingredient will be traditional, like if there is a specific hop or yeast strain we want to use, or will be more unusual, like fruit or tea or spruce tips.
Are there any new beers on the horizon?
Of course! Our spring seasonal, Lovebird (a strawberry raspberry hefeweizen), just came out last week, which was very exciting for us. We also have grown our barrel aging program a bit, so we have different beers aging in chardonnay, pinot noir, rum, whiskey and Islay scotch barrels right now. I’m pretty intrigued to see how they all turn out.
Give us a peek at your agenda. What’s a typical day like for you?
Jackalope is a small business that has a lot of moving parts, so I don’t think I’ve ever finished a day having done what I set out to do, and each day is very different from the one before. It’s my job to try to keep all the aspects of the brewery running in line with each other as much as possible, so I help oversee production, our taproom, sales, marketing and events, pay all of our bills and taxes, and lead the overall strategy for the brewery. Yesterday, I helped on the canning line for a bit in the morning, then I was on the overnight brewing shift since one of our brewers is out of town. I got home at 6:30 a.m. and then had a lunch meeting about some summer events, had my weekly meeting with a couple of our managers, and then met with a new employee to discuss their job duties, and rounded out the day with a podcast interview from the taproom this evening. I’m all over the place!
What is something people would be surprised to learn about brewing beer?
I think people are surprised by how technical brewing is and how teeny changes can produce very different beers. For so long in this country, beer was a second-class alcohol, just yellow fizzy liquid that all tasted the same. The craft beer revolution has changed that.
As a woman, what challenges do you face in working in an industry that has traditionally been dominated by men?
This question has always been hard for me, since the only experience I have is my own. A lot of times people just assume the owner of the brewery is going to be a man, and there are definitely people along the way who haven’t listened to me because I’m a woman, which is frustrating. But there are also a lot of positives. I actually draw power and motivation from those people. Also, more women come to Jackalope than to the average brewery, which is probably at least partially due to our status as a woman-founded brewery, so we help more women become interested craft beer. I also get to inspire women into pursuing their dreams, brewing or otherwise, and I love being a part of a community of strong, empowered women.
What is the best piece of advice you have received and from whom?
A friend of mine who was a postdoc at Harvard and a professional falconer once told me, “Find what you love doing in life, and con somebody into giving you money to do it.” Maybe the way he said it was a bit funny, but what resonated with me was that I could find my own way and make a living at it.
Where can we find you hanging around Nashville?
My husband Luke and I take our dog to the trails in Percy Warner most weekends. The 404 Kitchen is my favorite restaurant (only partially biased because Luke is the sous chef there). We also just went to Henrietta Red, and I’m still thinking about those oysters — I have a feeling we’ll be going back a lot!
Aside from Jackalope’s taproom, where is your favorite place to grab a beer in Nashville?
I live in the Melrose area, so Craft Brewed, M.L. Rose, 12South Taproom, Edley’s, the Meet Room, The Filling Station … they all have great draft lists and are walking distance to my house. It’s one of the things I love about the neighborhood!
Can you recommend any good books?
What are three things (excluding faith, family and friends) that you cannot live without?
IPAs, Vermont cheddar cheese and Bruce Springsteen!
A special thanks to Ashley Hylbert for today’s gorgeous photos!
Read about even more amazing women from all over the South in our FACES archives.