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Ghost River Brewing

There’s a stretch of water on the Wolf River, near Memphis, Tennessee, where the easiest thing you can do when paddling through it is to get lost. That’s because only one of the dozen or so paths that meander through the dense trees actually goes anywhere; the rest are blind alleys, dead ends and red herrings. For this reason, this 8 1/2 miles section of water between LaGrange and the Bateman Bridge became known as the Ghost River.

The State of Tennessee describes the area like this:

The Ghost River is a 2,220-acre section of the Wolf River in Fayette County located within the Coastal Plain Physiographic Province of Tennessee. The natural area includes approximately 14 miles of the Wolf River beginning from the parking area near La Grange to just west of Bateman Road Bridge. The Ghost River section of the Wolf is an unchannelized river section that meanders through bottomland hardwood forests, cypress-tupelo swamps, and open marshes. Some of the most impressive trees that occur here are large oaks that include cherrybark, water, willow, and swamp chestnut. The low ridges above the river bottoms support tulip poplar, beech, and white oak with northern red oak infrequently occurring. The natural area also includes other ecologically significant uplands and sandy hills adjacent to the floodplain.

The braided channels and backwater sloughs of the Ghost River provide excellent habitat for rare aquatic organisms including endangered freshwater mussels and fish such as the fat mucket (Lampsilis siliquidea), southern rainbow (Villosa vibex), southern hickorynut (Obovaria jacksoniana) and northern madtom (Noturus stigmosus). There are over 22 species of freshwater mussels found in the Wolf River. A variety of aquatic and terrestrial habitats also offer unique opportunities for observing birds and other wildlife.

The Ghost River section of the Wolf River received its name from the loss of river current as the water “flows” through open marshes and bald cypress-water tupelo swamps. Blue trail markers show the way for paddlers through the disorienting maze of willow, cypress, tupelos, and stunted pumpkin ash. The marked canoe trail follows the river from Yager road in LaGrange to Bateman Road Bridge. A loop trail and 600 ft. boardwalk was constructed crossing Mineral (Minnow) Slough in 2003 and 2004.

Enter Boscos Brewing, which operates four brewpubs in Tennessee and Arkansas. They recently completed construction of a production brewery in Memphis to make beer for planned restaurants without brewing equipment, a common model more and more brewpub chains are beginning to adopt. Not wanting to dilute the Boscos brand in the market, they’re instead launching a new brand in the area using water from the Memphis aquifer, which contains water from the stretch of the Wolf River known as — you guessed it — Ghost River.

It’s a cool logo, especially on their website. The initial beers from Ghost River will be a Golden, Glacial Pale Ale, a Brown Ale, a Hefeweizen and a seasonal beer. They’ll be available on draft only for the first year and then the company will decide whether or not to package the beer for retail sales. A portion of the proceeds from sales of Ghost River beer will be donated to support the Wolf River Conservancy As they say in the press release. “It is important that we help the Wolf River Conservancy protect our local, natural resources and the quality of our famous drinking water.”

More from the press release:

Ghost River beers will soon be available in area bars and restaurants, as the new brewing company prepares to launch three new, locally-brewed, craft beers and one seasonal beer into the Memphis market.

Beginning in late July, Ghost River Brewing, the only local brewery using water from the Memphis Sands Aquifer, will begin selling their Ghost River Golden, Glacial Pale Ale, Brown Ale, and Hefeweizen (seasonal) beers through Southwestern Distributing Co.

“We believe the efforts of Steve and Gene Barzizza at Southwestern Distributing have helped expose the community to fresh, flavorful beer. This interest has expanded the market’s potential to support a local, craft-brewed beer,” says Chuck Skypeck, head brewer and co-owner of Ghost River Brewing.

The Ghost River brand, created by Skypeck and local design firm Communication Associates, includes a new logo, web site, easy to recognize tap handles shaped like canoe paddles, and several local events planned for August.

“Great water makes great beer. Brewing locally guarantees that every handcrafted, full-flavored Ghost River Ale is the freshest beer available . . . and when it comes to flavor, freshness means everything!” says Skypeck.

There’s also more information about Ghost River Brewing in a recent Memphis Business Journal article.


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