When Canaan Smith took to the woods to film a video for “Colder Than You” from his latest album High Country Sound, he didn’t know it would lead to the launch of an exciting new venture. Smith has developed Brewshine, a new beer he recently unveiled during an event at Nashville’s New Heights Brewing Company.
“When I decided I wanted to brew beer in the woods for that music video ‘Colder Than You,’ it was something I didn’t know anything about,” he tells Sounds Like Nashville. “So I called a friend who had some home brew experience, but not all the gear and he called his friend who likes brewing, so they gave us the rest of the gear that we needed to pull it off. It ended up being such a fun experience for me. I really enjoyed learning the start to finish process of how to brew beer and doing it out in the woods felt like moonshining. We were literally using blue ridge spring water in Georgia back in the woods and cooking it over a fire in this big pot. It felt like we were doing it old school and that was ringing all my bells because I love the whole spirit of moonshining and the off the grid way of doing things.”
The fun video shoot project evolved into a potential business opportunity when Smith became friends with the guys at New Heights Brewing Company. “We had struck up a friendship, which ultimately led to the idea to create my own crushable craft beer,” he says. “I love beer, but there’s a sweet spot for me. I wanted to create something that represented the lifestyle that I love.”
Smith describes Brewshine as “Born in the woods, made for the wild,” and in addition to crafting the taste of the beer, he’s enjoyed working on the marketing and branding. “I wanted to take what I’ve learned all these years in the music business,” he says. “You’ve got to have a message and I felt like my beer had a message. It was born in the woods and made for the wild, so we put that on the can. The design of the can itself speaks to the whole spirit of the brand and when you talk about point of purchase sales, I really am excited to see what people think when they see it on the shelf. I think they’ll be drawn to it.”
In addition to the launch party at New Heights, Smith has been on the Brewshine Beer Tour this month, visiting local taprooms and pubs in the Nashville area to share his new brew. “It has little sneaky bonus features as you go. It’s 5.1% alcohol which is stronger than all your domestic light beers and it also lives in its own unique space as far as the type of beer,” he says proudly. “It’s not a pilsner and it’s not a lager, but it’s somewhere in between, making it an American blonde ale. But it doesn’t drink like a typical blonde, it drinks more like those pilsners/lagers which are usually smooth and easy.
“We were able to up that ABV [alcohol by volume] to give people more bang for their buck and it’s a 16 oz. can, so it sneaks up on you as easy as it goes down. It definitely starts catching up with you and that’s something we got to see at the party the other night. Everybody was super excited and surprised about how drinkable it was, but an hour and a half in, everyone was also excited for different reasons,” he says with a laugh.
Smith partnered with New Heights for brewing and distribution and has learned a lot from those at the Nashville-based company. “My friends at New Heights were willing to share their experience and kind of bring me into the fold and now we feel like family,” he says. “I’m just wide eyed and happy about the whole thing. I can’t describe to you the excitement I have for feeling like I’m at the forefront of a really exciting new venture that also gives me a creative outlet outside of music and inspires the music at the same time. They kind of fuel one another in a really cool symbiotic way.”
Smith admits he had no idea the video shoot would lead to all this. “We did every step in the process except waiting the two weeks to ferment the beer. We didn’t have time on our hands to do that,” the Virginia native says, “but we brewed a batch of beer from start to finish and that was my very first time doing it. Plus, I got to use all my backpacking gear and I was out I the wild in the woods in North Georgia, in my element, so it was born out of such a place of inspiration and appreciation. It was really easy to put it together. Honestly once they said they wanted to do it, I knew in my mind already what I wanted the brand to represent, how I wanted it to taste, who it was intended for and all of that. Once we had that recipe down, we were off to the races.”
Right now, Brewshine is only available in Nashville, but there are plans to expand. “We hope to go nationwide and beyond, right now the epicenter is Nashville. We’ll start here and let it grow outwardly,” he says. “Our relationships at distribution are here locally right now and my kind of boot in the ground presence in Nashville allows me to feel more connected to it without it getting away from me. I want it to be my baby and something that I really help represent more than just sending it off to college. I want to be the face of this beer and the voice of it too as people are coming along side and tasting it and becoming champions of the beer. I want to be at the forefront, so allowing me to stay here locally I think is the ticket right now.”
Smith looks forward to hearing what fans think of his latest creation. “I’m convinced that if people get one in their hands, they’re going to really love this beer,” he says. “Beer can be so unapproachable because of things like aftertaste. It can be a little bitter and hang on a little too much. It can be a little too heavy, but this beer was designed to be so smooth. There’s no aftertaste. It’s one of the only beers I’ve ever tried that doesn’t hang around. It’s so easy to drink because there’s not a bitter heaviness to it. It’s a smooth super easy drink. I couldn’t be more proud.”