Perrylodgic Brewing Company
From the outside, Perrylodgic Brewing Company in Paris, Tennessee doesn’t seem like much, but once you walk into the cool and mellow atmosphere of the area’s only brewery and tasting room, you quickly see the inside is more than what locals could ever hope to have. Perrylodgic is the brainchild of Randall Perry and John Lodge, and it is also the combination of the two men’s names. It is the culmination of two people who took their passion and used it to create much more than just a business. When we sat down for the interview, both Perry and Lodge wore their company’s t-shirts and took turns talking to Cypress so that one of the men could check gauges, inspect inventory, and prepare for the opening of Perrylodgic Brewing Co. Sitting down for an interview with any small business is tricky, because the owners are often extremely busy, taking care of not only the front end of the business, but also running around behind the scenes to make operations run smoothly every single day. Perrylodgic Brewing Co. brews its own drafts varying from dark to light, ales to lagers, bottled brews to kegs. The tall walls are decorated with an array of items from paintings to old signs to hand-carved ornaments. Some pieces are the owners’, while others have been donated by locals. The Tennessee flag hangs prominently at the front bar beside a recovered stained glass window, a gift from Perry’s mother. Tables sit here and there and in a corner sits two couches and a coffee table. On the other side of the building, sectioned off with large windows, patrons and visitors can see the room where the beer is brewed, with metal fermentors based off of old dairy technology, a technique unique to Perrylodgic.
Chatting with the two men, Lodge tells Cypress about the recent addition of serving food at the brewery, mentioning the always classic Frito Pie. “We just do two things every week for now--last week we did carnitas and sliders--and everything is made in-house. All sauces, everything is made in-house. It’s been very well-received so far.” Perry and Lodge just recently started serving food in their establishment, having only started making food for a mere two weeks before Cypress sat down for an interview. Lodge shares the story of Perrylodgic running out of Fritos for their Frito pies and sending an employee out to buy as many bags as he could anywhere he could--and having to do that twice in one night.
Having been in business for three years, Perry and Lodge make all of their brews themselves. With three distributors across West and Middle Tennessee and Kentucky, the brewery sells bottles and kegs in restaurants, gas stations, grocery stores, and other establishments that will allow them to sell their product. The two men have been family friends for a long time. It wasn’t until a few years ago that the two found out their love for beer and homebrewing beer. Both men tell the story of how it all started:
Lodge: “We brewed all the time.”
Perry: “We did. Every Saturday in his basement -”
Lodge: “Or his house-”
Perry: “He had a huge, full basement. We’d have a theme. It might be chicken or steaks, and one day we did chicken and waffles. And we would just make a day of it. It was fun.”
Lodge: “We gave away a lot of beer because we made it so much. One thing led to another -”
Perry: “A lot of those flavors you see on the board there today.”
Lodge: “Because we brewed them so much.”
Perry: “Got them down to a consistent flavor. We ironed that out before we started this. For me, being consistent on a small system is hard. On the large system, it’s easier; I have a lot more control on temperature and times and even fermentation temperatures.” With their flavors and consistency and their passion for brewing their own beer, Perry decided to call Lodge and tell him about the idea he had to open their own brewery. According to Perry, the idea snowballed from there. “We put everything we own into the brewery,” Lodge said.
“I even put in my tractor. We’re all in. That’s all we can say,” Perry said.
“As scary as that sounds,” said Lodge, “it’s one of the most liberating things you can do, because it takes choice out of the equation; you don’t have a choice. It seems scary, and it kind of is at first, but it’s one less thing I have to worry about. This has got to work. We’ve got to do the best that we can. We can’t quit. We can’t throw in the towel. We can’t just do something else. You don’t have that choice, and it’s kind of cool because then you’re mind is freed up to do other things. You’re able to focus on your product...we love it. We wake up every day excited to come to work.” Perrylodgic enlists the help of family and members of the community, and both men humbly attribute their successful business to the help of friends and family. This system of community has happily and selflessly donated their time and money, and for that, both Perry and Lodge are extremely grateful. The community donates different items to the brewery on “permanent loan,” the two jokingly put, but throughout the interview, both Perry and Lodge emphasize how truly blown away they are by the outreach and support they have received since opening. To give back, Perrylodgic Brewing Co. gets involved in and hosts different charities for Veterans and other community events. “It’s no longer our brewery. It’s not ours anymore. It’s theirs,” John Lodge speaks of the overwhelming support from the community, talking about the locals naming Perrylodgic Brewing Co. their brewery.
Perry and Lodge list as many as ten to twelve different varieties, using small batches within the taproom to try out more and see what their customers go crazy for. “One of them is called Blackberry Harvest,” Perry told us. “That’s one of the ones that people would not leave us alone about. So, instead of making it on a small system, we made it on a large system.”
“But,” Lodge interjected, “you know, once it’s gone, we’ll have another one rotated out. It’s fun for the consumer. It’s fun for us. It’s a win-win all around.” Both men like to experiment with their different flavors and oftentimes pick ingredients themselves to use for their product, including the hops used to brew beer. Having this kind of freedom allows them to come up with combinations that initially may not sound appealing but have turned out to be huge hits. “We have a mint chili beer called Heaven and Hell,” Perry says, “and when we first made it, I was like ‘I don’t know. I don’t think anyone will want to buy this.’ We sold out of it. It’s made with mint and chillies. When you take a sip, it’s cool and refreshing. You swallow it, and the heat comes on like a freight train. And people loved it!”
“We’ve done some wild foraged ingredient beers that people just absolutely lose their damn minds over,” says Lodge. Both men forage for ingredients, including the wild pawpaw fruit, a tropical fruit indigenous to the southern region and as Tennessean as the muscadine. Cypress had the chance to try a papaw. The fruit itself looks much like a potato, but tastes like a mild banana custard. Lodge lists other wild ingredients they use for their drafts, including bloodroot, dandelion, black trumpets, and mushrooms. Why do they use these ingredients? “To incorporate things that are out of our woods that are native to this area and to have it in our beer...that’s really cool,” Lodge told Cypress emphatically. “It’s funny, because I couldn’t get people to try a pawpaw, but I could get people to try our pawpaw beer, and they can then experience that flavor in the beer. We are able to make traditional beers, but then we can also make beers that you just can’t find anywhere else. You know, like the wild mushroom beers: you can’t grow them on a farm, you have to find them out in the woods. That just gives that sense of place...it’s a way to taste West Tennessee.”
Expansion is a far away light in a very long and dark tunnel for the people at Perrylodgic. As for now, Perry and Lodge are still working to make everyone’s experience at Perrylodgic a good experience. The men were more than accommodating: very personable and very friendly, with a ton of recommendations on their different beers and a clear passion for perfecting their flavors. Perrylodgic Brewing Co. is the embodiment of the heartbeat of a close knit community. Locals will tell you how much they love Perrylodgic and their people, but especially their beer. The next time you make a visit to Paris, Tennessee, pull up to the modest building off Highway 79, sit down, and sip on an ice cold beer. And tell them that Cypress sent you.