Fish and Chips and New Brew News at Cool Springs Brewery

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I have to admit that I've been cheating on my group of lunch buddies who go by the moniker "Los Luncheros." We've been searching this year for the best fish and chips in the Nashville area, but I think I may have found the holy grail while on a solo expedition. When the folks at Cool Springs Brewery saw we were hunting proper fish and chips, owner Chris Hartland reached out to me to throw his cod in the ring.

The man knows of which he speaks, since he's a British expat who moved to the States in 2008 after a career in the military. After a few years of slowly converting the old Guido's menu to pub fare, Hartland finally took the leap recently and added fish and chips. His father in law offered the guidance that only a relative can provide — aptly so since he ran a successful chip shop in the UK for more than 30 years. Hartland and his wife stayed warm in the bedroom over the fryer, so they have malt vinegar in their blood.

The father-in-law was integral in sourcing the proper equipment for a properly fried piece of fish and insisted on details like maintaining a fryer vat exclusively dedicated to fish so the flavors of other fried items do not co-mingle. They use Boston cod, a superior grade of cod that they say nobody else in town has. The fish is frozen while still at sea to ensure it is defrosted only once prior to cooking. If you have to defrost fish twice, you really increase the fishiness of it, and if anyone tells you that they're using fresh cod for their fish and chips, you must be dining in the galley of a fishing boat on a two-month excursion.

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Cool Springs Brewery serves two different sizes of fish and chips, a small for $8.99 and a regular for $12.99. The helpings are enormous, with a single fillet on my plate measuring almost a full foot long. Hartland says the secret behind his flavorful crunchy crust is the special thin batter that his father in law shared with him. "You really have to watch after it, or the batter will get too thick and hide the fish." Thinner batter allows for the coating to fry to a golden brown without overcooking the fish inside. The cod I tried was perfectly cooked, flaky and flavorful.

The fish and chips are served with a house-made slaw, tartar sauce and fries. If I had a quibble, it would be that the steak fries were unremarkable, but Hartland admonished me that the fish has to be the focus. "Otherwise, that's chips and fish."

In other Cool Springs Brewery news, they have recently hired a new brewmaster from Boulder, Colo. Beer nerds know what an active craft beer culture Boulder has, and Derrick Morse was one of the more active members of that community. Morse brings a new enthusiasm to the brewery, which already has some state-of-the-art equipment for him to play with. Morse plans to keep a lot of the customer favorites on tap, but he also wants to introduce some Belgian-style beers, some sour-mash Berliners and all sorts of funky stuff.

He hopes that local beer and home-brewing fans will have their meetings at Cool Springs Brewery, and he has even invited home brewers to come brew with him in places he has worked in the past. I think you can expect some remarkable beers to start flowing from the taps really soon.

Drop by for some of those amazing fish and chips and say hello to Chris and Derrick. While you're at it, pick up some of that bad-ass Boggs Sauce, too.

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