Walk into Bog & Barley, DJ and Jamie Naylor’s exquisite Irish pub in the heart of East Memphis, and you can’t help but be struck by the authenticity and attention to detail.
The wood-paneled walls, the bars, the furniture — they were all handmade in Ireland, shipped to Memphis, and carefully rebuilt by an Irish crew.
But step up to the bar and order a “pint of the Auld Bog,” and you’ll get a delicious Irish stout that was handcrafted right here in Memphis.
Auld Bog is Bog & Barley’s signature house beer, available since the restaurant opened its doors in April of this year in the Regalia shopping center.
The beer, made by Soul & Spirits Brewery in Downtown Memphis, has been an undisputed hit.
Bog & Barley is selling more than 300 pints a week of the nitro-infused beer, second only to Guinness.
“Auld Bog has blown me away,” said Ryan Allen, master brewer and Soul & Spirits co-founder.
“I’m brewing quite a bit of it, and they are definitely keeping me busy in production. I’m thrilled so many people have had the opportunity to taste our beer and DJ and his team’s vision.”
Seeds of a partnership
To DJ Naylor, with all the effort that went into making Bog & Barley so special, it only made sense to offer a signature beer.
“I just felt with all we were doing, and the extent to which we were building the place, and everything being so unique and beautiful, and the food menu being so good, I just saw it an an opportunity,” said Naylor, who also owns Celtic Crossing in Midtown with his wife.
From the start, Naylor knew he wanted to collaborate with Allen on the project.
“We had worked on a couple of things previously. We’re friends. He comes to my whiskey tastings, has a great palate, great understanding, great knowledge,” Naylor said.
“Once you have a conversation and can understand where his head’s at … he’s just a beer guru, I think.”
Allen said Naylor’s Celtic Crossing was one of the first bars in town to carry Soul & Spirits beer.
“I walked in and just hit it off with DJ,” Allen said. “It’s crazy to think I’ve only known him for basically a year and a half. They’ve been a huge supporter of ours.”
Crafting a beer for Bog & Barley
In creating a singular stout for Bog & Barley, Naylor and Allen talked through some ideas.
“First of all, he interviewed me,” Naylor explained, laughing, “and said, ‘what do you want?'”
“And I said, ‘something maybe a little lighter than Guinness … maybe just something a little cleaner than Guinness.'”
Naylor and Brad Allbritten, Bog & Barley’s general manager, tasted some of Soul & Spirits’ nitro and seasonal stout beers right alongside a Guinness, and gave Allen feedback.
There were a few trial runs, and Naylor and Allbritten, along with a few other team members, tasted some options Allen had brewed.
“We eventually landed on this formula,” Allbritten said, “and it just has been out of sight for us.”
Allen said the beer’s uniqueness lies in trying to recreate the Bog & Barley team’s vision.
“With DJ at the helm,” Allen said, “we focused on creating a beer that reminded him of home.”
For now, Auld Bog is served in a Guinness glass, but Soul & Spirits is working to create a custom glass to enhance the experience. The new one will be shaped like a Guinness glass, but feature the logos of both Bog & Barley and Soul & Spirits.
Allbritten said he hopes to be able to sell the glass or offer it in promotions at Bog & Barley soon.
Meanwhile, Allbritten said the response to Auld Bog has been “overwhelming.”
“This is a beer that you can have multiple of. It’s got a great flavor. It’s got a great finish. But it’s not overly heavy for a stout,” Allbritten said.
“When we pour it, people are expecting that same Guinness flavor profile, but we didn’t want something to compete directly with Guinness. We wanted something to stand on its own.”