Brian Walton and Marty Mills have developed quite a following at their local hangout.
Tucked away in a residential golf course neighborhood somewhere in Franklin sits the Stonewood Saloon, the ultimate man cave for craft beer aficionados and a local legend in the making. Inside, you’ll discover a pool table, a fire roaring in the fireplace, a bar area, several bar stools, three refrigerators, a wagon mounted on the wall, mining artifacts, Wild West decor and an actual cave, loaded with rare and specialty brews. You’re also likely to find local executives Brian Walton and Marty Mills, pouring and enjoying some of the best beers around.
“There isn’t a bar in the world that has better beer than what we’ve got here,” said Mills. “The best beers in the world have come through here.”
And he isn’t kidding. Both Mills and Walton are avid beer collectors. Between the two of them, they figure they have somewhere between 700 and 800 rare beers.
“Brian and I usually have great beers,” said Mills. “And he has this great place for everyone to meet.”
The legend of the saloon began around two years ago when Mills and Walton discovered they had a mutual love of craft beers. Mills, who lives a block away, would often come over to the saloon for brews after Walton’s kids had gone to bed. As more and more of their friends and fellow beer-lovers dropped by, their informal club began holding more regular gatherings.
“All we need is a beer and a glass,” said Mills. “We’re all about sharing.”
The previous owner of the house, David Hart, lovingly designed the saloon to reflect his interest in the culture of the Old West. Hart drove all over the country to collect and handpick the mining artifacts that can be found in the saloon. Walton’s all-time favorite movie is “Tombstone,” and he knew he wanted to buy the house the second he saw the saloon.
“We love entertaining in general,” said Walton. “We really wanted a house with a saloon and we found this one.”
Instead of sports or politics or real estate, typical hot topics at the saloon are subjects such as the new Tennessee beer laws, brewery gossip and rumors, and current favorite local breweries (for the record, current sentiment favors Bearded Iris and Southern Grist). There is also usually more than one person sharing their latest on-the-road adventures in search of rare beers. Instead of comparing pictures of kids or cars, guests in the saloon oooh-and-ahh over photos of rare beers. Quite simply, it is heaven for craft beer enthusiasts, a mecca for hop heads, a true nirvana for beer nerds of all ages.
“We’re always looking for people who love beer,” says Walton. “We love all people who love beer.”
Although it’s mostly a private club, word about the saloon is starting to spread through Nashville’s beer circles. “We often see cars driving by slowly trying to figure out what’s going on,” said Brian.
Beer isn’t the only featured attraction in the saloon. The guys also love to eat, cook and pair beer with food. Mills makes gourmet specialties he often shares at the saloon. Some of his recent creations have included pizza balls stuffed with cheese and pepperoni, bacon-wrapped dates and candied bacon. Walton has a Big Green Egg and his BBQ brisket is a popular addition to their beer gatherings.
“I love having people over,” said Walton. “I would honestly rather share a beer than drink it by myself.”
In addition to sharing beer during informal beer tastings and gatherings, the saloon also hosts special beer-themed events like “Man vs. Stout” and “The Good, the Bad and the Drain Pour.” This past holiday season they even had a “Dirty Santa” party featuring rare brews.
“It’s been a great way to meet new people and explore different styles,” said Mills.
With a revolving door of events, people and beers, you never know who you will encounter at the Stonewood Saloon and you never know what you will be drinking until it’s being poured into your glass. Chances are, though, that it is going to be something great.