Chuck Skypeck loves his city – and he loves beer. As microbreweries surged across America, Chuck and his partners created the region’s first: Bosco’s.
Their beer proved popular enough that Chuck was able to realize a lifelong goal of being a partner in his own craft brewery. Now the Ghost River Brewing Company sits at the southwest edge of downtown, just a stone’s throw from the Mississippi River.
Chuck believes beer is enjoyed best at home; the closer one is to its source, the better it’s bound to taste. Because Memphis water is highly integral to defining the taste of his product, Chuck thought it was a great idea to tie his marketing to the Ghost River portion of the Wolf River. After all, so is his livelihood.
That’s part of the reason the brewery donates a portion of its proceeds to the Wolf River Conservancy, which works to keep the area pristine and preserved. Memphians can drive just an hour from the heart of the city only to find themselves submerged into a primordial forest full of moss, cypress trees and wildlife. Chuck, and many others, would like to keep it that way.
Here are Chuck’s thoughts from “A Tangible Birthplace,” which can be watched above along with music from composer and cellist Jonathan Kirkscey of the Memphis Symphony Orchestra.
When the Wolf River comes down out of the highlands, where it’s raised, there is a beautiful wetland there that’s full of cypress trees, lots of beautiful undergrowth, old growth trees.
As the Wolf spreads out in that wetland, the one thing that you don’t find anymore is the channel of the river. And that’s why it’s called the Ghost River: because the channel of the river has disappeared.
The Ghost River section of the Wolf River is one of the main entryways for water into the Memphis Sands Aquifer. And that water has been flowing through that aquifer for 60 to 100 years. And during that time it has become purified. And it is also very soft, meaning it has no minerals in it.
And that type of water is very desirable for us to brew beer with.
Brewing is on some levels a very, very simplistic process where we are combining four ingredients: water, barley malt, hops and yeast. And water is the backbone of the beer. It’s 95 percent of the beer.
Our brewing process takes the better part of a workday. The brewers will actually spend eight to ten hours brewing a batch of beer.
Tours are a great way for our customers to come and see where the beer is born – to see that the beer has a tangible birthplace.
Knowing about the Ghost River, and having been on the Ghost River, it really seemed a natural that we make that tie with our beer brand to the Ghost River. We do donate a portion of the proceeds from the sales of all Ghost River beer to the Wolf
We often will take Ghost River beer on our trips down the Ghost, and it’s really a treat to in essence, take the beer back to its point of origin, There’s no street noise, no road noise – just the sound of the water, the sound of the wildlife that are in the area, the birds, the sound of your canoe going through the water.
A very, very profound place.
It probably doesn’t ever taste better.
is a cellist/arranger/composer who currently performs with the Memphis Symphony Orchestra as well as several well-regarded Memphis-based musicians and bands, including Mouserocket, Harlan T. Bobo, Rob Jungklas, Glorie, and String Theory.
He has contributed string arrangements and recorded with artists including as Cat Power, Two Way Radio, Susan Marshall, Todd Agnew, Al Green, the North Mississippi Allstars, Smokey Robinson, Rod Stewart, Marti Pellow, Snowglobe, Fingers Like Saturn, Vending Machine, Kallen Esperian, and The Lost Sounds. He has also performed on soundtracks for Memphis-based director Craig Brewer's films including "The Poor and Hungry" and "Black Snake Moan," in addition to Wong Kar Wai's "My Blueberry Nights."
Jonathan has also composed scores for several films: Memphis director Mike McCarthy's "Cigarette Girl" and True South Studios' sequel to their documentary "Two Million Minutes."
"The Ghost River Quartet"
Jessica Munson, violin
Barrie Cooper, violin
Elizabeth Luscombe, violin
Jonathan Kirkscey, cello
Lance Murphey, editor, co-producer
John Hubbell, writer, co-producer
John W. Moore, Reid Dulburger, Amy Daniels, executive producers
Running Pony Productions, additional graphics
Amy Clithero Gill
John W. Moore