Photo by Meagan White // Staff Photographer
In the far end of an old warehouse on Old Salem Road resides an artsy chaos of fresh suds and live music. Opening the door to Mayday Brewery reveals to you a wacky black-and-white painted path that leads you past art-smattered walls and large windows looking into the enormous brewery where the magic happens. You follow on into the tasting room where the customers gather to drink craft beer and enjoy Mayday’s artistic vibe.
The man behind the madness is owner Robert Lee Nelson, but the people of Murfreesboro just call him Ozzy.
“The name Mayday comes from my dad,” Ozzy said, his long, steel gray curls framing his round Osbourne-esque glasses. “He’s an electrician and whenever something goes wrong it’s a mayday. We have a lot of maydays around here.”
Mayday is the parent of six unique beers with names like Boro Blonde, Evil Octopus and Angry Redhead. The atmosphere of Mayday is just as quirky and creative as the names of the beer, and that’s what keeps people coming back.
“I started brewing in about 1993. Didn’t care anything about opening a brewery or knowing what that was all about, [but] I want to be my own boss,” Ozzy explained. “I talked to a few other breweries around and decided this was what I wanted to do. So it’s everything now.”
Tours of the brewery are offered every Saturday. One lucky tourist gets to sit in the “Twitter chariot,” a wingback chair on a pallet with wheels on it. Ozzy gives his phone to the reigning tweeter and lets them control the brewery’s social media for the duration of the tour.
“I need somebody to tweet, and I don’t have time for it right now,” Ozzy said while laughing. “And it’s a good way to have different people. And I can use that chair.”
Mayday also hosts a wide variety of music events that feature local bands of almost all genres.
“On Friday night we have acoustic music in here: singer-songwriter stuff, bluegrass, Americana. On Saturday night we either have live bands in the brewery or outside. So we have three music venues here,” Ozzy said. “Slide bands, rock ‘n’ roll, blues, reggae, funk. We have some jive music [and] soul.”
“No R&B yet,” Ozzy added. “I don’t know any R&B bands, but if some approached me I’d definitely check them out.
Art is a large part of Mayday’s attraction, as well. They were featured in the Boro Art Crawl in October, and they host their own Folk and Art Festival each year in the summer. The brewery and the tasting room are decked out in artwork from local artists, all of which is available for purchase.
“You can buy any of the art on these walls and we give all the money to the artists, so it’s basically just a gallery,” Ozzy said. “If it’s worth hanging [and] you want to sell it, bring it in. We have space.”
Mayday’s community involvement doesn’t stop at the arts, though. The brewery is always giving to charity functions around the community, like the walk for Alzheimer’s, events for sick children and hospice organizations.
Ozzy says he is also starting to work with a few MTSU professors who want to use the brewing process as a learning opportunity for their students.
“We’re doing more and more stuff with the university with biology classes and food-type classes taking tours in the next few weeks,” he said.
As good as it is to brew beer for a living and be his own boss, Ozzy says it’s the people who make it worth it.
“I’ve met so many awesome people for the past three years,” Ozzy said, his eyes widening in sincerity behind his glasses. “So many cool people that I never would have met otherwise, whether they were running a charity or whether they’re in a band or they’re just a customer. All walks of life come in here.”
Mayday Brewery continually proves that the business is about more than making money or impressive drinks. As Ozzy’s sign-off on Mayday’s website so simply states: “Love the people, love the beer.”
This story appeared in the Nov. 30, 2015 print edition of Sidelines. Copies are currently available for free on stands throughout MTSU’s campus.
To contact Lifestyles editor Tanner Dedmon email firstname.lastname@example.org.