With the first day of fall being Sept. 22, we are all certain to see leaves starting to change to yellows and reds and experience brisker mornings and cooler evenings. For families that are looking for a fall break trip or just a weekend getaway but are worried about social distancing due to the COVID-19 pandemic, look no further than Brown County.
I recently had the opportunity to visit Hard Truth Hills Tours and Tasting Center and Big Woods’ The Original Restaurant. Hard Truth Hills offers an ATV tour through its hundreds of acres of property at $45 a person. The tour includes plenty of drinks (Hard Truth Hills staff are eager to say “you drink, we drive”) and a rolling, often bumpy and always exhilarating ride through the woods that stops at Shiner’s Creek, a moonshiner’s camp; Prohibition Point, a speakeasy in the woods; and Beer Bluff, a beautiful swing set-up where patrons can swing with a view overlooking one of Brown County’s beautiful forests.
There are drinks at each stop, and it was an incredibly fun experience. ATV tours can be booked through October, and they fill up quickly, so jump on it.
Back at the tasting center, I suggest you take the $15, 25-minute tour of the distillery that includes a three-part tasting of Hard Truth Distilling Co.’s spirits and a Hard Truth Mason jar keepsake. Head distiller Bryan Smith did an excellent job educating me on the processes of making different spirits, and it was an incredibly educational tour.
I also had the chance to visit the distillery’s warehouse, where it ages rye and bourbon. Stepping into the warehouse was an incredible experience, where the smell of swollen, saturated white oak barrels filled the space, and barrels were stacked to the ceiling along both sides. I sampled a young rye whiskey straight from the barrel. Although this special tour is not available to the public, I can assure you that when that rye properly ages, it’ll be terrific.
For dinner, I visited The Original – which is a branch of the Big Woods Restaurant Group but features classy comfort food not on the menu at Big Woods restaurants. At The Original, I sampled deviled eggs with fresh herb-infused filling, smoked paprika, thick-cut bacon and pickled tomatoes ($8); the pimento cheese dip, which was quite possibly my favorite item ever with herb naan bred and smoked paprika ($11); flash-fried Brussels sprouts with a honey sriracha glaze ($9); half of a honey-brined fried chicken with cayenne honey and bread-and-butter pickles ($14); the whiskey burger, which was stacked with a white cheddar-stuffed patty with a whiskey glaze, caramelized onions, garlic aioli and arugula ($15); the Molly’s Garden, which is a wild mushroom strudel with warm Green Goddess dressing and a root vegetable hash ($13); the peach bourbon crown sugar cobbler ($9); and fried biscuits with a Hard Truth toasted coconut rum butter sauce drizzle and apple butter ($7).
Hard Truth Hills and Big Woods Restaurant Group is an excellent day trip for a couple looking for a romantic and adventurous date or a group of friends looking to have some fun. I only suggest you take a nice, long walk around Nashville’s picturesque downtown shops before driving home after eating all that food.
For more or to book a tour, visit hardtruthhills.com/tours.