A Guide to Knoxville’s Booming Breweries

In Guides, Sips & Shots by Kevin Ridderleave a COMMENT

We’re suddenly living amid a burgeoning craft-brewery scene—here’s who’s brewing what in the Knoxville area. You should be able to sample their wares at Knoxville Craft Beer Week (June 11 through 18) and BrewFest (June 18).

AllianceAlliance Brewing Co.

1130 Sevier Ave., 865-247-5355
The Brewery: Ever since Alliance Brewing Co. first opened its doors in August 2015, its owners have stuck to two main principles: drinkability and “Active Beer Culture.” They know that good craft beer generally has a few more calories than regular beer, so they say if you drink it you should earn it. They back up this statement with various deals and events, like $1 off on Thursdays for trail runners and a partnership with the Appalachian Mountain Biking Club.
The Beer: Alliance keeps seven year-round beers alongside various seasonals and others—they try to have something for everyone at Alliance. They also keep a rotating cast of IPAs on tap; with such a huge variety of hops to choose from, the Alliance team doesn’t want to stay married to one batch.

On Tap:
• Dry Hopped Blonde: An American Blonde Ale that is light and clean with a smooth and fruity finish. Dry hopped with Citra.
• Kolsch: A light German ale that drinks like a lager. Hints of stone fruit and riesling-like flavors are complemented by a smooth, dry finish.
• Scotch Ale: A medium-bodied Scotch ale brewed with beechwood smoked malt. Red in color, this beer is malty, with a smoky finish.

Where to Find Them: Stop by their taproom in South Knoxville, where you can sit down for a pint or take home a 32 oz. canned “Crowler.” You can also find Alliance brews at Bearden Beer Market and various Knoxville locales.

BalterBalter Beerworks

100 S. Broadway, 865-999-5015
The Brewery: Much like some of the bands in Knoxville’s local music scene, Balter Beerworks started off with a few friends and a garage. After tweaking their recipes to be both creative and approachable, the Beerworks team transformed an old gas station into a hip restaurant/brewery earlier this year.
The Beer: Brewmaster Will Rutemeyer keeps a steady and balanced selection on tap. There are no flagship styles, so expect a couple of new brews along with your old favorites. Balter also taps a cask periodically, and the bartenders will hand-pull a pint, usually to showcase a local or unusual ingredient.

On Tap:
• Bear Blend Coffee Oatmeal Porter: Breakfast replacement beer. Bready nose with oats to balance the acidic cold brew coffee addition. Dark and layered, but without a strong alcohol nose.
• Firebelly IPA: Pure hop focus. Classic IPA, bitter with loads of Cascade aroma. Minimal malt distraction.
Good Neighbor Kolsch: Crisp, German-style wheat ale. Malted wheat and light hop additions make a refreshing, but full-bodied pint.
• Maypop APA: Golden And Lightly Hoppy, With A Big Citrus And Floral Aroma

Where to Find Them: Downtown Knoxville on the corner of Broadway and Jackson Avenue.

Blackberry FarmBlackberry Farm

1471 West Millers Cove Rd., Walland, 865-984-8166
The Brewery: Although it first started brewing in 2011, Blackberry Farm’s brewery and processes are rooted in centuries-old traditions. All of its beers utilize a natural re-fermentation in the bottle, which produces a soft and pleasant carbonation. This allows each brew to either be consumed immediately or cellared for a special occasion.
The Beer: The Blackberry Farm brewing team produces four families of beers, each of which serve a different purpose in rounding out their offerings. The brews offered change with the seasons, along with the occasional special release.

On Tap:
• Saison: Inspired by the traditional Farmhouse Ales found throughout Belgium while reflecting the unique changing seasons found here in East Tennessee. All offerings in the Saison family feature a base of floor-malted barley. A rustic and patient approach—working with a uniquely dry and phenolic and fruity yeast strain—yields a wide variety of complex flavors.
• Abbey: Inspired by classical monastic traditions, the Abbey family of ales exemplifies iconic styles crafted with refined, unhurried processes and premium, thoughtfully sourced ingredients.
• Native: The Native family of ales feature a wide range of styles and flavors that share one extraordinary, common component: native wild yeasts harvested from across Blackberry Farm’s 9,200 protected acres at the edge of the Great Smoky Mountains.
• Barrel: The Barrel Family of beers reflects the highest expression of the Brewer’s craft. Each beer is brewed with premium ingredients and fermented with a variety of yeast strains for complex flavor, and will see extended aging in wine and spirit barrels before release.

Where to Find Them: Currently, the beers are available to guests on Blackberry Farm and are distributed to stores and restaurants in 38 states.

BlackhorseBlackhorse Pub & Brewery

4429 Kingston Pike, 865-249-8511
The Brewery: Blackhorse Pub & Brewery first opened its doors in Clarksville in 1992 with the goal of providing a neighborhood gathering place for friends and families. Since expanding to Knoxville (for a second time), it has become a local staple, offering a wide variety of in-house brewed ales and fresh eats.
The Beer: Available on tap at its Bearden location, Blackhorse offers a diverse selection, from signature ales to stout. Try them all in a beer flight or take one home in a half-gallon growler.

On Tap:
• Blackhorse Ale: A fine American light ale, this is the lightest beer in terms of color and flavor.
• Barnstormer Red Ale: Serving as Blackhorse’s flagship brew, this smooth traditional red ale uses Hallertau hops to accompany its sweet round finish.
• McGee’s Pale Ale: With a blend of Munich Malt and two row barley as a base, an assertive taste is created by adding cluster hops.
• Coalminer’s Stout: Reminiscent of the great stouts of England and Ireland, Blackhorse’s stout is semi-dry and opaque in color.
• Vanilla Cream Ale: This creamy vanilla ale combines Vienna malt with American two row and natural vanilla bean.
• Hefeweizen: This authentic German ale finishes with a hint of banana and clove.

Where to Find Them: At Bearden’s Western Plaza in the far right corner.

cold fusion brewing company-01Cold Fusion Brewing Co.

4711 Morton Place Way,  865-963-9764
The Brewery: Since opening its doors in August 2015, Cold Fusion Brewing has been offering “cold brews with a fusion of flavors.” While just a production operation at the moment, the fine folks over at Cold Fusion see a tasting room in their future.
The Beer: Creativity, drinkability and affordability all go hand in hand with Cold Fusion Brewing Co. with offerings like Buzzed Light Beer and S.O.B.

On Tap:
• Buzzed Light Beer: American style Kolsch, and Cold Fusion’s lightest beer. The aroma consists of very easy malty notes. The hops are a super low alpha acid, providing a nice lingering finish without being overpowering. This one is a beer you could drink all day while watching sports, sitting on the patio, or any way you choose to spend the day during the dog days of summer.
• Bootleg APA: Cold Fusion’s American pale ale, the hop aroma coming off this beer is phenomenal. Cascade and Chinook hops are combined to give this beer its bitter finish and heavenly aroma. This is not a burn your taste buds off APA, but the balance is amazing and the hoppy flavors at the end build as you drink more.
• S.O.B. (Save Our Bees) Honey Wheat: The nose on this ale has a very sweet citrus aroma to it, reminiscent of peeled oranges. Fuggle was used to hop this beer, so it’s easy on the nose with only a little bitterness. The color is a beautiful shade of amber a touch darker than a bottle of Honey. The Honey malt is the most prominent flavor in this beer. Finishing with a little hop bitterness making you crave more of that sweet honey flavor and soothing mouth feel.
• Positron Stout: This hybrid ale exists between the designation of porter and stout. It is unapologetically raw and unfiltered to allow for all the ingredient flavors to really shine through without being overbearing to the pallet. The real hazelnuts blended in are a big player in this one, bringing forth a bold flavor that lingers on the tongue.

Where to Find Them: You’re sure to find a Cold Fusion brew at the Powell Station Craft Beer Garden, and possibly at any of the Casual Pints, the Oliver Royale, Scruffy City Hall, Preservation Pub, and Suttree’s High-Gravity Tavern.

Crafty BastardCrafty Bastard Brewery

6 Emory Place, 865-755-2358
The Brewery: Founded in 2014, this local nanobrewery specializes in unconventional craft beers. The folks at Crafty Bastard like to keep things small to provide the most unique, top-quality beers in East Tennessee.
The Beer: It’s safe to say that there’s always going to be something you haven’t tried before with each visit to Crafty Bastard Brewery, from tropical-flavored IPAs and smoky porters to hop-heavy English style beers.

On Tap:
• Hop Candy IPA: Tangerine, mango, and sweet melon notes with a thick, complex body and deep orange hue; low in bitterness and high in drinkability – an amazing arrangement of citrus with a silky mouth feel
• Earl Gray Tea Pale Ale: Black tea taste with a piney aroma, this decadent and lightly-hopped beer has a delicious citrus finish that compliments the notes of bergamot perfectly
• Mayan Chocolate Spiced Porter: A rich, heavy chocolate taste with a heat that kicks you gentle in the back of your throat. A touch of chili has been added to the chocolate, just like how the Mayans used to do it.
• White Wolf Stout (On Nitro): Local homebrewer Luanne Bourne Rounds is the creator of this delicious beer. She used 1000 Faces Coffee from Athens, GA, cocoa nibs, and wrote the recipe so it will be light in color; expect the mouthfeel of a stout but the color of a pale ale; this beer is experimentation at its finest.

Where to Find Them: Their taproom at Emory Place is at the end of North Gay Street, and it also features frequent food-truck visits—check out craftybastardbrewery.com to see the weekly schedule.

DowntownDowntown Grill & Brewery/Woodruff’s

424 S. Gay St., 865-633-8111
The Brewery: Often referred to simply as “The Brewpub,” Downtown Grill & Brewery has been a Knoxville staple ever since its opening in December 2002 in the historic Woodruff building. Every glass of beer is brewed in the midst of a booming restaurant serving everything from steaks to seafood.
The Beer: Brewmaster Al Krusen relies on established traditional beer recipes, something he prides himself on. All beer is available on tap and for take home in kegs, growlers and glasses. Not sure what to get? Order a beer flight and try them all, from the White Mule Ale to a Woodruff IPA.

On Tap:
• White Mule Ale: A medium bodied refreshing Pale Ale made from the finest English barley and hops. Each sip evokes the feel of the time-honored British pub and a “pint of your best bitter.” A pleasant hop balance at the beginning and a smooth dry finish make this ale a perfect accompaniment to your meal.
• Woodruff IPA: A full-bodied, traditional IPA, well balanced with a healthy dose of English hops. Reminiscent of “historical” Knoxville IPA’s.
• New World Porter: A deep ruby red, a rich malt flavor and a creamy head hopped just enough to compliment the bittersweet chocolate note.
• Downtown Nut Brown Ale: A beautiful deep brown hue and a nutty sweetness identify this style of ale from Northern England. Although malt and caramel flavor dominate, hops provide a medium level of bitterness at the finish.
• State Street Stout: Creamy and substantial, this brew is bursting with the flavor of dark roasted grains. Oats add a soft velvety texture that blends well with the distinct malty flavor. An excellent beer to finish any meal.
• Downtown Blonde Ale: This light-bodied Kolsch displays a smooth malt note and a hint of fruit flavor in the finish. The Kolsch style has little hop flavor or aroma, letting the sweet malt taste prevail.
• Alt: An early German ale, this full-bodied Düsseldorf style exhibits a rich mahogany color. Special malts imported from Munich lend an authentic malty note to this exceptional brew.

Where to Find Them: Smack dab in the middle of Gay Street, about a block north of the Tennessee Theatre.

Fanatic Brewing Co.

2727 N. Central St.
The Brewery: A company three years in the making, Fanatic Brewing Co. is full of, you guessed it, beer fanatics. And with a group led by internationally recognized beer judge Marty Velas, you know it’s got to be good.
The Beer: Brewmaster Velas likes drinkable beer, a philosophy that’s reflected in the brews created over at Fanatic. While there’s only the Tennessee Blonde and the Fanatic Pale Ale available for purchase in stores at the moment, you can find their Tennessee Red and Fanatic Black Schwarzbier at local bars and restaurants.

On Tap:
• Tennessee Blonde: A light ale intended to appeal to experience ale drinkers, as well as novice beer drinkers who have not yet experienced the craft beer revolution. It offers a light malty palate with noble hops leaving a light to medium bitterness. A balanced beer, light bodied and somewhat lager-like.
• Fanatic Pale Ale: An American style pale ale that is both satisfying to the experienced ale drinker and yet not too overpowering as to frighten off the neophyte. It offers a crisp texture with medium carbonation and a medium amber-colored body. Its moderate hopping adds a dryness to the finish.

Where to Find Them: You can find their brews in all Knoxville area Food City and Casual Pint locations, as well as some of the local bars. Visit fanaticbrewing.com for a regularly updated list, or to schedule a tour of the brew house. Fanatic’s tap room is opening soon.

LDOFLast Days of Autumn Brewing

808 E. Magnolia Ave., 865-202-4298
The Brewery: Last Days of Autumn prides itself in creating a multitude of unique, small batch ales. The brewery’s self-stated goal is that each time you visit its taproom, there is a beer available on tap that you haven’t tried before.
The Beer: Although the brewery officially opened up in February, Brewmaster Mike Frede has been homebrewing for over 20 years. Seasonality, customer requests, availability of ingredients and the brewmaster’s whim determine what comes out of the tap; there’s no set styles poured at their taproom, but you might find brews such as Sharkbait Blonde Ale, Salted Caramel Porter, or Black Belgian Style Abbey Ale.

On Tap:
• Sharkbait Blonde Ale: This beer was inspired by a week of shark fishing off St. Helena Island, SC.  This is a clean, well-attenuated, flavorful American lawnmower beer flavored with Chinook & Centennial Hops.
• Salted Caramel Porter: A smooth, full-bodied porter brewed with dark roasted specialty malts and sea salt.  Highlighted flavors include caramel, chocolate and cream.
• Black Belgian Style Abbey Ale: This beer was a big hit at the Fairfield Glade Resorts wine festival last year.  It’s a dark ale fermented with Belgian yeast.  Just the right amount of noble hops are added only to balance the flavor of the pilsner malt, black roasted barley and crystal malts.
• Chickamauga Brown IPA:  This is a dry, smooth IPA.  Hints of mint, sage and other herbs make this an easy drink.

Where to Find Them: At their taproom, of course, which also features weekly events and food trucks—check out their schedule at lastdaysofautumn.com.

Saw WorksSaw Works Brewing Co.

708 E. Depot Ave., 865-247-5952
The Brewery: Located in the old Wallace Saw Works Building from which the brewery gained its name, Saw Works Brewing Co. was founded in 2010 (with the initial name of Marble City Brewing). You’re bound to find a Saw Works beer at any of our city’s craft beer hotspots.
The Beer: Saw Works utilizes the traditional Peter Austin Brick Kettle Brewing system with a few modern twists, resulting in a classic yet pleasantly surprising taste. Its three flagship beers include Rocky Hop IPA, Brown Ale, and Pale Ale, though there’s always something new at the Saw Works taproom thanks to its Rough Cut series.

On Tap:
• Rocky Hop IPA: A bronze-medal winner at the Tennessee Championship of Beers, this hoppy brew is reminiscent of classic American IPAs. A light to medium body, this beer’s citrusy hops blend with an earthy aroma for a tasty experience.
• Brown Ale: A gold-medal winner at the Tennessee Championship of Beers, this creamy brew is a throwback to English brown ales. The nutty flavor with hints of chocolate make this one an easy drink.
• Pale Ale: This medium-bodied ale is characterized by light herbal hops and a slightly malty taste.

Where to Find Them: A production-based brewery, you can find this brand in restaurants and grocery stores throughout Tennessee and South Carolina, not to mention its tasting room, where you can grab a beer or go on a tour of the brewery.

Schulz BrauSchulz Bräu Brewing

126 Bernard Ave., 800-245-9764
The Brewery: With a grand opening on June 10, Schulz Bräu will officially be Knoxville’s newest brewery. Its taproom, dubbed “The Great Hall,” is no exaggeration, with seating for 80 people and 20 beers on tap. Outside, the walled-off Biergarten will have seating for 200 guests and will play host to live music and other events in the very near future.
The Beer: As its name might suggest, Schulz Bräu will focus on traditional German style ales and lagers, brewing almost all of its beers according to the Reinheitsgebot (the “German Beer Purity Law”). It won’t be sticking solely to tradition, however; a limited number of experimental brews with non-traditional ingredients will be made as well. The grand opening will feature six Schulz Bräu originals, along with catering from Grujo’s German Restaurant and live polka music.
Where to Find Them: Bernard Avenue is a side street off of North Central Street in the Downtown North district.

Smoky MountainSmoky Mountain Brewery

11308 Parkside Dr., 865-288-5500
The Brewery: First opening in Gatlinburg in 1996 as a brewery/restaurant combo, Smoky Mountain Brewery now operates at four locations across East Tennessee. Freshness is key here; you can only get Smoky Mountain brews at one of the Copper Cellar family of restaurants, meaning that the only thing fresher than its beer is the plate of food next to it.
The Beer: With seven mainstays, three seasonals, and several limited-availability brewmaster specialties, there’s a brew for everyone at Smoky Mountain. And again, freshness is at the forefront, meaning each beer is brewed without the use of chemical preservatives or additives, from the Cherokee Red Ale to the Tuckaleechee Porter.

On Tap:
• Mountain Light: A pale, light-bodied, American style lager. Refreshing and low in carbs and calories. Crisp, clean and delicately hopped.
• Velas Helles: Continental style lager enjoyed throughout Europe. Less hoppy than Pilsner and very drinkable. Light color. Balanced with Bavarian hops.
• Cherokee Red Ale: Medium bodied and well balanced amber ale with a slight fruity note. Inspired by the “Red” ales of Ireland.
• Tuckaleechee Porter: Dark ale with a chewy, roasty character derived from the use of caramel and dark roasted malts.
• Black Bear Ale: English style brown ale with a deep, chestnut color. Low hopping rate and light carbonation. Rich, malty-sweet finish. Touch of roastiness.
• Appalachian Pale Ale: A hoppy, dry ale featuring a fantastic bouquet of Cascade hops. Deep gold in color with a tight, snow white head and pronounced hop flavor.
• Windy Gap Wheat Beer: Refreshing light ale. Extra smooth from the contribution of 50% malted wheat. Light gold in color. Naturally cloudy with a veil of brewer’s yeast.

Where to Find Them: You can find Smoky Mountain brews at any of its four locations in Maryville, Pigeon Forge, Turkey Creek, or Gatlinburg, plus at The Copper Cellar on Cumberland Avenue and in Calhoun’s many locations.

Coming Soon: More New Brews

Chisholm Tavern Brewing | chisholmtavernbrewing.com
Named after the first tavern that opened in Knoxville in 1792, Chisholm Tavern Brewing is already making waves; its Misty Melon Watermelon Kolsch has won numerous awards at several beer festivals in East Tennessee.

Geezers Brewery | geezersbrewery.com
Brewing for the BikesNBeers crew since 2010, Geezers Brewery is planning a mid-summer opening of its production brewery. Until then, check out bikesnbeers.com/events to see where you can grab a Geezers brew. Beers include the so-called Big Dumb Blonde, Kassassinator, Bitch Puddin’, and Pale Bastard.

Hexagon Brewing Co.  | hexagonbrewing.com
Located in Fountain City on Dutch Valley Road, Hexagon plans to be open by the end of the year. It will be set up for distribution and pouring in its tasting room.

Pretentious Beer Glass Co. | pretentiousglass.com
Matthew Cummings has been hand-making a multitude of “pretentious” glassware for the past couple of years in the Old City, and soon he’ll be making something to pour into them. He envisions a hybrid brewery/bar/glass studio operation sometime in the near future, once the paperwork is cleared.

Scruffy City Brewery | scruffycity.com
Opening later this year, Scruffy City Brewery will be located in the basement of Market Square’s renowned live music venue, Scruffy City Hall. Brews regularly on tap will include a Kolsch, Stout, Amber, and American Pale Ale with rotating/evolving IPAs, Belgians, saisons, and seasonals.

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