Remember our cover story from two years ago that counted almost a dozen new microbreweries on the way? Well, most of them have opened, from Crafty Bastard Brewery to Alliance Brewing Co., and Schulz Bräu Brewing Co. to Balter Beerworks. But the craft-beer invasion is not over yet! Just announced today: the Elkmont Exchange in North Knoxville.
Brewmaster Alex Violette is partnering with chef Ryan Davenport to open a new microbrewery/restaurant at the old Rentals Rentals building on North Broadway (see above–we’re pretty sure it’s going to look a lot different once they open).
The brewing scene here is not quite up to Asheville levels, but entrepreneurs clearly see yet more opportunity to tap the growing thirst for craft beers in Knoxville.
Here’s the press release:
Decorated Craft Brewer Returns to Knoxville For Upcoming Brewpub
Knoxville, Tenn. USA – March 3, 2017 – Elkmont Exchange | Brewery and Eating House plans to open its doors in late 2017. Internationally recognized Brewmaster and Knoxville native, Alex Violette, has returned home after nearly a decade of working in craft beer around the world. Partnering with life-long friend and Executive Chef, Ryan Davenport, Elkmont Exchange will occupy the 10,000 square foot old Rentals Rentals building at 745 North Broadway with a brewery and full service restaurant.
Growing up in the foothills of the Smokies, both Violette and Davenport developed a deep appreciation for the outdoors that has stayed with them as they have chased their careers elsewhere. Elkmont Exchange draws its inspiration from the natural beauty, people and culture of the Appalachian region. Violette and Davenport look forward to bringing a piece of that culture to the Downtown North Knoxville community.
Over the past few years, Downtown Knoxville and the surrounding areas have seen a rapid revitalization. The Downtown North corridor in particular – that which stretches along Central Avenue from the Old City to Happy Holler – has been an even-more recent focal point for development. Both the City of Knoxville and the local community are taking action to integrate the historic landmarks of the area with a modern appeal in order to revive Downtown North as a suburb with character. Central Avenue is currently undergoing sidewalk, street and landscape improvements that will create a walkable and cyclist friendly pathway from Happy Holler to the Old City. More local taprooms, breweries, art collectives, bakeries and coffee shops are popping up every day; Elkmont Exchange is excited to join these businesses in making Downtown North an acclaimed destination for East Tennessee.
One industry that has seemingly adopted Downtown North as its own is craft beer. If the Knoxville community is in the midst of a craft beer explosion, you could say that Downtown North has been at its epicenter. Violette has set his sights on bringing the newest addition to this burgeoning brewery scene. After all, there’s always room for more great beer.
Elkmont Exchange is proud to work with local companies McCarty Holsaple McCarty for architectural design, building owners SMJT Property Holdings and Mountain Commerce Bank for equipment financing. Joe Fox, also a childhood friend of Violette and Davenport, along with Segal Drummond, Mike Mangione and Tyler Fogarty of SMJT Property Holdings are active partners in Elkmont Exchange in addition to their role as property owners.
Alex Violette has a biochemistry degree from Maryville College and began his brewing career at Smoky Mountain Brewery shortly after graduation. Before long, Violette’s passion took him from Knoxville to Colorado, where he worked his way up to a Head Brewer position at Upslope Brewing Company in Boulder. During his time at Upslope, Violette oversaw brewing operations and recipe development for over 100 beers. Five of which recipes are medal winners at The Great American Beer Festival, one of the largest beer competitions in the world. In 2014, Violette took a massive leap of faith, moving to Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam, to open the country’s first American style craft brewery – Pasteur Street Brewing Company. Since the brewery’s opening in late 2014, it has been wildly successful with a tasting room and restaurant in the center of the bustling city. Pasteur Street received a Gold Medal at the prestigious World Beer Cup for its Chocolate Stout and is currently expanding its global distribution; which includes the United States.
Ryan Davenport grew up in Knoxville before attending Johnson and Wales University in Charlotte, North Carolina to study Food Service Management. Moving into the kitchen, Davenport began his career at one of the South’s first progressive fine dining restaurants, Magnolia’s in Charleston. It was here that Davenport learned to value the importance of sourcing locally and making a commitment to sustainability. From Charleston, Davenport found himself as a Sous Chef at Nashville’s Flyte, where he refined his management skills and mastered whole animal butchery. In 2015, he joined Violette in Ho Chi Minh City to develop Pasteur Street Brewing Company’s culinary program and oversee tasting room operations. It was in Vietnam that Davenport was able to expand his culinary knowledge working with fresh and exotic ingredients that are not readily available in the United States. Davenport is currently keeping his skills sharp at EMILIA in Market Square while spending his free time developing a world class menu for Elkmont Exchange.
For more information about Elkmont Exchange and its founders; go to www.elkmontexchange.com and sign up for their email list.
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