Like many towns in the South, Knoxville has recently embraced beer culture and seen a rapid increase in the number of breweries located in the city. Most of these breweries are local establishments, but several have plans to increase distribution in the near future. We’ve visited most of the breweries in Knoxville (at least the ones open currently-there are plans for several others to open within the next year), so we will highlight them here.
Balter Beerworks: Balter is located in downtown Knoxville and is a restaurant and brewery. The brewery is clean and modern but with a slight industrial flair. The restaurant features typical pub food but with fresh ingredients and an artisan twist. We had some tasty chicken fingers as a snack while we visited. The beer at Balter was enjoyable, featuring traditional styles with only a couple variations. However, the beer was well-made and provided an enjoyable tasting session. Balter would be the perfect place to go if you want to try a local restaurant with good food and good beer.
Blackhorse Pub & Brewery: Blackhorse has two locations-one in Clarksville, and one in West Knoxville-and, as the name suggests, is just as much a restaurant as a brewery. Their menu is expansive, with a panoply of burgers, sandwiches, pizzas, salads, and other traditional pub food. Blackhorse had plenty of beer selections when we visited, so we had fun trying a number of beers in our flight. Each of the beers was brewed to a certain style, but each was enjoyable. Blackhorse was a great place to just hang out and relax with friends.
Crafty Bastard Brewery: Crafty Bastard is located in downtown Knoxville in an old warehouse. The brewery still preserves much of the character of the warehouse, so a visit is just as interesting for the building as the beer. Crafty Bastard offers perhaps the most unique beers in Knoxville, featuring lots of different styles with added ingredients ranging from fruits to coffee to spices to plants. Not only do they add these ingredients to traditional styles (such as coffee to stouts), but they produce what some might think are unorthodox combinations (such as coffee with an IPA). Crafty Bastard rotates their beers frequently, so you might not see the same thing on tap twice; however, we enjoyed a coffee IPA and a smoked porter during our visit. We highly recommend Crafty Bastard.
Downtown Grill & Brewery: Downtown Grill & Brewery is located just off Market Square in the heart of the historical center of Knoxville. It’s a popular place, and for good reason-the restaurant serves up lots of delicious food, and the brewery offers a variety of nice beers. Because it’s so popular, and because it’s near the University of Tennessee, it can be crowded at times, but it can also provide a fun atmosphere and, of course, good food. Perhaps the most difficult thing about going to Downtown Grill & Brewery is trying to pick something off of the expansive menu, which features myriad styles of pub food. The restaurant has several standard beers on tap, which provide nice complement to the food.
Fanatic Brewing Company: Fanatic has just recently opened northwest of downtown Knoxville and is in the process of building a tasting room in the brewery. However, we were still able to take a tour of the facility, which was informative and fun, and sample several of their beers at the same time. Fanatic is only brewing a few styles at the moment, but each of their beers was tasty, and our excellent tour guide made our time their even more enjoyable.
Hexagon Brewing Company: Hexagon has also opened its doors only a few months ago but features a spacious and airy tasting room just northwest of Fanatic Brewing. Since the brewery only recently opened, there were only a few beers on tap, but we were impressed with the few that we tried, especially the Sexy Cat, a delicious pale ale with mango and other tropical fruit flavors. After visiting, we were certainly interested in returning to try more of their beers.
Last Days of Autumn Brewing: Last Days of Autumn has a cozy tasting room near downtown Knoxville. When we were there, we had the place mostly to ourselves, and we had a fun time relaxing and hanging out in the brewery. We were able to try a large tasting flight and were impressed with all the beers we had, but particularly enjoyed a cherry sour that was refreshing and tasty. We had a nice time at Last Days of Autumn and recommend visiting.
Saw Works Brewing Company: Saw Works is located just down the street from Last Days of Autumn in a handsome brick building. The interior is austere, but with plenty of seating, games, and even cigars. Saw Works only had a few beers on tap when we were there, so we were able to try them all. We enjoyed our tasting and, for those interested in their beers but unable to visit the tasting room, Saw Works has already started canning several of their beers for distribution.
Schultz Bräu Brewing Company: Schulz Bräu is a German-style brewery located near downtown Knoxville. The exterior of the brewing is designed to look like a castle, and the German-inspired decor continues on the inside. The walls are tastefully decorated with steins, pictures, and other German paraphernalia. There is ample seating in the tasting room, but there is also a large biergarten outside with a small stage for events. While we are biased since we enjoy German culture a lot, we found the tasting room to be delightful and reminded us of European pubs and biergartens. Schulz Bräu brews German styles of beer, such as hefeweizens, bocks, and lagers. We tried several of their beers and found them to be both delicious and good examples of each style. We highly recommend visiting Schulz Bräu.
Smoky Mountain Brewery: Smoky Mountain Brewery is a pub and brewery with several locations in the Knoxville area. Smoky Mountain Brewery serves traditional pub fare, and we found the food to be tasty and a great complement to the beer. Smoky Mountain brews beers to style, and we found these beers to be surprisingly tasty.
We have had a fun time exploring the Knoxville brew scene and, since it’s still expanding, we still have plenty of exploring left to do. Many of these breweries are located near each other, so it’s easy to spend a day touring several of Knoxville’s breweries (please make sure you are responsible if you do this). If you aren’t able to visit Knoxville, you may be able to try some of these beers soon as some of the Knoxville breweries expand their distribution footprints. If you are in the Knoxville area, we encourage you to visit the area’s breweries, sample some great beer, and perhaps find a beer or two that you can drink again and again.