When I first moved to Knoxville back in 1998 there wasn’t a whole lot of local stores with a good beer selection. In fact, as far as I remember, there were only 2. The main place that I and all my friends frequented was Sam’s Party Store in the Fort Sander’s neighborhood. They carried four packs of Sammy Smith’s Oatmeal Stout and a great selection of micro brews that we had never heard of. The only other place with a good selection was way out in West Knoxville at Leaf and Ale. I had only been there a few times when it was also a homebrew supply store. So Sam’s was our place we went to. This was along time before grocery stores had anything but fizzy yellow American lagers or Guinness. This lasted for years. Occasionally myself or one of my friends would make a trip to Asheville where we’d stock up on their wonderful local beer from Highland Brewing Company. The person making the beer run would usually make enough to pay for their gas and beer by marking up the price of 22 ounce bombers by a dollar or 2. I remember the first time I saw a decent craft beer at Kroger. It was Cottonwood Endo IPA. I fell in love with this beer. For awhile it’s Cascade flavored goodness was all I drank. Then a year or 2 later something else happened. Highland’s beers were suddenly available. Followed closely by beers I had only had while visiting the west coast, such as Sierra Nevada, New Belgium and Flying Dog. Now Craft beer is sold everywhere. Even most gas station convience store have at least 1 decent beer available.
In the last couple of years the Craft Beer market in Knoxville has exploded. The Bearden Beer Market opened up giving beer geeks a place to not only pick up a six pack or fill a growler, but a spot to enjoy a draft while socializing with other beer lovers. This set the tone for the type of business model to thrive. Vic’s Package Store followed and well as Westland Market and Beer Gallery and also Jackson Avenue Market. Now we have a new place opening up called The Casual Pint. I will admit, part of me is not entirely sure Knoxville can support this many craft beer stores/ bars. I honestly hope I am wrong. I know that the craft beer market will continue to expand, but there’s that little tiny sliver of me that worries this may be a bubble (like the dot.com one) that will eventually burst. Like I said I really hope I’m wrong.
So far the only parts of town that don’t have this type of business is East Knoxville and where I live, South Knoxville. Vic’s Package Store is in North Knoxville. Jackson Avenue Market is on the edge of the Old City (where their taps compete with local bars), Bearden Beer Market, Westland Market and Beer Gallery and now The Casual Pint are all in West Knoxville. I would love to have a beer store/ neighborhood bar within walking distance here in SoKno.
So yeah, I’m going to check out The Casual Pint’s grand opening tonight. I should be there around 7 if you want to meet up. I wish the Casual Pint well and hope they are very successful. I plan on supporting this place but due to it’s location, I don’t see myself becoming a reqular unless the beer there is really cheap. When it comes to drinking out west, Bearden Beer Market and Brixx Pizza West Hills are my favorite spots. Sadly, I haven’t even made it to Westland Market and Beer Gallery. Maybe I’ll make it one day. The Knox Beer Snobs did a great article about it, that makes me want to check them out.
Another thing I want to mention is that if you’re a beer lover, a twitter user and live in Knoxville, you may of seen use of the #KnoxBeer hash tag. I spread this idea at Brewer’s Jam to The Knox Beer Snobs, Dave at Woodruff and Jonathon at Marble City. From there it spread, and now a small crew of beer lovers have connected over this hash tag. We are having an unofficial “tweet-up” on Saturday 1 pm at The Downtown Grill and Brewery. Come have a pint and talk beer nerd with us. You don’t have to be a twitter user to attend. I’ll check to see if we can use the “brewer’s table” which is the big one by the copper tanks. So unless I post otherwise, let’s plan on meeting there. Hope you can make it.