The growing #KnoxBeer and @KnoxBeerCrew scene

January 12, 2012

Over the last several years beer culture has exploded in the United States. Market share of the big 2 beer companies (AB InBev & MillerCoors) has taken a hit because consumers are becoming saavy about craft beer. In the “Scruffy Little City” of Knoxville things have changed big time in just the last 5 years. We’ve gone from having 2 breweries to 3. Bearden Beer Market opened the first completely beer focused store (sorry Leaf and Ale, you’ve always been mostly cigar focused in my mind) and others followed. Don and Rob of The Knox Beer Snobs started their website which gave me inspiration to start mine. We’ve had a small but dedicated homebrewing group here for a long time, but just in the last year or so I’ve become aware of others like Legit Brew and Underground Brewing Company. Social media and apps like Facebook, Twitter and Untappd have made it incredibly easy to connect with and share craft beer experiences with others. So yes, the Knoxville beer scene has grown considerably.
This growth has lead to the creation of a new local club, The Knox Beer Crew. We’re a group of fellow beer connoisseurs who have bonded over our love of this tasty fermented malt based beverage. Some of us knew each other in real life, some of us met through twitter and untappd check ins. I see it as a natural outgrowth of use of the #KnoxBeer hashtag on twitter. I’d remember spreading this idea around to some of the guys at the Brewer’s Jam. I’d use the hashtag whenever I was going out to have a beer, or if there was any events or news about the local beer scene I wanted to share. Others were using it to and pretty soon it morphed into #KnoxBeerCrew. This was used to announce beer runs and get togethers amongst us twitter friends. Local web developer, fellow beer geek and all around cool guy Matt Crowell put together a website for Knox Beer Crew. Matt designed it to help organize and expand our small but growing scene. On this site members can post a profile that includes their favorite beer and beerstyle, a wish list of beers they’d like to try and a link to their untappd page. Members may also post their craft beer related pictures and can post beer related events to the calendar.

So what’s the point in having a beer club and a website like this in Knoxville? Well, primarily it’s a way for us to share our love and appreciate of craft beer. It’s also a way to help each other experience new beer. Many of us have gone out of town and brought back hard to find beers. We also often get together for tastings. The other night we were invited to a last minute tasting of beers from Brooklyn Brewery, Sweetwater and Yazoo at Bearden Beer Market. So check out the website, add us on untappd and twitter, join the crew. You’ll be glad you did.

Like I said above, I did get to try some offerings from Brooklyn Brewery. A few of their tasty brews will soon be on the shelves in Knoxville. On January 23rd we’ll be able to get their Brown Ale and their Lager. Both are really tasty, but I found that I loved the Lager. It’s an all malt lager, no corn and rice adjucts that I’ve come to associate with American Lagers. The brewery rep, Jeff also brought along a keg of their wheat wine, The Companion. It blew my mind on how good it was, but unfortunatly he said it won’t be available around here. If you go somewhere they have it, grab me a bottle! One of the coolest thing about Brooklyn Brewery is that the Brewmaster is none other than the world famous Garrett Oliver. Since he helped write The Oxford Companion to Beer, to say he knows what he’s doing would be a understatement. This man is a genuine beer genious. After seeing a copy of the aforementioned book, I knew I had to have it. It’s 900+ pages, but expect a post with a review when I’m done reading it.

Well I won’t write post until a week from Saturday. That’s when I’ll be attending Asheville’s WINTER WARMER BEER FESTIVAL!!!! Another great beer fest in my favorite city. I’m so excited about. The 21st can not get here soon enough. I think I will try to live update this website from the event. Remember those post of my live updates of my brew days? Think of that but with a lot more drinking. Should be informative, entertaining and funny! Let’s see if I can actually pull it off. Until then…



A Great Weekend for #KnoxBeer

October 25, 2011

The liver is evil and must be punished. Saw this on a shirt the other day, and it (almost) sums up my weekend. I don’t think I’ll make this post really long. The Knox Beer Snobs have posted a great review of all the Knoxville Beer events this weekend, so I’ll refer you to them. I will tell you that I had a great and memorable weekend.

Every year the Homebrew Club does a lot of the beer related grunt work and preparation for Brewers Jam. My weekend pretty much kicked off on Thursday night. The homebrew club does what we call  “Pretzel Jam” where we drink beer and make pretzel necklaces to sell at the event. I had a ride, so I was able to partake in the “leftover” entries from the TN Valley Fair’s Homebrew competition.

Friday I worked a short half day and then headed down to World’s Fair Park to help load the cold truck. The brewers show up, unload the kegs from their vehicles and we move the kegs to cold storage. It was mostly sitting around drinking beer with the occasional heavy lifting. I took a break from that for a few hours and headed over to the grand opening of Marble City Brewing Company’s tasting room, The Quarry. Knoxville really came out to show support for the hometown brewery. The place was packed! The owners even had authentic deep dish pizza flown in for the event. After a few beers, a slice of pizza and some great conversation with fellow craft beer enthusiast, I headed back to World’s Fair Park.  When that was over, it was time for the brewer’s reception in a top secret location. Most of the brewers both local and out of area were treated to beer, cigars, food, and a live bluegrass jam. There was even free jars of locally produced salsa, courtesy of Big S Farms. Pretty much every one of my beer friends were there. I remember looking around at the crowd and thinking if a bomb went off in that room, there wouldn’t be anyone left in the Knoxville craft beer scene. That reception went on long into the night. I left around 11 pm since I was hosting out of town guests and we all had to be up early to work the morning shift.

Saturday morning I made coffee and my guest (fellow homebrewers Shanezilla and Pam) and I headed out. We stopped by Just Ripe on Union Avenue in downtown for a quick breakfast. Then it was on to Brewers’ Jam. There was a whole heck of a lot of work to do before the gates opened at 1pm. We had to deliver the kegs to the brewers, along with Ice. There was also our booth to set up and a few other details to attend to. About 30 minutes or so before kick off, we were pretty much done. This is my favorite time of of the Knoxville Brewer Jam. All the brewers are set up, and everyone has a chance to socialize and try one another’s beers before it gets hectic. Before they opened the gates, we had our customary speech given by Knoxville Police Department, as seen in the following video:

Then the fun begins. It is amazing to see a wave of people pour in when they open the gates. The lines were as far as the eye could see. My 1st keg of Butternut Squash Ale was on tap, and I happily doled out samples to thirsty drinkers. It made me feel like I really know what I’m doing as a beer brewer when people would tell me how much they enjoyed it. I even had some of the most critical members of the homebrew club come back for seconds and thirds. Whenever my 1st keg blew out, I let someone else take a turn pouring while I happily went in search of other tasty beverages to imbide. I saw many of my fellow Knox Craft beer friends and walked around drinking and enjoying their company. Later on in the afternoon, I came back and put on my second keg of Butternut Squash Ale and poured that as well. Near the end of the event, I went and filled several growlers of beer to take home for later. I ran into Mike from Asheville Brewing Company who gave me a really cool Moog filtered Ale shirt.

Well, I went and caught the rest of Cutthroat Shamrock’s show at the end. The jam closed down, the beer stopped flowing, and I started packing out. I finally got my vehicle packed with everything I brought, along with a cooler full of growlers, bottles of beer, merchandise and other stuff I scored at the Jam. I walked over to my office where I spent a few hours drinking water and listening to the Vols football game on the radio. I ended the night eating pizza and thinking how I am already looking forward to next year’s Brewers Jam.

Enjoy the pictures below, click to make big.