An Ale Trail, Knox Brew Tours And Some 20 Breweries Are Rocking The New Rocky Top
By Kevin Wilkerson, PubClub.com Beer Blogger (And Knoxville Native)
In the land of Rocky Top, where Jack and Coke is the preferred beverage at UT football games and the area’s signature song says people “get their corn from a jar,” another beverage is scoring big points with locals: craft beer.
In fact, the craft beer scene is thriving in Knoxville, TN. There are some 30 breweries, tap rooms and other places to get locally-brewed beer in this East Tennessee town next to the Great Smoky Mountains.
There’s even an Ale Trail, which consists of 19 breweries you can explore on your own and Knox Brew Tours that takes care of those pesky things that can often inhibit the full enjoyment of visiting breweries, such as driving and not being able to share the local brews experience with a fun group of like-minded strangers.
“When we started Knox Brew Tours there were four breweries in Knoxville. Now, five years later, there are more than 18! The growth has been amazing to watch and it’s been incredibly fun for us.”
Roskop can’t point to one reason for the sudden surge, but did say “craft breweries have become something so much more than just a bar but more similar to a community center that focuses on culture, creativity, the whole family, and finding unique ways to give back to the community.
“Knoxville’s beer community is unique because there seems to be a mutual and deep love for the city that surrounds it.”
If this seems as if it’s going against the grain, so to speak, of what one thinks about when East Tennessee and Rocky Top comes to mind, Roskop says the transformation of downtown Knoxville from being a 9-to-5 business area to a cool hangout – after all, one brewery is in the old Woolworth’s department store – has provided the equivalent of a starter kit.
“Although Tennessee has a great tradition of whiskey with Jack Daniels, Jack doesn’t really feel like an identity of East Tennessee,” Roskop said. “And although we LOVE our football, it’s been great over the past years to see downtown Knoxville grow on its own to become a unique destination without having to relay on students or football fans.”
Whatever the reason, the old stereotypes are as dated as the old cannon that used to sit on The Hill behind Neyland Stadium during UT football games. Knoxville’s thriving craft beer scene is a big part of the modern K-town.