Here at Bellhops (we are the modern alternative to standard moving companies in Knoxville), we’re scouring the country for the best beer out there. And Knoxville has been steadily building a unique and diverse beer scene well worth a visit. The German and Irish influence on beer still lingers from the mid-1800s when these cultures brought their brewing traditions to the city. By 1907, Knoxville was stocked with over 100 saloons. But they were all shut down soon after due to pre-prohibition regulations, plunging Knoxville into a long, dry season.
It’s taken some time to begin rebuilding Knoxville’s once-booming beer industry. But we’re starting to see breweries bud after decades of a dead beer scene. Knoxville and its greater area went from 2 to 20 breweries in 8 years, and the city is still striving to make Knoxville a brewery destination.
To give patrons a good spread of Knoxville beer, the city created a fun incentive that encourages patrons to explore all of the breweries in the area. Check out the Knoxville Ale Trail and start filling in your beer passport. If you want to sample all of Knoxville’s brews party-style join in on the Knoxville Brewfest. This annual event brings breweries and patrons together for an evening-long celebration centered around craft beer.
With plenty of places to quench our beer-thirst in Knoxville, and several more breweries in the works we were ready to do some sampling. We’ve searched the streets and listened to lots of locals to find the beverage gems in the city. Each brewery has been analyzed and graded on originality, effort, brand, and taproom. But most of all, we inspected the beer. And in our opinion, helping you know where to find the best beer in the city is a worthy reason to indulge in our favorite drink.
Check out the list below for Bellhops’ guide to the 7 best breweries in Knoxville.
Abridged highlights the beauty of southern living – a welcoming place to slow down and enjoy the friends and family around you. They’re comfortable, canopy-covered patio filled with picnic tables makes those moments with fellow-drinkers relaxing and easy. Abridged also serves a great food menu of pub fare with a southern twist. They’re a kid-friendly, dog-friendly, all-around-friendly hub well worth a visit.
Alliance has an awesome tap list with solid beers across the board of styles. IPAs, Blond Ales, saisons, coffee Browns, and crispy Kolschs. The taproom is bright and friendly, a neighborhood hub to grab some pizza from across the street or grub from a food truck, order a pint, and watch the Premier League. On non-game nights, Alliance has board games and cards. And their brewery allows for dogs to sit outside or join their humans indoors.
Try this: Scotch Ale. This rich and malty brew has a touch of smokiness and caramel flavors. It’s definitely a favorite among Alliance patrons who’ve sampled the whole menu.
Stepping across the Schulz Brau’s threshold is like stepping into an old-world German castle. Their stone clad taproom is decked with dark furniture, chunky wooden shelving, antlers, and crest-dawning banners.
Nicknamed, ‘the great hall,’ their beautiful and sprawling taproom can squeeze in over 130 patrons. Grab a stein of German ale or lager, chose one of the 250 seats in the tree-shaded Biergarten, and enjoy some live music, play some trivia, or watch a weekly film with family and friends.
Try this: Radler. We can’t think of a more refreshing beer. This brew is half light and malty Munich Helles Lager, half lemonade.
Pretentious Beer’s tongue in cheek name tells of how the workers here take their beer seriously but don’t take themselves very seriously. They poke fun at their craft with beer names like Woke AF and Dad Bod, and their hand-blown glass tap handles each sport a curly glass mustache. You won’t find sloppy or plain brews here. Instead, Pretentious brews true to style beers that are unique and complex, with an emphasis on IPAs.
Each beer is poured into a one-of-a-kind glass, showcasing their glass company next door. And the friendly staff will happily help you find the exact beer you’re looking for – down to the style, color, flavors, and aromas. After your drink, stop over and shop through short, tall, round-bottomed, curvy, and lumpy glasses, all carefully constructed to perfectly match a different beer style.
For the silly few who don’t prefer beer, and for the kids, Pretentious makes their own soda. They’ve got a dog-friendly patio out back, host great live music and community events, serve bar snacks from the local Oli Bea, and pack in a crowd on weekend nights. Their beautiful, clean taproom is located in the Old City and you can easily pop over and watch a live glass blowing demonstration once you’ve had your fill of their brews.
Try this: #superdupertrendy AF. Pretentious’ newer tap list item is this popular milkshake IPA. It’s been brewed with strawberries and vanilla and is as smooth as beer can get.
While Blackhorse has been serving up tasty dishes and drinks for almost 25 years in Clarksville, they’re newcomers to Knoxville. Blackhorse’s large dining area blends modern taproom with a rustic pub. They offer a pet-friendly patio, trivia nights on Thursdays, and regular community events and live music. In addition to their tasty beers they brew in-house, Blackhorse has a full kitchen that serves comfort pub food, like their beer cheese dip, BBQ bacon cheeseburger, fish tacos, and pizzas.
Try this: Vanilla Cream Ale. This brew is delicious on its own. As its name suggests, it’s creamy and smooth with rich vanilla notes. But when you order it, you’ll probably hear from a bartender how tasty this cream ale can be when mixed with their Coalminer’s Stout or Barnstormer Red. And they’re right.
A new player in the Knoxville brew scene, Hexagon brewed their first batch in 2017. Now they serve a broad variety of beer styles with an emphasis on American and German beers. And with $4 pint nights on Wednesdays, it’s easy to sample the many quality beers they have on tap.
The taproom houses almost daily creative events like comedy nights, live music, poetry readings, beer fests, and poker tournaments. In the off-chance that Hexagon isn’t hosting an entertaining event, they keep board games available or project a football game on the taproom wall.
Try this: Carl’s Dunkel. This tasty brew has delicious caramel malts and earthy notes. You’ll also notice flavors of fruit and spices as you sip it down.
We had to give a shout out to Last Days of Autumn. This quaint spot is the quintessential neighborhood brewery. Sitting out back in lawn chairs and at mismatched patio furniture and chowing down on some low country boil feels like you’re gathering for a family reunion.
This husband and wife duo are occasionally joined by their two sons, and together they brew some high-quality drinks and a wide variety of styles despite the small scale and size of their equipment. They’re passionate about the beer industry and are smitten with how it brings the community together, and that’s exactly how you feel drinking at their taproom.
Try this: Chamhopnay. This uncommon Belgian style Pale Ale is brewed with the classic juicy hop duo – Citra and Mosaic. It’s balanced and slightly dry with notes of tropical fruits.
Now that you’ve reviewed our top seven picks for Knoxville breweries, check them out for yourself and see which one’s rank highest on your list. If in the process you’re won over by this charming city, let us know. We can make your move quick and easy.
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