If you have never been to Knoxville, buckle up for unexpected adventures! Actually, if you HAVE been here, you’re likely to find new adventures waiting. I have spent most of my life in Knoxville, but watching it grow over the past 20 years has allowed me to rediscover it again and again. Like a perfectly cellared barrel-aged stout, it’s developed better than I could have ever dreamed of. Although I love our food culture, outdoor activities, music scene and unique history, it’s the local beer landscape that has sucked me in and it’s been one of the greatest adventures of my life.
Like most cities, Knoxville’s beer scene began to emerge in the late ‘80s and into the early ‘90s with classic German lagers and English ales commonly found in a traditional brew pub style environment. Thankfully, these homey beginnings still exist in Knoxville and can be found peppered around downtown and West Knoxville for you to enjoy. We didn’t realize it at the time, but these humble beginnings were going to lead to something much bigger. As Knoxvillians’ love for craft beer began to grow, so did its beer community.
By 2015, we began to see breweries as more than just watering holes, but as cultural hotspots and community centers focused not only on developing their craft but the space in which folks could explore it. From breweries that pride themselves on out-of-the-box recipe development to hand blowing their own glasses to positioning themselves near our endless mountain biking trails, each brewery in our scruffy little town has begun to root their identity in one of the many things that makes Knoxville such a great place. It was becoming more and more clear that the local community was pouring their hearts and souls into making incredible beer.
By 2020, the possibilities of what Knoxville craft beer could offer were endless. We no longer had to imagine giant outdoor beer gardens, food truck parks with extensive local beer menus, brewery kitchens led by classically trained chefs, or award winning cideries and breweries. We no longer had to wish we had an area of town with several beer-cation destinations within walking distance of one another, a stretch of breweries along the south bank of the Tennessee River, or an inviting place to grab a local pint before a UT football game. Restaurants, distilleries, music venues, and community partners all collaborate to create one-of-a-kind experiences featuring honest-to-goodness local beer.
If you’re starting to get thirsty, I don’t blame you! Know this: when it comes to great local beer, you can’t make a wrong turn in Knoxville. Each of our breweries (nearly 30 in all) is passionate about our city and the products they make. Each one is unique and bursting at the seams with music, food, fun, and folks from all walks of life. Get started by exploring Knoxville’s Ale Trail – an easy way to discover some of our breweries during your stay. If you’d like to take an even deeper dive into what makes each one extra special, we can help with that too! In Knoxville, our beer scene is alive and inviting - all it’s missing is you!