Craft beer gaining popularity in Knoxville

Craft beer gaining popularity in Knoxville

Posted:
Marble City Brewing Company says Knoxville is an underserved market. Marble City Brewing Company says Knoxville is an underserved market.
The Casual Pint is the latest Knoxville store hoping to introduce beer lovers to something new. The Casual Pint is the latest Knoxville store hoping to introduce beer lovers to something new.
Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria in the Old City has a wide variety of brews on tap. Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria in the Old City has a wide variety of brews on tap.

By JESSA LEWIS
6 News Reporter

KNOXVILLE (WATE) - Move over Budweiser and Coors, craft brewers are busting the beer market wide open.

There are more than 1,700 craft breweries in the U.S., and East Tennessee is starting to follow the trend.

Dustin Stanley and his crew don't usually choose beer made by a major manufacturer. "I like hoppier beers, they have a little bit bolder flavor," said Stanley.

With the addition of another brewery and a new beer specialty shop, Knoxville beer lovers are finally getting more of what they want.

"People are starving for good beer. They really are and this area has been deprived for some time and we're finally catching up, we're gaining some ground and the craft beer market has exploded out west and it's slowly making it's way back east. Asheville, North Carolina is a great example," said Casual Pint owner Nathan Robinette.

Craft beer lovers say the ingredients and extra flavor are worth the additional cost. "If you take in to consideration the added flavor, the uniqueness that goes in to it, all the quality ingredients that go in to it, if you factor all that in, it's really a bargain," said Robinette.

Adam Palmer, owner of Knoxville's Marble City Brewing Company, says this is an underserved market.  "It's a place where there's not a whole lot of microbreweries, distributing breweries specifically," according to Palmer.

Unlike other Knoxville breweries that serve meals as well, beer is all Marble City does. "For me to be able to create recipes and do my own recipes is what I really wanted to do. Marble City has given me a vessel to create my own recipes and create my own signature beers and be able to put that out to the public," said Marble City Brewmaster Jennifer Muckerman.

Craft brewers say they also have another advantage--variety. "What seasonals do for us is it keeps us relevant, keeps us fresh. It allows people to have something new as the seasons change, a new flavor, a new style," said Palmer.

"Don't be afraid of a dark beer. If you only drink Bud Light, I have a sister that only drinks Bud Light, pick up a stout, just taste it. Taste the guy's next to you stout. I'm sure he'll let you," added Muckerman.

The Casual Pint is the latest Knoxville store hoping to introduce beer lovers to something new. "We have over 400 skews on the shelf right now and if it's available in the state of Tennessee, I want to carry it here. That's pretty much the easy part. If I can get it, I'm going to put it on the shelf," said Robinette.

Until Tennessee laws change, customers will have to go to a liquor store for certain varieties. "The high gravity issue is very important because currently high gravity beers are being sold in liquor stores and if the wine in the grocery store law would change, that would help us open up the market," explained Robinette.

For most craft beer lovers, it all boils down to taste. "If you know what you're looking for in a beer, you look for the hops, the barley flavors, the aroma. You get all of those with craft beers. Those mass-produced tailgate beers, you just drink them to get drunk," said Stanley.

The craft beer industry isn't new to Knoxville. Downtown Grill and Brewery and Smoky Mountain Brewery have been perfecting their flavors while the craft beer market grows.

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