Three Sunday's ago, my hubby and I decided to try our hand at the local brewery tour, Knox Brew Tours, here in Knoxville. For your reading pleasure, here's the good, the bad, the....wait...there is no bad! This local Knoxville tour is a definite must try for anyone new to the area, new to craft brewed beers, or a local who hasn't had to chance to explore all the great offerings our city has to offer! Here's how the tour went for us...
We started off meeting the Brew Bus at the Casual Pint downtown, basically adjacent to Market Square. Keep in mind, you'll need to find parking downtown in a garage (free on nights and weekends) or on metered spots, which are either free or pay per hour (depending on the day and what street you parked on). I would suggest planning MORE time than you need to find parking, and then walking to the Casual Pint, because there is always something going on during the weekend days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), when their brew tours are typically held. My husband and I THOUGHT we left in enough time to even get there early and check out the Casual Pint ahead of time, but we were sadly mistaken, as it look us quite a bit of time to find parking, due to the Hola Festival taking place as well.
We knew our tour was for Knox Brew Tours smaller, more "intimate" bus, which is a 1989 VW Vanagon Bus, which only holds 6 guests (plus the driver/tour guide), named "Scruffy." Knox Brew Tours does offer a larger bus tour as well in their 1990 GMC mini-bus named "Kathy." I personally loved this smaller bus atmosphere, as it gave you a chance to really interact with everyone on board, hear the guide better as he talked from place to place, and it overall just had a more "comfy" feel. I'd be interested to try the other larger tour sometime as well, just to get a comparison of styles.
Our tour guide (who is not the owner/starter of this business, but a good friend of his), was so gracious, funny, accommodating, and knowledgeable. They will ask to see your ID at the beginning of the tour, to verify everyone is over 21, but it does say on their website you can still come and enjoy the tour WITHOUT drinking (but you must still be over 21), and be a "designated driver" and that gets you a cheaper rate as well!
It does state on their website as well that snacks and complimentary water bottles will be provided, which they are. I would still suggest eating beforehand, and even bringing your own snack/drink bag along, since their snacks are pretty limited (on my bus experience at least) to small bags of cheez-its, gardettos, etc. You can view their whole FAQ page HERE.
You are allowed to bring your own growlers with you as well, as some places (not all) will fill them up (obviously you pay for that separate, it's not included in your ticket price). The Knox Brew Tours website also states all samples will be no more than 4 oz in size, but you'll get about 4 samples of different beers from each place. If you're like me, and aren't really a fan of most beers (I'm more of a wine gal), they do have a "dump bucket" to pour out what you don't like. Or you can just dump it into your husband's cup like I did, if you feel so inclined.
Our first stop took us to Balter Beerworks on 100 S. Broadway. Even the name of this place has a unique backstory, as the word "Balter" is defined as "to dance or tread clumsily, without much skill, but with enjoyment." That seems to be their whole philosophy at their restaurant and brewery--to not necessarily care if they're the best, the most popular or the most liked, but to do what they do with enjoyment and passion. Balter is actually a former service station, and you absolutely get that vibe from being there. It's a gorgeous building, with the "Brew House" being right across a little sidewalk section next the the bar, which is where we got to spend our time for the tour (normally they don't let people in here!). They also appear to have a great food menu, and a pet friendly patio as well! It was so neat getting to go into their "Brew House" and hearing and seeing how their process works, what goes into brewing beer, their "not so secret" laboratory, and into their giant walk in cooler.
Another great and cool factor was that after we left Balter Beerworks, our guide said we couple spare an extra couple minutes and go to Knox Whiskey Works to check out their store, if we wanted. Of course, we all agreed and yelled "take us there!" Here, we got to sample a variety of liqueurs, some of which we liked, and some of which we didn't. They pride themselves on being a small batch, craft distillery, using locally sourced products, to create unique spirits representative of East Tennessee. I'm not a liqueur drinker myself either, or a coffee drinker, but my husband is OBSESSED with anything coffee flavored, so when he saw their Coffee Liqueur, he was sold, so a bottle of that ended up coming home with us. Side note: that same Coffee Liqueur has now been used to make a homemade coffee ice cream, which we made together, and is to die for!
Our second (brewery) stop was to Alliance Brewing Company, located at 1130 Sevier Avenue. They have a super cool sculpture outside made completely of old bicycle parts, that's definitely a photo op as well. I'd say their outdoor patio section is the same size, if not larger, than their indoor space, which is a great concept to get people outdoors and socializing, and enjoying the (mostly) good weather East Tennessee has to offer, and it is pet friendly as well. They don't serve food at this location, however, but there was some kind of small food "truck" cart stand type deal outside as well, that seems to have a sort of "partnership" with Alliance, where they let her serve food, since they don't and she has somewhere to sell food! We ordered some deep fried okra in a basket, which came to us as legit, fresh okra with the most amazing breading on okra we've ever had. TRULY homemade recipe type taste to it. The inside and decor of Alliance isn't anything to do a double take on. It's very industrial in its styling, with simple gray and wooden tones throughout. As with our first stop, we got to prowl to the giant walk in cooler contraption and see "where the magic happens" as far as brewing their beers and their whole process.
Our third stop was to Last Days of Autumn, at 808 E Magnolia Ave, which started from a husband and wife's home brewing hobby, and once friends and family realized they could make stuff as good, if not better, than what's already out there, they decided to start a brewery of their own. Right off the bat, my husband and I noticed a vintage Donkey Kong electronic game against a wall, topped with an assortment of traditional board games as well. We also saw a group of people simply sipping their beers, and enjoying a game at the game as well. They do not serve any food here, either. Their website says their goal is to give you a "homey" feel, and they definitely hit that mark.
Lastly, the "little bus that could" took us to Crafty Bastard Brewery at 6 Emory Place, which labels themselves as a nanobrewery. Some things about the decor that really stuck out to me inside this brewery were the seats alongside the wall made of big wooden barrels, and the tap lever adorned eyes and a little green mustache. They do not serve food here either, but on their website it states they have, only in the summer(?), a food truck schedule that seems to provide good eats as well.
Overall, this is absolutely an experience I will be back on and take any visiting friends or family on as well! The whole tour was just an informative, easy going adventure, for beer drinkers and even those who aren't!
Have you ever been on Knox Brew Tours, or any brew tour before? Tell us your experience or thoughts below!
Clancy’s Tavern and Whiskey House is downtown Knoxville’s premier Irish Pub. Located directly next door to the historic Tennessee Theatre, at the corner of Gay Street and Clinch Avenue. They serve great food and provide a relaxed atmosphere that offers a great place to meet after work for a drink or on weekends when shopping downtown.
Clancy’s Tavern and Whiskey House opened in May 2014 and is owned and operated by lifelong friends Danny Clancy and Josh Turbyville. Both were raised in Knoxville and Danny’s family owned Clancy Optical for 75 years. Danny and Josh recognized a need for a downtown Irish Pub in Knoxville and Clancy’s Tavern & Whiskey House was created.
The building is over 100 years old and has been a bank, JC Bradford, The Shamrock, The Exchange Restaurant (during the World’s Fair), Clancy Optical, and is now Clancy’s Tavern & Whiskey House.
Clancy's Offers a variety of American and Irish cuisine ranging from steamed sandwich's and pizza to bangers and mash and shepherds pie along with 16 draft beers and over one hundred different whiskey's and bourbons. Clancy's often has live music on the weekends and those shows are posted on their facebook page prior to the event. Happy hour occurs every day from 4-7:00 and offers $1 off draft, $1 off wine, $1.50 off well drinks. Every Monday they have live team trivia with gift card prizes, Tuesday is Tuesday brewsday with beer specials all day long, Wednesday is wine Wednesday offering 1/2 off wine and they have $3 Bloody Mary's and Mimosas every Saturday and Sunday.
During your stop at Clancy's on one of East TN Tour's food tours, you'll experience some of the best food you can eat downtown! Here a short slideshow of some examples of foods previous tours have gotten from Clancy's before...
Be sure to check out their website HERE, and BOOK A TOUR soon and get some of this great food on your agenda ASAP!
Being as this year is the first year East TN Tours has been in business, we felt it ever so appropriate to check out the 2016 East Tennessee History Fair in downtown Knoxville this past Saturday. And let me tell you, it was a memorable day! My husband and I usually known and go for the cheapest or "close to free as possible" types of entertainment or dates for ourselves, so this was right up our alley. I wasn't able to find much myself doing research ahead of time about the fair trying to plan our day that was an outsiders perspective on the activities and what the day was going to be like. So my goal in what you'll read below is to give future fair goers an idea of what they might (and I would mostly assume) expect, if they went next year!
(We arrive downtown about 10:30 AM)
The Farmers Market:
So the farmers market would actually have been there on Saturday, regardless if the history fair was going on or not. This farmers market actually runs from May 4-November 16 on Saturdays from 9-2. This was the first time I've ever been to this also, not just the history fair, and I enjoyed it so much. This reminds me of a TRUE farmers market, not like some in other cities I've been to that seem to be more like an "artisan" market mostly selling crafts, jewelry or non food items. We had planned on spending almost all the day downtown, so we didn't buy anything except a bag of wonderful natural dog treats from Barley Bones which is out of Chattanooga. There is such a wide array of things to get at this market, from produce, meats and farm products, pottery, jewelry, pet items, wood work, furniture and much much more. I definitely plan to make this a regular stop on the weekend before one of our tours start in the afternoon!
The "History Hound Dog Costume Contest":
Now this is one thing hubby and I did NOT go witness or partake in, as we sometimes (as I like to think most people do) like to sleep in a little late on the weekends and not get up so early. The registration for the contest was at 9:30 am, with the actual contest being at 10:15, with a few local famous people announcing and judging. The whole thing takes place on the WDVX radio and Clayton Country music stage right in the middle of all the activities and booths outside the History Center, and give away prizes for "best historic costume" and "most East Tennessee spirit". I'm sure it was cute to see and fun to watch, but we just didn't quite make it out there that early...
The Living History Timeline, Antique Market and Reenactments Throughout:
This was probably one of, if not the most, favorite things of myself and my husbands that we saw the whole day at the East Tennessee History Fair. The plethora of people walking around dressed up from time periods all the way back to the French and Indian War, to the Korean and Vietnam Wars, to World War II and the Civil War was a sight to see. One thing I WILL warn you of, because I wish I would have read it somewhere or someone would have told us, was that there was going to be simulation gun shots and rifle firing going off throughout the day. Let me tell ya, when you're not expecting to hear that noise for the first time, it sends a shock wave down your body! The antiques market part of the street was something I read was new to the history fair this year also. We're not much for buying antiques and the like, but it was cool to walk down and see the old artifacts and hidden treasure these people had on display.
By this time after enjoying the market and pretty much viewing all the booths available, we decided it was time to each some lunch at...
The Stock and Barrel:
All I have to say is...OMG THIS PLACE IS DELICIOUS! This is the first time either of us had ever been there, and we were NOT disappointed. We had not eaten breakfast earlier that day or anything, so we managed to finish the burgers and most of the fries and onion rings. I imagine if you had eaten earlier in the day, you'd be taking leftover burger home with you also, as we saw many (grown men) do. For my Elvis burger, I honestly never would have guessed peanut butter, bananas and bacon would be good on top of a hamburger, but they managed to make it spectacular. And for my husband, he doesn't even LIKE most pimento cheeses or fried green tomatoes, but, of course, he adored this burger. We will definitely be coming back here more.
Tennessee Theater Open House:
After lunch, it was perfect timing to go in the Tennessee Theater for it's second open house of the day, running from 1-about 2:30 (they also did the same open house earlier in the day from 10-11:30). It was starting to get to that "middle of the day hotness where you don't even want to be outside" temperature, so the theater provided a nice relief. I have only ever been in this theater once for a paying show anyway years ago, so this was an amazing experience to get to see the stage up close and personal (with the breathtaking Wurlitzer organ on display might I add) and the chance to go to the dressing rooms which are usually restricted access. There was plenty of theater staff/volunteers around to answer questions and point you in the right direction.
The Museum of East Tennessee History:
Also a wonderful relief from the heat outdoors was the FREE admission to the East TN History Museum! Neither hubby or I have ever been in here either, so this was a first time experience for us as well. Open from 10-5, they have their signature exhibit of "Voices of the land: The people of East Tennessee" and their feature exhibit "Come to make records: Knoxville's Contributions to American Popular Music." Both of these exhibits were a joy to walk through, with the Voices of the Land one being very informative on the history of East Tennessee, and having a wide array of items displayed from years gone by. Personally, that is my favorite part of going to any museum-the actual viewing of old time artifacts, not necessarily the reading of page after page or paragraphs on a wall of historical information. I'm like the person you ask "Do you read?" "Why yes, picture books!" I feel like you could literally spend the ENTIRE day in that museum and still not even fully read every word in that place. It was great fun, and even better, it was free!
We were thirsty at this point so we (for the first time as well) tried some fresh pressed juice from Market House Cafe. We both got the "Apple-achian" which is a blend of lime, green apple and strawberry. #delicious
Walking Tour with Jack Neely:
The picture of Immaculate Conception Church seems to be the ONLY picture I took while on Jack Neely's walking tour. Now this the part of the day when you're already tired and worn down from literally walking the better part of the day in downtown, and we knew, and were warned ahead of time, that this was not an ordinary "walking tour" but more of an "urban hike." Which we were totally okay with. I saw online it started at 4pm and a website said "reservations recommended" so I called the day before to reserve two spots (whatever that meant because they had no way of seeing who had reserved "spots" and anyone who decided they wanted to come could). The tour was to meet outside the entrance of the History Center, and when we arrived about 15 minutes prior, there was already about, I'd say, 30 other people waiting as well. Jack arrived right on time, offered anyone a free water bottle that wanted it and said we'd be walking about 2.5 miles total. Which was fine and dandy, EXCEPT that we and a few other people had asked people working outside of the museum how long this was expected to last, and got an answer of "about 45 minutes to an hour." So when we started to walk and I really thought about what he said of "2.5 miles total" I'm thinking "there's NO WAY we're going to walk that much in an hour! There's no way!" Hubby and I just went with the flow, and started to follow the massive group behind Jack, first to Market Square. Now this tour was most definitely informative and loaded with information. He took us all the way up to the Immaculate Conception Church, which is the highest point downtown, and explained old Irish Town, which you could view down below (obviously not there anymore). We then walked to I don't even know where, and just kept walking and walking. At some point we made it to the Old City, and I think it was about 630 at this point. As predicted, this was NOT a 45 minute to an hour walk, and what made it even worse was there was basically NO WHERE to ever find a seat or sit down when Jack did do his presentations and gave information. Talk about killer on the legs when you're already walking that far! After we were in Old city and Jack and the rest of the group followed him even further away from main downtown, we decided it was time to leave the group and head back. A few other people must have been getting tired also, because we weren't the only ones departing the pack. Would I do it again, probably yes. But I'd like to know in advance how long it'd take, and that there's no where to have a seat. Points for filling my brain with useful knowledge to say on my tours, though!
After hours of walking, it was time for dinner at Chivo Taqueria:
Oh, what can I say about this new slice of heaven that just opened on Gay Street? Nothing more than their tacos are AMAZING, and they have a well stocked tequila selection, if that's your thing. On the left is the Party Fowl taco, in the middle in the Clusterduck (which was my personal favorite) and on the right is Frying Nemo. My husband also got three of a different kind (of course he started eating before I could snap a picture) and all of his were equally beautiful and delicious. My mom, who used to live in Mexico and spends half the year now living in California, said this was the closest to authentic tasting Mexican food she's ever had anywhere else. Props to Chivo Taqueria.
While we were waiting for our bowling reservation we had put in hours earlier to get closer to being ready, we walked through Downtown Grill and Brewery to see if any of our "downtown friends" were hanging around and socializing also. We wasted some time chatting with some other Knoxvillians and enjoyed the people watching, but then....
Maple Hall Bowling Alley Time:
After waiting about 3 hours from when we physically (yes, they do NOT take reservations over the phone, unless you're booking one of their private party rooms), put our names down to bowl, about 10 pm, we headed underground. I have walked down here many times since getting things situated and done for my food tours, and I was so excited to finally bowl down here. The great part about this "bowling experience," so they call it, is that you don't pay by the game, but by the hour. I love this idea, and it'd be even more worth it if it was just a husband and wife date night thing, where two of you can bowl a game fairly quickly. However, on this evening, there was six of us partaking, so we literally got through exactly two games in two hours ( a game an hour). They have a James Beard nominated chef running the kitchen, and quite a selection of drinks and cocktails. I can't wait to come back here again, mainly to beat my husband as I always do.
And with that, the day of the East Tennessee History Fair was over! Hubby and I felt exhausted (probably because we were literally downtown for 14 hours) and were sore in places I didn't even know had muscles TO get sore! But all in all, it was well worthwhile, and we'll most definitely be back next year!
Don't forget, East TN Tours premier Chef's Table tours are ON SALE for every Tuesday and Saturday left in August, so head over HERE to read about it and book now, before our Grand Opening Special is over!!
4th of July gives us all a chance to slow down and revel in the awesomeness of summer. Whether you like sitting out in the summer heat with a cold one, or spending cool summer nights in the hot tub, summer has definitely got something for everyone. With Independence Day right around the corner, chances are food will play a big part in the festivities, particularly barbecue. And when it comes to grilling, the 4th of July is the most popular weekend in the whole year to do so!
Fun food facts:
--There is a 1 in 3 chance that any hot dogs or pork sausages consumed on July 4th will originate in Iowa. Iowa is home to nearly one third of the whole nation's total of hogs and pigs!
--Who doesn't love a good ole' American hot dog?! According to TIME magazine, Americans eat about 20 billion hot dogs a year! That averages out to about 70 hot dogs per person, per year!
--You can thank California for the lettuce you put on your hamburgers or in your salads...they make up for nearly 75% of American lettuce production!
--We all know we like to cool down in the heat of a summer day with some delicious ice cream, but how many pounds of it do you think Americans consume each year? The answer is 4.3 BILLION pounds...wow!
--One of my personal favorite desserts-pie-actually didn't used to be spelled "pie." Researchers have found early 12th century writings spelling the word "pye"...interesting!
--If you're a carnivore during your 4th of July celebrations, you'll be interested to know the word "steak" comes from the Saxons and Jutes, where the Saxon word "steak" comes from their word "steik" which means "to roast meat on a stick"!
--According to to Hearth, Patio and Barbecue Association, 4th of July beats out any other holiday for grilling outdoors...more than Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Fathers Day! Also, 87% of "All American Homes" have an outdoor grill.
--The US Census Bureau states that the week before the 4th of July approximately 700 million pounds of chicken are bought in preparation for festivities!
--Just be careful when handling those sparklers on the 4th...July 4th is America's NUMBER ONE beer drinking holiday on which we buy, serve, and drink beer--still beating out Memorial Day, Labor Day, and even the Superbowl!
The 4th of July throughout History:
--Did you know back in 1776 when the US was a newly independent nation there was about 2.5 million people living here...now the population is about 318.9 million!
--History,com tells us Americans have technically been celebrating the 4th of July since 1777, but the first official event at the White House wasn't until 1801, when Thomas Jefferson opened the doors to the world and served "bowls of punch and plates of sweets" at his huge party.
--The national animal almost wasn't a bald eagle?! That's right, Benjamin Franklin tried diligently to get the national animal to be the turkey, but in the end, was outvoted by John Adams and Thomas Jefferson, who obviously chose the bald eagle.
--Benjamin Franklin even wrote about his displeasure about the bald eagle being chosen stating "He is a Bird of bad moral character. He does not get his Living honestly," he wrote. "You may have seen him perched on some dead Tree near the River, where, too lazy to fish for himself, he watches the Labour of the Fishing Hawk." "A turkey," Franklin went on to argue, "is a far more respectable bird." "Turk'y… [is a] true original Native of America," Franklin wrote. "He is besides, though a little vain & silly, a Bird of Courage, and would not hesitate to attack a Grenadier of the British Guards who should presume to invade his Farm Yard with a red Coat on."
--Strangely, most of our nations flags and patriotic paraphernalia in relation to the 4th of July is produced in China. The US spends about $349 million dollars each years importing flags, banners, decorations, etc.
--The stars on the original American Flag where actually in the shape of a circle, to ensure all colonies were seen as equal.
--Perhaps my favorite little known fact of all--according to legend, when John Adams and his wife Abigail sat down for their first 4th of July meal, they actually ate turtle soup, New England poached salmon with egg sauce, green peas, and boiled new potatoes in jackets, and the followed the meal with dessert with a traditional Native American pudding...how cool!
So now the big question is...what do we do in Knoxville on July 4th?!
World's Fair Park holds an AMAZING celebration from 4pm-10pm that is free to the public and holds a wide array of family friendly activities, entertainment, and treats. Throughout the day you'll hear great music, have great food and hopefully have a great time! This event is rain or shine, and, of course, there will be fireworks at the end starting about 9:40! Parking is also free, and they ask you do not bring any pets, alcohol, tents or any kind of canopies. Visit their website HERE for all the info you need!
Comment below with YOUR favorite 4th of July traditions, foods, and celebrations...we'd love to hear them!!!
Here are some of my personal pictures of the prettiest scenes I've captured over the years...
2. Check out Market Square and the downtown area like Gay St. and the Old city.
Why? (Inserts selfless plug for my downtown food tours here) Well, for one, it's where our wonderful East TN Tours go to showcase some of the best restaurants in town while giving guests a history "lesson" all the while sampling delicious plates from favorite eateries! Market Square hosts a farmers market from May 4th through November 19th from 11-2 and Concerts and Jazz on the Square as well as First Friday's! Gay St. holds the Art Market Gallery, the Bijou Theatre, and the beautiful Tennessee Theatre.
As they say here "WE BLEED ORANGE!" If you haven't been to a UT football game at Neyland Stadium, it's an experience that one needs to have at least once in their life.
4. Go see a concert/show...or two...or three!
Thompson Boling Arena hosts numerous events from graduation ceremonies, basketball games and concerts all throughout the year. As previously said, the Tennessee Theatre holds great events like concerts, plays and movies often during the year
5. Go on a food tour!
Last, but most certainly not least, everyone who lives in or visits Knoxville MUST MUST MUST go on a food tour! But which one, may you ask? Well, EAST TN TOURS of course! We'll take you to some of Knoxville's most desirable restaurants with the best chefs, and you'll even get face time with the chefs, owners and/or managers themselves. We pride ourselves on being the premier food tour in the Knoxville area and providing your group with unforgettable memories and food tastings that will keep you coming back for more! BOOK HERE and get your tickets now!
Any other things you think should be added to this list? Comment below with your suggestions!