Food & Drink

The Best New Breweries in Tennessee You Should Be Drinking at Right Now

Published On 10/21/2016 Published On 10/21/2016
Southern Grist Brewing Co
Southern Grist Brewing Co | Sean Von Tagen
Bristol Brewery

Bristol Brewery

Bristol

Although the GEICO Gecko® has now informed the world that Bristol actually lies on the border between Tennessee and Virginia -- and this particular brewery is a block over the line on the Commonwealth side -- we’ll lay claim to it because it's pumping some fantastic beers out of its small brewing system located in a repurposed bus station. From a popular vanilla porter to a beer named BFW (beer-flavored water) brewed specifically for patrons who come into the taproom and try to order a Bud Light, Bristol Brewery aims to please, and will almost always hit its target.

Hutton & Smith Brewing Co.

Chattanooga

Named for a Scot and a Brit who are considered the fathers of modern geology, Hutton & Smith pays homage to these two scientists’ mutual love of beer. The taproom serves its stylistically faithful but nuanced beers, like the crisp Paleo Pils or the dry-hopped Igneous IPA, which maintains a delicate balance between hops and malt. Above all else, Hutton & Smith is proud to brew all its beers using quality ingredients. You can also find its wares on tap in bars and restaurants around the ‘Noog.

Asgard Brewing Company

Asgard Brewing Co.

Columbia

You wouldn’t expect to find a place like Asgard Brewing in the heart of small-town USA in Columbia, the home of Mule Day. But sure enough, nestled right there on the banks of the Duck River in the middle of Downtown is this brewery, dedicated to creating its own little version of Reykjavík by making and serving beers in the Icelandic tradition, a land where homebrewing was illegal until 1989. Since the lifting of its Prohibition, Iceland's brewers have been making up for lost time with a dedication to experimental seasonal beers that continue to move the margins of the craft-beer industry forward. This attitude manifests itself in the young Asgard brewery in the form of constantly changing varieties of its flagship Einstok beer enhanced by adding flavor elements like peppers, citrus zest, and ginger through a Randall system. Thanks to special festival events like Einherjar, honoring those who have fallen in battle and joined Odin’s warriors in Valhalla, there’s always a reason to blow your horn at Asgard.

JRH Brewing

Johnson City

Since opening in February of 2016, JRH brewer/owner John Henritze has created a family-friendly gathering spot for Johnson City craft beer fans to gather, play board games, listen to music, enjoy snacks from local food trucks, and sample his variety of both stylistically representative and downright wacky brewing recipes. He offers more traditional beers, like his take on a German hefeweizen called Henritzeweizen, on his stable flagship taps, but also more experimental options on his rotators. Henritze’s big sellers, like Tannery Knobs IPA and Tree Streets Pale Ale, demonstrate that his style leans toward an equilibrium between malt and hops, so no matter how far out the recipes may get, they’ll still maintain a nice sense of balance.

Courtesy of Draft Agency

Balter Beerworks

Knoxville

Located in a former service station that's been converted into an attractive taproom and brewing facility, Balter Beerworks has quickly become a destination for Knoxville craft beer aficionados. Its locale is appropriate, since the brewery founders started out together making beer in a home garage, and they have scaled up some of their original homebrew recipes to industrial-sized batches. There are no specific flagship brews, so you can usually expect something new and interesting to be rotating onto the taps at Balter. Local favorites -- and safe bets -- include Firebelly IPA and Good Neighbor, a light-bodied kolsch. If you happen to visit when they're tapping one of their cask-conditioned beers, get the hell to the front of the serving line, pronto.

Fanatic Brewing Company

Fanatic Brewing Co.

Knoxville

Fanatic’s owner has spent 30 years as a professional brewer at multiple breweries, winning numerous awards for his beers along the way. At his Knoxville brewery, Marty Velas creates beers that aren’t afraid to showcase bold flavors of malt and hops, and his Tennessee Red ESB shows off the sweetness of the grains thanks to the use of caramel and Munich malts. Less adventurous palates may prefer the easy-drinking Tennessee Blonde instead. Although his taproom is still under construction, you can find his beers in many local bars and stores.

East Nashville Beer Works

East Nashville Beer Works

Nashville

At East Nashville Beer Works, the slogan is “Beer is Community.” More than just marketing-speak, ENBW really puts its money where its mouth is by opening a brewery and taproom in a mostly industrial section of Nashville that was pretty much devoid of social gathering spots before it threw open the garage doors. Open seven days a week, this family-friendly spot with a dog-friendly beer garden offers pizzas, salads, and arepas to accompany a tight list of beers ranging from a light blonde to a sessionable IPA to a smoked porter uniquely brewed with malt that is flavored with hickory charcoal in a smoker tucked away in the corner of the brewery’s yard.

New Heights Brewing Company

New Heights Brewing

Nashville

Most Nashville breweries intentionally steer clear of the types of piney, resinous IPAs that characterize certain popular California breweries, but they ain’t scared of no hops at New Heights Brewing Co! The flagship IPA is assertively and proudly hop-forward with a touch of citrusy grapefruit and a high enough alcohol content to remind you to sip slowly. It also offers more sessionable beers in case you’re looking to enjoy more than a few at a sitting. Opening as a production brewery only, New Heights' taproom is due to open anytime now, but until then, you can find it all over town.

Smith & Lentz Brewing Co.

Nashville

This East Nashville brewery is all about variety, with plenty of fermentation tank space to complement its relatively small brewing system. This means that it's able to offer a constant stream of creative recipes in the taproom -- a philosophy that is not surprising when you realize that both owners, Smith and Lentz, hail from the beer-crazy state of Wisconsin. The comfortable and attractive taproom has become something of a clubhouse for neighbors who enjoy sampling from a selection of beers ranging from German and Belgian varieties to several options of IPAs.

Southern Grist Brewing Co

Southern Grist Brewing

Nashville

Three friends who met at their day job working at a technology company discovered a mutual love for craft beer and homebrewing. Unlike the rest of us who only dream of ditching the rat race to open a brewery, this trio actually did it -- operating out of a tiny brewing system in East Nashville. Almost 100% of Southern Grist's output is sold in its taproom, which is operated almost like a malty coffeehouse, selling pints and filling growlers to-go while offering pizza and pretzels to soak it up. You’ll have to visit to try out the selection of beers, which tends to run heavy on sours, but it will be worth the trip. Particularly notable is the Nashville Mule, a tart wheat beer brewed with fresh lime zest, lime juice, and fresh ginger that is almost like a cocktail in a pint glass.

Mill Creek Brewing Co.

Nolensville

Nolensville’s first brewery is the brainchild of Chris Goins, an avid homebrewer who decided to jump into his hobby with both feet to augment his career as a guitar teacher by opening a production brewery. Concentrating on beers that can please both the craft-beer neophyte and serious beer nerds, Mill Creek brews recipes that are especially food-friendly thanks to a careful balance of ingredients that complement food without overpowering it with sweet roasty maltiness or anesthetizing your tongue with resinous hoppiness. Mill Creek’s four flagship beers are already available in cans ranging from an easy-drinking Landmark lager to Lil’ Darlin’, a citrus-infused wheat beer, and it aims to take up valuable real estate in your Yeti next time you plan a tailgate party or a weekend camping.

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1. Bristol Brewery 41 Piedmont Ave, Bristol, VA 24201

Downtown Bristol’s Historical Bus Station has swapped out motorized cans-on-wheels for bottles filled with local beer with its new occupant Bristol Brewery. The house has a 10-barrel brewing system that churns out a Double Loco Imperial IPA with citrus florals that clocks in at 8.7% and a crisp, malty Piedmont Pilsner that’s much lighter. Country concerts are performed in from of the shiny beer stills, which spices up a trip to refill your growler.

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2. Hutton & Smith Brewing Co. 431 E Ml King Blvd Ste 120, Chattanooga, TN 37403

A husband-and-wife team drawn to Chattanooga for its outdoorsy appeal decided to run with the theme and name their brewery after the fathers of modern geology. Their industrial-styled tasting room, accessible via a garage door and featuring nifty stained glass lamps made from bike tires, pours drafts next to the tanks they were fermented in. Ryes and ales can be sampled in flights or bottled in growlers so get ready for some Chattanooga brew-brew (sorry).

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3. Asgard Brewing Company 104 W 5th St, Columbia, TN 38401

You can drink like a maundering Viking at Nordic-themed brewery Asgard (as if the warrior of the North featured prominently on the logo didn't give it away). Everything in the 15-seat tasting room is rustic and distressed, with a cracked wooden bar and a wall of broken plaster over exposed chunks of brick (as if a Thor had taken a few hammer swings). Flights are served in miniature Norse boats, and highlight traditional porters and IPAs, with Belgians and sours on the way.

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4. JRH Brewing 458 W Walnut St, Johnson City, TN 37604

A high school trip to Busch Gardens birthed an interest in beer for the brewmaster who opened JRH Brewing decades later. Now, he makes his own Boonetime Blondes and fruity, old world-style “Strange Brews” in this facility with a taproom that hosts events around yoga and beer (hey, everyone charts their own course toward inner peace).

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5. Balter Beerworks 100 S Broadway St, Knoxville, TN 37902

The taproom at this industrial-chic brewery reads more like a large-scale restaurant and bar, where American gastro-pub food gets dressed up with up to eight beers on tap from the attached fermenting room. The brews have a wide palette range, with a coffee-black Bear Blend oatmeal porter playing counter to the light and crisp Good Neighbor kolsch. Come thirsty, but also hungry: Mountainous burgers are piled high with battered onion rings and topped with fried eggs. Brunch gets busy.

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6. Fanatic Brewing Company , Knoxville, TN 37917

Beer fanatics who have encountered a floral Fanatic Pale Ale or Bavarian-style Fanatic Black lager at Knoxville area bars can get a group together and hop on one of the regular tours at this brewery. There’s no formal taproom, but that doesn’t mean you can’t sample the wares, all of which have a distinct Eastern European character or inspiration.

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7. East Nashville Beer Works 320 East Trinity Lane, Nashville, TN 37207 (East Nashville)

With a motto like “Beer is Community,” this tap room-centric brewery is a great spot to go grab a beer with friends, family, and even canines. Their warm, industrial warehouse with repurposed wood picnic tables and corrected metal accents is just as welcoming as their crew and their brews. Try the Miro Miel (a pilsner-style blonde ale made with real Tennessee honey) or the Young Hickory Porter (a smokey, campfire-inspired, and malt-forward) with their small bites and pizza menu—they know good snacks are important.

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8. New Heights Brewing Company 600 Church St, Nashville, TN 37219 (Downtown)

New on the scene as of May 2016, New Heights is doing exactly what it claims to be doing in the world of craft brewing: reaching new heights. Be on the lookout for the grand opening of their tap room in Downtown, but for now you can find their small batch brews at festivals, tap takeovers, and local beer stores. The list is always changing by season, but we favor the Sweet Munich Pale Ale for pleasant notes of honeysuckle in this hoppy German malt, English yeast ale, and the Berry Fancy for a tart, refreshing cream ale made with real raspberry pureé.

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9. Smith & Lentz 903 Main St, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

Kurt Smith and Adler Lentz traveled the nation and the world learning all about brewing and the distribution business before settling down in East Nashville to craft their own brand of unique, constantly changing small batch beers. They know that chemistry is key and they keep their yeast happy and their customers hopper. We can’t say for sure what they’ve got cooking up, but their refreshing fruit-forward Oatarillo IPA and authentically malty Vienna Lager hit the spot. Like many craft tap rooms, Smith & Lentz hosts a rotating schedule of Nashville’s favorite food trucks, but they also encourage you to order from Mitchell’s Deli and BYOS (bring your own snacks).

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10. Southern Grist Brewing Company 1201 Porter Rd, Nashville, TN 37206 (East Nashville)

There isn’t a shortage of interesting beers to drink at this cheery, bright tap room in East Nashville. Sit at the bar and study up the latest, greatest creations that founders Jamie Lee, Kevin Antoon, and Jared Welch have been dreaming up since opening in 2007. In the past, our favorite have been BroConut (a relatively sweet, tropical IPA) and Nashville Mule (a tart wheat beer with a spicy ginger accent inspired by a Moscow Mule), but you never know what’s on tap so make sure to keep an eye out. There are rotating food vendors, but you are welcome to bring your own snacks … Southern Grist understands what it means to be picky and know what you like.

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11. Mill Creek Brewing Company 2008 B Johnson Industrial Blvd, Nolensville, TN 37135

Inspired by the beautiful Smoky Mountains, Mill Creek is a simple, no bullshit brewery that brews not for the sake of trends but to craft drinkable variations on classic beers that everyone from amateur to aficionado will recommend to their pals. Whether you buy a pack of cans or fill up a growler at their friendly and comfortable bare bones tap house, you can expect to find the same four staple beers. Silo, a tart yet traditional Belgian farmhouse ale; Landmark, a smooth, malty German-style lager; Woodshed, a citrus-forward IPA that doesn’t leave a bitter aftertaste; and Lil Darlin, a light, sweet wheat-style beer.

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