A new state! More beer! Hooray! I found myself in Knoxville, Tennessee recently on a work-related trip and decided to visit as many local beer joints as I could. Like most people, Tennessee does not come to my mind very readily when thinking about craft beer, however perhaps it should have based on my experiences. The places I visited showed real character and creativity inside and out, so sit back and enjoy these next few reviews from my trip back east.
- Beer – Travel weary and jet lagged, I looked for somewhere close to my hotel for food and hopefully beer. As luck would have it, Balter Beerworks was only a few blocks away and had both! I quickly ordered a flight when I sat down, picking a few of their house beers as well as some seasonals. As usual, I will always sing the praise of anyone who has variety, and they did a good job of offering options. Mostly they had your standard level of variety, porter to IPA, kolsch to stout. As for the quality, I would grade them as solid. Nothing flashy or wowing, not a lot in the way of complexity, but the beers were still good. Perfect for a hungry and thirsty traveler looking to relax after a long day, I could also see myself picking up a growler from time to time if I lived here. Score: 3.5/5
- Brewery – Built out of a former service station, it is tastefully decorated inside and out to maintain that industrial feel with a modern twist. The indoor and outdoor spaces are large with ample seating and a lovely bar to boot. While their menu offers mostly your standard pub fare, that does not mean the quality suffers. My meal was delicious, and the portions were generous all around which was exactly what I needed. As for entertainment, while I saw nothing that suggests they have live music, their website lists many events coming up held at the brewery including charity events and keg-tapping nights. They also have televisions around the bar for sporting events. Perfect opportunities to send a great night at a lovely place. Score: 4/5
- Ambiance – Despite more of a restaurant vibe I still felt very welcome and encouraged to come in and relax as long as needed. With the frequent events on their upcoming schedule, you can tell they are working to build a place that encourages people to hang around and drink. A little more emphasis on the things that draw folks in, such as live music, and they will really nail the essence of a prime spot to frequent with friends. Score: 3/5
- Location – I thought they picked a neat location, nestled on the side of a hill, right on the fringes of downtown Knoxville. It’s a short walk from a major hub of restaurants and bars with ample parking nearby. There are plenty of things to do around Balter Beerworks should you decide to leave its warm confines or want to wander over after dinner elsewhere. The only caveat I have for their location is that it can be easy to miss from the road as it is tucked back against the hill, but that is a minor issue. Score: 3.5/5
- Customer Service – Quickly seated, beers in hand shortly after ordering, and fast food delivery were some of the aspects of the quality customer service they exhibited. All the wait staff were cheerful, and I was checked in on frequently, ensuring my glass was never empty for long. They did a wonderful job of ensuring my visit to the brewery was a satisfying one. Score: 4/5
Total Score: 18/25
Final Thoughts: Tired and weary, I picked Balter Beerworks mostly based on its proximity to my hotel, yet my decision was well rewarded. With great food and solid beers, this place should be on anyone’s list to when planning a visit to Knoxville. Stop in and grab their porter, Bear Blend, along with some dinner and you won’t be disappointed.