Pretentious Beer Company may be one of the most unique breweries I have ever stumbled across. Located in Knoxville, TN, I discovered this place while wandering around the downtown area near my hotel. A joint brewery and glass blowing company, they make all their bar glasses by hand, as well as all the tap handles. Grab a beer and keep reading about one of the most interesting and hipster places I have found so far.
- Beer – Their beers have a strong Belgian influence, gaining a lot of their flavors using ale yeast that imparts that fruity undertone so common in Trappist beers. They also have a great selection of other styles, such as saisons and of course IPAs. What was truly unique is the amount of experimentation with flavor profiles I found here. Whether it is using multiple hops or adding in fruits, molasses, or peppers they managed to take many disparate flavors and blend them together in a way that works. I must give them high marks for sheer creativity and boldness in this category. Plus, the names and artwork that accompany their beers are hilarious! Score: 4/5
- Brewery – The uniqueness of this brewery takes a while to sink in after you enter. But once I sat down at the bar and started to take in the details, I came to like this place more and more. Set in historic downtown Knoxville, the brewery is located in a renovated old building that I am so fond of for breweries. The tap room is small with most of the space taken up by the bar and brewing equipment, however they have a nice outdoor area behind the brewery to enjoy on warm days. There are not a lot of frills here but that is ok, it fits with the style of the old building and surrounding area. They did have the most interesting tap handles (see the picture below) I have ever seen. As for entertainment, there is a large projector screen for sporting events, live music and other events like beer releases, and bar food to be had if you are hungry. Of note, the glass blowing portion of the business is next door if you are looking to take home some hand-crafted bar ware. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance – So, so hipster. Still, a place I would want to spend time in. Despite the relatively small space inside, they do their best to maximize the experience by providing plenty of events and entertainment, as well as a uniqueness with the glass blowing side. I enjoyed the vibe I got from here and would recommend it as a spot to take a small group of friends to relax at the end of the week. Score: 3.5/5
- Location – This was one of the better locations for a brewery I have seen in a while. Located in the heart of downtown Knoxville, there is plenty to do around the taproom, including venues for music, restaurants, and other bars. With plenty of parking around it will never be a problem. They picked a perfect spot to capture business. Score: 4.5/5
- Customer Service – The bartender was wonderful, answered all my questions, and served my beer with alacrity. The only caveat I put on the otherwise wonderful service is that there was only one person pouring beer, so if it became busy, things might slow down, however I’m sure they account for that in the busier times. A minor but important detail. Score: 4.5/5
Total Score: 20/25
Final Thoughts: I would say you should visit Pretentious Beer Company if for nothing else than to see the tap handles. However, you would do yourself a disservice if you did not try the beer. This brewery was a delightful find near my hotel with wonderful beer and a truly creative twist to a business idea with the glass blowing. If you find yourself out and about in downtown Knoxville, be sure to visit and try whatever the latest offerings on tap are.