The craft brew scene would not be complete anywhere without a hipster joint serving up obscure beer flavor profiles. Crafty Bastard Brewery, located just outside downtown Knoxville, fits this niche role in the craft beer world of eastern Tennessee. Using catch phrases du jour such as “hop-forward” and “nanobrewery” they embody the trendy side of craft brewing. Here’s the catch though: despite the slightly pretentious nature that comes with all things hipster, they do a damn good job of creating truly interesting and delicious beers. So, put on your best flannel and skinny jeans and join me for a pint as I review my second to last brewery in Knoxville.
- Beer – Who came up with the idea of a Hawaiian BBQ flavored pale ale? Or Earl Grey Tea pale ale? Better yet, who crafted them to be so tasty? These are the type of unique, and dare I say obscure, flavor combinations in store for you here. What’s more, variety abounds in the form of just about any style you could want thanks to their rotating tap list. My favorite by far was the Imperial Milk Stout but in all honesty, they were all good. They constantly rotate what is available so do not be surprised if it is different each time you visit. Score: 4.5/5
- Brewery – Set in what I assume was once an old warehouse or factory, they have done little to erase the scars of the building’s past and the passage of time. Yet it works, creating a minimalist scene to sit and enjoy a beer with friends at the expansive bar or large outdoor seating area. With plenty of board and outdoor games to play and daily food trucks, you can spend a whole afternoon here. They also have tons of bottle release events, trivia, and live music, giving you one more reason to stick around into the evening, beer in hand. Score: 3.5/5
- Ambiance – Friendly and open, the owners clearly want people to stick around and have fun by providing so many options for entertainment. This place truly feels like a microbrewery and, based on the crowd I saw there on a weekday afternoon, is a popular place to hang out. I certainly found myself wanting to stay a while and would have been there all evening if not for meeting some friends elsewhere for dinner. Score: 4.5/5
- Location – The area around the brewery is nothing special, set in what looks to be a slowly recovering neighborhood on the outskirts of downtown. There is ample parking close by but not much else within a few blocks, however the more populated areas of downtown are a short Uber ride away if for some reason you decide to move on for the night. Score: 3/5
- Customer Service – Quick, efficient, and friendly would be enough to score high marks here. What makes this place even better is that they went above and beyond for service. Anyone who comes with me to breweries knows that I collect stickers from everywhere I go. So of course, I asked for one here, only to be told they were out. No big deal, it happens. But then the bartender offered to mail one to me once they get more, writing down my address to send it. Now that is how you do customer service! Score: 5/5
Total Score: 20.5/25
Final Thoughts: I thought it would be hard to top my earlier stop at Pretentious Beer Company in uniqueness, but Crafty Bastard managed to do so on the strength of their beers. They had the tastiest offerings of my trip to Knoxville, and that alone is worth stopping by to visit if you are in town. Just be sure to wear an ironic t-shirt and wax your mustache appropriately before you go.