Hop on a Bike and Discover the Best Beer in Knoxville

Knoxville now has more than a dozen places to enjoy locally made craft beer.
Knoxville now has more than a dozen places to enjoy locally made craft beer. Quinn Dombrowski
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Craft breweries have been popping up all over the country, and Knoxville has not been immune to the power of a great beer. As we become a regional beer scene, we’re also making great pivots towards more bike-friendly streets and greenways. So we figured, why not celebrate both? Below you’ll find a guide to biking your way to Knoxville’s great breweries, taprooms, and beer markets. But be cautious, these breweries are so tightly clustered that you might get tipsy before you’ve even gone a mile. For this list, we've highlighted some of Knoxville’s newest and most exciting beer destinations. But you should still definitely check out classic beer-centric restaurants like Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria, Downtown Grill and BreweryBoyd's Jig and Reel, and Central Flats & Taps as well as great bars like Suttree’s, Public House, the Casual Pint, and Hops and Hollers. OK, on to enjoying some of the best beer in Knoxville:

Crafty Bastard Brewery

Address: 6 Emory Place
Hours: Tue-Sat: 4 p.m. - midnight; Sun: 12 p.m. - 9 p.m.

Start your ride at Crafty Bastard Brewery, one of the newest tenants at recently revitalized Emory Place. With a list of beers as quirky as its name, this nano-brewery relishes its departure from the craft-beer norm and sees its tininess as a chance to experiment with off-the-wall flavors like that of their Tessellation IPA, which boasts “a strong dank beginning that finishes with ripe and decadent notes of mangoes.”

SawWorks Brewing Company

The SawWorks Brewing Company is known for its excellence with traditional beers and hoppy IPAs.
The SawWorks Brewing Company is known for its excellence with traditional beers and hoppy IPAs. SawWorks Brewing Company

Address: 708 E Depot Ave
Distance from previous bar:.6-.9 miles
Hours:  Wed-Fri: 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.; Sat:   4 p.m. - 9 p.m.

A little ways away in Knoxville’s Warehouse district is SawWorks Brewing Company. There aren't yet bike lanes on the quickest route via 5th Avenue, so you can either ride on the sidewalks (legal, but not advisable), stay in the driving lane (legal, but a little intimidating on this section of road) or you can cut down N. Central to Jackson Avenue.

SawWorks is kind of like the mother hen of Knoxville’s new brood of breweries. Founder Adam Palmer is the president of the recently established Knoxville Area Brewers Association (KABA), which brings together local breweries in hopes of improving the tourism economy, much like the gains seen with neighboring Asheville and Nashville ale trails. SawWorks does traditional beers with excellence, and focuses on hoppy IPAs, though they have a nice chocolatey brown ale as well.

Knox Whiskey Works

Address: 516 W Jackson Ave
Distance from previous bar:.8 miles
Hours:  Mon-Wed: 12 p.m. - 7 p.m.; Thu-Fri: 12 p.m. - 10 p.m.; Sat: 11 a.m. - 10 p.m; Sun: 12 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Head back down Jackson Avenue for about half a mile to reach Knox Whiskey Works. This is not a brewery, but we'd be remiss to exclude Knox Whiskey Works from this list. For just $5 you can go on the “50 ml” tour of this small batch, craft distillery, where you’ll taste all the original products KWW has to offer while learning the magic behind its method.

Balter Beerworks

Balter Beerworks transformed an abandoned gas station into a popular destination for drinks and dining.
Balter Beerworks transformed an abandoned gas station into a popular destination for drinks and dining. Balter Beerworks

Address: 100 S. Broadway
Distance from previous bar: 417 feet
Hours:  Mon-Thu:   11 a.m. - midnight; Fri-Sat:   11 a.m. - 1 a.m.; Sun: 10:30 a.m. - 11 p.m.

Just a skip, hop, and a jump away from KWW is Balter Beerworks. The intersection of Broadway and Jackson seems to have transformed overnight from abandoned gas station to the most eye-pleasing stop on our list, but the project has actually been a longtime in the making. What was originally intended as a modest brewery has expanded to include a restaurant, bar, and soon-to-come beer garden.

Alliance Brewing and Trailhead Beer Market

The home of the Trailhead Beer Market has seen a lot of life over the years, but it's now a big part of a growing neighborhood in South Knoxville.
The home of the Trailhead Beer Market has seen a lot of life over the years, but it's now a big part of a growing neighborhood in South Knoxville. Kevin Humphrey

Address:  1130 Sevier Ave, Knoxville
Distance from previous bar: 2 miles
Hours: Alliance: Tue-Fri: 5 p.m. - 9 p.m.; Sat: 12 p.m. - 9 p.m.; Sun : 2 p.m. - 7 p.m.
Trailhead:  Mon-Thu: 3 p.m. - 11 p.m.; Fri:   3 p.m. - midnight; Sat:   12 p.m. - midnight; Sun:   12 p.m. - 8 p.m.

Your next route is a a 2-mile trip into the heart of Knoxville’s developing southern side. Head back up Jackson Avenue and take a right onto Gay Street. You'll pass some great beer destinations that we didn't have space to mention here, including Suttree's and Downtown Grill & Brewery. Continue all the way down the main stretch of Gay Street and cross the green Gay Street Bridge. Turn left on Sevier Avenue and stay on it for about a half mile. Alliance Brewing will be on your right. The building once housed a laundromat and is somewhat nondescript, but Alliance marks the start of the still inchoate South Knox beer scene, bringing brews to the mountain bikers, hikers, and runners that frequent the nearby Urban Wilderness. And just .2 miles away is the new Trailhead Beer Market, which we've covered extensively here.

Based on hours open, it looks like the best time to take on the whole list would be on Saturday, starting at 4 p.m., but you can always break the list up into smaller endeavors.

All jokes aside, this is really meant to be a tasting tour. If you do get a little too buzzed to safely operate your bike, don't be a hero. Most of these places (save those in South Knox) are within walking distance of each other. Or you can always hop on a bus—and your bike rides free!

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