One of the exciting things about being a craft beer enthusiast is traveling to places that carry vastly different beers than what I am used to seeing at my local beer store. “Beer Tourism” is big in Belgium, but I make sure I integrate it into all of my travels. Last week was no exception. On the way to the Smoky Mountains in North Carolina for a family reunion with the in-laws we stopped by The Bearden Beer Market. We were going to swing by the Casual Pint, but they were not open early enough for us as we passed through.
My first experience with the place was its website, where I read the following:
Established in 2010, the Bearden Beer Market provides Knoxville with great tasting beer from around the world, in a laid-back, family-friendly environment that encourages community involvement and an enthusiasm for craft beer. We travel around the country in search of new, exciting beers to share with our customers; and have created a store with hundreds of packaged beers to-go, kegs for your kegerator or next event, and a rotating draft wall to enjoy a pint in the beer garden or to take home with you in a growler.
I was particularly excited to read that it was “Family Friendly” because I was traveling with my two young daughters. And you know what? It actually was. The guys who were working there were great; knowledgeable about the local/regional selections and patient with my daughters who interrupted to ask their own questions (Um…excuse me…do you have any SOda?). The selection was great, and their advice was spot on. Plus, they have a great outdoor beer garden.
After my daughters calmed down and we were able to hang out in the beer garden, I got a Sweetwater Hefeweizen for my wife, and A Highland Brewing Company Little Hump Pale ale and Green Man ESB for myself. I especially enjoyed the ESB, a staff favorite. It was full, Malty, and minerally tasting.
I also bought a number of different Southern Beers. I particularly enjoyed Adam Bomb, a big juicy IPA from Blackstone Brewery in Nashville (which I actually had to buy from a liquor store next door due to Tennessee’s high alcohol beer laws). But the bottle art award goes to Foothills Brewing. The art is clean, nicely stylized, and high-contrast; it makes me want a beer.
But on to name of the post. While staying in the Smoky Mountains I read all about how Asheville is known as Beer City USA. There is a LOT going on there and I am excited to take a trip there in the coming year. Plus, North Carolina is a great state. I should know; I was born there!