Art takes many forms. I’ll never forget watching in awe as a single man, armed with a Stihl chainsaw – much like my own – carved an eagle out of a piece of wood that I wouldn’t have given much thought to had I passed it in the woods. Saws have been implements of creation for decades now – in many shapes and forms – but it’s something we don’t give much thought to. I can’t begin to count the of saws in my own garage, nor the times I have used them – but they have helped me in a pinch, when I’ve needed to work or just take a moment to be a bit creative.
Creativity: This is what I LOVE about the craft beer industry. The people and the beer are incredibly diverse and I am frequently in awe of, not only the beer I taste, but also the people I meet. The thought, the time and the talent that goes into a single beer – pretty neat.
There have been some rumors flying around the beer community regarding our beloved Marble City Brewing Company. We certainly don’t want to perpetuate these rumors. So we sat down with Adam Palmer, President and Founder and Dave Ohmer, Head Brewer, to get the full story on what’s changing with the brewery. As I walked in the door, Dave handed me a beaker with Saw Works Brewing Company’s first brew, a pale ale. Dave said, “it’s almost at terminal gravity, but you can take a taste and get a general idea of what I’m going for.” I could immediately get the scent of grapefruit on the nose and while I could tell the beer was still young, hops were definitely present. Dave said this was an English Pale Ale with enough hops to satisfy an American palate. With the small taste I got today, I’m excited about this beer.
While I know many of us loved the Marble City Brewing Company name, the bottom line is that it was time for a change. Naming a brewery is no small feat – I was privileged to participate in the brainstorming. Trademarks are a messy thing and it was important to Adam Palmer and Johnathan Borsodi to keep it local and to keep it Knoxville. What’s interesting is that the building that houses Marble City Brewing Company was originally built in 1960 facilitate the expansion of Wallace Saw Works, which began right next door but needed to expand. At one point, Wallace was the largest sharpening and refinishing shop of saw blades in the southeast. If you look closely at the back of the building, you can still see the old Wallace name (pic below – a bit hard to make out, but it’s there. Pretend it’s one of those magic eye pictures.)
Through conversations with old Wallace employees, Adam learned a bit about the history of the building and discovered that the property was actually part of a larger saw mill. Saws – wood – seemed to be pretty ingrained into the history of the building. As a result, Saw Works Brewing Company was born.
Brewer & The Beer:
As I mentioned above, the head brewer is none other than Dave Ohmer, who many of us know from Woodruff Brewing Company. Dave is an extremely talented brewer and just an all around great guy. Remember Captain’s Ale? Yeah, that was Dave. When I asked Dave what excited him the most about Saw Works, he said, “I’m excited to provide Knoxville with a great local beer that will be at many of our local establishments that you already go to and enjoy.” Adam Palmer told me, “I’m excited about the level of professionalism that Dave brings to the brewery. He knows the Knoxville beer market as well as anyone.”
Now, while it’s been rumored that Saw Works Brewing Company will focus exclusively on English style ales, Adam set the record straight by explaining that although the main line will follow this style, there will be specialty beers that fall outside of this style. Dave said to think of it as, “traditional beers, brewed for today.” The pale ale will be the first brew out the gate and a brown ale will follow soon thereafter.
Sustainability and Saw Works:
Adam was excited to tell me about a partnership that Saw Works Brewing Company has with Century Harvest Farms in Greenback, TN. Chris Burger, President, has been taking the spent grains and feeding them to his livestock for the last year and a half. “This is great,” Adam told me “as it is typically something we’d just throw away, but Chris can use it on his farm.” The ultimate goal is for these grains to be used as a larger composting project. The byproduct of this project will then be used as fertilizer to grow specialty grains for Saw Works to put in their beer. This creates a very cyclical process that Adam says fits their motto of, “ground to glass.” This is a great concept that, while we won’t see the results of which very quickly, has some significant potential to create a great model for others to follow.
World’s Fair Beer:
It’s hard to believe that it’s been 30 years since Knoxville hosted the World’s Fair. Dave and Adam have been talking to Rick Kuhlman about using the World’s Fair Beer trademark. Rick came up with the concept while he was the marketing director for beer wholesaler Pinnacle Sales, where his father was an owner. If you happen to have an original can, you’ll note F.B. Kuhlman’s name on the top of the can. That’s the great story about this beer – it became a collectible. With 9 different colors, people bought them all. It’s not uncommon to see a six pack at the local antique mall. To celebrate the 30th anniversary, Saw Works will not only be creating an anniversary edition of World’s Fair Beer, but they also plan to introduce a 30th anniversary growler in 9 colors, just like the original cans.
The tasting room we have known as The Quarry is being renamed The Mill to fall in line with the Saw Works theme as soon as the signage is in place. Also, I’ve seen some pretty impressive renderings of a patio to be built out back. Adam joked that if there are any contractors out there that would like to work for beer to give him a shout. The patio will feature a large seating area and possibly a fire pit. There are also plans to include some planters and a pergola so that Saw Works can grow their own hops.
Now, the important stuff. The first round of the pale ale is in the fermenter now. It will be released in The Mill on Wednesday, May 23rd. As of the 25th, you’ll be able to find Saw Works at Barley’s, Brixx, Aubrey’s, along Market Square and at The Market at Washington and High, among others. However, the official release party will be at The Casual Pint on Thursday, May 24th from 6pm-9pm. So mark your calendars! Dave Ohmer will be on hand to pour pints and talk about the beer. Adam also told me that at the end of the night, they will raffle off the first Saw Works tap handle. So you don’t want to miss that. Adam also mentioned that the second location of The Casual Pint will be opening just off of Market Square next to The Oliver Hotel before too long and Saw Works will be the featured beer.
I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty excited about Saw Works Brewing Company and the brewing talents that Dave Ohmer brings to the table. As Adam Palmer so perfectly summed it up, “It’s been a turbulent year and a half, but now things have settled down and we are anxious to move forward. We’ve got a lot of exciting things on the horizon.”
Indeed Adam, indeed. Cheers!
Note: while Saw Works Brewing Company doesn’t quite have their website up just yet, be sure to like them on Facebook.