I drove right by it. The brick building on Central is easy to miss as you head north. What’s harder to miss is what’ts coming from his building as we are seeing the aluminum can taps all over town.
Inside it is large, cavernous, like an empty canvas that is just beginning to receive its color. As you stand in the center you notice the ceiling – a gentle curve, white wood, calls to a different era, if it could talk, the stories it could tell. The whitewash on the walls is gone and the beautiful brick exposed, clear coated and art in itself. The floor – dug up, removed, reinforced and replaced. There will be a fleet of fermenters here, their future has been set not just in the concrete that has been poured but in the souls of the men behind this beer. In the back of the building is a sea of stainless steel that while considered used, is full of life, promise and opportunity. This 30 bbl brewhouse hails from Florida and while it may have had a few leaks, they are tended to and being regularly exercised. Just beside this sits four fermenters – three 60 bbl and one 100 bbl called tankenstein due to the dents – scars – received from an explosion at it’s previous post. No need to worry though, it’s but a flesh wound and inside, it’s as perfect as can be.
Behind Fanatic’s logo sits two men – Josh Martin and Marty Velas. Many of us know Marty from his Copper Cellar days. He cut his teeth on craft beer in California and came to Tennessee in the ’90s as a consultant who knew a thing or two about breweries – he never left. Marty is Knoxville’s very own Ken Grossman in both his knowledge of brewing and tenure in the area. Fanatic, as Marty says, is for him. He’s done plenty of consulting – and is still very willing to lend a helping hand but this, this is a place he wants his kids to come work if they want. He wants to make the beer he likes, beer that impacts our city, our area.
Out of the gate Marty and Josh launched then Blonde. It’s a good beer, light, crisp, what you’d expect and perhaps a touch more. Marty says this beer is for the 94% – those who often reach for a macro but, if they try this, they’ll see craft beer is pretty good and, maybe, try another. The Pale Ale is an obvious next choice and it’s a great next step beyond the blonde. Solid, text book Pale Ale. I wouldn’t hesitate to suggest it to anyone who likes this style.
The Calibration Ale is also currently on the lineup and, as the name states, was the beer produced when they were calibrating the equipment. It wasn’t quite what Marty was going for but it was pretty good – no need to dump it. Honestly, I really liked this beer and it was probably my favorite of the three.
Three styles have been sent out the door in fairly short order with many more possibilities forthcoming. Fanatic, while seemingly about football as the logo would suggest, is very much about quality beer. These guys are passionate about what they are doing, the product that leaves their building and the art of craft beer. We look forward to watching them grow and wish them all then best. Godspeed.