December was a whirlwind. The fall was too for that matter. In and out of town, for both work and fun, events, parties, cookouts, bottle shares, there was a lot going on. In my travels I had the opportunity to reflect a bit and I think those reflections put 2019 into perspective – beer wise, so I thought I’d share.
We’re fortunate. No, I mean that. I’m not sure I could say it and believe in it just a few years ago as sincerely as I do right now. When it comes to our beer culture and community here in Knoxville and the surrounding area, the people make it what it is – and our people are nothing short of awesome. I love nothing more than stopping by a brewery or craft beer spot and finding happy, familiar faces who are welcoming and genuinely care about one another – and me!
As I’ve traveled our awesome country, I’ve gotten to stop into some pretty cool spots. It wasn’t long ago I’d think to myself, why can’t we have beer like this or why do they get this brewery distributed here but we can’t? My, my, my – that has changed so much. There have actually been several times of late when I’ve thought, this place could learn a few things from my Knoxville friends.
First of all, our local breweries are killing it. Variety of styles, consistency of beer, quality and creativity – we’ve got it, being made right here in Knoxville. It’s becoming difficult just to choose one or two spots when I head out. Not just because of the beer on tap and the people I’ll get to see but because of what’s created in those spaces. They are warm, inviting, comfortable – there isn’t a brewery here that I’d hesitate to take my kids to. As a matter of fact, they are welcomed and often greeted with excitement when we enter. That makes them feel good and it makes me smile.
Second, our local friends have figured out how to extend their beer beyond their tap rooms. If they aren’t distributing, crowlers – holy cow – crowlers. You can’t swing a dead cat around here and not hit a crowler machine. How awesome is that? I have a crowler in my fridge right now as my aforementioned kiddos would only allow one beer when we went to dinner at Abridged Beer Company the other night. I had just finished my burger when I heard, “I’m tired….” from the little one in that she’s going to crash soon, there will be carnage, voice. There was one more beer I wanted to try – crowler to the rescue. Several of our local friends have beer in cans as well – many leveraging mobile canning. While I know the margins can be a challenge with mobile canning, it’s so awesome to be able to take these cans with me when I travel and share with friends – as I get to brag a bit.
Third, selection. Holy cow. There are more brands represented in our market than ever before. This is largely due to the number of breweries in the US right now. However, for us, we have an excellent selection AND we’re finding more “special” beer in greater quantities than ever before. Remember when Founders CBS was as rare as a rainbow unicorn? Not anymore and I bet I know of at least one spot locally where it’s probably still on the shelf. While I used to bring beer home – often in my suitcase – this just doesn’t happen that often anymore as we now have ready access to my favorites. This is also because our local beer is the better beer – and, at the end of the day, we all want to keep our money local. Props to our distributors for continuing to expand their portfolios, partnering with our local brewers, and to our local bottle shops for looking for the fun and new while still continuing to stock killer mainstays.
Why am I saying all of this? A couple of reasons. First, it’s good to hear it – for me to hear it, for all of us to hear it. We’ve got it pretty good – awesome actually. Second, we’re in the time of the year where sales dip for our friends in beer. Some of this is health reasons or because it’s cold and maybe because we spent (and ate) too much over the holidays. We – the consumer – tend to pull back. While I certainly can’t discourage your fitness goals or make money appear in your checking account, I do ask that when you do choose to spend or to give yourself that special treat of craft beer – think of our local friends. Go, be present and encourage others to do the same. I also ask that when you think about your fitness goals you make choices that are sustainable all year long, not just for 30 days. As I type this, my running shoes are on and I’ll head out the door as soon as I finish these thoughts – you gotta burn it to earn it is what we say – and I like earning it. Email me (link on the right) if you’d like to talk about fitness and beer – I’ve learned a thing or two.
2018 brought a lot of great things – great beer, some new breweries to our area and continued camaraderie. 2019 will be full of the same in many ways – and more. I know of a few breweries that are about to open up – looking at you Next Level Brewing Company and Albright Grove Brewing Company. Thank you to our brewers, those who are part of the team at breweries and craft beer spots and to everyone in our community that makes Knoxville such a great place to live. I raise a glass to you – after my run of course.