Three chance encounters with the Knox Brew Tours bus on three consecutive days seemed like a sign.
On the night before Thanksgiving, I made a late trip to Kroger to pick up some missing ingredients for the next day’s feast. As I left the store, I saw a small bus with the self-explanatory name, Knox Brew Tours. I took a picture with the intention of cracking a joke on Twitter. Later that night, I saw a news story on WATE-TV about Knox Brew Tours, which was going to have its first public tour on Friday.
— Frank Murphy (@FrankMurphyCom) November 27, 2014
On Thanksgiving morning, my son and I were driving home from church along Fox Lonas Road. I saw a white bus in the distance. I assumed it was a church bus but I said that it would be funny if it was actually the Brew Tours bus. As we came to a stop sign, I could see that it really was the Knox Brew Tours bus.
On the night after Thanksgiving, I helped staff the WNOX tent at the Regal Celebration of Lights in Krutch Park. When I was done working, I joined my wife and son for dinner on Market Square. After dinner, we walked to The Casual Pint, to redeem a gift certificate I had received. The Knox Brew Tours bus was parked in front of the bar.
Over the next few days, Zack Roskop contacted me and invited me along on an upcoming Knox Brew Tours expedition. As luck would have it, I was available on Friday. I had requested the day off months ago. My plans for the afternoon fell through and I took the 4:00 p.m. Brew Tour instead.
We visited three different microbreweries. Our first stop was the Blackhorse Pub & Brewery in Bearden. Next was Calhoun’s on Bearden Hill. The brewery at Calhoun’s is the predecessor of Smoky Mountain Brewery, which has four locations. The last stop was Saw Works Brewing Company in the Old City.
During the tour, Zack told us about several new breweries that will be opening in the next year. Some of them have already made plans to be featured on future Brew Tours. Each tour will still visit three breweries. New routes will be added.
We learned about the brewing process at all three stops. Live yeast converts some of the ingredients to alcohol and carbon dioxide. Excess carbon dioxide passes through a tube into a bucket of water. The bubbles tell you the process is working. Calhouns mills their own grain while Blackhorse buys milled grain. The hops came in pelletized form that looked like rabbit food.
Saw Works takes its name from an old painted sign on the outside of the building. A saw-sharpening business was once there. Saw Works uses brick tanks for some of its brewing. Those came from a previous tenant whose microbrewery went out of business. I wonder if the closed brewery was too far ahead of its time.