KNOXVILLE, Tenn. (WVLT) -- Smoky Mountain Brewery has been a part of the East Tennessee craft beer scene for more than 20 years. During that time, it's expanded to four locations in three different counties. It's part of the Copper Cellar family of restaurants: which includes Calhoun's, Copper Cellar, Cherokee Grill and Cappuccino's.
Local 8 News visited the location in Turkey Creek: which can be seen from Parkside Drive with its big, white grain silos.
Chief Operating Officer Bart Fricks said Smoky Mountain Brewery is considered a brew pub - meaning the beer and food are all prepared on location. Fricks says the ability to serve beer where it's made means a difference in taste for the customer.
"Well, I think freshness comes to mind. Again, locally made, handcrafted here in East Tennessee. But I also think variety, whether you have a Helles or a Mountain Light or a pale ale or wheat beer or a summer release. I think the variety and the freshness is what you'll notice," said Fricks.
The food menu is just like the beer selection - something for everyone. It goes from wings to salads to pizza.
Inside, the restaurant has a heavy emphasis on the beer. Glass walls make the brewing area visible from the dining area, and if you look close enough, lighting around the bar area is made from Smoky Mountain Brewery bottles.
The brewery has four "main stays." These are beers you can find on the menu all year and lean toward the classic styles. They include a Helles, a light beer and a red ale. Then there are premium beers, a pale ale, brown ale and a wheat. Reserve beers have rotational availability and they include a porter, stout, seasonals and "Brewmaster Specials." A Brewmaster's Special is where you will find the most creativity with recipe and style.
Fricks said Smoky Mountain Brewery is one of the few craft breweries making a light beer, and that it's definitely a customer favorite.
Two customers, Mike Scaffee and Mike Chumbley, at Smoky Mountain Brewery told Local 8 News they drink the beer here because it's "fresh and local" - a goal for which the company is striving.
"I think the freshness of craft beer, especially if it's local, especially if it isn't going through several distributors. If it's made local and you can get it right where they make it. I think the freshness is where you'll notice the biggest difference," said Fricks.
If you want that fresh flavor, you'll have to visit the brewery. Smoky Mountain beers aren't sold on store shelves, but the brewery sells bottles, growlers, mini kegs, 1/3 kegs and full kegs. The beer is also served at any of the Copper Cellar restaurants listed above.
"I think for our brewmasters and the people who serve our products at our breweries, at Calhoun's, Copper Cellar et cetera, I think is a feeling of pride with that. It's handcrafted, locally made. The fact that Smoky Mountain Brewery really is the pioneer of craft brewing in Knoxville. We've been around for well over 20 years, selling great craft beers. So I think there's a big amount of pride with us," said Fricks.
So whether you're in the mood for a crisp pale ale or a sweet, malty brown ale, Smoky Mountain Brewery has it.