Schulz Brau Brewing Company Coming to Downtown (North Side)


Schulz Brau Brewing Company is another very cool business coming to that section of downtown bounded by Central, Old Gray Cemetery and Broadway. It’s a couple of blocks west of the Art and Salvage Shop and the future home of Maker’s Donuts. It’s a block from Hops and Hollers. It may be the hottest area of the city for development at the moment. When it all comes together it will be a much sought after spot and will be very active.

The name of the business has been circulating in the beer community for months after their appearance at Brewer’s Jam last October. That’s about the time I contacted Nico Schulz who, along with his parents, Wolfgang and Ilona, owns the business. The three of them will manage operations and will be joined by Nico’s brother Stephan when his current work contract allows. We tried, without success, to get together through November when Nico traveled to his native Germany for the remainder of the year. A one month trip evolved into a nearly four month trip when Nico had difficulty securing his Visa. It put the project behind its projected schedule with the opening slipping from spring into summer or later.

Current Facade,Future Home of Shulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

Current Facade,Future Home of Schulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

Facade Plans, Shulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville

Facade Plans, Schulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville

Before we got into the plan, I had to know how a young guy from Northern Germany ended up in Knoxville, Tennessee opening a brewery. As you might guess, several flukes were involved. His parents brought him to the States a number of times when he was younger and he grew up loving the country. When it came time for college, he knew he would cross the ocean for four years. But where?

Online research led him to the Food Science program at the University of Kentucky. He applied, was accepted and moved there in 2009. He’d never been to Kentucky until the day he arrived to start school there. Missing the beers in his native country, he began making his own lagers, first in his house, then as he got more ambitious, in his garage. He describes his favorite lagers as “easily drinkable, about 5% alcohol, not as hoppy as other beers and a bit more crisp.” He noted that they take twice as long to produce.

Nico Shulz, Shulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

Nico Schulz, Shulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

Future Home of Shulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

Future Home of Schulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

Interior Plans, Shulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

Interior Plans, Schulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

Along the way he interned with a small brewery in Germany and took brewing science classes in Chicago. Oh, and along with a few others, started a small brewery in Lexington. With roots growing deeper in Kentucky, another city seemed an unlikely turn in the story, but two things happened: His father, mechanical engineer Wolfgang Schulz began traveling regularly to Knoxville on business. Eventually his parents moved to Knoxville.

The final straw may have come when his fiancee began pharmacy school at South College in the city. His connections and trips to Knoxville became more frequent. He and his father started scouting locations and had a specific vision in mind for how large a space they needed. A beer garden would be essential, which required more space. Eventually they found exactly what they were looking for at 126 – 130 Bernard. The space not only included enough square footage for the brewery and tap room: It already had an enclosed courtyard just wanting a beer garden to be in its midst.

Nico Shulz, Shulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

Nico Schulz, Schulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

The former warehouse includes 8200 square feet inside and 5500 square feet in what will soon be a beer garden. Taken all together there is room for hundreds. The Schulz’s are not thinking small. A second bar will be included in the beer garden and the operations will include a 30 barrel system, which I learned means they can produce up to sixty kegs at a time. And it may get larger. They plan to not only produce beer for this large tap room, but to distribute it, as well.

The tasting room will include a curved glass wall separating the bar from the brewing operation, but allowing a full view of the production. A four-sided, 7’2” tall fireplace will be centered in the room and is in keeping with the castle theme being developed. Also included will be pool tables and dart boards. The current mezzanine will be removed, but a new one will be built in the bar area to provide additional seating – and maybe a cool place for live music, which Nico intends to incorporate at some point.

Beer Garden Rendering, Shulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

Beer Garden Rendering, Schulz Brau Brewing Company, 126 Bernard, Knoxville, March 2015

The courtyard will include a fountain and, eventually, a kitchen will be built in part of that space. Initially simple food items will be offered, though some expansion of the menu may follow construction of the kitchen. It will not, however, be a restaurant. Construction on both parts of the project should begin within the next week. Architectural design is by Gary Best and Associates.

So, by late summer or fall – Nico strongly wants to be open by Oktoberfest – a castle should take form in this funky little section of town. Bet you didn’t see that coming. Told you it would be a cool part of town. Go to Facebook and like their page and start showing them some Knoxville love.



  1. Au contraire, I believe it is pronounced “shaft brau.”

  2. Sehr gut, Hooooxy…

    I’m looking forward to this – a lot!!

  3. And ‘Schulz’ is pronounced ‘Shoolts’

  4. In the name of accurate pronunciation of the German language, just for the record would like to say an umlaut over the ‘a’ means it’s pronounced ‘Schulz BROI”

  5. Wow! Exciting news!

  6. Very exciting developments everywhere around town right now! Can’t wait to check out Schulz Brau in the fall. How many breweries have just opened or will soon open in the downtown area? Crafty Bastard, Fanatic, others?

  7. That neighborhood is a neat demonstration of Jane Jacobs’ famous contention that cities need old buildings. The cheap space enables all kinds of businesses.

    PS – Any consensus yet on what to call that area? It isn’t really downtown.

    • Ben Winder says:

      According to neighborhoods map on KGIS the area is “Downtown North”. The new signage seems to follow those naming conventions. I’m guessing that the “official” name, though I suppose a different unofficial one could be hatched.

    • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

      Absolutely on the old building front. As for what to call the area, I stopped speculating because some of them want to be part of the Old North neighborhood, though maps I’ve seen indicate that stopping at Central. Personally, I think the district will have its own personality and will be a major attraction for the area. It’s a ten minute walk from the heart of downtown, so I consider it downtown, but distinct. I suspect all this will be taken care of when people start going there in big numbers. Some name or another will begin to be used by everyone. In marketing terms I think it would be better if the people already there picked it in the first place.

      • I looked on Google maps earlier today and it said 126 Bernard Ave is 1.1 miles from Market Square, and predicted it will take 22 minutes to walk.

        Google must know I’m a leisurely walker.

        It’s going to be interesting to see how far people are willing to walk from the Market Square area. A mere quarter-mile is the rule of thumb, but I guess it really depends on the strength of the attraction at the opposite end and the comfort/interest of the walk along the way.

        • It needs to go on a trolley route. In fact, I think we need a trolley route going all the way into Happy Holler from downtown. My month without a car convinced me that it would be much used, if only to get to Three Rivers.

        • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

          I doubt many people will walk that far. Other portions of what we consider downtown are closer – like if you live on Jackson Ave. Still, a walk there involves walking through the mission district and most people don’t choose to do that. They have a large parking lot and I imagine people driving from all over to get to this spot. Also, I think there will be a lot of walkers/bikers from all over Old North/Happy Holler/4th and Gill.

          • Actually the most direct pedestrian route from Downtown to NoKno is a straight shot up Gay St to Emory Place. That route sort of skirts the heart of the “mission district” (if by that you mean the cluster of social service providers along Broadway). It’s a nice walk, especially with streetscape improvements along Gay and new development coming to Emory Pl. There’s also ongoing development along Central, which of course is the most logical route from Old City. To be fair, some of the other development along North Central seems too distant and discontinuous to attract pedestrians (Happy Holler, for example, is separated from Downtown by long blocks of semi-abandoned properties). But Shulz Brau and the donut shop seem much more like an extension of Downtown, and one that could easily lure pedestrians across the tracks.

          • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

            Good points, all. By “mission district,” I do mean the area along Broadway. Unfortunately, the sidewalks are often overcrowded with dozens of homeless people sitting, lying and standing. It’s tight to get through some of the crowds, there are often loud and aggressive conversations, various bits of clothing and other garbage covers the pathway and the smell of urine was very heavy in the air as I walked through the other day. I walk through there and am fine with it, but I doubt most people who are downtown would make that walk. The walk out Gay or Central, as you say is as or more direct from many spots downtown and is becoming increasingly pleasant. I’m afraid my general faith in Knoxvillians to walk a mile to something like a donut shop, brewery or anything else is pretty low. Hopefully that will change. More are biking and, of course, Old North and 4th and Gill neighborhoods are closer to some of this development than the heart of downtown.

          • KnoxvilleUrbanGuy says:

            One other point, here. The “most direct pedestrian route to NoKno” depends on where you start. If you live in the Southeastern Glass Bldg, Ryan’s Row, the Daylight Bldg, Kendrick Place, the Pembroke or Crowne Court, it would be Broadway, hands down.

    • I guess “NoKno” would be probably be counter-productive.

  8. Billy Dyke says:

    Awesome story Urban Guy. I have driven by every couple of weeks and only seen an occasional vehicle or two outside and no visible signs of construction. Excited to know that is about to change. The wife and I will be frequent visitors to this brewery.

  9. I love this. Alan, did he happen to mention which of the Lexington breweries he was associated with? There are several there that are quite good; an association with either would be very encouraging. Thanks!

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