Festival Season is winding down and downtown residents and visitors will soon find a summertime rhythm. After the big weekend of the International Biscuit Festival and the Children’s Festival of Books, we have a three-weekend break before the Big Kahuna Wing Festival (June 13) followed by another big two-festival weekend on the 20th with Brewfest and Pridefest. Of course, there are many other things going on, as always, but that’s it for the festivals until late summer/early fall.
This edition of Brewfest will be the fifth annual. It’s held on Depot Avenue (you can take a look at some of the development sites there which I’ve mentioned recently) and the Gay Street viaduct. The focus, as you might guess, is on craft beer. With over one hundred breweries represented and over 300 beers to sample, the tasting sort of boggles the taste buds. You might want to make some choices there and not be a completest for the day.
A dozen or more new breweries will be added to the mix this year. It’s a good chance to sample beer and get a sneak peek from some of the new Knoxville breweries before they open their tasting rooms and join the Knoxville brewing scene. One local brewery is set to have their debut that day. Other changes this year include a second gate (at Jackson and Gay) to provide easier access and larger tents to provide more shade.
There will be food trucks – Savory and Sweet, Farm to Griddle Crepes, Brixx Wood Fired Pizza and a Taste of Calhouns – and there will be music (organized by Rusty at Blank Newspaper) with an excellent line-up of the Marble City Shooters, Bark and Guy Marshall. A photobooth will be available, as well as a beer garden beside the stage. The beer garden is presented by Smoky Mountain Brewery, the primary sponsor of the event. And who would you expect to provide t-shirts but Nothing Too Fancy? Naturally.
There will be fun booths (Inside of Knoxville will have one) and street performers from some of the breweries. Much of the fun is watching how the various breweries attempt to distinguish themselves. Some of the representatives are more the engineer types while others are the more creative type of brewers. So you can set loose your inner nerd or let your freak flag fly with similar free spirits if that’s who you are. It’s all about building connections.
Brewfest is a special event in the respect that it raises money for Cure Duchene, an organization devoted to finding improved treatments and/or a cure for Duchene, which is a degenerative muscle disease (the most common and severe form of muscular dystrophy) in boys which typically results in confinement to a wheelchair by age twelve and is usually fatal by the time the young men reach their twenties.
Co-founded by Martin Daniel, state-representative from the 18th district, and Chris Morton, owner of the Bearden Beer Market, the event has a sister festival in Memphis. This year’s Knoxville edition is organized by Matt McMillan (email@example.com). The idea is to raise money for a good cause while offering a good time via the love of craft beer. It’s felt by the organizers that craft beer is at the center of a community of good people and they enjoy bringing those good people into developing areas of the city.
Tickets are deliberately limited in order to minimize wait-times and offer participants a real opportunity to get to know the breweries, so you might want to get yours right away. Tickets cost $40 until June 6 and $50 afterward. In an effort to keep everyone safe, designated driver tickets are available at $20 and include non-alcoholic beverages. (A special arrangement with Uber has been made for patrons who feel they should be driven home.) The tickets include not only the sampling, but a tasting glass and a map to help you select and find your favorite breweries – or some that will soon be your favorites. Tickets may be purchased here.
Finally, in the spirit of that summertime vibe, I’ll be doing what I’ve done previous summers and back off just a little from my everyday posting schedule in order to spend some additional time with family and to travel around a bit. I’ll post my ten-day planner as usual on Sundays, but I’ll likely cut back to three articles or so a week starting soon. If you haven’t already, you might want to subscribe below in order to make sure you don’t miss a post. This Monday, Memorial Day, I’ll take off to enjoy some family time. Happy (unofficial) Summer, everybody.