Pour Taproom Coming Soon to Old City

Pour Taproom, 207 – 209 West Jackson, Knoxville, January 2017

Jackson Terminal in the Old City, after what seemed an extended period, is rapidly filling. All Occasion Catering took one end. Post Modern Spirits announced last December their plans to take up residence there. Now comes word that Pour Taproom is coming very soon. I spoke with Joel McLead who, along with his wife Mariah, and friends Sam Natour and Caitlin Riley, owns the new venture.

Founded and franchised by Nate Tomforde in Asheville, there are currently three Pour locations, one each in Asheville, Greenville and Santa Cruz, with more soon to open. Of this location, Joel said the target date to open is May 1st, and he hopes it will be the first location of several he plans for Knoxville.

Pour Taproom, 207 – 209 West Jackson, Knoxville, January 2017

It’s an unusual concept: self-serve beer and other beverages. I confessed I could not imagine how that might work. He said you get a scan ID when you walk in and you set up a tab. Each patron is given a bracelet that has their credit card information and runs a tab. The bracelet includes a chip that allows the tap to dispense the beverage.

The patron can get a sip, a full glass or anything in between and, so, try a variety of beers or focus on one they know they like. The tab is continuously updated and patrons pay before they leave. The chips only allow two pints before requiring a reset with an attendant, which is a way of checking in with patrons, much as a bartender would do, to make sure they aren’t over-consuming.

The place will have sixty-eight taps. While I assume plans may shift a bit, the current planned allocation of those taps calls for one tap of craft soda and one for water. Fifty will be devoted to craft beers, eight to gluten-free options like cider and mead, eight will be devoted to wine (four reds and four whites).

Pour Taproom, 207 – 209 West Jackson, Knoxville, January 2017

Pour Taproom, 207 – 209 West Jackson, Knoxville, January 2017

Joel has been interested in beer for years, having attended beer school and home-brewed over the years. He also worked all phases of the service industry from washing dishes as a teen to working at some of the best-branded hotels. As he noted, eventually, “everyone wants to be the guy at the top.” Living in Asheville, he knew Nate and watched the success of the first Pour. Sam was living in Asheville, as well, at the time and the two concluded that Knoxville, Sam’s home, would be a good fit for a new location. He said it feels like Asheville ten years ago in terms of its craft beer scene.

The Jackson Terminal space was the first they looked at and, though they looked a couple of other places before they signed a lease, they knew that was the spot. He said they’d had a picture in their minds of the perfect kind of spot, “with exposed bricks and beams,” and found exactly what they had imagined there.

Pour Taproom, 207 – 209 West Jackson, Knoxville, January 2017

They are taking two contiguous addresses, 207 and 209, which will give them right around 2500 square feet inside and they’ll have about five  hundred square feet of the boardwalk for their use. Inside you’ll find communal tables, as well as two and four-seat tables, and couches. No conventional bar is required and beyond painting and placing the taps, Edison-type lighting, a counter at the entrance and the furniture, there is little to the build-out, which is why they are hoping for such a quick opening.

While the decision regarding hours is still fluid, they are considering opening from 11:00 AM to 11:00 PM and/or Noon to Midnight. He said those hours would be expanded or reduced depending on the flow of customers. They are “currently working on a menu with All Occasions Catering and should have salads, sandwiches, and small bites available.”


  1. I’ll be the first to say it. While I wish them the best, I’m a little sad that so much new business coming downtown continues to be alcohol related. We need more retail – – and badly. I’m so concerned that so much of our city is turning into one big food and drink court. It feels like a bubble that will inevitably burst, and then what are we left with?

  2. It does seem Knoxville is becoming a bit of a booze district. Seems retail struggles here, probably because it’s hard to pay downtown rent and remain competitively priced. On the flip side however, there’s no shortage of food and booze patrons.

  3. Knoxville is becoming much more than a new destination for craft brew seekers. It is also a full blown Entertainment Center for residents and visitors alike. It used to be that people were afraid to come downtown. Now, you have to pick and chose what you want to see and do on any particular night of the week. The Music! Most of the beer halls have LIVE MUSIC, and even Comedy. And the new restaurants and food trucks; thank goodness for the investors who see a chance to make Knoxville a more exciting place to live!

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