Geezers Brewery Prepares to Open Tasting Room on 5th Avenue

Geezers Brewery, 225 East Fifth Avenue, Knoxville, June 2019

Geezers Brewery has been a growing presence on the Knoxville Craft Beer scene for years in one form or another as they’ve grown and evolved organically. Their passion for home brewing and mountain bikes, developed into a blog in 2010. That eventually gave way to a focus on the brewing and on developing a long-term vision for a brewery. The trio of owners, Jason Shields, Bob Noto and Tom Fitzmaurice, are now on the verge of launching that dream in a big way as they prepare to open a tasting room at 225 East Fifth Avenue.

Located across from Knoxville High School in an area that is becoming the most centralized spot for area breweries, the tasting room is shaping up to be an eclectic mix reflecting the group’s love of biking (you’ll see shapes of sprockets they pounded into the bar), all things local and a touch of the Grateful Dead. You’ll find local pine, harvested tin sheets, and even a bit of steampunk motifs on the wall.

Geezers Brewery, 225 East Fifth Avenue, Knoxville, June 2019

Geezers Brewery, 225 East Fifth Avenue, Knoxville, June 2019

It’s all fun and the group is decidedly bent int he direction of fun, but it’s also just the dressing for very serious beer making. They’ve been participating in beer festivals for a long time and using the feedback they’ve gotten there to improve their beer. They opened as a wholesale brewery last April, with their beer appearing at various taps around town. They have a regional agreement with Eagle Distributing and their beers have been appearing at Pour, Double Dogs (in Farragut), Aubrey’s and Corner Depot, among others.

The process has been a long and winding one and Tom says they’ve learned a lot as they’ve navigated the various administrative, code and regulatory hurdles. He said the trio, all of whom have jobs in Oak Ridge, made the decision to sink most of their capital into equipment that would support their long-range vision, meaning they’ve had to pace their build-out as they move toward the pending opening.

Geezers Brewery, 225 East Fifth Avenue, Knoxville, June 2019

Geezers Brewery, 225 East Fifth Avenue, Knoxville, June 2019

They’ll open with 14 taps and plan to have food trucks provide food. They’ve built a 15 barrel system and the fermenters are double capacity, meaning they can double that to 30 as needed. They intend to continue evolving and plan to ultimately have their own canning operation which can be accommodated by the large space they have in the basement.

Tom said they’d always wanted to have something to transition to as they approach retirement from their current jobs. As he considered possibilities he thought, “Why not create a livelihood from what you love?” Saying that working for themselves and having creative control is important, he added there is a satisfaction that comes from a project, “you’ve invested in and feel proud about. This is something we did, we built.”

The name for the business came from their time as adventure racers. They were among the older participants and when a race presented itself in which they needed a group name, they chose “geezers,” and it stuck. Originally it was longer — Sin City Geezers —  a reference to the fact that Tom and Bob had moved here from Las Vegas over a decade ago. Jason is a local east Tennessean from birth.

Of those fourteen taps mentioned above, a dozen will be devoted to beer with about half being their brand and the other half will be held for other local breweries. They’ll also have ciders. Capacity will be somewhere between fifty and seventy-five, with the hope of expanding into a beer garden in the future.

Owners Bob Noto and Tom Fitzmaurice (not pictured: Jason Shields) Geezers Brewery, 225 East Fifth Avenue, Knoxville, June 2019

A precise opening date hasn’t been set, but the group hopes for a late summer opening, depending on a number of variables including inspections and permits. They’re doing much of the work themselves and feel good about the progress they’ve made, so they are optimistic.

When they do open, they hope to offer a place that reflects the local beer and biking communities and where everyone feels welcome. They plan to be open afternoons and evenings, seven days a week offering their flagship beers, a milk stout (“Puddin'”) and an American blonde, as well as others.

Comments

  1. Be Kind: I hear you. At Vienna Coffee, we’ve worked very hard to create community in a rather “safe’ environment. While we do have 4 local beers on tap, our spaces (Knoxville and Maryville) are decidedly coffee centric and yet comfortable for a wide range of gatherings; two friends talking over a draft Alcohol free Kombucha, or 8-10 sharing coffee. We believe in community and we support sobriety.

  2. I’m excited that something has finally gone into that building! I’ve been wondering about it for quite some time. I like that we are growing a “brewery district” by keeping most of them close together.

  3. Move somewhere else? That’s a knee-jerk reaction and unkind. Darrell has an interesting point, worthy of discussion. We can ask why this type of business is attractive in downtown Knox, as opposed to something like bookstores? Would the Knoxville market sustain the same number of bookstores as breweries?

    • Chris Eaker says

      I doubt it. I know people love Union Avenue Books, including myself, but I guarantee the majority of downtown residents and visitors still order books from Amazon. You can’t order a craft beer from the internet.

      • Do you think it’s the product (da beer) or the sense of / access to community in these breweries that makes them attractive?

        • Chris Eaker says

          Yes. Both probably, but beer is a great way to create that community. Book discussions can do that to some degree, but there’s nothing like sitting down over a good beer with friends.

          • I lived downtown for over ten years. I’ve also been sober for three. So many downtown businesses became a second living room to me, and I imagine it’s similar for other residents. There is a sense of community in breweries & pubs that I, as a non-drinker, have not been able to replace. I miss talking to new neighbors and visitors about every random topic that could be discussed. It can be a really lonely feeling when opportunities for community are happening in a space that’s not safe for your personal health. Becoming a non-drinker didn’t also turn me anti-social. Other people may just not like the setting, or don’t drink for a myriad of reasons. Right or wrong, it can be a “squeezed-out” feeling (for me) when new social business after new social business caters to alcohol. That’s really why I ask these questions. Is another brewery reflective of the downtown residential market preferences? Does it tip the scales making the area more of an entertainment destination? It’s all very curious from my perspective. Thanks for the fun discussion!

    • Good points, Be Kind. You live up to your name. It’s important to ask why these sort of business are well-received. I’m not sure if I have any answers. Mostly, I’m grateful that the University of Tennessee offers so many excellent events that are free and open to the public. Another “Union Ave Books” would probably be successful in West Knoxville (as K Brew’s new location is). Union Ave Books events and UT events are where I experience the greatest sense of community.

      • I need to check out more UT events. Thanks!

        • Donna Jo says

          Things slow down some at UT during the summer, but fall and spring have much to offer. Also, if you enjoy literary events you should check out WordStream: The Weekly Writer’s Voice—every Friday at noon at the Knoxville Visitor’s Center. The environment is welcoming and alcohol-free.

        • Donna Jo says

          Things slow down at UT during the summer, but fall and spring have a lot to offer.
          Also, if you enjoy literary events check out WordStream: The Weekly Writer’s Voice—every Friday at noon in the Knoxville Visitor’s Center (on the WDVX Blue Plate Special stage).

    • thank you, be kind!

  4. I think you have a bit of a point, Darrell. If you are a non-beer drinker, all these new breweries won’t do anything for you. (I personally do really like beer.) I also think you are probably right about craft beery being trendy and there coming a point of saturation and some will close down. But, that is the nature of free markets! And some new business is better than no business. And hopefully, it will lead to other businesses of a greater variety starting up.

  5. another beer place? ( geez! ) seems like that is all about all we are hearing about lately. i think there really is not much uniques coming into town. and i also think that eventually all of the beer or craft beer market that is happening will get oversaturated and eventually a lot of them will close. i know a lot of you will not like my statements, but that is just what my opinion is. i wish more uniqueness would start happening in and around downtown, including architecture. i just am dreaming i guess. and a more variety of restaurants, and i mean affordable. i live downtown and am a knoxville native and have kept up with our so called progress for years, so you really cant tell me much, because i know downtown well. while there has been progress, a lot of it is just bland.

    • Well, Darrell…do something unique. Be the change you want to see in this town. I for one am grateful and applaud anyone, especially brewers, who have the courage to put themselves out there. You also have the option of moving somewhere that is better…let us know when you find it. I personally think Knoxville is pretty awesome.

    • Chris Eaker says

      I believe we’ll see the ones that aren’t that great fold up over time. We saw that with Saw Works, although they had problems beyond the beer quality. I have been to every craft brewery in Knoxville at least once and the ones I go back to continually are the ones where you are always sure to get a quality glass of beer. There are several I’ve only gone to a few times and then stopped because I was not impressed with any of the beer I tried. I won’t name names because what you like is very subjective.

    • Curt Willis says

      As far as variety of downtown restaurants, I’m not sure what we are missing. We have-
      Japanese
      Vietnamese
      Italian
      Vegan Israeli Street Food (soon)
      Middleastern
      Mexican
      New Orleans style brunch
      2 great taquerias
      French
      Great Pizza
      Greek
      Fondue
      BBQ
      Scottish
      and many more great restaurants with lots of variety and amazing Chefs. That’s a pretty good variety for our downtown if you ask me.

    • Even though I enjoy a beer occasionally, it’s hard for me to get excited over another brewery. I would welcome more affordable options in housing, entertainment, restaurants, retail venues, etc.—along with any truly unique developments. Even a lot of locally owned businesses feel like chains and/or difficult to distinguish from other locally owned businesses. At the same time, I recognize that I’m clearly part of a minority and often feel like Knoxville isn’t a good fit for me. I’m also a native Knoxvillian (nowhere near developer or business owner material) and have chosen to let family ties keep me in Knoxville. And, so it goes.

    • MetroKnoxSupporter says

      Would love to see more and better exhibits at the KMA. Nashville’s Frist attracts quite a few good ones. U.T., although technically out of the downtown area, is really part of it and as such could bring in better events.

      Although Clayton is still working out the details of his museum, one would hope that his “science” museum, of which there are many around the country, would focus upon our area’s contribution to the world, TVA. A unique thing that might attract more than the locals.

      Many cities have bland things but the right combination of history, geography, and the right people can make even bland things more lively.

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