It’s taken a long time to get here, but the day has finally arrived. The highly anticipated Knoxville location of Yee-Haw Brewing Company officially opens Friday at 11 am after several nights of soft-opening run-throughs. Tonight will be service industry night for local breweries.
The primary surprise for some new patrons will be the fact that Prince’s Hot Chicken out of Nashville will be serving up the food. A culinary destination in Nashville, Prince’s has been drawing in customers for nearly a hundred years. Chicken isn’t the only option offered, but it is a primary one. And it’s hot.
Our party had a mix of dishes including the burger, black bean burger, chicken, and chicken sandwiches. Sides on the table included fries, brussels sprouts, and quinoa. The burger got good marks, as well as the sides, but it was the chicken that I wanted to try. I had the sandwich and I’m a spice lover. Raised on spicy gumbo, I grew up enjoying a bowl that made the top of your head sweat.
But I’m no fool. I had heard about this chicken and ordered the mild. The heat is offered in a quite a large range: plain, lite mild, mild, medium, hot, X hot, XX hot, and (if you dare) XXX hot. If I had not been warned, I would have picked the hot. I did not. I did not pick the medium. I picked the mild and the helpful woman behind the counter suggested I should drop lower. I’m glad I didn’t. It was perfect for me and I promised it packed a decent punch. It was delicious.
The beer, of course, is the star and the table enjoyed a range of great beers. Significantly, there are a number of spots for picking up your beverage, including from the spot where you order food, as well as the bar inside and a very, very large bar in the outdoor area. Beers offered are all from Yee-Haw, though some recipes were held over from Elkmont. Some are brewed on site and others are brewed elsewhere. They also offer soft drinks and cider and I understand they will eventually have mocktails and more.
The interior space looks very similar to its previous incarnation, though significant changes have been made. The bars have been changed out and the lighting changed. A state-of-the-art sound system inside sounded great and large televisions have been added, though they were muted in favor of the music when we were there (even though the Vols were playing. An indoor stage also looks set for some acoustic music and I understand that will be used during brunches as well as, perhaps, other times.
The outdoor space, however, is the gem. Set up for seven hundred people to attend a show, it is also a magical place simply for hanging out, particular at night. The lights, the firepits, and the seating make for a great spot when the weather is good. The stage and sound system promise to make the space an excellent spot for a concert series. Paid admission shows will begin in the spring and should offer similar artists to many who play the Bijou.
Officially open tomorrow, the brewery opens at 11 am seven days a week. On Monday it is open until 1:00 am, with the last two hours reserved for industry workers. Tuesday and Wednesday the doors close at 10:00 pm, and Thursday through Sunday, they are open until midnight.