By: Andy Brantley

I first met Jordan three years ago at the Tennessee Winter Beer Fest. Like everyone else who meets her,
I felt an immediate connection—Jordan is friendly, engaging, down to earth and genuine. Following that
initial connect, our paths frequently crossed thanks to the emerging Knoxville beer scene.

Two years ago, I jumped at the chance to participate in a Beer Judge Certification Program (BJCP) class
that she was teaching. She masterfully helped us navigate beer styles including many styles I had never
heard of like gueuze, oud bruin, old ale and wee heavy. She also introduced us to different hops and
cool things that make yeast strains smell and taste like horse blanket and barnyard! I give her substantial
credit for helping me become a certified beer judge.

US Highway 441 meanders north of Knoxville toward Norris Lake. After passing the Museum of
Appalachia, the road winds past the small town of Norris and then descends a large hill as the beautiful
Clinch River stretches out beside the highway. A mile or so further is Clinch River Brewing Company,
where Jordan is now the head brewer.

Clinch River Brewing was formerly a Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) aquatics lab and fish hatchery.
Today, the focal point of the beer garden is a small concrete “fish pond” that was used when the
hatchery was in operation. And yes, the “pond” is now home to a few rainbow trout and brook trout
courtesy of the TVA.

Clinch River Brewing’s taproom is upstairs in the main building and provides a very low key, welcoming
environment for customers. In addition to serving the great, creative beer brewed onsite by Jordan and
assistant brewer Alex Shirey, food is available as well. Owners Brien and Lisa Shirey hired award winning
local chef Brandon Cruze, so this isn’t just ordinary pub food.

The brewhouse is in a secondary building, separated from the taproom by the fish pond and beer
garden. The seven-barrel system in the brewhouse is very well organized with plenty of room to expand
as their operation grows. Jordan and Alex brewed their first beer in the brewhouse in August of last
year. In fact, they brewed the first beer on the day of the eclipse! Beers in the fermenters when we
visited were a Milkshake IPA and a Baltic Porter.

Like many brewers, Jordan has had an interesting career path. She has a BA in Global Studies with a
Minor in Biochemistry from the University of Tennessee. While in school, she got to do biotech research
(think biofuels) and she also did animal genetics research. She was also a homebrewer (and made cheap
wine), picked up a few shifts a week at a local Casual Pint and took the BJCP class at a local brewery. She
began a Master’s program in public policy, but quickly realized that what she really wanted to do was
brew beer—work hard, get her hands dirty, apply her love of science and her creativity to create
something she hopes others will enjoy and appreciate.

Jordan talked her way into her first brewing job by convincing the owner of a local brewery that the
brewery needed a lab (which it did). She then talked her way into the assistant brewer role and was
periodically able to use the small pilot system to brew specialty beers. I asked Jordan to describe the
most unique beer that she has brewed thus far. Without hesitation, she said her most unique beer was a
Sound of Silence Saison. The beer included parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme, and it was harvested
from the garden of friend and owner of local brewery, Last Days of Autumn, Michael Frede.

Jordan spent just over a year in a quality control role at Oskar Blues in Brevard, NC before the Shireys
convinced her to return to the Knoxville area as Clinch River’s head brewer.

Jordan’s advice to those interested in brewing? Talk to brewers in your area. If you want to enroll in a
local brewing science program, do so, but also make sure you are also spending time in a brewery so you
fully understand the work and know that this is really what you want to do. To do the fun, creative stuff,
you must be willing to spend lots of time cleaning and prepping equipment.

In late spring, Jordan will begin splitting her time between Clinch River Brewing’s Norris Lake location
and the soon-to- open location in downtown Knoxville. She’ll have a small brewing system at the
Knoxville location to brew special beers that will only be available in that tap room to compliment the
rest of Clinch River’s brews.

Jordan’s most unique beer might have been called Sound of Silence, but I predict that we are going to
hear anything but silence from her as she continues to brew great beer and contribute to the Knoxville
area beer community.