As Managing Partner of Blackberry Farm Brewery, Roy Milner wants to democratize his products. Because let’s face it, the Walland, TN resort that gives the brewery its name has traditionally been known as a place where the well-to-do could relax in the lap of luxury and receive impeccable service at correspondingly high prices. Basically the deal is, if you don’t ask them how much it costs, they’ll never say no to a guest’s requests. And everybody is happy with that arrangement.

But when Milner first brought the idea of starting a brewery to management’s attention a few years back, it was with the intention of producing a very small amount of lovely farmhouse style ales to be served at meals to augment the voluminous wine collection available to guests. Beginning in 2011, the Blackberry brew team basically worked on a glorified homebrew system, but that doesn’t mean they weren’t producing some extraordinary saisons right out of the gate. However, they were only available in 750 ml cork-and-cage bottles in the resort’s restaurant and at their gift shop, meaning that you probably had to be pretty well-heeled to experience them. (Or have a generous friend willing to pick you up a few bottles on their vacation trip.)

Eventually, the operation expanded such that they could at least offer their beers to a few select high-end restaurants around the region, primarily run by friends of Blackberry Farm that shared an appreciation of the artful way that Milner and his team were running their small brewery out of an old barn building on the property. As the beers began to rack up awards and their reputation grew, the management of Blackberry Farm chose to further their investment in the brewery.

A new facility in nearby Maryville, TN opened in 2015 with a brand new custom Sprinkman brewing system featuring a 20-barrel brewhouse and 40-barrel fermenters. Finally, the brewery was ready to hit the big time. With a team of about ten employees, Blackberry Farm Brewery has produced more than 40 different varieties of beers, including collaborations with notable breweries around the country who make the trek to the foothills of the Smoky Mountains in East Tennessee to brew with the crew.

Output grew to near 2400 barrels in 2016 with distribution expanding to 36 states plus Europe. With plenty of capacity to grow within their own footprint, the brewery is well-positioned for the future. Still, the market for champagne bottle-sized saisons is limited compared to the entire universe of beer drinkers, and Milner sought to introduce the Blackberry name and philosophy beyond collectors and serious epicures.

To that end, Blackberry has contracted with Brew Hub out of Florida to create three new canned beers under the brewery’s brand. Featuring can art designed by “friends of the Farm,” the three beers certainly stand out on beer store shelves, and they are priced at a level that is competitive with the higher end of the can market. The three varieties are TN Times, a pilsner, Screaming Cock Pale Ale and a West Coast-style IPA called Coyote Tactics. Even though the actual brewing takes place in Florida, Milner plans to make sure that they are up to Blackberry standards. “Brew Hub serves as our technical partner,” Milner explains. “We always have someone on-site whenever our beers are being brewed, and we came up with the recipes and source the ingredients. We directed them to brew them using our processes, which are different from most breweries. Our step mashing leaves less residual sugar and produces a drier beer, which we like.”

Milner is confident that he has chosen the right partner. “Brew Hub is run by a bunch of old A/B guys, and they bring a wealth of mass production knowledge to craft brewers. They market themselves as where craft brewers go to grow. Our idea is to hopefully build our own destination brewery some day and bring the production of these products back in-house, but until then we see this as a great way for Blackberry Farm Brewery fans to enjoy our beers in a more affordable, casual way. We love the outdoors around here, and sometimes a can is just the best way to get your beer to where you’re having fun.”

This does not at all mean that the Maryville facility will not continue to grow and innovate. On the contrary, the brewery just took receipt of three custom Foeder tanks that will allow them to experiment with all sorts of fun wood/beer interactions. Each tank will be set up in a unique way to allow for custom finishes. In addition, Blackberry Farm Brewery continues to grow their elaborate barrel-aging program, taking advantage of the relationships that the resort has already established with wineries and distilleries around the world.

From high brow to old school, Blackberry Farm Brewery aims to offer something to just about any beer lover, now at various price points. Milner intends to spread the reputation of his brewery around the world, even to folks that can’t afford a weekend in the resort. So pop open a can, close your eyes and just imagine that you’re sitting on the back porch of the resort watching the morning fog roll off the top of the mountains in the distance. Beats the hell out of a Busch!