Knoxville is a city to visit with craft beer in your sights. With 18 breweries at the time of printing, craft beer has taken center stage. Knoxville’s Ale Trail ( is the best way to sample all the breweries the city offers. The tour takes you through the varies neighborhoods that make up the Knoxville beer scene and give you pointers along the way.

By Tony Schmitt, Certified Cicerone®


Photo Credit: Balter Beerworks

Begin in the heart of the city. Downtown Knoxville centers around the main drag of Gay Street, which is lined with shops, restaurants, and bars. Downtown Grill and Brewery and Blackhorse Pub and Brewery are located right on Gay Street, while Balter Beerworks is a quick 10-minute walk away on Jackson Street. All feature a full restaurant menu as well as their own beer.

Next, check out Sugar Mamas. They feature the only all-local tap wall in Knoxville with 32 taps. Pair that local beer with something from their kitchen, which features everything from cookies to duck confit sandwiches.

Looking for some beer to go? Check out the Casual Pint, where you can shop for six packs or even make your own from their well-stocked cooler.

Photo Credit: Rob Shomaker


Adjacent to downtown is the Old City with two breweries. Pretentious Beer and Glass Company is quite a unique operation. Matthew Cummings started making custom glassware for beer with specific designs for each style of beer. Glass blowing demonstrations are offered, but you can always just drink a beer in a handmade glass.

Just beyond the James White Parkway is Last Days of Autumn Brewing. Last Days serves a wide-range of beer styles and great food. Their spacious patio hosts musical acts, comedy, and cook-outs.


Photo Credit: Printship Beer Co. Facebook

South of downtown, and across the Tennessee River, is South Knoxville. Alliance Brewing Company is a hot spot of the Knoxville beer scene. Their “active beer culture” inspires residents to come visit on bikes or have a round before exploring the nearby Ijams Nature Center.

Down the street you’ll find Printshop Beer Company. Situated on the water, it’s the best place to have a beer and watch the river. South Knoxville is no slouch in the food department either, with SoKno Tacos, South Coast Pizza, and the Landing House to name a few.


Situated north of downtown is a melting pot of craft beer. Elkmont Exchange and Eating House features a full restaurant with house-cured meats. Elkmont boasts a state-of-the-art brewery, which is visible from the dining room, and their special event room boasts two huge fouders, barrels used to age beer.

Across the street you’ll find the Brewing + Distilling Center where you can take classes on how to brew. The school offers one-day courses and full certificate programs. Every teacher on staff also works in the Knoxville beer scene, so you know you’re getting the real deal.

Crafty Bastard Brewery features some of the most unique beers in town. Here you can find beers such as their Earl Grey Tea Pale Ale, White Arrow Pine Ale, Cherry Pie Gose and more.

Photo Credit: Rob Shomaker

If traditional German beers are your thing, head to Schulz Braü Brewing Company. This brewery resides in a castle that boasts traditional German music and a huge beer garden with furnishings from Germany.

Take Central Street further, and you’ll come across Hops and Hollers. Named best beer bar in Tennessee by in 2018, Hops and Hollers offers craft beer on draft as well as packaged beer to go.


Photo Credit: Chelsea Pilkington

Head west, and you’ll reach the Bearden area, home of Abridged Beer Company. The brewpub offers great beers and a menu that covers burgers, wings, and their very original Pot Roast Nachos.

You’ll find the beers of Smoky Mountain Brewing in Calhoun’s, sister restaurant to the Smoky Mountain Brewery. Bearden Beer Market has a huge beer garden, great for relaxing with friends or grabbing a bite from one of the numerous food trucks that they host.

Getting Around

Getting around Knoxville responsibly is key when enjoying the Knoxville Ale Trail. In addition to Uber and Lyft, check out these other great local options:


Knox Brew Tours takes the guess work out of where
to go. Thursday through Saturday they offer a 3-hour tour to four breweries, with samples and beer education at each brewery. Planning something special? They also offer private tours, where you select all the details.


Knoxville operates a robust transit system. Downtown features a free trolley that takes you back and forth from Old City. Their website offers a great trip planner that can get you where you need to be, and you can use the CivicMobile app to get info as well. They run

a “Rides on the House” program with Central Flats and Taps, where if you spend at least $10, they’ll give you a free bus pass.


• Central: R20, R24

• South Knoxville: R40

• Downtown/Old City: Green line trolley

• Bearden: R11