Crafty Bastard Brewery: A Look Inside

location icon site icon
Crafty Bastard Brewery: A Look Inside

# All Categories

# Food & Drink

location icon site icon

Stay Crafty, While You Stay Out West

600 beers in six years. Just to save you the math: thats about two beers a week. Two unique beers a week that Crafty Bastard Brewery has put into the world and into our mouths since it opened its doors in downtown north in 2015. Just by the numbers, Crafty Bastard may be the best brewery in Knoxville for experimentation, but there’s no doubt it’s the scruffiest. In its stripped-down nano brew setup, Crafty creates a whole vibe—a celebration of substance over flash (basically the very essence of scruffy).

Crafty Bastard Brewery: A Look Inside

“It’s definitely the most West Knoxville that Crafty’s ever done; but it’s the most downtown thing that West Knoxville has ever seen.”  

In all of its brewing, Craftys only committed to two mainstays: Hop Candy and Tessellation, both American IPAs. Oh, they have their frequent fliers—Earl Grey Pale Ale, Mayan Chocolate Chili Porter, Big Bastard Double IPA and Imperial Milk Stout to name a few—as well as some unique seasonals like the Picklebier (a Bailey Rose favorite), Pineapple Radler and White Arrow Pine Ale (oh yes, its made with real pine sprigs).

But lets face it, folks. Of 600 beers, theres less than 20 on repeat. Thats a Whole. Lot. Of. New. Beer. to try on any given week. Its downright FOMO-inducing. And while that massive number might make it seem like Brewmaster Aaron McClain must be just throwing spaghetti at the wall to see what sticks, there is a method to his madness.

Aaron McClain - head brewer

Photo of Aaron from craftybastardbrewery.com

“It all works in trials. We often start by muddling ingredients into different beers to see which beer is the best match for that particular ingredient,” Aaron says. “If the flavors work then we begin to dial in the exact proportions and ratios.  Generally, once something actually makes it into a keg it’s pretty tasty.”

Pink beer at Crafty Bastard Brewery

We made sure to check and this one was indeed pretty tasty.

Aaron says generallybecause there is an infamous pizza beer they still keep a keg of to hook up as a party joke every once in a while. Another wacky experimentation: the Smoky Mountain Shroom Ale, a beer made to mimic a dish of white-wine braised pork tenderloin with chantarelle mushrooms. Apparently, for better or for worse, it accomplished just that.

Half a dozen people said it was the best beer theyve ever had. The same amount say its the worst,” Aaron says. 

Iteration compliments this experimentation, however, as evidenced by their beer Main Squeeze. Originally part of a series called Stratosphere, it took 18 versions before the Crafty crew settled on a New England IPA they were ready to make a serious commitment to and move in with. 

“It’s juicy, fruity, hazy, all the things New England IPAs are supposed to be,” Aaron says. “But this particular batch was not just another number. So, Stratosphere 18 became our Main Squeeze.”

Mural on the wall of Crafty Bastard downtown

The Crafty crew has been making this all happen in what they call their accordion brewery, where the grain mill, fermenters and hop fridge roll into the open area by day and get folded back behind a chain fence when the doors open to the public each night. Theyve been making it work, but its a bit of a thing. They even had a small tap room out west for a while. 

Weve been running out of beer since the day we were born,” Aaron says. Losing our spot in Echelon Bikes out west during COVID was just the kick in the ass we needed.” 

To open a second location, (now up and running!), they converted an industrial space at 9937 Kingston Pike—near the intersection with Pellissippi—into Crafty West. The space that maintains their scruffy vibe, with exposed brick and beams, but adds a few essential West Knox amenities like ample parking and a treelined outdoor seating area.

“It’s definitely the most West Knoxville that Crafty’s ever done,” Aaron says. “But it’s the most downtown thing that West Knoxville has ever seen.”  

Crafty Bastard Brewery: A Look Inside Multi Images
Crafty Bastard Brewery: A Look Inside Multi Images
Crafty Bastard Brewery: A Look Inside Multi Images
Crafty Bastard Brewery: A Look Inside Multi Images

The new space might help out with our FOMO as well, since it gives Crafty five times the brewing capacity. According to Aaron, Crafty West will make the main stays while the OG Crafty will keep up the crazy experimentation. While there will be certain beers on tap both places, Crafty is sticking to its nature – keeping things nano, weird, tasty, and above all, friendly and grounded. The main aim at both taprooms is to create a space for people to meet. 

“What I love about Knoxville—and dozens of people have told me the same thing—is that it’s the city where you are the most likely to have a great conversation with a stranger at a bar,” Aaron says. “It’s an extraordinarily friendly city.” 

Outside the original Crafty Bastard in Downtown North

Outside the original Crafty Bastard in Downtown North

We’ve felt that friendliness at Crafty Bastard Brewery since day one, which is why its a frequent (and favorite) stop for our New2Knox Small Groups. We can vouch—it’s a great spot to drink beers, soak in all that is the Scruffy City, and turn strangers into friends. Been there. Done it. Repeated. And thanks to Aaron and the Crafty Bastard, we just got a little extra space for friendliness on the other side of town. 

Interested in beer drinkin’ and friend makin’? Click here to learn more about visiting Crafty with a N2K Small Group or here to learn about visiting with your dog.

Oh, and can we highly recommend Candace “Ace” Preston’s origin story of the Crafty Bastard Brewery on Knox Brew Stories if you want to know more about this scruffy, friendly brewery!

 

location icon site icon

Check Them Out:

Website: craftybastardbrewery.com

Phone:  (865) 333-4760

West Location: 9937 Kingston Pike

Downtown Location: 6 Emory Place

Publish date: 15 July.

Images by: Emilie Stooksbury

Share Title:

calendar

9 May, 2022

5 Must-Try Vegan Meals in Knoxville
When you think of the South, vegan food isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. No, it’s more like biscuits and BBQ or bust. Needless to say, when moving to Knoxville from a very vegan-centric city, I was super nervous about the vegan and plant-based scene. But let…
calendar

28 April, 2022

What to Do If You Only Have One Day in Knoxville
Knoxville, if you ask us, is the cutest lil city in the south and deserves all the days. We know you would definitely want to stay in Knoxville forever and ever amen. However, if other clearly less cool people are passing through for the day, your main goal is to…
calendar

20 April, 2022

5 Flights to Try in Knoxville
From coffee flights to beer flights to flights to exciting places, Knoxville is full of flights and we are fans of all of 'em. But as much as we love all those flights to vacations - it's considerably cheaper (and much easier) to do the beverage kind on a whim.…

calendar

14 December, 2021

New Years Eve in the Scruffy City!
It happened again. Our eyes got dry, we finally caved and blinked, and 💥WHAM💥 it's already the end of 2021. If you're anything like us, you'll be too busy stuffing your face with cookies to form any plans the week after Christmas - SO we're giving you the NYE lowdown…
calendar

26 October, 2021

Halloween Events in Knoxville
It's Halloween week (Halloweek, if you will😉) witch means there is plenty to boo in Knoxville, Tennessee! Whether you want to hit as many spooky events as possible or you need to oh-so-carefully select your one golden extroverted opportunity, here are a bunch of Halloween events for all ghosts and…
calendar

25 October, 2021

7 Most Haunted Spots in Knoxville
Have you ever been walking through the Old City and felt a chill… on an 80 degree night? What about attending a concert at the Bijou, when a stall slams in an otherwise empty bathroom? Knoxville was once a place riddled with battles, riots, and subsequent deaths. Some of those…

calendar

9 May, 2022

5 Must-Try Vegan Meals in Knoxville
When you think of the South, vegan food isn’t necessarily the first thing that comes to mind. No, it’s more like biscuits and BBQ or bust. Needless to say, when moving to Knoxville from a very vegan-centric city, I was super nervous about the vegan and plant-based scene. But let…
calendar

20 April, 2022

5 Flights to Try in Knoxville
From coffee flights to beer flights to flights to exciting places, Knoxville is full of flights and we are fans of all of 'em. But as much as we love all those flights to vacations - it's considerably cheaper (and much easier) to do the beverage kind on a whim.…
calendar

7 February, 2022

The Perfect Brunch Spot for Your Enneagram Type
We at New2Knox believe it is always a good time to brunch. Similarly, we believe it’s always a good time for self-reflection. Just in time for Galentines Day, we married these two beliefs and figured out the best local places to brunch in Knoxville based on your enneagram type. (If…

calendar

9 December, 2021

The Ultimate Knoxville Gift Guide
If you have already finished your Christmas shopping, we are fundamentally not the same kind of person. I probably have a lot to learn from you and I’m frankly not sure why you clicked on this article at all. However, if you have been quietly muttering to yourself, “Everything will…
calendar

30 November, 2021

5 Experiential Gift Ideas for the Friend Who Has Everything
​It’s the time of year for ribbons, bobbles, and credit card debt (or however that Christmas song goes 😂). When it comes to gifts though (and credit card debt for that matter), we prefer experiences. You get to share it with your loved one, make lasting memories, and up your…

calendar

19 March, 2021

Oglewood Avenue: A Look Inside
Jade Adams is the stylish, hilarious owner of Oglewood Avenue - and frankly, we’d like to be her new best friend. (It’s not weird, okay? Don’t make it weird.) Besides, considering the way she takes care of her plants, she’d be a good best friend to have. Let’s back up:…
calendar

5 January, 2021

5 Fave Black-Owned Businesses in Knoxville
If you’re anything like me (white… oh so very white), you may have realized you had a lot to learn last summer. You may have also been surprised to learn that COVID was hitting Black-owned businesses (even in Knoxville) disproportionately hard. My favorite part of 2020 life was ordering local…

calendar

28 April, 2022

What to Do If You Only Have One Day in Knoxville
Knoxville, if you ask us, is the cutest lil city in the south and deserves all the days. We know you would definitely want to stay in Knoxville forever and ever amen. However, if other clearly less cool people are passing through for the day, your main goal is to…
calendar

18 April, 2022

YPK: How to Get Involved in Knoxville
Figuring out how to get involved in the local going-ons in a community when you’re the new kid in town can be a fun (but sometimes daunting 😳) mission. Maybe you just moved here for a job and are looking for some like-minded individuals to hang out with outside of…
calendar

2 March, 2022

7 Ways to Find Community in Knoxville
Let's not beat around the bush - building community as a young adult is hard. Gone are the magical days of living down the hall from college friends. In its place are coworkers you may or may not vibe with - or even physically be with in these #workfromhome days.…

calendar

6 April, 2022

How to Hike Fort Dickerson Loop
Fort Dickerson Park (home of Augusta Quarry, formerly known as Fort Dickerson Quarry) is a pleasant, easy hike just barely south of downtown Knoxville. You've got plenty of scenic overlooks, but also a lil bit of that ✨scruff✨ Knoxville holds so dear. It's also only 3-ish miles, so you can…
calendar

18 February, 2022

Top Places to Cozy Up by a Fire in Knoxville
If you’re new to Knoxville, there is something you need to know about Tennessee weather… it can be a little crazy. I’m not sure who originally said this, but the saying: “If you don't like the weather, just wait a few minutes and it'll change,” definitely applies to our scruffy…
calendar

9 November, 2021

5 Spots for Fall Leaves in Knoxville!
Fall has finally hit Knoxville, Tennessee. Is she consistently a month late? Yes. Is she always gone too soon? Also yes. Because of this, we wanted to waste no time sharing our favorite local spots so you can go find them and throw colorful foliage in the air and spin…

calendar

16 November, 2021

Glitterville: A Look Inside
Stephen Brown is a rather unassuming name for one of the most vibrant human beings on the planet. Like many other Stephens, this one was born in East Tennessee and went to school at the University of Tennessee. But this is where the similarities end. See, from there, Stephen Brown…
calendar

19 March, 2021

Oglewood Avenue: A Look Inside
Jade Adams is the stylish, hilarious owner of Oglewood Avenue - and frankly, we’d like to be her new best friend. (It’s not weird, okay? Don’t make it weird.) Besides, considering the way she takes care of her plants, she’d be a good best friend to have. Let’s back up:…


location icon site icon

Search Bar

Search
Generic filters
Exact matches only
Search in title
Search in content
Search in excerpt
location icon site icon

Don’t Miss the News!

Subscribe to the New2Knox newsletter to get monthly updates on all things Knoxville.

Loading
location icon site icon

Upcoming Events

location icon site icon

Move2Knox?

Moving can be daunting, but we’re here to help it go as smoothly as possible.

location icon site icon

Want to Advertise?

Want to advertise your business or event? Let’s chat!

Location Icon Site Icon

OUR INSTAGRAM