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Our aesthetic here at New2Knox is decidedly sunshine-based. As Xul’s social media aesthetic is darker and more, well, skull-esque, imagine our delight when we walked into North Knoxville’s newest brewery (though already known around town for their fruited sours and pastry stouts) and encountered an unexpected airy mid-mod dream.
A bay of floor to ceiling windows graces over half the space and the furniture is basically begging to be photographed. I fought the urge to curl up on a gorgeous hunter green sofa and instead sat down in a (still adorable) chair like a normal grown-up to talk to Brad and Bentley of Xul Beer Co.
“Dark and elegant,” Brad said, describing their vibe. He’s exactly right. The furniture and overall space itself (those windows!) lends to a more elegant aesthetic, but details like their front doors (the Xul logo is made out of iron and serves as the hardcore handles), nostalgic art, and faux concrete walls give a nod to the dark side. (You heard that right – faux concrete. Eugenia Almeida of “A New Hue” outdid herself by creating highly believable faux concrete, textured walls, even some faux brick hidden in plain sight.)
From believable brick to unbelievable beer, for Brad West, Bentley Blackshear, and Tara Thacker every single detail of Xul matters… and that mindset has culminated into a really cool brewery. Granted, we’re of the opinion Knoxville has nothing but cool breweries… so what sets Xul apart? Well, among other things, their love for our sweet Scruffy City is paired with major inspiration from a slightly larger metropolitan area: New York City. You can sense that inspo in those aformentioned “details” – from the colors, to the soundtrack (90s hip hop, anyone?), to the beer recipes themselves.
Speaking of beer recipes, Xul Beer Co. is willing to push the limits on ingredients (in terms of both types of ingredients and sheer amount of ingredients), doing whatever it takes to brew the absolute best beer. We’re talking beer you want to write home about and travel across state lines for and stand in a socially distanced line to receive.
I sipped on one of their fruited sours coined “Tech Noir” during the interview and can confirm I would write, travel, and stand for that tart raspberry goodness.
In fact, if Bentley (Xul’s head brewer) could be any beer, he’d be the Tech Noir. It’s the beer that took his home-brewing to another level. It has endless combinations of flavors to play with. And best part of all – people just love to drink it. (Again, can confirm.)
If Brad could be any of Xul’s beer, he’d be the HYFR. HYFR stands for “Heck Yeah Freaking Right” (except for not “heck” and not “freaking” and just use your imaginations, kids?). HYFR is the kind of double IPA that initially turned him on to “this kind of craft beer” during his frequent trips to Brooklyn.
What is “this kind” of craft beer? Well, if you ask me, it’s just really freakin’ good. These guys are pushing limits and dreaming big with this new brewery – creating beer you’d travel for in a space that has a little something for everyone. But good news, Knoxville: we don’t have to travel. We get to sit back and enjoy the benefits of Xul Beer Co. right in our own backyard – and skulls or not, that feels like sunshine.
Publish date: 26 February.
Images by: Emilie Stooksbury
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