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Knox Brew Hub: A Look Inside

If you’re new to the craft beer scene in Knoxville, there’s someone you absolutely must meet posthaste: Zack. Zack Roskop is the unofficial champion of local beer, the guy behind Knox Brew Tours (a New2Knox fave), the guitarist for Knoxville’s newest 90s and 00s cover band, (Wild and Crazy Kids), and seems to be on a mission to be friends with every person in Knoxville (we fully support this mission). Most recently, he’s added “Bar Owner” to his resume and as people who love Knox, beer, friendship, and 90s and 00s cover bands – we are understandably giddy about it… because this bar is unashamedly featuring all the best breweries in Knoxville.

“First, we are a ‘Visitor Center’ for Knoxville beer. Second, we are the headquarters for Knox Brew Tours. Third, we’re a craft beer bar.” This is Zack’s (fairly humble, if you ask us) description of the vision for Knox Brew Hub. Knox Brew Hub is a craft beer bar, eatery, and casual launchpad of endless possibilities (no, you’re being dramatic!) for those wanting to learn about the beer they are drinking and the growing culture of craft beer in our Scruffy City.

LET’S EAT:

Speaking of “eatery”, Knox Brew Hub’s not short on snackage. We’re particularly excited about popcorn flights. They have four flavors of popcorn available: cheddar, hot butter, caramel, and a rotating flavor; but if you ask nicely, the bartender will even suggest popcorn flavors based on your beer selection! Popcorn not gonna cut it? Fear not! Knox Brew Hub also serves up specialty hot dogs that hit the dang spot.

Image by: @knoxbrewhub

LET’S DRINK:

Let’s be honest, though – the reason people flock to the Hub is for the beer. There are 22 taps and the vast majority are flowing with local brews. (Seriously, y’all. Their line-up of local beer is like no other.) As the aforementioned unofficial champion of local beer, Zack is already working on collaboration and specialty release beers that will only available at Knox Brew Hub. In true Knox Brew Tour fashion, the bartenders (fittingly called “beer guides”) will also happily provide backstory and details about any local brewery.

LET’S LEARN:

Speaking of Knox Brew Tours, Knox Brew Hub will serve as the “headquarters” of Knox Brew Tours. This means visitors get ample opportunity to learn about the local beer scene here in Knoxville. Beyond the beer guides, there is also a map on the wall displaying the locations of numerous breweries throughout Knoxville, beer history that spans from 1886-present, and plenty of room to be updated with all the new breweries popping up in the coming years.

Xul: A Look Inside

Our aesthetic here at New2Knox is decidedly sunshine-based. As Xul Beer Co.’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 basically begs 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.

The Space:

“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. On the flip side, 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.)

The skull/key brass door handles perfectly set the scene as you walk into Xul Beer Co

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 the 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.” The colors, soundtrack (90s hip hop, anyone?), even the beer recipes themselves lean a little Brooklyn.

The Beer:

Xul Beer Co. is willing to push the limits on ingredients (in terms of both types 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 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.

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