December’s Featured Brewery: Blue Pants Brewery

This month Tomato Head taps will be flowing with craft beers made just about 4 hours south of us in Madison, Alabama from the Blue Pants Brewery. Madison is a fast growing and prosperous city in the Hunstville Metropolitan Area, and, from all indications, it’s a forward thinking, can-do kind of place; that attitude is clearly mirrored in Blue Pants’ tag line: “We like to make unreasonably good beer.” Actually, that’s more than a tag line, it’s a manifesto.

Blue Pants has established a good track record in the 5 years of their being with a wide assortment of tasty froth that’s covered all the major beer styles. Still, unsatisfied with leaving well enough alone, Blue Pants has shown a penchant for reviving old beer styles, getting jiggy with infusions, presenting playful variations on core brands, and daring the heights of high gravity brews.

There are so many interesting things available from Blue Pants that you can look forward to several surprises flowing from taps.  A number of those are TBA, but we’re very excited to offer their Sour Amber; and that’s being kegged just for us, so Tomato Head is the only place in the world for you to sample this brew.

But don’t be a tap snob because then you’d miss the chance to try Blue Pants Cantaloupe Alalambic!  It’s a 2 year old lambic that we’re offering in 750ml bottles, and it’s too delicious to miss.

So, put on your own blue pants and comes taste ours.  You’ll be happy to have both.

Blue Pants Brewery IPA

Blue Pants Brewery IPA

November’s Featured Brewery: Highland Brewing Company

There are many things to love about Asheville; it’s not only a pretty cool city to have close enough to us to call a neighbor, but it’s also the home of great beer. For the month of November, we’re particularly thankful that the Highland Brewing Company lives just over the mountains.

Highland, Asheville’s first legal brewery, embodies most of the things we love about a brewery. Of course, the brew tastes fantastic, but also the brewery’s whole culture grows from a positive perspective. The company’s founder and chief bottle washer, Oscar Wong, runs the company with a mantra: Honesty, Integrity, Respect. And that informs everything from workplace attitudes and relationships with suppliers to real care for the beer itself and the smart people who drink it!

And Oscar is one of those lead by example types; so his belief in giving back to his community leads not only to his personal active involvement with charitable organizations, but it also means that Highland Brewing keeps its helping hands busy with good causes like Southern Appalachian Highlands ConservancyAdopt-a-Stream, and Manna Food Bank, among others.

In addition to that good work, the Brewery makes a concerted and successful effort at being really nice to all of our taste buds. And November makes a perfect time to show your gratitude for all the blood, sweat and hops that Highland puts into their causes. This month we’ll feature a variety of Highland brews that will tickle your beer loving buds to no end, including a couple of special offerings that won’t last long.

We’re happy to offer some of the froth from the Brewery’s two new series!

First up, we’ll offer something from the Kinsman Series which features blends of all natural ingredients into their existing Flagship beers. We borrowed this info from Highland’s Website:

“Head Brewer Hollie Stephenson describes the series as, ‘All natural – whole or chopped spices; fresh, chopped, pureed, or dried fruit; oak spirals – and not in extract or concentrate form. Ingredients will be local where feasible and as fresh as possible. For example, we hand-cut the dried chipotle peppers and hand-cut and scraped the vanilla pods and beans that went into the Black Mocha Stout.’”

We’ll have the Black Mocha Stout (with Madagascar Bourbon vanilla beans, dried chipotle peppers, whole cinnamon sticks and Nicaraguan Cocoa Nibs from the French Broad Chocolate Lounge) on tap until it runs out, so get a move on!

Then we’ll move on to the Warrior Series, which Highland describes as a product with “bold aromas and flavors, often high gravity, styles will vary widely and will be released a few times per year in limited quantities of kegs and 12-ounce four packs.”

Our first Warrior will be the high-gravity Blackwatch: “It’s a double chocolate milk stout named for Scotland’s Black Watch, the historic military regiment that protected the Highlands. Brewed with five malts, roasted barley, flaked oats and one pound of cocao nibs per barrel, we created a rich, high-gravity ale reminiscent of brownie batter and marshmallows with an aromatic nose and a lingering dark chocolate finish. Contains lactose and cacao nibs.”

In the 3rd week of the month you’ll want to keep your own watch for the arrival of Cold Mountain Winter Ale. It’s a seasonal brew and a highly anticipated entry into the beer world!

Highland has a good description and some considered advice: “Our spiced winter seasonal complements all your holiday festivities. It’s typically malty in body, lightly hopped, and rounded out with a delicious mix of spices that vary from year to year as we search for the best vanilla, hazelnut and other flavors. If you see it in the store, don’t wait!”

We hope that they’ve allocated enough for us to last through the end of the month. We hope.

But make sure that you also take the time to grab a pint of Thunderstruck Coffee Porter. It’s a “robust porter has a full body with some hints of chocolate from the Chocolate Malt and Midnight Wheat. The mild hop aroma showcases the roasted flavors and subtle fruit and spice notes of the artisan fair-trade, organic coffee, roasted in the neighboring town of Black Mountain at Dynamite Roasting Company.”

It’s a fantastic month to celebrate all the wonderful things that help make life good. And so we’re reminded of the over-quoted but always good to remember thought that “Beer is proof that God loves us and wants us to be happy.”

Happy November!

Oscar Wong from Highland Brewing Company

Oscar Wong from Highland Brewing Company

October’s Featured Brewery: Yee-Haw Brewing Company

There’s something special brewing at Tomato Head in October – well, it’s not actually brewing here, but it is flowing happily from our taps. What makes our taps so special this month is that what’s coming out of them epitomizes everything we love in beer: the beer tastes good; the brewery offers a nice variety of styles; and all this goodness comes from right here in East Tennessee – only about 90 minutes from either of our locations. We’re talking about Yee-Haw Brewing Company, an East Tennessee craft brewery located on Buffalo Street in Johnson City.

For many Knoxvillians Yee Haw isn’t just a beer or the noise you make when mounting an old tire swing to propel you from the bank to the river, it’s also the name of a now closed print shop that produced some of Knoxville’s most iconic and distinguishable posters, handbills, and old-fashioned church fans. Yee Haw Industries closed a little over 3 years ago, but the press’ co-founder Kevin Bradly and Joe Baker, one of the Brewery’s owners are longtime friends. In addition to the name, Kevin’s work at Yee Haw Industries has been an important inspiration for the brewery’s logo and imagery.

The beer, though, has another branch of noble lineage. Brewmaster Brandon Greenwood comes to Yee-Haw by way of a little brewery called Lagunitas. He’s also an organic chemist with a penchant for perfection, which means that he spends a lot of time in Yee-Haw’s state of the art lab making sure that the beer is consistently delicious.

After all, the most important thing is the beer itself, and Yee-Haw beers are all in good nick, as you can taste for yourself. We’re pouring Yee-Haw’s Pale Ale, Pilsner, Dunkel, Eighty Shilling, and a seasonal Oktoberfest at both Tomato locations.

Yee-Haw’s Pale Ale gives a really nice sense of the brewery’s ethos: balance. You’ll find plenty of hops here but no make-your-mouth-shrivel bitterness; there’s a good dollop of malt that brings some sweetness and, therefore, balance to the flavor.

The Pilsner makes for a perfect antidote to the season of fading light. It’s light, bright, and comforting, and it shows a nicely crisp personality that will send your mind floating to the wilds of Bohemia. It’s also a nice match for food – it’s a great refresher alongside our #2 pizza with Benton’s Bacon, ham & Andouille Sausage. But it’s a versatile beer that’s works equally well with light, mild food and/or anything with a lot of spice.

If Bohemia isn’t your ideal drinking inspiration then perhaps you’d prefer to hop over to Bavaria with a draft of Yee Haw’s Munich Dunkel. This classic German dark lager was the first of Brewmaster Brandon’s frothy loves. You’ll understand once you taste it; rich, but not heavy, it’s a complex beer to savor.

Eighty Shilling is fairly light for the Yee Haw range. Here’s what the brewery has to say: “Decidedly smooth with the slightest bit of sweetness, grab ahold of our Eighty Shilling Scottish ale. The best of both worlds, hops play second fiddle here with just enough bitterness to complement the malt-driven notes of caramel and toffee.

The seasonal beer is of course, Oktoberfest, which the brewery describes as, “A traditional, malty German amber lager, our Märzen Oktoberfest is one seasonal you won’t want to miss. Munich malt is at the heart of this beer. You’ll enjoy clean, rich and toasty flavors without sweetness thanks to an ever so slight hop bitterness.”

Yee Haw Tap Handles

The Season is the Reason for the First Tomato Head-Saw Works Collaborative Beer

The Tomato Head has partnered with Saw Works Brewing Company to create the anniversary beer honored after our 25th anniversary this August. It will be featured during our party on August 29th on Market Square, but otherwise it is only available in the Saw Works tasting room and at both Tomato Head locations.

The style of the anniversary beer is probably not what you would expect from Saw Works’ typically straightforward beer styles. The body is similar to a Scottish Shilling or English Mild, with a twist of chocolate rye malt. Neutral bittering hops keep earthy flavors out of the beer. The result is an ale body with chocolate rye notes that are usually found in darker beers.  The anniversary beer is the perfect transition from late summer to fall. The body is light enough to drink in August’s heat, while the flavor looks forward to the coming season.

Scott, co-owner of The Tomato Head, came up with the recipe for this beer for everyone to boogie with while they get down to Scott Miller and the Commonwealth and a slew of great musicians playing at The Tomato Head anniversary party starting at 4:00 p.m. on August 29th. As a special treat, you don’t have to wait until then to try the special beer.  It is already on tap at both Tomato Head locations at this very moment, so take a break from whatever you’re doing to taste the fruits of this rare moment in local history.

Silver Anniversary Ale

July’s Featured Brewery: Red Hare Brewing Company

This month, we’ve got rabbit beers to go with all of your summer veggie burgers. Red Hare Brewing Company has taken over our featured taps at both of The Tomato Head Locations with their Gangway IPA, Long Day Lager, and Whabbit Wheat.

The Gangway IPA is an American style, unfiltered IPA with a gold color and sweet taste. The IPA is made with Williamette, Cascade, and Chinook hops, then dry hopped with Falconers Flight. The ABV sits just under a high-gravity beer, at 6.2%. The experts at Red Hare suggest pairing this with spicy or bold dishes, chicken, seafood, or sharp cheeses.

The Long Day Lager is a Bohemian Style Lager, meaning it is sweeter and lighter than some lagers, which is immediately apparent from its golden color. It is bittered with noble hops and Pacific Northwest hops, which add notes of citrus. Try this beer with seafood, pork, BBQ, or something spicy. The ABV is sessionable, at 4.98%.

The Whabbit Wheat is an unfiltered American Wheat Ale, with notes of peaches and apricots. Floral notes come from Saaz hops that contrast the crisp apricot. The ABV is 5.6%. Red Hare’s taproom experts suggest trying this beer with seafood, pastires, pies, and salads.

Red Hare Brewing Company is rooted in Marietta, Georgia, where it began in the garage of Roger Davis, a semi-retired corporate businessman.  After a year of home-brewing with his friend Bobby Thomas, they moved their industrious home-brew set up out of Davis’s garage, and into a larger space. Red Hare can only be found in Georgia, South Carolina, and Tennessee. If not on tap, their beers are canned, which has been a trend of craft breweries over the past few years due to the preservation of taste that cans provide.  Red Hare was one of the first breweries in Georgia to can their beers, and the world’s first user of the evercan, which is made out of high-content recycled aluminum.

In just three different styles, these beers cover the taste spectrum fairly well, meaning there is more than likely something for everyone.  If you don’t believe us, come taste it for yourself.

June’s Featured Brewery: Starr Hill Brewery

It’s a new month, and time for a new featured brewery. This June, both of our locations are featuring the Star Hill Brewery from Charlottesville, Virginia. Star Hill is growing quickly with their award-winning beers and a revamped, new logo. We will start the month with four selections on draft: Northern Lights, Grateful Pale, the Love, and the Reviver.

The Northern Lights is an IPA with a floral aroma. It is made with two row, caramel, Munich, and wheat malted barley. Star Hill uses ale yeast, along with Cascade, Willamette, and Columbus kettle hops. The result is an amber appearance that sits at 6.5% ABV, bitter flavor, and a citrus-floral finish.

The Grateful Pale derives its name from, as one might assume, the Grateful Dead. It is an APA made with two row, wheat, and caramel malted barley. This beer also uses ale yeast, but the kettle hops are Chinook, Centennial, Topaz, and Cascade. The Grateful Pale Ale rings up at 4.7% ABV with a light gold color and citrus aroma. This beer is not as bitter as the Northern Lights, but has a sharp taste, as pale ales do.

The Love is an unfiltered hefeweizen, which is a type of wheat beer. Star Hill uses two row wheat, and Munich malted barley. The yeast is Bavarian wheat beer yeast, and the kettle hops are Hallertau. With a golden color, sweet taste, and spicy finish, the Love is easy to drink. It has an ABV at 4.6%. This one is sure to be a favorite.

The Reviver is a Red IPA, and Star Hill’s spring seasonal. This is an interesting blend between a Red Ale and an IPA. It is made with Pilsner, wheat, crystal, and chocolate malted barley, and uses ale yeast. The kettle hops are Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe, and Columbus. The Reviver is also made with Mosaic, Citra, and Amarillo dry hops.

As you know, June is a special month because it begins during spring and ends in the summer. In the same spirit, we will be swapping out the Reviver for Star Hill’s summer seasonal, Soul Shine.

Soul Shine, named after the Government Mule song, is an American take on a Belgian-style Pale Ale. It is made with Pilsner, wheat, and caramel malted barley and ale yeast. The kettle hops are Falconer’s flight, Simcoe, Cascade, and Willamette. The Soul Shine is also finished with dry hops, which consist of Falconer’s Flight, Simcoe, Cascade, and Columbus. The result is a golden colored, crisp beer with tropical fruit aromas and a spicy finish. The ABV is 5.2%.

Join us for pint night this month (June 26) to be among the first ever to try a new release by Star Hill. You’ll also get to keep a Star Hill pint glass. We are looking forward to these new beers from a growing regional craft brewery. Come join us on our patio to try the new pints and enjoy the warm weather.

starr-hill-brewery taproom

Our featured brewery for May: Black Abbey Brewing Company

We have a few new Belgian-inspired brews on tap for you this month by way of Black Abbey Brewing Company from Nashville.

Their work is inspired by monks, namely Martin Luther, his wife, and the Trappist Monks. Martin Luther advocated drinking for pleasure as he boasted his infamous, large stein. His wife, Katherine, went a step farther. She was known for brewing Wittenberg’s best beer. However, instead of brewing traditional German lagers, she created Belgian style ales with ingredients from her immediate locale. The tradition of brewing Belgian style ales with ingredients from their immediate surrounding was emulated by Trappist Monks in Belgium who brewed distinctly for their monasteries.

While Black Abbey doesn’t play home to Belgian Monks, they do host the character of brewing for their brothers (sisters and gender neutral family members) and for their neighbors with high quality ingredients in the Belgian style. We are happy to join in.

At the Tomato Head in Market Square, we are featuring four Black Abbey brews: the Rose (a Belgian blonde made with wheat malt), the Special (a traditional monastic Belgian Mild), the Champion (an American pale ale made with English and smoked malts), and the Chapter House (a Belgian red ale).

The Tomato Head located at 7240 Kingston Pike in the Gallery of Knoxville Shopping Center is serving up the Rose, the Special, and the Potus 44, a full bodied porter bursting with notes of Kenyan and Hawaiian coffee from the Frothy Monkey in Nashville.

On May 22nd, the brewery sends us their new summer release, the 5 points IPA. Make your way downtown or out West to join us for a Black Abbey brew and head home with a cool Black Abbey pint glass (while supplies last). This is an all-day event.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a Lutheran to enjoy these beers, just a follower of beer.

Black Abbey Brewing Company

Join us for our pint day at both locations on May 22.


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