Schulz Brau and Nico Schulz

They say you can take the boy out of the country, but you can’t take the country out of the boy.  Sometimes, I guess, that means habits, and

The Schulz Brau Castle

The Schulz Brau Castle

sometimes it may refer to the native accent.  The degree to which that is true varies widely, I suspect; but I’m betting that the old saw’s veracity is more likely if the country boy is remembering good beer, and the country roads that take him home are in Germany.

And if you meet Nico Shulz of the Schulz Bräu Brewing Company, or just get a good swallow of his beer, you’ll thank God he’s a country boy who missed the sudsy comforts of home enough to recreate them here and share.

When Nico first moved to the US to study food science in Lexington, KY, he says he quickly began to “miss my good German beers, so I started making my own.”  Later, when visiting his soon to be wife in Knoxville, he was disappointed he “couldn’t really find a brewery that I liked, at least, none with German beer. Of course, it was some years ago and there weren’t many breweries around. So I started to think that Knoxville needed a German brewery.”

A Gleaming Brew House

A Gleaming Brew House

The result of Nico’s contemplations is Schulz Bräu Brewing Company located just off Central on Bernard Avenue.  It’s an impressive facility and beautiful, too.  The exterior is imposing and belies the comfortable surroundings and pristine brewery inside.  Though he’s a passionate beer man in mission and vocation, Nico trained as a scientist – and his brewery, one might say, reflects the discipline of his discipline.  And while science and tradition may sometimes make uneasy bedfellows, at Schulz Bräu, they’re like horse and carriage.

That’s one of the reasons we love it.

At Tomato Head, we try to keep our taps of beer made close to home, so it’s been a great time for us as Knoxville’s brewers have fruitful and multiplied.  And that’s never been truer than this month when Nico was finally able to contribute Schulz Bräu to our taps.

That makes us happy in lots of ways.  First, of course, the closeness of the beer’s birth means that it’s fresh and also means that we get to celebrate our favorite town with every pull of the tap handle.

It doesn’t hurt, of course, that Nico makes an authentic and outstanding German Pilsner that’s crisp and refreshing, and one that makes good music with all our food in addition to tasting pretty fine all by itself, too.

But one of the brightest jewels in Nico’s crown is his commitment to the ideals of the Reinheitsgebot.  That mouthful of a word refers to the German Beer Purity Law.  Nico describes it as, “the oldest food safety law in the world. It basically dictates that you can only use four ingredients to make beer: water, hops, malt and yeast.  So that’s all we use – we’re not adding any flavoring, and we add no chemicals to it. Everything is brewed traditionally – no preservatives nothing like that.  It makes brewing quite harder and less efficient, but I prefer the traditional way – it’s the healthier way.”

It’s no secret to beer lovers that beer can be made with any number of artificial additives, Nico estimates that “there are dozens of chemicals

Fresh Pilsner

Fresh Pilsner

approved by the FDA that you can add to your beer: things to give a higher yield, a longer shelf life -but it’s just not worth it to me. You can add color, antioxidants, and there’s even stuff you can add so the kettle doesn’t boil over, but I’d rather have it boil over than add chemicals to my beer. There’s just no need for it –  it’s easier and more efficient, yes, but that’s it.  And that’s unhealthy, so we don’t use them; we just want to make something that we take pride in.”

And that’s something we take pride in pouring.

PROST! And Zum Wohl, too!

Oskar Blues

At the end of the day or mug or keg, what really draws us to any frothy beverage is the quality of its flavor.  Of course, all things being equal, we always prefer beer that is handmade, that honors tradition and that is brewed close to home.  But, in addition to all that, there’s another thing that really tickles our fancy, and that’s beer that comes in cans.  This explains part of our love for September’s featured brewery, Oskar Blues.

Perhaps it’s the memory of greener days when that’s how we all thought of beer.  I suppose I’m dating myself, but once upon a time beer always seemed to come in metal cans with pull top tabs.

Those are long forgotten and reckless days – days when we were still immortal and rode Big Wheels unsupervised, accelerating furiously down the steep inclines of the Little Mountains behind the old home place, always just missing a stretch of ancient and rusty barbed wire fence that marked the end of our course. They were the kind of days that would send me into massive panic should my own young tribe attempt to repeat them today.

They were also days of long, unaccompanied hikes and explorations of forgotten sheds and barns were we would sometimes find a dusty, old skin magazine amid a pile of rusty beer cans.  I never drank beer when I was young and tender – I was, at least in the formative years, a slow learner in the ways of the world.  But we scoured those cans for treasure.  One of our gang, a cousin from up north who visited every summer, collected beer cans, and every time we found something that looked old, we also found value.  Who knew, maybe this can was worth some money or would occupy a place of honor in our cousin’s collection?

We were full of optimism then and never daunted by the fact that these old cans were too common and too poorly kept to mean much of anything.  But the thought really counted – we could see that at the beginning of summer when we offered our trove to our favorite summer co-conspirator.  The way we showed affection when we were boys is really sweet to remember.

So even when beer in cans had lost its place in the cool kid’s corner, we had an enduring passion- even if cans had become aluminum and only contained the kind of beer our friends described as, how do I put it, equine urine.

But that all changed when we met Oskar Blues.   This brewery began the modern “beer-in-a-can-craze.”  Cans, as they say, “keep beer fresher, longer by eliminating the damaging effects of light and ingressed oxygen while being infinitely recyclable and portable…taking them where your next soul saving adventure takes you.”

And the beer is good, craftsy too.  And Oskar Blues has an interesting business model, too.  You probably know that while the brewery originated in Longmont, Colorado, it has a satellite location in Brevard, North Carolina and has purchased other breweries in Michigan and Florida,as well as Austin, Texas.  Of course, that smacks a little of corporate acquisition, but in an interview with Market Watch, Dale Katechis, founder of the brewery, indicated that Oskar Blues basis for selecting these purchases had nothing to do with typical corporate, ahem, ethic: “…we all sat around and said: ‘Would we be able to travel there and spend our lives in this town?’ And the unanimous answer was ‘yes.’ That’s really how those decisions get made.”

He also said that “From a cultural standpoint, what I believe Oskar Blues is made up of is beer, bikes, food and music, in no particular order. Just things that I find fulfilling about this world. I think we’ve built a pretty interesting culture around here and I think people feel the same.”

Well, that’s enough to make us love these guys in theory.  But the fact is that the beer is good, so our buds are satisfied, and it comes in cans so we can sip our tasty adult beverage even as we wander through the memories – and barbed wire – of our reckless youth.  That’s sweet in a whole new way.

For September we’ll be featuring Oskar Blues on tap and in cans, including a limited amount of the Passion Fruit Pinner.  It’s a happy marriage but limited partnership of Pinner Throwback IPA and the cheery personality of Passion Fruit that you’ll want to get before we run out.

We’ll also have these brews (cheerfully described by the brewery):

Priscilla

“This AmeriCAN take on the Belgian Classic Wit, featuring orange peel and coriander spice emanated from the basement blues music legacy Dave McIntyre (Oskar Blusologist) built at the original Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lyons, CO. On draft for over a decade, Priscilla’s zesty citrus and light fresh baked bread aromas mix with spicy, fruity fermentation. Light bodied with a subtle savory spice accent and a dry, lightly tart finish you can nearly feel the flicker of the neon and sounds of the King. White Wit Wheat.”

Dale’s Pale

“…delivers a hoppy nose and assertive-but-balanced flavors of pale malts and citrusy floral hops from start to finish. America’s first-craft-canned mountain Pale is a hearty, critically acclaimed trailblazer that changed the way craft beer fiends perceive portable beer.”

Mama’s Little Yella Pils

“… an uncompromising, small-batch version of the beer that made Pilsen, Czech Republic, famous. Unlike mass market‚ “pilsners‚” diluted with corn and rice, Mama’s is built with 100% pale malt, German specialty malts, and Saaz hops. While it’s rich with Czeched-out flavor, its gentle hopping makes it a luxurious but low-dose (by Oskar Blues standards) refresher.”

And we may even have a few more, all while supplies last.  You better come on in and check…

Cheers!  We’ll see you soon.

Yellowhammer Brewing – Featured Brewery

It is an unfortunate truth that many Tennesseans regard some of our neighbors to the south as less than friendly.  Perhaps it’s a persecution complex, an enduring legacy of a long tradition of gridiron rivalry fueled by fears of more than one Red menace.  These things are difficult to understand, but they can’t be good for us over the long haul.  Fortunately, there are good people in the world, even in Alabama, people who don’t bear a grudge or worry so much about old wounds at the goalposts.  We know this because they evince that most noble gesture of reconciliation and friendship: they share their beer.

In August we celebrate a special bond of foamy communion with our friends in Alabama by sharing the good work of Huntsville’s Yellowhammer Brewing.

Of course, you may know that Alabama itself is called the Yellowhammer State.  It takes its name from the state bird, also known as the Northern Flicker, whose association with Alabama dates back to the civil war.  (To read more, check this link:  http://archives.state.al.us/emblems/st_bird.html).

Like many success stories in the world of craft brewing, Yellowhammer is a collaboration that started with some thirsty professional’s hobby.  Brewer Keith Yager, once a graphic designer at the Huntsville Times, was a little disappointed with beer selection when he moved to the South.  In an interview with Southern Brew News Yager said, “I’m from Pennsylvania.  When I moved down here I could not find much good beer outside of Samuel Adams. My mom got me a homebrew kit for Christmas.  I don’t think she had any idea where it would take me.”

The journey from a happy holiday package to Yellowhammer wasn’t a direct route.  Yager started his homebrews in 1995, and it took over a decade for him to form the idea that his passion could also be his paycheck.  Yellowhammer came into being just about 6 years ago when Yager and partners Don Milligan, Challen Stephens, and Ethan Couch renovated an old cabinet shop to produce their froth. In December of last year they upgraded to lovely quarters and an excellent taproom at Campus 805 – a new development that repurposed an old middle school to beautiful effect.

You may want to take a drive to Huntsville to check out this rapidly growing enterprise.  Of course, you should do some initial research at our place.  This month our taps will flow with one of the best things about Alabama – you’ll find that all these brews are friendly characters.  We’re fairly certain that if you give them the chance they’ll treat you just right.  After all, Southern hospitality is a real thing, especially where the craft brews grow…

Yellowhammer Belgian White:  This beer offers a twist on a traditional Belgian staple. Instead of adding hints of orange and coriander, the Yellowhammer white ale derives its spice from Kaffir lime leaves and fresh ginger. Perfect on a hot day.

Midnight Special Black Lager:  A German-style schwarzbier, or “black beer,” brewed with a blend of German Munich malt, Vienna malt and huskless roasted malts, which give the beer a smooth toasty character.

Rebellion Red Lager: A red lager inspired by German brewing tradition, this year-round brew is crisp and refreshing. The aroma holds light malt and caramel notes, and the beer is capped with a light hoppy bitterness.

And…

Hops Fell Lager – this is a new sessionable hoppy lager – come write your own tasting notes, eh?

Yee Haw Brewing

Whenever we sit down to talk about featured beers and the name Yee-Haw comes up, it feels like we’re talking about an old friend.  Perhaps it’s because we’re thinking fondly of our former downtown neighbors, Yee Haw Industries, or perhaps it’s just because we like Yee-Haw beer so much that we can’t imagine life without it?  It’s hard to know.  With love, time sometimes stands still.

You’ll understand, then, how we feel baffled when we realize that Yee-Haw is technically just a year old.  Their grand opening in Johnson City was July 9, 2015, but it seems a lifetime ago when in March of last year Johnson City’s News and Neighbor wrote about the coming renovation and transformation of the East Tennessee & Western North Carolina Depot, fondly known as the Tweetsie Depot, into the birthplace of what would become one of Tennessee’s best and brightest stars in the craft brew firmament.

To commemorate a full year we’re using the month of July and our taps to celebrate our friends in Johnson City and the many successes that the last 365+ have brought them.  Just last month, Yee-Haw heard and heeded the commission to “Go west, young brew” as they made a foray into the Music City.  And we couldn’t be happier that Yee-Haw’s Dunkel took home a bronze medal at the World Beer Cup in May, but, while we’re not particularly selfish people, we do have a few trepidations about sharing our beer with Nashville, let alone the entire world.

Even so, as we’re generally in favor of things that enhance global peace, and as we know from first-hand experience that Yee-Haw does, in fact, make the world a better place, at the end of the day the good brews of Yee-Haw are worth sharing.  So, cheers!

In the midst of their increasing popularity, the brewery has invited the mystic Swabbie Robbie to come hang out at their place in Johnson City.  The Swabbie is an expert in the ethereal realm of microbiology.  Known to his friends as Robbie Brooks, Swabbie Robbie is the Quality Assurance man on the spot and spends his days swabbing and testing things around the brewery to insure both quality and consistency in all of Yee-Haw’s exceptionally enjoyable suds.

And what’s even better new for us is that there’s more beer!  And by more beer, I mean there’s new beer, and that includes 2 of the options that we’ll have available at our place.

The first is a Blackberry Berliner Weisse!  It’s a summer seasonal and the folks at Yee-Haw say it’s “a refreshingly tart, effervescent, low alcohol, wheat beer infused with blackberries, it will knock the thirst right out of you!”

We’re also really excited about having one of the brewery’s new high gravity offerings – the program was added to the Yee-Haw line-up this spring.  We’re serving the Double IPA which the makers describe as, “Our take on this modern American style is big, bold, and beautifully balanced. Using three varieties of the finest American Pacific Northwest hops, along with British malts, we’ve expertly crafted a high gravity Double IPA that drinks like a session beer. Up front assertive hop aroma and flavor gives way to a silky malt finish. “

We’ll also have Yee-Haw’s award winning and crowd pleasing Dunkel, a classic dark lager, as well as the very crisp and super-suited-to-summer-sipping Pilsner – it’s a study in refreshment!

Come on down – and if you hurry there may be some swag left!  But if not, cheers – there’s always some good beer!

Terrapin Brewing

The proliferation of food broadcasting has produced a variety of results in both the marketplace and our minds.  Some, like Guy Fieri’s restaurant food excesses, aren’t particularly thrilling; others, like a general upswing in flavor curiosity, are pretty exciting.  Of course, it’s hard to pinpoint exactly what’s responsible for the pursuit of unusual or exotic flavors in everything from ice cream to whiskey, but whatever it is, we like it.  Well, perhaps not cappuccino flavored potato chips, but if that suits you, go for it.

Craft beer is one fine example of what makes us a little giddy about flavor expansion, and nobody does that quite like the folks at this month’s featured brewery: Terrapin Beer Co.

The very first of Terrapin’s beers, just about 14 years ago, was a Rye Pale Ale, and it was a home run.  It took a gold medal at Great American Beer Festival and gave Terrapin a moment in the sun that they’ve never let go.  Rye beer wasn’t a brand new idea; but keep in mind that 14 years ago, while lots of folks were making use of rye’s sometimes dry, spicy character in potent potables, particularly in whiskey mash bills, they weren’t making a big deal of it.

Despite the gold medal, John said, in an interview with The Brewer, not everybody loved the Terrapin style:  ““When we first started all we ever heard from people was: ‘this is too aggressive, I can only drink one of these beers.  It’s amazing how much people’s tastes have changed in the past 14 years.”

As with the beginning of many a craft beer company, Terrapin was a product of home brewers gone wild.  Founders John Cochran and Brian “Spike” Buckowski met and began putting their dreams on paper while working in an Atlanta brewery.  Their efforts have not only had an impressive impact on beer drinkers’ palates, their initial efforts helped change legislation to allow Georgia breweries to serve a total of 32 ounces of samples instead of a paltry one ounce limit.  Obviously, John and Spike are our kind of people; Good beer, tenacious spirit, and neighbors, too – what’s not to like?

At both locations this month we’ll feature a rotating selection of Terrapin’s brew on tap, including mainstays and special releases, and, perhaps, a special release in cans.  Some of these will be limited in quantity – so visit often or, you can keep up with our current selection on http://beermenus.com.

The terrapin itself doesn’t move fast – but its namesake beers sure do.  Hope to see you soon!  Cheers.

Hi-Wire Brewing – Featured Brewery

On October 26, 2015, the world was changed, and it was good.

At least, that’s true for the beer-isphere, because that’s the day when Hi-Wire Brewing announced that their Big Top production facility was on-line and would soon make it possible for Tennesseans to enjoy their beer without a commute to Asheville. Before the Big Top, Hi-Wire worked out of a much smaller facility in the South Slope area that produced just enough lovely beer for a select few. Things are much better now.

The 27, 000 sq. ft. that the Big Top occupies comes with a major upgrade in technology that allows Hi-Wire not only to ramp up their production of the flagship brews that built their following but also to plan for the introduction of new brews including a line of seasonal lagers.

Hi-Wire is one of many dream-come-true stories that have helped define the craft beer phenomena: College roommates love craft beer, drink it; move into real jobs; continue loving craft beer; start making it.

Co- Founders Adam Charnack and Chris Forsacker both have had lucrative jobs: Charnak worked in development of affordable housing; Forsaker was a pharmacist. But when a local brewery put their old equipment up for sale, the friends didn’t think twice.

In under 3 years, Hi-wire has grown by leaps and bounds – and the growth came through good reputation alone. In an interview with the NC Beer Guys Adam said, “I don’t think we’ve spent a nickel on advertising. It’s been word of mouth… And people have been receptive. And we have a strong model, we wanted to do four year round beers that were easy to understand styles and we’re trying to do the best we can with those.” We reckon they’ve done a fine job, so this month we’ll have the four core brands on tap, and what beers they are:

Hi-Wire Lager: This true American Lager is made with 100% Pilsen malt with a delicate body and light hop profile. Lagered in the tradition of the style to full maturity. It’s a break from the typical craft American beer scene.

Bed of Nails Brown: The Brown ale is crafted as an ode to the traditional English brown. Its delicate body allows the flavors of caramel and toffee from our specialty malts to come to life.

Prime Time Pale: Simcoe hops bring a plethora of flavors and aromas from this crisp American Pale Ale. From floral to earthy, citrus to pine, this dry ale is an easy drinker.

Hi-pitch IPA: A Western North Carolina take on the West Coast style IPA. Huge citrus hop aromas make this a Hop Head’s dream. Its full body balances well with the bitterness and allows the drinker to enjoy its depth of hop flavors and aromas.

If you make that commute anyway you’ll find Big Top in the Biltmore Village area. Asheville has long been a “beercation” destination, but Biltmore Village is increasingly offers a central hub for the seekers of quality suds. Big top is one of Hi-Wire’s two locations in Asheville, the other, South Slope, is home to their Specialty Brewery and their acclaimed one time release ales and lagers. Hi-wire made news in January of this year when they announced that they were transitioning South Slope’s focus to the exclusive production of sour and wild beers. It’s a pretty good reason to make the trip across the mountain, but, before you make your plans for a visit, make sure you do your homework with us!

Calfkiller Brewing – Featured Brewery

As breweries become more of a fixture on the urban landscape, it’s refreshing to find one that’s close to home but situated smack dab in the middle of a picture perfect vision of bucolic Tennessee.  Located in Sparta, which is just about an hour and a half from Knoxville and almost due south of Cookeville, our featured brewery for April, Calfkiller, is a backyard operation that’s been patched together in a fashion that’s the stuff of storybooks and beer loving dreams.

Sparta is one of those places in Tennessee that probably doesn’t get as much attention as it deserves, though in the 1830’s it was an important spot on the wagon trail to Nashville, and it’s still the home to the Sparta Rock House, once an important inn, tollhouse, and rest stop that’s part of the National Register of Historic Places. Lester Flatt lived there for a spell, and the city hosts an annual bluegrass festival in his honor.  Sparta came close to being our State’s capital, but, according to legend, it lost to Nashville by one vote – and that vote was sold for a drink of whiskey.  Perhaps it’s ironic or merely just that another thirst quencher has helped Sparta reclaim some of its luster.

Calfkiller, named for the river that flows nearby (which, according to one legend, is named for a cattle loving Cherokee chief), is the passion child of brothers Don and Dave Sergio.  Located in the back yard of Don’s house, the brewery was constructed and equipped mostly from reclaimed and recycled materials and gear, though it’s as picturesque as anything you might plan.  And it was put together and grew as the brother’s expanded what originally was “an aggressive home-brew hobby” that they started around and about 2001.  It wasn’t until 2004 that Don and Dave commenced brewing Calfkiller proper, and they’ve spent the ensuing years honing their craft, ramping up production and distribution, and making a name for themselves.

But the fact of the matter is that the trappings of the building and the burdens of marketing are secondary concerns or, perhaps, just necessary evils to these modern day Spartans – their cause in love, peace, and perhaps battle, too, is a frothy class of “Beer free of the tyranny of stylistic oppression.”

That’s a pretty good fight to fight – at least as we see it.  The beer is good and has the added value of being made by loving hands in a beautiful part of the world that you can visit in about the same amount of time it would take you to get in and out of Turkey Creek on a holiday weekend.  You can visit their website to schedule a tour or buy some groovy Calfkiller merchandise that will brand you as real beer lover and a smart one, too.

We’re featuring 4 of their brews – maybe some others, too – so you’ll want to hurry on down and see what it’s all about:

Wizard Sauce

It’s an American style IPA that the Sergio boys describe as, “An ode to summer, an ode to magic, an ode to 13 years of brewing Wizardry…the Calfkiller Wizard Sauce. Some things DEFY explanation! Taste the Magic!”  5.3% ABV

Scorned Hooker

This American Style Amber ale gets a colorful description, too: ” ‘She may be a little bitter, but she ‘s still so sweet!,’ describes this hooker to a ‘T.’ Its bright whole-hop flavor is balanced perfectly with a smooth, malty backbone and notes of caramel and honey.”  5.7% ABV

Deadhorse

“Traditionally untraditional. An ‘oatmeal and brown sugar entire,’ precursor to the porter. This beer is well balanced, dry, faintly roasty, slightly chocolatey, moderately warm and heavily drinkable!” 6.0% ABV

January’s Featured Brewery: Devils Backbone Brewing Company

Lexington, Virginia is situated in Rockbridge County about 300 miles northwest of Knoxville; as driving goes, it’s a fairly straight 4 hour drive trip up I-40 and I-81. There are more than a handful of reasons to make that trip, especially if you’re a Civil War buff; both Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson are buried in Lexington. Lee rests beneath the Lee Chapel which houses many of his family members including his father, Revolutionary War General Henry “Light Horse Harry” Lee. Jackson lies in the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, and the only house he ever owned is nearby and open to visitors. Rockbridge is also the birthplace of our own beloved Sam Houston.

But, there’s something else about Lexington that we’re especially fond of, and that’s beer from Devils Backbone (no apostrophe, please!). It’s a new brew for us – the brewery expanded distribution to East Tennessee this fall after a big expansion that allows them to brew up to 120,000 barrels annually. If you do decide to drive up, there are actually two Devils Backbone spots to visit: the Outpost Brewery is in Lexington and the Basecamp Brewpub is about an hour over the Blue Ridge Mountains and is home to a 500 person beer garden, outdoor bar, smokehouse, and live music stage. But you don’t have to drive all that way to get a taste; we’ve got it for you.

Although many of its fans may describe this beer as wickedly good, the brewery’s name doesn’t come directly from an agreement with Old Scratch; instead, it comes indirectly by way of a 1746 survey team that included Colonel Peter Jefferson (Thomas’ father). The team was commissioned to confirm the Fairfax Line (a boundary of the properties in Virginia that belonged to Thomas Fairfax, 6th Lord Fairfax of Cameron). As they surveyed and cut their way through this often treacherous terrain, they encountered a particularly perilous ridge that they dubbed Devils Backbone.

While the name is an homage, the beer isn’t so perilous (in responsible quantities, of course). In fact it gets high marks for its ease of drinking, and it made good showings at 2015 Beer Festivals including the Great American Beer Festival, Virginia Craft Brewers Fest, as well as at the Australian International Beer Awards.

But why take a Festival opinion when you can form your own, eh? This month our taps will flow with Devils Backbone, and you can look forward to tasting a number of brews over the course of the month including the 3 beers included in the Brewery’s Basecamp Favorites:

  • Vienna Lager (5.2% ABV, 18 IBUs) is the brewery’s flagship beer and Gold Medal winner for 2015 at the Great American Beer Festival. Look for light caramel with a toasty nutty finish.
  • Eight Point IPA (6.2% ABV, 60 IBUs), a classic IPA, presents a snap of pine and grapefruit and a clean finish.
  • Schwartzbier (5.1%, 22 IBUs) comes in the form of a black lager laden with flavors of dark chocolate, coffee, along with a light fruitiness and a very light, drinkable body.

We’ll also have two of the Brewery’s “Trailblazer Seasonals” starting with Kilt Flasher (8%ABV, 20IBUs).  It’s a Wee Heavy Scotch Ale with flavors of toffee, dried fruit, and toast. And when that’s finished, you can look forward to Danzig (8% ABV, 24 IBUs) a Baltic Porter with luscious dark chocolate flavors melding with dark fruit and a smooth body.

Like many regional craft breweries, Devils Backbone is still very much in touch with its founding principles, which you can read on their website (http://dbbrewingcompany.com/). But one of these is especially worth mentioning:

Intensity Of Flavor Is Not Equal To Quality Of Flavor

“We strive to brew beer with personality and integrity of flavor whether it’s a 12% abv Barley wine or our 4.5% Gold Leaf Lager. We instill the same quality in all our beers and take pride in every one of them. Some of our beers are very approachable while others are more intense. All are brewed to stand alone with purpose and quality of flavor.”

We look forward to hearing what you think of Devils Backbone, so, hope to see you soon!

Devils Backbone

Devils Backbone

 

 

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

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