As many of you may know, I posted this blog several weeks ago during the beginning of our epic adventure. At that point in time, I had high hopes that I would write the blog as close to real time as possible. I even "C-clamped" a piece of wood to a metal bar to create a flat desk-like surface in the bus so I could write in transit.
To be frank, the trip was more mentally, physically, and time-wise, demanding than I had originally anticipated and simply put, the blog got left behind. Starting today I'm going to rerelease the first 5 blogs with updates and additional information and then continue to share with you all the rest of the trip by posting a blog every other day until all 21 days of the trip have been shared.
I truly can't thank you enough for your support and for keeping up. I can't wait to share this story with you all through a blog for now, and then again through a YouTube series in the near future. I will also be updating the website to make sure its the most thorough and accurate guide for the breweries and other craft beer points of interest in the beautiful volunteer state.
Zack, The BREW BUS Guy (02/21/17)
January 24, 2017 at approximately 6:45 AM, the TN Beer Run adventure officially began when my alarm went off and I began going over my check list of things I told myself not to forget. Matt wouldn't be getting up for another hour or so as he's not much of a morning person and we were both expecting Jessica to arrive around 7:45 AM, which she did, and then we set off for our "send-off breakfast" at Crafty Bastard Brewery.
The best word to describe the send-off party is UNREAL. It's been a long time since I had felt such love and community so early in the morning. Thankfully because of Mike Frede from Last Days of Autumn Brewery, who cooked enough for everyone, I got to shove some bacon and eggs down my throat. Those few bites were perfectly paired with an orange Gose that the crew at Crafty Bastard had made especially for that moment. I was also honored to have had two TV stations, a radio station, a podcaster, tons of friends and family, and Native American spiritual guru and dear friend who blessed our bus with sage. After a quick speech and then smashing a Miller High Life bottle on the back bumper (a Knox Brew Tours tradition, its the champagne of beers after all) we loaded up and hit the road.
Our first stop was Holston River Brewery in Bristol, TN. Located near the race track and the river, they have set themselves up perfectly with over 100 acres of RV camping, a huge tasting room with a full kitchen and an epic sound stage set up for live concerts and events. Sue, the owner, started off our tour talking about how as long as she can remember, beer has been a beautiful way to bring people together and her goal is to capture that spirit with Holston River Brewery. Personally, I think she nailed it. In Bristol and you want to camp, see a live show, and drink some craft beer all in the same place, Holston River Brewery has it all.
Next, we headed over to Kingsport to check out Aaron Carson and the crew at Gypsy Circus Cider. Instantly, we were drawn in by the signs leading to the parking that said “join the circus”. The vibe was immediately fun and I could tell the level of passion for their product was high. The “out-cider”, which is their name for the outdoor area, reminded me on an episode of Rob Drydek’s Fantasy Factory with a full sized school bus with a stage on top, a rock garden, a giant cement chalk wall, and an epic charging station made out of mail boxes. When we sat down to have a few samples, the cider was equally as amusing and the varieties were vast and thought out. All of their products are made with apples within a 2 hour radius and they don’t take any short cuts.
By this point in the trip, it was time for some grub and where we had to go was obvious, Model City Tap House. Model City Tap House is a craft beer market located pretty much in the center of Kingsport between Sleepy Owl Brewery and the original Pals. As soon as you walk in you’ll notice lots of space and natural light along with a full sandwich menu and draft wall with about 22 taps of hyper local and regional beer options. Will Clark the owner and I met originally a couple years ago in Knoxville and I’m excited about the recent adventure for him. A personal thank you to Will for the pint of beer and an Italian sub .
Our last stop of Day 1 was only a few blocks away at the Sleepy Owl Brewery. The first thing I noticed, and rightfully so, was a full wall mural of an owl with a hop for a nose directly behind their stage. This made the perfect backdrop for another get music venue option in the Tri-Cities area. When we got to the bar, Brian, the owner/bartender/brewer/plumber/janitor/electrician, greeted us. Brian is proud to be a small business owner and as he should. The tasting room was artistic and comfortable and the beer selection was wide and inclusive. I can personally recommend their Double IPA. Sleepy Owl is taking advantage of the new high gravity beer law in the state of Tennessee very nicely.
After a few pints to help relax after a long day we made our way to the BREW BUS to crash for the night. The lack of sleep from the night before due to our anticipation and excitement finally caught up to us. If the rest of the days are anything like Day 1, this trip is going to be as epic as I had dreamed. Cheers friends and thanks for checking in!