Waking up was hard to do on this morning. Nothing to do with the previous nights drinking but mostly because they hotel beds were like pillows of clouds and feathers. If it weren't for this trip, I think you would still find Matt asleep in room number 535 and Jessica would probably still be taking a hot shower in 537. I was the first one up and out because I wanted to warm the bus up. A huge thank you again to the Johnson City CVB for the hook up at the Carnegie.
169 miles, 8 breweries: We set the GPS to head south towards Sevierville. Jessica was pumped about driving through the mountains. The curvy roads and creeks were an excellent change of view. We finally arrived in the middle of a small valley at a zip line farm called Fox Fire Mountain, and located on the same piece of property is a magical place called the Wyile Cider Barn. Many of us have heard about the leprechauns on Ireland and the Gnomes of France, but in the foothills of theAppalachian Mountains they have the Wyiles. Per the stories of these creature, the Wyiles steal apples from apple trees and return months later with beautiful bottles of cider. This concept is the basis of the newest cidery in the state. If you want to escape for the evening or the night, check them out. An excellent spot to take the entire family, too.
Next we headed "in to town". The cider was excellent at Wyile Cider Barn but we were ready for a bite to eat and a beer. The brand name Casual Pint Sevierville seemed like the perfect spot. Matt greeted us at the door and gave us the full tour. We talked about how the Sevier County community has embraced their arrival and how things have continued to grow in the area. He cooked us some wings, southwest egg rolls, and a hummus plate. It was perfect.
295 miles, 9 breweries: Now it was time to visit the first of five Smoky Mountain Brewery locations. We pulled into the Smoky Mountain Brewery Pigeon Forge location and could instantly smell the BBQ from their sister company Calhouns. When we walked in the first thing we noticed was several beautiful stacks of whiskey barrels which we later found out were full of a delicious beer going through the aging process. Jason took us to the back and showed us their German brew house. His favorite thing about their location is the amount of tourism they get from all of the world. He's proud to be able to expose people from all over the world to American craft beer as he should be.
316 miles, 10 breweries: We continued up the parkway, through the "spur" and into Gatlinburg. We were eager to look at the windows and see how Gatlinburg has bounced back since the terrible fires of a few months ago. In the true spirit of the Gatlinburg folk, they have bounced back better and stronger. When we got to the end of the strip we took a left and pulled into Smoky Mountain Brewery Gatlinburg. Beau (head brewer) and Brandon (assistant general manager) showed us around. One of the really cool and unique things about that particular location is that they are still filing mini-kegs (you know the tiny ones that fit in your fridge and have a CO2 widget). I was also drawn to the building. It had an old handmade cabin in the woods feel to it with large windows and lots of natural light. After drinking some pints of their Black Bear Ale we headed to our final destination.
327 miles, 11 breweries: When I found out the Gatlinburg Brewing Co. was located inside the Burger Barn I was pumped. Since the Wyile Cider Barn had cider I assumed that the Burger Barn had burgers and I wasn't wrong. Steve met us at the door and made us feel extremely welcome. His love for the town of Gatlinburg is so obvious and refreshing. His entire house was destroyed in those recent fires but you would never know because he's always smiling and giving his full attention to the people sitting at his bar. When we got back to the brew house he converted his recipe and notes child board into a welcome sign. Also, I highly recommend The Mountain Burger, it was so huge and delicious it took about an hour to eat it but I finished it.
Since we were so close to home and I was missing my pet, we decided to head back to K-town for the night. Matt and I laid in the back of the bus and watched the moon play peek-a-boo with us through the mountain tops. My love for East Tennessee continues to grow fonder. We pretty much went to sleep as soon as possible because we knew Day 4 was going to be a big one. Matt never left the bus. Haha. Thanks for reading friends, see you tomorrow!
With thanks and love,
Zack Roskop, The Brew Bus Guy