Marble City Brewing unveils brewer at tasting
Marble City Brewing, Knoxville's next craft brewery, held a "meet the brewer" event Saturday to showcase some of its potential lineup. And I got a invite.
I came away more impressed with the brewer than the beer. That's a good thing in my opinion.
Knoxville is in a tough spot when it comes to craft beer.
The city suffers under Tennessee's imposing 6 percent restriction on the definition of "beer." It's also less than two hours from Asheville, NC a variable beer-mecca also named Beer City USA 2009 by homebrewing God Charlie Papazian.
Yet I'm encouraged this scruffy city has a future in beer after meeting Jen Muckerman, Marble City Brewing's new brewmaster.
Marble City Brewing owners Johnathan Borsodi and Adam Palmer said Muckerman was one of five brewers they interviewed while attending the Craft Brewers Conference in Chicago. She'd never been to Knoxville before this event and that's after accepting the job with Marble City Brewing.
Muckerman is not the first in her family to brew beer. Both her grandfather and father brewed or worked in the industry. She even brought a family jockey box for serving at this event.
Unfortunately, it only had one tap so she was busy swapping kegs throughout the tasting.
Muckerman has a passion for brewing that's immediately evident when she begins talking. It's hard not to smile when you hear her talk about the process.
And she certainly has work in her future. A recent tour of the brewing facilities -- the now defunct New Knoxville Brewing -- showed four-year-old beer still in the fermenters.
As a home brewer, I can tell you that must stink like nothing else. Heck, it could even be bottled and sold back to the Belgians for a profit!
Muckerman brought with her from Missouri four beers for the event attendees to taste: pale ale, raspberry wheat, brown ale and a belgian amber.
Here were my tasting notes from each beer:
- Pale Ale: The odd character from the Polish hops prevented me from enjoying this beer fully. It had too much bitterness (mentioned to me before tasting), but did contain a great hop aroma. I'd like to see more biscuit character with loads of Cascade or Centennial flavor and aroma.
- Brown Ale: My understanding of brown ales is limited to the sweeter variety. So this version hit me the wrong way. It came across as more of a stout due to the chocolate and slight roast qualities. I also was thrown by the nearly black color. I'd probably up the toasted nut character with slightly more hop flavor.
- Belgian Amber: This was the most interesting of the bunch. There aren't any breweries doing Belgians in Knoxville or the surrounding area, and this could present an opportunity to expose the locals to this eclectic style. This amber was sweeter and maltier than most other Belgian ales I've had, though I'm not a huge drinker of the style. I also got a lot of pepper/spice character. I'd like to see the pepper flavor reduced, and fruit flavor increased, perhaps through the use of EKG hops or by playing with the fermentation temp. I'd definitely keep a Belgian in the line-up though.
- Raspberry Wheat: I'm not a big wheat or fruit-beer drinker. That said my wife and I love the Raspberry Imperial Stout from the Wedge Brewery in Asheville. The beer here was very drinkable, and I'd like to see how the flavor does with fresh fruit over extract (mentioned before tasting).
Muckerman is going to be busy perfecting a flagship beer during the next few months in addition to cleaning up the brewery. Both Palmer and Johnathan think an October opening is possible -- maybe even by the Knoxville Brewer's Jam!
But I think passion about the craft means a lot. And that's why I think Muckerman and Marble City Brewing will do great things for Knoxville and craft beer.
Do you have a favorite beer in Knoxville? Tell me about it in the comments.