This is a guest post by Chad Huskey.
I would like to ramble…no actually I think gush would be the appropriate word. Yup, Gush, I would like to gush for a moment about a certain Knoxville event that is near and dear to my heart. The Knoxville Brewers Jam. Just let those words roll off the tip of your tongue, “Knoxville Brewers Jam”. Ahhh yes, the hairs on the back of my neck are standing up.
This marked the Jam’s 13th year in our fair city. I have attended every year since I discovered it in 2002. At the time it was being held on a hot June day in the back parking lot of Barley’s with just a handful of brewers at the event. I heard a radio add, and figured I’d give it a shot. I have been hooked ever since. After the World’s Fair Site was reopened the event moved back to its original home, and traditional time of year. It has since grown into such a large event, that tickets are somewhat limited I would assume to keep from making the fire marshal nervous, and to make it more comfortable for the attendees & brewers alike.
So now every fall I start to get this nervous tension, and a feeling that every day is dragging slower and slower as the countdown begins. The trees start to fill with the colors that bring leaf watchers from all over the world to the Smoky Mountains. The temperature falls to that oh so perfect cool temperature that requires a light jacket in the early mornings and after sunset. You can occasionally smell the smoke of fire places and leaf piles starting to burn, out in the country. Jack-o-lanterns start popping up on porches. Then the stores start stocking, Octoberfest beers and Pumpkin Ales. My wife always brings me a six pack home when they show up at the grocery store, and she teases me about how many days are left till what she calls my “Christmas.” She’s right, just like a kid waiting on Santa; I can hardly sleep waiting on 40+ brewers, with their shiny taps, and exotic brews.
People come from all around the south, and much farther I’m sure, to attend the event. It’s a day of great local and regional music. Good food provided by a variety of vendors. Usually there’s a cigar booth, to enjoy a good puff, if you’re so inclined. There are some vendors selling t-shirts, cheese, salsa, or handing out coupons for their stores. Oh and did I mention the beer? Yea, there’s beer, every kind imaginable. There’s dark, light, hoppy, fruity, bitter, sweet, creamy, dry, earthy, flowery, and everything in between. Brewers from 13 states or more come to share several of their specialty beers at every booth. If you can’t find a beer to enjoy at this event, then there’s no hope, go start your own “Knoxville Wine Cooler Shindig” or something.
This year the weather was colder than it has been for the past few years events. The wife and I layered our clothes and headed out an hour before the gates opened to get in line. Those who bring chairs and arrive early can usually mark out a primo spot to watch the bands in between refills on beer. The week before had brought a good amount of rain, so the lawn was several inches deep with mud. Those who had enough foresight (my wife) wore galoshes, and those who did not (me) rolled up their pants legs and let their sneakers take one for the team. As the day rolled on, it became more treacherous to navigate as 4000 attendees tromped it to a nice slick mush. I did see a few causalities, with mud slathered from head to toe, but even those still had a smile on their face and a beer in their hand.
The attendees were all cordial, and as in years past, I have yet to see any problems with someone who has over indulged, at the event. Even in the somewhat dense crowd, folks allowed you to maneuver through easily, with polite “excuse me’s” and “go right ahead’s”. People in line were always quick to recommend their favorite brew and point you towards the proper tent. It was just a good day for getting along with your fellow beer lovers, listening to some great tunes, and soaking up that good old East Tennessee hospitality.
For more info, and to keep an eye our for next year’s event: knoxvillebrewersjam.com