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Review: Crafty Bastard Brewery – Knoxville, Tennessee

Kevin Raper didn’t intend to write a story for us when he signed up to become a Brewhoppin Patreon supporter.  He was only supposed to give us money.  But Dr. Raper (yes, that is his real name) couldn’t help himself.  We’re glad he did.

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I was on a mission for Eric.

He heard one of his favorite breweries back home brewed a beer with an exotic fruit and he needed to try it.  Except he was hundreds of miles away. Luckily I wasn’t so I volunteered to help the man out.  We were off to Crafty Bastard Brewery.

Crafty Bastard Brewery is located in the heart of the Fourth and Gill neighborhood of Knoxville, TN and is a popular stop along the Knoxville Ale Trail.

You can find the brewery at the end of a quiet strip of businesses just off of Broadway near Knoxville’s Old City.

The bar presents itself with a relaxed atmosphere, laid back clientele, an ever-growing vinyl collection and knowledgeable bartenders who are always ready to discuss what is on tap and what they have brewing for the near future. The main bar boasts garage doors often left open to the fresh air in the warmer months as well as a roped patio outside that is dog friendly.

While they don’t serve food, they have a designated food truck area near the patio and frequently rotate local vendors.. The rotations for the different food trucks are posted on their website as well see current beers and what is featured on their guest taps.

Wall of taps and beers available at Crafty bastard brewery in Knoxville
A recent line up of taps and beers from Crafty Bastard. //PHOTO – Facebook

Now onto the fun part… the reason we frequent Crafty Bastard on a regular basis…. THE BEER!

Crafty Bastard normally features eleven taps with ten of those being their local or partner brews, and one being a non-alcoholic handcrafted spicy ginger ale for those who do not wish to imbibe but still enjoy the atmosphere.

The beers range from 4% ABV in their sour all the way to a 9% stout. While the taps do rotate on a regular basis depending on the season or current ingredient availability, they often keep their staple India pale ales, porters and ales on tap year-round.

While my personal favorite is their Hop Candy IPA (sorry folks I am an IPA guy), today I was going to try their newest offering the Pawpaw Belgian Ale. The Pawpaw Belgian was being offered as part of their “Harvest Series” and was initially released on November 28, 2017.

The folks at Crafty Bastard try to use as many local ingredients as possible and this was no exception. They created this artistic marvel from locally sourced pawpaw fruits that were foraged right in town and brewed just feet from the bar.

pawpaw fruit that were used in the brewing of Crafty bastards new beer
Pawpaws. You can drink them now.  //PHOTO-Facebook

Pawpaws are a tropical fruit native only to North America.  Yeah you read that right.  

It can be found in the hills and mountains of the Ohio valley and into the southern states and has the look of a pear with a mango-citrus-banana rolled together flavor.  Inside the greenish fruit are huge brown seeds but the pulp, which doesn’t have much of a shelf life at all, is what brewers and fruit lovers are looking for.

For the full story, check it out here.

The beer itself is a take on the traditional Belgian ale with a delicious twist. The pawpaw fruit adds a bit of citrus and banana to the nose as well as a smooth finish that hints of pineapple without the bitter aftertaste often associated with pawpaw as a main ingredient. While the Belgian is a very light and refreshing brew that goes down smooth, it also packs a hidden punch that snuck up on me during my third full sized “sample”.

Overall, Crafty Bastard gives patrons a relaxed and pleasant atmosphere that is both conversation and dog friendly while offering a selection of beers that will appease even the pickiest of taste buds.  

I would highly recommend giving the Crafty Bastard Pawpaw Belgian a try while it is available because not many can pull off a pawpaw beer this successfully.

Check out Crafty Bastard Brewery in Knoxville, TN along the Knoxville Ale Trail.  For a look at the brewers behind Crafty Bastard check out “Truly Hand Crafted” from our earlier days.  Crafty Bastard is one of those breweries who make beers so good writing about them doesn’t do it justice.  We love them. Go visit.  

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