A wise man and beer lover recently remarked, “It’s getting hard to know which place to stop into for a beer in downtown Knoxville.” And so it is. Increasingly we have places that serve a wide range of specialty beers and which have (sometimes quirky) personalities of their own. The Public House on Magnolia, the Corner Beer Pub on Broadway, Boyd’s Jig and Reel in the Old City, The Mill at Saw Works Brewing Company just outside the Old City, Suttree’s High Gravity Tavern on Gay and Preservation Pub on Market Square each have their charms and devotees and I’ve certainly enjoyed them all. The most recent is The Casual Pint and it feels like a perfectly natural addition to the generally welcoming mix.
I finally had a chance to stop into the Casual Pint this past week and I really like the feel of what they have going on. As I told you in my post about their west location, they have a bar as well as a retail component featuring hundreds of different specialty beers. In the case of downtown, as promised, the bar takes greater prominence, though there’s plenty to chose from for carry out beer, including cold beer as part of their pick-six deal.
The bar itself is a thing of beauty, made from wormwood with the smell of fresh varnish greeting patrons who approach it. Jayne (probably spelled the other way, but she seemed a “y” kind of Jane to me) tended bar the day Shaft and I stopped by and she greeted us warmly. A half-dozen patrons enjoyed beer at the bar or settled into the comfortable chairs near the door. When she learned I’m not a beer drinker (always uncomfortable to admit in a beer pub), she produced a bottle of water for no charge. Later she offered us both some delicious banana nut bread she’d made and brought in which both surprised and impressed us.
The seating is comfortable and plentiful, most of the chairs centered around tables, though a few cushioned chairs form a nice alternative seating area. TV’s played while I visited, a thing I genuinely hate in a place, but the volume remained low and nobody paid attention. I can imagine those televisions blaring on game day the place completely packed. The front window design allows for them to slide open, letting in a cool breeze should one ever return to our city. Jayne indicated patrons would be encouraged to bring their own food (like lunch, perhaps), buy a beer and chill out. Sounds pretty tempting.
I took a picture of the board to show the twenty-two beers on tap, which outside of Saw Works, which pleased me to see, would mean not so much to a non-beer-drinking person such as myself. Jayne did helpfully point out the availability of several out-of-the-norm soft drinks and a couple of different ciders I may need to try. Urban Woman had one such cider in London last summer, so maybe I could drink one of those sometime and pretend I’m back in England.
I stopped by later to see how business looked at a more seemly time of day for drinking – it was around 6:00 on a Thursday night when I returned. Patrons occupied nearly every chair and people milled about inside and out. This is the second new business to open in this line of shops on Union Avenue and I’m thinking both will be integral parts of the downtown scene for many years. These openings come a year after the shops down the street at the Daylight Building which held their one-year birthday party this past weekend. I predict the same success for these new openings and there are more to come.