The Casual Pint
It was a frost-advisory Thursday in April in East Tennessee. My jacket choice took long enough for me to question my motives, and become quickly irritated with my fleeting sense of vanity. I headed west on Interstate 40 while the sultry sounds of Heavy D and the Boyz wafted through the mini-van. WUTK's show The Mothership quickly brought me back to a time when we wore overalls and left one of the latches unlatched and dangling like Bell Biv DeVoe. I found my exit at Papermill and headed down Northshore to The Casual Pint Craft Beer Market.
The mini-strip of businesses the bar/market resides in also includes a Menchie's and a Five Guys, both pretty popular Knoxville eateries. All of the businesses in this highly elevated little plaza looked nearly brand new. I passed by a few umbrella-covered tables and stepped into The Casual Pint. The floors gleamed with the popular polished concrete look I have seen more and more bars and other new businesses go with. Some easy chairs and seating were arranged immediately to the right with a large screen TV. A group of gentlemen gathered around there, engaging in conversation and paying the TV little mind. Surrounding the entire left and right halves of the bar were shelves full of various beer options, including one I couldn't help but tilt my head and look at oddly, Banana Bread Beer. What??
You might wonder why a nightlife writer would waste time going to a beer store to do an article. Well, my friendly beer-fond reader, the Casual Pint is much more then a beer store. In the back of the room was a bar. Behind the bar was a man, behind the man were 22 taps. Behind the taps was a wall, behind that wall was a network of kegs of various craft beers. To the left of the bar was a large grocery store-style cooler. A few folks poked around with a empty six-pack carrier in their hands, probably a hundred or more types of beer stared back at them from the cooler, hoping to be the next one picked to finally sit cozy in their six pack.
I met the purveyor of this fine establishment as he poured a brew for a fellow sitting at the end of the bar. Nathan Robinette comes from a grocery background. You can see it in his layout and the crossover nature of his market/bar. I browsed around the selections for a bit and was quite overwhelmed. I mentioned to Nathan that the vast selection of beers reminded me of going in one of the hot sauce stores in Gatlinburg. Just a flurry of colored labels and ridiculous names lined up one after another on the shelves. We talked a bit about how Knoxville's taste in beers seemed to be quickly improving and maturing. "I think it is becoming a bit like Asheville," Nathan said, referring to the sudden embracing of local brews and fine craft beers in Knoxville.
I chatted with a few regulars and enjoyed a pint as I continued to appreciate the uncluttered simplicity of the Beer Market. What a perfect place to meet for a pint after work. Being located at the Papermill exit near Kingston Pike, The Casual Pint is ripe for stops from folks who are just getting off work and want to pop in for a thick frosty beverage before hitting up a dinner spot or heading home for the night.
Craft beer establishments are like cigar shops to me, you will never catch an underclassman from a local college in these kinds of places. Those folks are looking for $1 fish-bowl beer nights, not the character and quality you would get from a place like The Casual Pint. However, after a few weeks of grad school, they might just finally make a stop in and keep on coming back. So do yourself a favor, if you live in the area, stop in for some friendly regulars and have yourself a casual pint.
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
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