This week we are once again going to travel downtown. Not out of pure convenience, but because there are more places opening up in Downtown Knoxville than in any other neighborhood or section of town. Gay Street has not been the quickest of the main thoroughfares in the city to develop. Downtown Grill and Brewery has been a staple there for years providing an anchor that consistently attracts loyal customers and wayward travelers. Other then that, most of the new ventures have been in the Old City or in Market Square. In March, research showed me that a few new places would be opening up on the stretch of Gay Street right across the street Downtown Grill. A few weeks back I covered the new upscale Sky Bar and this week I am covering a new place just a few doors down called Suttree's High Gravity Tavern.
Let's start by discussing the meaning of the term 'high gravity'. No, this beer does not make you weigh more, at least not at first. High gravity refers to the increase in the level of alcohol which often is accompanied by an increase of rich flavor associated with the ingredients added to the beer such as more hops or in some cases, the taste of smoked bacon (I am not kidding here). Craft beer has become a growing trend across the country. Craft beer simply means beer that is carefully produced in limited quantities by smaller breweries. This is EXACTLY what Suttree's is all about.
Co-Owner Matt Pacetti used to be a spirit guide for beer lovers at Downtown Wine + Spirits just a few doors down from where Suttree's is now. He developed a palate for the more desirable elements of the craft brews that he sold and sampled there. Matt and his wife Anne Ford took his love for that beer and turned it into a new concept pub. While some focus on the fact that the beers he offers are often higher in alcohol content than most (which require an actual liquor license, not just beer permit, thank you ridiculous laws of Knoxville regarding alcohol), the true purpose is taste.
I found myself stopping in a few times to check out the difference in the vibe at Suttree's during their soft opening's first few weeks. The first time I came by I brought a friend that considers Corona an import beer. He ordered something that I knew he wouldn't like and I ordered something that sounded like a meal: the Smoked Porter by the Left Handed Brewing Company out of Colorado. It was served as an 8 ounce pour in a glass that seemed more suited for wine than beer. My first smell made me acutely aware that this beer was deliciously aromatic and other smart words that beer reviewers might use to sound cool and as if they know tons about beer. Not me, all I know is that upon a few tastes I wanted to have a plate of bacon right next to it. The smoked flavor came out wonderfully and encouraged other senses to take part, such as my sense of eating. That's a sense, right?
The conversation stays relaxed and many of the folks enjoying a brew at Suttree's appear to be in deep thought, especially when first taking a sip of a beer they have never had before. Suttree's prides itself on making sure that the beer they offer constantly changes. The have over 20 taps of various regional and national microbrews along with some beer nerd offerings that they post every time they tap one, on their facebook page. "We have people show up within the hour sometimes when we announce that we have tapped a new beer on our facebook page" Matt told me.
This is the place you take someone that is a beer snob, beer nerd or overall beer lover. I am proud to see the palates of Knoxvillians are becoming more refined to the point where places like Suttree's and The Casual Pint (just to name two) are succeeding and filling a niche. Thank you Knoxville for continuing to make the quality of life improve, and big thanks to Matt and Anne at Suttree's for making my mouth have a higher quality of life. Beer is love.
This week I am going to attempt to get more comments below this article by soliciting some feedback from my readers. Since you are reading this online, please take a moment to comment below. Here is what I am looking for: 1.) Where should I go next? (I.E. What nightlife spot is very much overlooked or you do not feel was done justice as) 2.) Are you a new reader or a regular reader. This lets me know if any of you are consistently coming back to read again and again. So let me hear it from you. Thanks!
© 2012, Knoxville News Sentinel Co.
Want to use this article? Click here for options!