Crafty Bastard Brewery

Occasionally over the last few years, I’ve gone to a co-working space near downtown to work mostly by myself. Although it’s sort of a co-working space and sort of a community technology center, I seldom run into people there, and it amuses me to co-work alone. When I go, it’s not for the social angle, though. It’s usually because the kids are home for the summer and have a bunch of other kids running in and out of the house, which makes it hard for me to focus. Every once in a while it’s because my internet fails. Sometimes it’s partially because I’m craving a sandwich from Holly’s Corner, which is a short walk from the facility.

In the last year or so, I’ve gone a lot less frequently, and a craft brew pub has opened up across the street in the mean time. The other day, I knocked off work a little early to stop by and see the place, hoping to get a growler filled. The Crafty Bastard is a neat place. I always feel self-conscious about taking photos, so I didn’t get shots of the big local photos framed for sale on the walls. I didn’t get photos of the I’d guess 4-story ceiling. I also didn’t snap any pictures of the barrels and kegs and buckets lining some of the walls in various states of the brewing process. I did quickly snap a shot of the unassuming line of taps and the beer list.

They brew their own beer and bill themselves as a nanobrewery. I wasn’t able to get a growler filled because if they poured out growlers full, they’d run out of stock too fast. Items on the board with a pink dot are brewed in-house, and the others are contributed by local brewers (I read this somewhere but can’t now find the reference).

I tried the Tessellation IPA in spite of the mention of notes of mango (I don’t generally like mango). Only after ordering this one did I see the Samoa Cookie beer, which seemed weird and interesting. So I had one of those too. I liked them both but preferred the Samoa to the other. I quipped that they should garnish the beer with one of the namesake cookies, and the bar tender said that when they premiered the beer, they put a box of Samoas on each table.

This is definitely a hipster bar. As the photo suggests, there’s kind of a DIY vibe, and one of the bar tenders changed the vinyl record he was playing while I was there. There were tattoos and beards and pomaded hair, and I felt very much out of place as definitely the squarest person in the room. At 4:00 on a Wednesday afternoon, it wasn’t very crowded, though, and that’s always a selling point for me, though it was 4:00 on a Wednesday, and I’ll bet that it hops a little more during the more traditional heavy drinking hours.

Sunflowers

Last Monday, I happened to be in downtown Knoxville and ran across this neat scene. It’s apparently an annual occurrence in which folk from the community bring their sunflowers and weave them into a big sunflowerish circle in one of the little parks. It was really lovely. We used to have a few sunflowers growing off the corner of our back deck, and they tended to draw goldfinches into our yard, and they were lovely.

The Technology Cooperative

I worked yesterday from The Technology Cooperative here in Knoxville. A friend and one-time coworker is a founding member of the cooperative, and I was curious to see what it was about. I’ve worked from home for well over six years now and am generally pretty happy not to have to deal with the distractions and other baggage of working in a room with other people, but occasionally I read accounts by others I work with of their good experiences with coworking, so I’m occasionally tempted to try it out. Yesterday, I did. Sort of.

The office is a small slice of a building on Jackson Avenue in the Old City, just down the street from Barley’s. I parked in a lot by the Gay St. Bridge and walked over. After a quick tour, my friend Mike and I walked down to Market Square for lunch at Trio’s, where I ate a salad as big as my thorax. We talked shop there and then came back to the office and worked and chatted. It was pretty fun, and I can see the appeal of doing this from time to time, but for me, working with somebody turns out to be a productivity killer. This was probably made worse in this case because Mike and I catch up only every so often, so there was lots to gab about.

I very much liked being downtown, an area I’ve frequented very few times in my dozen years living in Knoxville but that has a lot of appeal to me for various reasons. Of course, I also like living out in the country where I can have a garden and a  rain barrel and let my dog out in the back yard, but I could definitely see myself signing up as a member of TechCo if I lived closer to downtown. As it’s a 20+ minute drive for me to get there and I’d have to wear pants every day and lose productivity, I don’t see myself making a terribly regular habit of working from TechCo, but I like that the place exists now, and I have a little bit of an urge (though maybe not the gumption) to get involved here and there with the group behind it. (Mike, don’t hold me to that.)

I didn’t get any pictures of the inside of the office (visit the site for those), but I couldn’t keep myself from snapping a few pictures of things in a common area within the building.

The building apparently used to be a factory or shipping plant of some sort. Workers would send boxes down this spiral chute to trucks waiting below.

This is one of several large paintings in the common area of the building TechCo.org inhabits. It's easily six or eight feet on a side.

Here's another painting in the space, also large and very striking.

A neat metal sculpture. Note how it looks like it has feet.

International Biscuit Festival

I’ve never been a great fan of biscuits, probably because my mom made these horrible, dry, flavorless drop biscuits that required lots of jam and a strong will to choke down. Once I was out of my parents’ house, I suppose I warmed to the occasional buttery, flat-top biscuit à la Hardee’s, but they’ve just never really been my thing. Still, as something of a locavore (if not as much of one as I’d like to be) and as a devotee of the big local Saturday farmer’s market and associated vendors, I was eager to attend the International Biscuit Festival this year. We had to miss the inaugural festival last year for some reason or another, and since we had heard that it was so popular that they ran out of biscuits last year, we figured that this year it would be an event not to be missed.

Apparently, all of Knoxville had heard the same thing. The fest was a mess of tents and bodies packed into indistinct lines for biscuits of varying quality and provenance. You’d stand in line for 20 minutes to discover that the tent whose line you were in had just run out of biscuits, or that they were not biscuits at all but scones (which are great, but this is a biscuit festival). From the spot I stood in slightly away from the horrid crowd while Mleeka entered the fray to collect tiny biscuits, I saw at least two tents sponsored by radio stations; I suppose I had thought the biscuits would in general be baked by biscuit artisans. There was even a tent and an early breakfast event sponsored by Hardee’s — so much for taking part in a locavore culture.

We really didn’t see much more of the festival. There were events, concerts, contests, other vendor booths, and apparently art, but we were there with small children and just couldn’t endure the press of people. After standing around for an hour and consuming the little handfull of biscuits our $10 netted us, we pushed through the crowd to pick up a couple of things from the usual market and headed home.

I’ll be glad when the market returns to normal next week and I can buy my milk, meat, and veggies in relative calm and comfort. I don’t think we’ll attend again next year.