For almost 150 years, there were no breweries in Knox County fully permitted to sell glasses of their draft beer. However in 2017, up the street from Kenyon’s Wright Center, the Stein Brewing Company opened as the first brewery in the county since the late 19th century to serve their own beer on tap.
The Stein Brewing Company is divided into two rooms, a tap room and a restaurant, both located beneath the historic Woodward Opera House.
Walking into the tap room, you are surrounded by a variety of distinctive features. Immediately, one’s eyes are drawn to the attention-grabbing tap lineup, with 24 rotating beers dispensed through wooden handles labeled with just the number of the beer on the menu, forgoing the traditional brand-name taproom handles. During a typical night, you can find regulars watching major sporting events on the big-screen televisions on either side of the bar, with the flat-screen in the middle displaying their current selection of beers.
A glass wall adorns the back of the bar. Behind it rest three massive fermentation tanks. At any given time, the company will have three separate beers fermenting in the aforementioned tanks. The taproom had nine of their locally brewed beers in the rotation, with their Christmas-themed beer coming into the lineup soon.
Sitting down at the bar, we decided on a flight, which, due to the late-night special, cost only $8 before tax and tip.
We tasted five beers, all of which were brewed locally.
The unanimous favorite was the limited-edition Knoxtoberfest, a 6.4% ABV pumpkin beer. Despite its dark color, the beer went down smoothly, with a delightful, but not overwhelming taste of pumpkin.
The Colonel Andrew Brown American Ale is one of their most famous beers; the palpable notes of brown sugar and cinnamon present from the first sip.
If you’re looking for a traditional India Pale Ale, the “MVHJIPA” is the way to go. It’s nothing too fancy, but an IPA lover will appreciate the hoppy flavor presented by the first mainstay in the Stein rotation.
For a lighter beer, the Becca Kolsch is an exceptional wheat beer. Last, but certainly not least, the Ariel Ale is a delight, with a perfect balance of hops and fruitiness that will appeal to almost all beer-lovers.
Overall, we would highly recommend experiencing Knox County’s only brewery for yourself, if you are of age. The bar is a perfect spot to meet up with some friends and enjoy delicious, local craft beer.