It’s true that craft breweries are springing up all over Knoxville, but you might still do a double take at the location of Abridged Beer Company. Tucked into a hillside on Lockett Road in Deane Hill, the craft brewery occupies a rehabbed 1950s-era mechanics’ garage, a last commercial business before the neighborhood turns residential. Patrons spill out of the building and into the spacious front patio, and the Presbyterian church next door is a hubbub of (sanctioned) parking activity.
Abridged Beer Company opened in August 2017 and has been packed from virtually that moment on. Residents of West Knoxville, founder Jesse Bowers and his wife, Lyndsay, are in their mid-30s and have a two-year-old. While Bowers was looking at locations for a microbrewery everywhere from downtown to Old North to South Knoxville, he realized there were a lot of families like theirs in their own backyard.
“There was no small, local craft brewery out west,” he says. “It was our mission to create a brew pub we would go to,” one where kids and dogs are also welcome.
On any given day, about 17 beers are poured at the brew pub, including a couple of beers by some other favorite craft breweries. A current pouring list is available at the Abridged website. The brew pub also bottles some beers and offers 32-ounce growlers to go.
The chief brewer at Abridged is Josh Hill. The emphasis is on beer with less alcohol, packed with flavor.
“It encourages enjoying the flavor while still keeping your wits about you,” Bowers says.
Bowers became interested in opening a microbrewery after he started homebrewing about six years ago.
“After my first batch, I went nuts for it,” he says.
A graduate of UT, he has a professional background in hospitality management, most recently at Holston Hills Country Club.
He says his wife has been very supportive and involved with the business.
“It got all my brewmaking stuff out of the house,” he says with a laugh.
He talked Joey Trott, a culinary professional and old friend from Elizabethton, into taking on head chef duties, serving Southern-styled pub food. The Abridged burger quickly made foodies’ lists of best local burgers.
Right now the restaurant employs 24 people, with Bowers acting as general manager, host and chief bottle washer when necessary.
“I do a little bit of everything,” Bowers says.
To open the brew pub at its current location, Bowers had to get a zoning variance that would allow it to have parking exclusively at Erin Presbyterian Church.
A stone path leads from the church parking lot downhill to the pub. After being a thriving garage for many years, the building had been through a couple of other commercial uses before being abandoned about five years ago. The woods between the brewery and the church had become overgrown.
There is no way he would have opened at the location without the church’s help with parking, Bowers says.
“We met with them long before we took the building,” he says.
He says one of the biggest surprises is the volume of business the brew pub has done, with word-of-mouth and social media driving traffic. Candidly, he says that keeping up with the volume has been his biggest challenge. He and his staff have fine-tuned some aspects of the business to meet the demand and may be able to expand their hours soon.
“We’re getting a better grasp of it,” he says.
Abridged Beer Company is at 100 Lockett Road. It is closed Sunday and Monday, open from 4 to 10 p.m. Tuesday through Thursday (kitchen closes at 9 p.m.), and open from noon to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Info: www.abridgedbeer.com.