Beer Journal

A quasi-daily examination of beer and things related to beer.

Monday, July 02, 2007

Review: Smokey Mountain Brewery

Type: Non-chain, mass-market brewpub
Menu: Traditional American fare (burgers, pizza, etc.)
Location: Gatlinburg, Tennessee
Beers: Mountain Light, Cherokee Red Ale, Thunder Road Pilsner, Velas Helles, Black Bear Ale, Tuckaleechee Portor, seasonals, "Brewmaster's Specials"

When the location is listed as the foot of the Smokey Mountains, you'd expect a rustic, woodsy atmosphere and hardened patrons with discriminatory pallets. That's what I expected when I found the SMB online and planned a diversion of my summer road trip. But then I rolled into Gatlinburg, which can best be described as Walt Disney World for poor people, streets lined with tourist traps, mini golf and theme dinners. Crammed into a corner of one of the decorated strip mall parts is the Smokey Mountain Brewery. The father in me sees the nature-meets-commodity aesthetic making a great family vacation destination; the beer aficionado in me sees a missed opportunity.

It's probably not a good sign that the best part of the menu was the soft pretzel appetizer with cheese sauce. Not that this combination was an entirely novel idea, but it did work well, as a sort of permanent Oktoberfest. Predictably, the rest of the meal was rather plain.

Sadly, the brews follows suit. Rather than crafting original, singular beers that match the aesthetic of the mountains, not to mention the drinks' names, SMB seems to be using Mr. Beer-type mixes for their beers, placing the image of the brewery before the actual product. I suppose this is the downside to microbrewing's increase in popularity - the breweries become run like business rather than crafts, so the product has to be designed to appeal to a mass audience. As a result, less creative risks are taken, and the overall product is cheapened.

Beer: 3.8
Food: 3.0
Atmosphere: 9.0/2.5 (Smokey Mountains / Gatlinburg)


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