As a kid I went on many family vacations to the Smoky Mountains. My mom was and still is a big fan of the mountains. My wife and I actually got married there 8 years ago. At that time I thought it was very difficult to find any kind of beer or spirits there. It was definitely a “bring your own booze” destination. Three years ago my brother-in-law followed suit and got married in the mountains. Again, except for a couple of novelty places, I thought the area was pretty much dry country. This time when the mountains came calling the options for a good beer had really opened up. I went in with zero expectations of finding local beers and was extremely excited to find new breweries to explore on this road trip.
If you’ve been to the area you know that three separate towns make up the area, Sevierville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. If you’re not paying attention you won’t know when you leave one and enter the other. I managed to visit three different breweries throughout the three towns and walked away very satisfied.
Gatlinburg Brewing Co.
The first stop was Gatlinburg Brewing Company. I had no idea this place existed until we passed it on our way to hike Grotto Falls. It’s locally owned and in a terrific location right on the corner as you enter Gatlinburg. They opened up this location in March of 2019 and received a lot of support since then. The taproom is on the second floor of the building and offers a unique almost 360 view of the area outside which includes Main St. The staff were cool and very energetic. The taproom was spotless and offered very chill vibes in a friendly environment.
Parking anywhere in Gatlinburg and be a challenge, luckily there’s a lot right across the street from the taproom for easy access.
They had 12 taps, two of which were guest taps. I had two flights while I was there and can say they do things right. The beer offerings in terms of styles were diverse. The Leconte triple, Breakfast Juice NEIPA, and Uncertain Times Schwarzbier were my favorites. I didn’t order any food but they offer appetizers, pizza, and salads.
As a side note, they had a pretty impressive bourbon selection as well. Weller, Blanton’s, EH Taylor and others caught my eye.
Next up was Yee-Haw Brewing Co. It was another place I didn’t know existed before I got down there. Yee-Haw has several locations around the South. Johnson City, TN is the original location that opened up in 2015, in addition to the Pigeon Forge location that opened up in 2018 you can find them in Greenville, SC, and Nashville, TN.
This Yee-Haw location is unique not only because it’s in Pigeon Forge but also because it’s located within The Island, an entertainment district off the main strip. Driving down the main strip you’ll easily spot a huge ferris wheel, know that Yee-Haw is almost directly beside it. It’s easy to find once you’re at The Island.
Walking up to the brewery you’ll find a small patio and very open taproom. They have 20 taps available with as many different styles of beer you could think of along with a guest tap or two for ciders. I wasn’t able to spend as much time as I would have liked here to try as many beers as I could but what I did try was spot on. I had the Vienna Later and Big Hoppa DIPA. Both delivered. The guest tap was a cherry cider, Vaudevillian by Gypsy Circus Cider Co, it was perfect while in the sunshine on the patio. This place also offers plenty of beers to go and is fairly easy to find in retail stores.
Yee-Haw is an easy place to pop in and out of while walking through The Island.
Smoky Mountain Brewing
Finally, Smoky Mountain Brewing Co. This brewery has several locations as well in Gatlinburg, Pigeon Forge, Knoxville and Maryville. The Gatlinburg location was one of the only places I could find to get a beer 8 years ago but hadn’t realized they had expanded to Pigeon Forge since then. I also didn’t realize that they had been brewing since 1996. Since I had already been to the Gatlinburg location I headed for the one I hadn’t been to before, this one located in Lumberjack Square.
This place, more than the other two, felt like a restaurant than a taproom. It’s a huge space with plenty of seating, TVs, and festive decor. The food menu is impressive with almost anything you could crave. They have 10 taps and offer pints or Super Mugs (33oz).
I had the Appalachian Pale ale and the SMB IPA while there and took home the Helles lager and Cherokee Red Ale. If bottles aren’t what you’re looking for you have the options of growlers, mini kegs, 1/3 kegs, and full kegs to take home with you too.
It seemed very family friendly with a great staff to help you out if you had any questions about the beer or menu.
In addition to these breweries I found a number of wineries and bars such as The Casual Pint – Sevierville that allows you to find good beer fairly easy now when visiting the Smoky Mountains. What makes all these places unique is that you can’t get any of them in Ohio, so enjoy them while you’re there. Each of the three places I visited offered a unique taproom experience with a very diverse beer selection. I’d easily go back to any of them on our next trip.
On a side note, out of all the times that I’ve been to the area I’ve never seen a bear. This time we finally scored. We saw 5 while driving around Cades Cove. In the picture below we were a little too close to the wildlife. Cheers and DON’T feed the bears!