Johnson City Brewing moved production into its new facility at the beginning of the summer, and has since been pumping out new and different brews ever since. Brewmaster Eric Latham said the move to the new production facility has allowed the brewery to stretch its legs and dip its toes into different kinds of brews. Some experiments lately has been a Peaches and Kick wheat beer, Legion Belgian pale ale and Roan Mountain Porter, just to name a few.
The new facility, located at at 410 E. State of Franklin Road, allowed the brewery to expand from a one barrel system established in 2014 to a seven-barrel system, so the brewery can pump out more kegs to local restaurants and pubs around the area.
“We’re the longest-running brewery in town, but we’re also the small guys,” Latham said. “This little business was built on the community supporting us, and we try to get involved in community events as much as we can.”
Monday evening was a zest fest at the facility as enthusiasts, hops farmers and home brewers worked to zest dozens of oranges for this year’s Hops Collector brew. It’s a tradition for JCBC, Latham said, and local farmers bring in their hard-earned hops for a special brew that will be tapped in a couple of weeks.
Some hops come from local hops farmers, some hops come from people’s back yards, some are common and some are rare for the area, but they’ll all go into the Hops Collector beer.
“Whatever people bring in for our Hops Collector beer is what we put into it,” Latham said.
Keep an eye out for Hops Collector 2018 hitting JCBC taps by the end of the month.
Home brewers welcome
As the brewery expands and experiments, Latham said he tries to involve the community and home brewers on a regular basis. In addition to regular trivia, karaoke and even a weekly 5K run through downtown and the Tree Streets. About once a month, Latham invites home brewers to bring their latest brews to the table, and beer enthusiasts can just bring a growler of their favorite craft beer to share.
Nathan Carrier, a home brewer of five years, and Ernie Pitchford, who has been brewing for about 15, both pitched in for the Hops Collector event on Monday night. Pitchford brought a honey/blood-orange infused wheat bear, and while Carrier didn’t bring one of his own brews for the evening, he said attending the home brewer events have helped him step out of his comfort zone as a brewer.
Every time they meet, there’s a different challenge for a brew – sometimes, they have to bring a wheat beer, other times they may be challenged to make a stout beer. Then, they receive reviews and constructive criticism from the batch of home brewers of the month.