Restaurant owner drafts idea of craft beer festival
By Iva Butler | (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Growlers, recyclable containers for craft beer, may be coming to Townsend.
Steve Fillmore, who along with his wife, Janice Fillmore, runs Miss Lily’s Cafe and The Lily Barn in Townsend, is promoting the idea of a Townsend Beer Festival.
He explained his idea last week before Townsend City Commission, a proposal that would require the city to amend the beer ordinance.
“I’m into craft beers,” Steve Fillmore said. In fact, a craft beers group, Little River Beer Club, has been meeting every third Thursday for almost two years at Miss Lily’s Cafe.
He said there are 1,790 craft breweries in the United State and it is a growing business.
The business grew 7.2 percent in 2009 and 11 percent in 2010 versus an overall beer sales decline of 14 percent for the first half of this year, he said, explaining that 5 percent of the beer market is now made up of craft beers.
“Craft beer is about quality, not quantity,” he said.
“People don’t come out of our restaurant soused,” added Janice Fillmore.
Miss Lily’s sells craft beers on tap. Steve Fillmore wants to be able to have people bring in growlers, two-quart or two-liter glass bottles, and have them filled with their choice of craft beer to take home.
That would require the city to change the beer regulations to allow businesses to have both on-premise and off-premise permits.
Fillmore said he knows of “two small breweries in the works, one in the city of Maryville and one in Blount County. They will not be able to afford a bottling system.”
Instead, people purchase growlers, which can be either ornate glass bottles with metal handles around the glass or plain colored glass.
Both breweries here are still in the planning stage, Fillmore said, adding, that he knows one Blount County man who has built a personal brewery and now wants to sell beer to the public. He is gathering investors, Fillmore said.
He went on to say a second man in Maryville has picked out a building and is working with the owners on a lease.
Of the craft beer industry, Fillmore said “it’s green. It’s recycling at its best.”
Winter Beer Fest
A group of people are organizing a local beer festival. The Tennessee Winter Beer Festival will be Feb. 4 at Laurel Valley Restaurant. The time has not yet been set.
Organizers are the Fillmores and operators of The Market in Maryville, Woodruff’s Brewery and Marble City Brewery, both of Knoxville.
Steve Fillmore would rather have the event in the Townsend city limits. He said it would increase winter business through tax and fee revenue, increase exposure for Townsend and support regional breweries.
For a Townsend Beer Festival, Fillmore envisions the hotels in Townsend hosting various craft brewery vendors, with a shuttle transporting people from hotel to hotel.
“The town would benefit by having one more festival in town,” he said.
“The idea is to get people to stay in town,” Janice Fillmore said.
In order to do this, the city would have to amend the beer ordinance to allow temporary beer permits.
If a festival were held, the commission would also have to come up with a way to collect taxes from the beer sales.