Bar Review: The Hill

Tucked away quite literally in the corner of Fort Sanders, The Hill has recently transformed from eyesore to a reasonable little bar. Wedged at said corner of 12th and Forest(near the stone Fort Sanders Phallus) this joint is brand new on the inside. Mackey and I went over Sunday evening having heard rumors(true) that The Hill participates in the fine rite of Animal Hour...the powerful three-fers that blot out the night so well.

I once knew a keen eye in the industry who told me that there is nothing like a new bar's crapper; a nice new car metaphor. Halcyon and pacific days before the head is befouled to unspeakable degrees. This guy was full of gems like that, one time remarking quite casually that 'it's hard to get heroin in this town.'

Anyhoo, The Hill is a pretty standard operation but it's in a relatively clever location. Having some friends that lived near there, I'm generally impressed with the way the parking has been maximized. While it's never going to be spacious, they did mark more spaces than I thought possible. Given that mgmt is counting on foot traffic from students, it has the potential to be popular if enough pedestrians make their way over.

It's a spacious bar I thought, even without the upstairs with various games and tables...making the most of the two stories that the old building provides.

Getting down to brass tacks, I believe the beer selection is impressive with many esoteric brews like Arrogant Bastard's IPA and my beloved Longboard Lager. Fat Tire is represented as well, and these latter brews are on sale Thursdays. The specials run nightly here, with cheap deals on tall-boys and the aforementioned animal hour. The menu looks competitive for the usual bar fare, and we were emphatically told the Philly was the premier sandwich. We were offered gratis wings and the samples were above average, although I left without trying the beer brat so I've got some motivation to return.

One thing I noticed while looking over the very efficient beer list was the lack of taps. I am not certain if they plan to offer draught.

Mgmt told the authors that they will be ratcheting up gradually towards football season, and that we shouldn't wait to return. A clock on the wall dutifully counts down the days, hours, minutes, and seconds to UT's home opener. As with most operations of this type, we'll see if it has the longevity necessary to succeed in the fort.

Holiday Inn Strikes Back

Recently the downtown Hilton underwent a face lift that features a new coat of paint with contrasting shades and long angles (invasion stripes?). It is an eye-catching design that I really like and other people have taken notice as well. Lord von Lord pointed out the “pilsner glass” outline from the interstate, no surprise coming from that sot. Not to be outdone the Holiday Inn has undergone some changes as well. They also have a new paint job, sans fancy design, but it is an improvement and they perfectly mismatched tones just as they had before so you still get the khaki on khaki look. Steve Irwin comes to mind.

A redesigned logo is featured on signage that is bright green and white. The most noticeable change occurs at night when you can see the lights.

The green lights remind me of Imperial Beam Weapons, just saying. It looks pretty cool passing by and it’s too bad you only get the visual effect half of the day. Hey, at least they’re trying. Still no word on the cutoff time for their turkey dinner.


The Rock, UT Campus

UT’s makeshift billboard known simply as “The Rock” has found a new home. The huge boulder that sat for decades on campus at the corner of Volunteer and Temple made the journey all the way across the intersection to its new resting spot at, er…., well, Volunteer and Temple, in front of the music building. I never painted the rock but used to enjoy the art and comments during my time there as a student. The only difference I can foresee is the loss of a prime tailgating spot near the music building. We used to set up HQ there back in the days when our out-of-town alumni would come back for homecoming and have tons of fun. Heckling the b-squad cheerleaders, setting up a full bar, tossing the football, dropping trou causing mothers to shield their children’s eyes – these are all things that will be interrupted (but not ceased) by moving The Rock to its new home. Here’s to celebrating The Rock for many decades to come, cheers.



(the rear)



In terms of willpower, I'm usually the weakest at happy hour. What I mean is that while yours truly will find a reason to get good and tucked at any time of the day or night these recent years have found me the most likely to buckle to pressure(peer or otherwise) right after work or early afternoon. Curious? Not really.

A wise man once said that the 'why' of any situation is secondary to the situation itself so let's hold off the enabling catalyst for just a second. Sunday afternoon I was roused from my hangover by a simple text indicating brunch(our definition of brunch is tilted more towards the booze side) at the Brewery. Even though I was milling about like some filthy hobo I was tidied, decently clothed, and on the road like a shot. You see I love drinking in the daylight, particularly at the Brew Pub. The authors have often talked about the joy of getting two-three strong beverages in the morning(indeed: drunk breakfast) and my enthusiasm does not wane in the afternoon. Strong IPA and shots followed of course, and the other denizens of downtown received a full bore viewing of the irresponsible cads I call drinking buddies.

But is it irresponsible? I know that some elements of society frown on getting a drink before the evening. Those elements can get fucked. Their views are as flawed as their inbred genetics. I've worked in an office environment since college and during that time I've seen countless studies on productivity, absenteeism, health, and all sorts of idiotic musings on booze and how it affects the American worker. Only in the fucked up days of HR departments do people waste time on this shit.

In the postwar era, particularly early on, there was a healthy number of Americans that boozed at work...and I don't mean the elegant functional bar the boss would have for entertaining. No, I mean said boss and his lieutenants would wink at the common drone with a fifth in his/her desk. The atmosphere was relaxed and productive because during those days people weren't nearly as nuts(conjecture, possible bullshit) and could handle both work and a slight buzz. As with all good things this awesome practice was buried during more recent decades(see uptight HR) and instead employees were encouraged to get shit-housed right after work at happy hour. This was the dominant trend in the 70's and 80's. Don't believe me? Go dig up any old beer commercial and you'll see at least half of them placed in such a setting.

(how awesome was this show...fuck you CBS)

Now these days every pussy and twat would prefer you not drink or smoke and indeed seek help...going so far in some extreme cases as to make weekend-only drinking a condition of employment.

Happy hour also has strong roots in basic productivity. For those in sales or a related field, a casual drink after hours might prove essential in landing an account or client. It would calm down a weary police officer or emergency worker. It would break the ice for a relationship and so on.

The south in general and Knoxville in particular is only now easing the outdated laws that have prevented such outings. Sunday mornings are no longer quite as restricted from a beer-buying perspective and in the past decade many local pubs and eateries are catering to a early morning brunch crowd.

It probably would be a poor decision if most of us just decided to take multiple days off and jeopardize our livelihoods(and thus the wherewithal to drink more) by rolling into a bar in the morning. That's not to say you're a shitty person if you decided to do so a once or twice on a jobsick/barwell kinda day. Indeed, in this age with many people working third shift or living in a large city that runs 24/7 you probably will fit right in with a new crowd of people all wanting to get tore up with you. Might make some friends.


Monday Haiku

Man, what a weekend: visitors from Florida(prick shorts trump jorts), old friends reacquainted, Prick of the Year updates, and naturally tons of booze. In a late attempt to summarize the weekend’s happenings without posting the usual occasional Monday Hangover I thought I would quarter-ass it with a few haikus. Please don’t mind the Tuaca L-Ds, Jager, Patron, Jameson’s, KBLWs or Maker’s. We took care of them already. And the keg took a beating. Good times.

Motherfucking shots
The one-two punch of drinking
Wallet and liver

Wait! No hugs from you
I will shake your hand instead
Damn that was ball hand

With short or long pants
Our official uniform
Knoxville in khaki

Six pairs of prick shorts
Yet give us grief for our stuff
And you wear K-Swiss

Cook something good once
Do not repeat for a while
Mackey leads contest


By the pricking of my thumbs...

The balloon is going up. The war against wallet and liver begins in approximately 24 hours.


Happiness is a New Keg of IPA

Lately I’ve been negligent in my drinking responsibilities. The infraction involves home consumption and this past weekend I decided that it was time to put things back on track. My kegerator had sat empty for almost 2 months due to excuses from the economy to exercise, then I realized I was fooling myself – a keg is the most economical way to consume beer, and I’m going to drink whether I exercise or not so I may as well make it convenient and have it just steps away from my couch. So I arranged an emergency finance committee meeting with myself and immediately approved spending for 1 keg of Woodruff IPA. In case you didn’t know, Woodruff is the brewing company for none other than Downtown Grill & Brewery on Gay St.

Step 1 – Call ahead for keg availability and pick-up arrangements. Phone: 603-8750

Step 2 - Gather and return your empty keg(s) or pay a deposit if it’s your first time

Step 3 – Pick up in the alley behind 424 S. Gay St (level of garbage odor varies depending on time of day)

Step 4 – Pay for your goods

Step 5 – Tap into that sucker and enjoy!


Brixx Wood Fired Pizza

Has anyone tried Brixx Wood Fired Pizza? A couple of friends told me about this new pizza joint at Turkey Creek that opened about two months ago and I’ve been curious to try it. Pizza is one of my all time favorite foods so I’m always up for a good pie, but they hooked me when they said Brixx has an excellent draft beer selection. I didn’t want to drive all the way out there (from downtown) just for shits and giggles but luckily I had an errand out that way so I was able to stop in for a quick lunch.
Having already reviewed their menu online I knew exactly what I wanted to eat, the Bronx Bomber with spicy Italian sausage, prosciutto, Gorgonzola cheese, tomato sauce and fresh oregano for $10.95. All of their pizzas are 10” thin crusts, available on wheat or regular. I had the wheat crust with a Sierra Nevada Pale Ale to drink. The pie was good but not great, though it came out of the oven in a flash and had more fresh oregano than I’ve ever seen. To be fair I tend to like a hearty pizza with heavy toppings but this one was nice enough.

As you can see they do have a strong selection of draft beers with something on special each day of the week (the full beer list is on their website). They are hosting a beer pairing dinner at the end of July for $30 featuring Starr Hill Brewery, and they also have a “MBA” beer club if you’re into that sort of thing. They’re a full service bar with all the usual booze and a wine selection with more than a handful available by the glass. Not bad at all.

Overall I think Brixx is an alright place to go for some beer and pizza but not THE place to go for those things. I’d like to visit again when I have more time and try a sandwich made on their homemade focaccia bread and drink a few more beers. The staff was friendly and answered my questions adequately, the prices were a little high (but isn’t everything these days) and the place was very clean, so 2.5 out of 3 ain’t that bad. Give them a try if you’re shopping nearby and hungry for a quick bite or beer, cheers.

Brixx Wood Fired Pizza
Turkey Creek
10978 Parkside Drive
Knoxville, Tennessee 37934
Hours: Monday-Saturday: 11 a.m. – 1 a.m. Sunday: 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.
Phone: 865-288-4186


Monday Hangover

4OJ Weekend – Independence Day came and went this year without so much as a hiccup, which is nice once in a while. Holiday parties can sometimes be overproduced and I was glad that no one in our group decided to make elaborate plans. Well, not entirely true - there were midweek and weekend birthday celebrations, but both were very simple and low key affairs. Friday night was probably the biggest “night out” when we descended upon the local Red Lobster and consumed a frightfully large seafood feast and numerous adult beverages. Against the outrageous suggestions from everybody at the table I did NOT have the Blue Whale. Assholes. Saturday the 4th was overcast with a sprinkle of sun here and there, just enough to relax at the pool and drink the half the day away. The 2nd half of the day was spent watching the entire first season of HBO’s Eastbound and Down and more drinking. If you like crude humor and idiotic sports figures (who doesn’t) then this is the comedy series for you, check it out on YouTube.

Wimbledon – The Championships ended yesterday with a classic, hard fought 5 set final between Roger Federer and Andy Roddick. Any tennis fan already knows that Federer won the match for his all-time record 15 grand slam titles. Yeah, I got up early with a hangover to watch the match from start to finish and was completely sober when it ended at 1:30 pm. I was disappointed for Roddick but enjoyed the awesome match for what it was and got up from my meast-like couch to start the day. Somehow I found the energy to put in a grueling hour + workout before going downtown to ruin it with another huge dinner and drinks – Downtown Grill & Brewery for dinner and beer, then Preservation Pub for more drinks and trivia with Brock and Brock.


Gunthor's Galley

I’ve found a new place for fish and chips (and beer) – Gunthor’s Galley at East Town Center Mall. I’m almost never in that area but found myself running an errand nearby a couple of weeks ago and decided to swing by the mall. Ruby Tuesday is no longer operating there and Gunthor’s has occupied their old spot for over a year. Reluctant at first I decided to have a beer and give it a chance. The overall design hasn’t changed much but the menu is completely different from the tried and true chain concept; it’s a seafood restaurant with a Norwegian theme. I have no experience with that cuisine but the menu looks interesting and I plan to try a few of their unique items sometime.

The first time I was there I only drank beer, Shiner Bock, but they have about 8 taps to choose from (mostly domestic) and a large assortment of bottles including imports. A full bar and wine round out the booze selection. That day there were a couple of regulars there for some good conversation and I got to meet the owner, Curtis, and lovely bartender, Teri (I think). The place was hardly overrun with customers but had enough to make me comfortable about the kitchen, and to be fair it was well past prime lunchtime. I left knowing that I would have to come back for some food.

So my second trip there was on purpose, and yes it was an odd feeling driving straight to East Town Mall for the sole reason of eating at this place, but I’m glad I did. Fish and chips happen to be one of my favorite bar foods and I had to try it. The fish is fresh and hand battered, the chips were pretty standard but good, and the side of slaw wasn’t drowned in mayonnaise so everything worked out just fine. They also have mini hush puppy cakes that are delicious.

Each visit was at the end of lunchtime so I haven’t checked their happy hour prices or specials, I’m sure they have some though. Stop in and check it out for yourself. I don’t plan on making Gunthor’s my new hangout but it’s good to know it’s there if I feel like having a beer or a bite when I’m in the area.