For those in the Lakeway Area looking for nice place to have lunch, coffee or a craft beer, Dandridge Brewing Company just might be the ideal place.
Located in a brick building in downtown Dandridge dating back to 1820 that has served as a coffee shop, an art gallery and a mortuary – among other things – Dandridge Brewing is the brainchild of hometown product Jake Depew. The Jefferson County High School graduate recently celebrated his two-year anniversary of owning the establishment. He is happy it has become a regular part of the growing downtown scene.
“(The building) has been so many things, I can’t even get the order down,” said Depew, who opened Dandridge Brewing on Nov. 1, 2017. “We wanted a place where everybody knew everybody, kinda like ‘Cheers.’ That’s what we have here.”
Depew has combined his German heritage with Jefferson County’s Scots-Irish heritage to create an eclectic sandwich menu. From appetizers such as a giant Bavarian-style pretzel with beer cheese to a roast beef sandwich called the “Oh La La” to a version of a Reuben sandwich called “The King,” containing corned beef, Swiss cheese, sauerkraut and thousand island dressing, Dandridge Brewing has built a menu that keeps changing to keep the selection fresh.
“(The menu and beer selection) developed naturally,” he said. “With the cultural heritage of the area, it turned into something perfect.”
Depew said with the temperature dropping, soups and chili will be added to the menu sooner than later.
“I don’t have too much set in stone,” Depew said. “We have regulars here, and they love the fact the menu changes so often.”
“It’s more of they love – and a bunch of what they’ve never had – and I’m excited about that.”
Ultimately, it’s the ever-changing craft beer selection that keeps people coming to Dandridge Brewing. Some of the most popular craft beers at the location is a nut brown dark ale called “Shotgun Wedding,” a porter called “Highland Thunderstruck” and “Founders’ Breakfast,” a caffeine-loaded double-chocolate coffee oatmeal stout. Other craft beers regularly found on the menu are “Son of a Peach” and an English sweet milk stout beer called “Gotta Get Up To Get Down.”
For more traditional beer drinkers, domestic beers are also offered, such as Miller Lite, Coors Light, Yuengling, Bud Light and Michelob Ultra, as well as imports, including Corona, Heineken and Guinness.
“There’s a sense of belonging (at Dandridge Brewing) because you can’t find anything like a ‘Shotgun Wedding’ at any store in the area. I have to come here to get it,” said Jeremy Pelham, a Dandridge native who recently retired after 20 years of service as a chief warrant officer in the Marine Corps, and has become a regular at the establishment. “Beer is the only product like that.”
The idea for Dandridge Brewing had always been in Depew’s mind. However, it took a change in local laws for it to become a reality.
“It kinda came in stages. My friends and I always pondered what (a craft beer and coffee house) would be like,” Depew said. “Then (Jefferson County) stopped being a dry county a few years ago. Everyone talked about doing it, but nobody did.”
Dandridge Brewing offers more than just food, coffee and craft beer. Thursday nights feature karaoke, and live music is performed on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday nights. Depew hopes his establishment – as well as other places – will start a revitalization of the downtown area.
“The foot traffic is coming back. After 5 p.m., you wouldn’t see anyone on the streets (of downtown),” he said. “Now something is always happening here, and downtown needs that.”
Though Millennials make up the vast majority of craft beer drinkers, other generations are embracing the variety of beers being offered.
“In contrast to Baby Boomers with the generational changes, the boomers were falling in line with what beers they had to drink, at least the early ones,” Pelham said. “As for (Generation Xers), the pop-tops are your dad’s beer. We moved past that, and wanted more choices.”
“Earlier generations had just a few beer selections. Millennials grew up around the change, and now they have over 500 beers around now,” Depew said. “There are dozens (of craft beers) made every day, and it’s great for small businesses.
“Generation X is jumping on board, and I don’t see any of the purists when it comes to beer here.”