The story of beer is ultimately part of the story of the brewer that created it. This is one of those stories, a brewer's tale of Daniel Delph, brewer at Last Days of Autumn in Knoxville, Tennessee. Daniel has been making beer for about a decade and that is where our tale begins. Here is a conversation with Daniel Delph as he shares part of his story:
How did you get started brewing beer? Actually, it was purely by accident. I was a bike-commuter in a previous life and I had a flat tire. A gentleman picked me up on the side of the road and we went to his house to fix my bike. There I was introduced to my first home brewing operation and I was instantly hooked! The stranger became my first teacher as I created my home brewery and quickly began playing with flavors and grains trying to create my style and flavor palette.
Let's talk about flavors, how do you create new tastes and styles? My advice to any new brewer would be to create beers for your own tastes and not anyone else. If you like it, then there's a good chance someone else will also. My style is that I create beers from a culinary perspective; beers that borrow from and compliment the flavor palettes of foods and desserts. Our salted caramel porter is a standard offering and a favorite around town that definitely creates a dessert flavor, but you can drink it anytime. My favorite flavors to create are fruit based beers, probably because I worked at Ben & Jerry's many years ago! They have a bit of a wine feel which is probably why we are so popular with women (65% of their customer base is female).
Most craft and micro-brewers get inspiration from their environment. We serve a Kentucky Common that is brewed with a bourbon perspective and is aged in a bourbon barrel for to achieve that flavor palette. Also, when I create a new beer, I don't name it immediately, I wait for inspiration and it's story to develop. An example, I hiked the Appalachian Trail in 2012 which inspired a Blue Blaze Kolsch beer because blue blazes are trail indicators that lead to a water source.
What is the key to successfully brewing a batch of beer? There are actually three keys to success in my opinion. First and foremost is sanitation. It is imperative to keep everything from your mash fermenting pots to the brewing kettles sanitized from batch to batch. We produce about 300-360 gallons per week and half of that amount, around 180 gallons, is run on Tuesdays. So we spend a lot of time cleaning to create a clean palette to create our flavors.
The second and third keys involve ingredients. You don't want to overdo your grains or flavor additions, it can be overpowering or most times just bad. Conversely, you can't skimp on your ingredients by using cheap products or substitutions. Part of my growth as a brewer now is researching and using international yeasts and studying brewers from around the world.
Where do you see the Knoxville craft beer scene going? Right now in Knoxville, you can get about anything you want in the micro-scene and it is going to continue to grow. Last Days of Autumn is a family owned and operated business, actually I am the only non-family member. We self-distribute our beers and deliver directly to our customers because we feel that it is important to have a relationship with the people that are buying and serving our product. Knoxville is still a little behind in terms of the population's understanding and appreciation of craft beers but the market has come a long way in the last couple of years and is poised for larger growth in the coming few years.
Visit Daniel at Last Days of Autum's taproom located at 808 East Magnolia Avenue, they are open everyday but Tuesdays from 4 –10 pm during the week and 1 – 11 pm on the weekends. For information on where you can enjoy their brews, go to lastdaysofautumn.com.
If you are a beer connoisseur or just a gal that "likes what she likes" then Merchants of Beer will be your designated hangout. Located between downtown Knoxville and the Old City, it will be the home of the best selection of local, regional, national, and international beers on tap and for carry out, as well as a humidor room where you can enjoy your favorite smoke and all your favorite top shelf wines and liquors. It will open later in the year, but join our TapMob now for updates on exclusive events this Fall for our mobsters and updates on your favorite libations. Check our webpage at MOBKnox.com and come back for updates and the Story of Beer!