Blackhorse Pub and Brewery, native to Clarksville, Tennessee, has quickly become a staple in Knoxville since its arrival in 2013. The decision to move to our valley town several years ago was an easy one for owners Jeff and Sherri Robinson. They have deep ties to Knoxville through the University of Tennessee, referring affectionately to our town as "Big Orange Country." The pair sit down along with General Manager Brandon Crotzer and Head Brewer Ben Copelin to discuss the ins and outs of Blackhorse.
Their logo, a striking black stallion that looks both strong and wild, begs the question: where does the name come from? The answer: it's derived from Jeff's ties to the military and an affinity for a regiment nicknamed 'The Black Horse.' Jeff explains, "Although I never served in that particular unit, I liked their name, I liked their logo, and I liked their mojo, if you will." He seems to know that a certain amount of that swagger is a necessity to stand out in today's ever-expanding craft industry, and Blackhorse has certainly found ways to maintain theirs through the years.
Today, the Blackhorse team's "mojo" comes from twenty-five long years of dedication to their craft. When asked what sets the brewery apart, Sherri replies simply, "Our commitment to excellence." Their years of experience, both in brewing amazing beer and serving the community, give them good reason to be confident. Jeff and Sherri have been in the business long enough to see the evolution of their regulars. "We've seen our regular customers misbehave, and now they have children they don't want us to tell all the things we saw their parents do!" Jeff laughs. He and Sherri both speak about their community with fondness. It's clear why they've found success for so many years: they're in the business of bringing people together.
While people are clearly a driving force behind the business, Blackhorse is truly all about the beer. Head Brewer Ben Copelin clearly holds a passion for brewing both staple brands and experimenting with more modern recipes. He moved here for South College's brewing program and stayed for his love of Knoxville. When asked about his favorite part of the brewing process, he jokes, "drinking the beer after the cleanup is done!" But as he elaborates, there's no doubt that brewing is an art form to him. "The creative process is the most fun part. Developing a recipe, then waiting two or three weeks to see the results, then making adjustments on it... it's a long process to really nail down the perfect recipe, but that's the fun part of it," he explains enthusiastically. The beer speaks for itself - it’s absolutely worth a trip to the brewpub or your local grocery store to experience the carefully crafted liquid that Ben pours so much time and artistry into.
Along with a passion for great brewing, supporting the Knoxville community is at the heart of the entire Blackhorse operation. "If a fresh product has value in the fact that it's fresh, you can't get any fresher than coming out of our serving vessel into our can into a store, all within four days. It's not possible to get a fresher product," Jeff expounds. "When you buy something locally, that supports everyone who works here. And in turn, it ripples in this economy and community, and there's nobody sucking out the lifeblood of the profit from the area and sprinkling it in another area." He and Sherri have a commitment to Knoxville that runs deep, and they and their team do their best to support the city’s local economy at every turn. Ben phrases this love of all things local beautifully, saying, "It has to do with pride. Be proud of where you're at and where you're from. Even take pride when you go other places. The beer is going to be a part of wherever you are."