Stationed within a growing downtown just a few steps off the Appalachian Trail in Northeast Tennessee, you’ll find the town of Erwin’s first craft tap room offering a variety of local and regional brews set to impress even the pickiest of taste buds.
Earlier this year, high school English teacher Tara Baker and her husband Michael, a real estate agent and Erwin alderman, were inspired by the economic growth and decided to make their dreams of opening a tap house come true. Both Tara and Michael have a taste for craft beer, but never thought they would own their own business, even though the idea had crossed their minds a time or two. After talking to friends and the community, they decided to take on the challenge and landed in downtown Erwin, an off the beaten path trail town that was poised for its first ever alehouse.
“We asked people where they’d like to see another tap room when Barely Waters first opened in Johnson City,” said Tara. “Several of them mentioned Erwin. That’s the only place there really wasn’t a place to grab a locally produced drink, so it made sense.”
After months of work, Erwin’s newest business was ready to open. The space was fully renovated, kegs were delivered, word was out, and the community was ready for a taste of Union Street Tap Room. The Bakers officially opened their doors the first weekend in October, during the annual Erwin Apple Festival. The festival ranks among Northeast Tennessee’s largest events, bringing thousands of people to Erwin and the surrounding area.
Support from locals and festival attendees was more than the Bakers could have imagined. After only three days in business, the tap room went through 60 kegs of beer, completely selling out, while the couple sent in requests to local breweries for a restock.
“The taproom has been doing well. The support from the first weekend alone has kept us going,” Michael said.
While several of the brews offered at Union Street Taproom are produced locally, the bar includes a wide selection of hand crafted beer from across the country.
“I picked varieties that I wanted to try, and that I thought would be popular with customers,” Tara said. “The names are fun too. We have one beer called ‘Monday Night Mr. Robot Sour Ale’ from Atlanta. How could you not at least try that?”
Union Street Taproom offers specialty craft beer and ciders not available at any of the other 15 breweries and tap houses across Northeast Tennessee. With an ever changing list of flavors and breweries represented, the Bakers strive to bring new profiles to the area. Among their current items served, patrons compare the SPB Mississippi Fire Ant to a red hot candy, and the ACE Pineapple Cider to a pineapple gummy bear.
The Bakers are set for growing their business in Erwin, with Tara eventually hoping to work at the taproom full-time. They will welcome soon to be neighbors Erwin Outdoors Supply to downtown in spring 2019, and look forward to more apple festivals and events, trivia nights, food trucks, and most importantly, more beer.
Union Street Taproom is located at 111 Union Street in downtown Erwin. It is open Tuesday through Thursday from 5 to 10 p.m., Friday from 5 p.m. to midnight, Saturday from noon to midnight and Sunday from 1 to 8 p.m. Stay up to date by following them on Facebook and Instagram at @UnionStreetTaproom.
Written by Angela White for Northeast Tennessee Tourism.