I am going to review Smoky Mountain Brewery and give it a fair shake, even though it is usually our first stop when we are finally settled in at our hotel in Gatlinburg. I hope that you the visitor will appreciate the honesty I give to this establishment, as I have seen this business at its best and not so good, so here goes.

I guess I can start by giving you a short history of the Brewery. The first location opened here in Gatlinburg in 1996 and has been brewing their own crafts beers, spreading out to include four locations: Turkey Creek (west Knoxville), Maryville, Pigeon Forge, and Gatlinburg. The Gatlinburg location is described as a Bavarian-style ski lodge/beer hall that has an upstairs seating area with live bands appearing weekly and trivia nights. Of course, there are plenty of TV’s around tuned to whatever sports event is being broadcast while you are visiting.

Our first visit was in June 2011, and that visit set the tone for future trips being one of the first in line for restaurants in town. They serve your typical bar food, in addition to, by most accounts, as some high quality steaks. What really lit up our taste buds though, was the pizza we dove into on that maiden trip. As far as thickness is concerned, it is a thin cracker-like crust, but it is so tasty—buttery I would say—that it really melts in your mouth, and almost makes the toppings irrelevant, but we still love the pepperoni and cheese just the same. Beware, it can be a bit greasy at times, so extra napkins should be requested. The wings with Thunder Road sauce were good but not pizza good, and the Beer Cheese and pretzels were again, not the best, but still good enough to warrant a future order.

Despite the pizza being one of the best in town, the service has been a bit of a teeter-totter. Our lack of attention given to us in 2014 almost caused us not to visit last year. We were seated and it took a good 20 minutes before a server even acknowledged us, and the service continued its slide throughout. All the while, the brewery wasn’t even busy at the time so we weren’t provided with an excuse. In 2015, we had the best service there by a mile; our server was very friendly and was timely with drinks (she didn’t charge us with them too, by the way) and seemed to really enjoy her job. So again, we received a mixed bag of service but the food (pizza) is almost always outstanding.

No, I wouldn’t dare forget about their beers they brew in-house. Smoky Mountain Brewery has a good variety of beers to please even the beer snob (unlike myself). They include their mainstays: Mountain Light, Velas Helles, Cherokee Red Ale, Tuckaleechee Porter, Black Bear Ale, Appalachian Pale Ale, and Windy Gap Wheat Beer. My favorites are the Helles and Cherokee Red; both seem to fit my middle ground of how I like my beer—drinkable but not watered down and bland. Even the Mountain Light is refreshing without sacrificing taste; reminds me of Miller Lite, but without the preservatives added, which is another shining star on their beer mantle.

To summarize, we have visited five times and seen the service take a nosedive and rebound to Smoky Mountain heights. The food has never really disappointed, and the beer likewise. We really do enjoy coming here, and while it is sometimes not the first stop in town anymore, I have a koozie and a beer glass at home that says how much this restaurant means to me when I have a hankering for beer and pizza. Thanks for reading and I hope you return to read more Gatlinburg opinions and news.