Rocky Mountain High

Elkmont Exchange Brewery & Eating House offers Colorado atmosphere, design, and craft beers.

On a stretch of North Broadway, an oversized blond-wood privacy fence cut in the silhouette of a mountain range surrounds two buildings that once housed Rentals Rentals and a Dr. Pepper bottling plant. These spaces were combined, taken down to studs, bricks, and dirt floors, and recreated as a spacious, high-ceilinged brewery and restaurant imbued with the laid-back vibe of a Colorado ski resort. Behind the bar there is a large topo map of the Elkmont community.

The interior marries mountain rustic with industrial design. The oversized square bar sits beneath a spectacular chandelier; wide steps lead down into the main dining room. The dining area contains both tables and “half barrel” booths which break up the open space and provide good noise control. Large plate-glass windows allow diners to see the large tanks and barrels aging some two dozen craft beers created by brewmaster Alex Violette and head brewer Chris Meadows.

Elkmont offers a wide variety of craft beers brewed on site.

Violette, a Karns High grad, majored in biochemistry at Maryville College, and started brewing beer in his garage as an artistic outlet. He studied under Marty Velles at the Smoky Mountain Brewery, then decided, “If I’m going to pursue craft brewing, I need to go to Boulder.” There he got a job managing a bakery. He met Bethany Lovato, a bartender at Upslope Brewery. “He would bring all the pastries and trade them for beer,” she laughs. They started dating and together opened a second Upslope location. In 2014 came the opportunity to open the first American craft brewery in Vietnam.

After their daughter Evelyn was born two years ago, Alex and Bethany decided to return to the U.S. Alex’s hometown near the mountains and family was a logical choice. Co-founder Ryan Davenport is the chef. “We wanted the atmosphere of having something for everyone,” says Bethany, “but where you might also try something new.”

Elkmont is a large space that fills up on most nights. Our waitress, Aleta, was attentive and knowledgeable about the beer selection and different dishes.

Menu items are served in the no-nonsense style of a ski resort, in sturdy bowls and dishes.

The robust Charcuterie board ($22) includes three house-cured meats— andouille sausage, hot pork shoulders, and smoked prosciutto — paired with gorgonzola and gouda. Small plates include Boudin Balls ($10), five sausage balls of ground pork, jasmine rice and vegetables, rolled in bread crumbs ad served with beer mustard. The duck wings ($12) were an amusing variation on the brewpub staple.

The Forager’s stew ($9) is an outstanding combination of regional vegetables, mushrooms, and herbs in a savory vegetable broth. The salads ($12) are a strong point of the menu, named after beloved Smoky Mountain destinations. Rainbow Falls features smoked salmon, fresh cucumber, roasted cherry tomatoes, lemon and ginger vinaigrette, baby mixed greens and wasabi yogurt. Abrams Falls offers sweet and spicy roasted tofu, medjool dates, roasted cherry tomato, edamame, toasted sunflower seeds, baby field greens, dressed with fresh mint, basil, and balsamic vinegar reduction. Our favorite was the Cades Cove–a generous portion of duck confit, gorgonzola cheese, apple, radish, baby arugula, toasted almond, and sherry vinaigrette.

If you’re in the mood for a classic, the Elkmont burger ($12) is a six oz. Bear Creek Farm beef, served with waffle fries, side salad, seasonal soup, or seasonal vegetables. The BLT gets a gouda upgrade ($10) and uses house-cured bacon, light tomato, field greens, smoked gouda, Tuscan vinaigrette and herb mayo on a hoagie roll. A tasty vegetarian option is the Northern Bean and Herb Salad Wrap ($10) of chickpeas, red onions, spiced almonds, edamame, and fresh herbs.

Our Surf and Turf ($22), the 4 oz. filet mignon arrived tender and juicy, cooked to perfection, and the large freshwater prawns with quinoa made a subtle side note.

Price: The prices are reasonable and a good value.

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