Fanatic Brewing Company craft beer opening at West Town Mall, Knoxville
Carol Z Shane
Since he started brewing his own home brew in 1978, Fanatic Brewing Company founder Marty Velas’ passion and expertise for the brewing arts has taken him all over the world – from Germany to Japan. , from California to Czechoslovakia and much more. .
Highly sought after as an engineer, consultant, judge and educator, Velas holds numerous international and national awards and has trained over 200 successful brewers. He started the Fanatic Brewing Company on Central Avenue seven years ago.
And now it’s gearing up for its latest growth spurt – Fanatic’s second location, Fanbase West, at the West Town Mall.
“We’re shooting for June 1. I have a few things I want to use for the build – we want it to be perfect. But definitely in June.
“The food court was redone three years ago to include a craft beer pub. We take over the operations of that; they are convinced that we can succeed, just like us. The mall has been revitalized. He is doing much better than he was before the pandemic.
Velas originally came to East Tennessee in 1994 for consulting work.
“I was creating breweries all over the world. In the mid-90s, I was working in Japan, South Africa, Texas, and one of my projects was in Knoxville. I set up the equipment, did the formulas, then I took off.
“They called me back, wanting to do a second one in Gatlinburg. They asked me if I would consider being on staff for a year or two. I continued to consult and gradually built up the brewery division of their restaurant group.
Eventually, Velas gave up consulting work. “My wife and I wanted me to settle down and start a family. I lived on airplanes and in hotels!
Marty and his wife, Solange, welcomed the opportunity for him to stay put, continue doing what he loves and spend time with their three children, all now young adults.
He started Fanatic Brewing Co. with a mission to create the “most drinkable beer”, and although his beers have won dozens of awards, he is most proud of the gold he won for Velas Helles in 1999 at the Great American Beer Festival in Denver, and the World Beer Cup gold medal he won for German beer Bock in 2000.
“It’s a bit like the beer brewing Olympics, open to all nations. These medals are highly prized. And I beat the Germans at their own game!
Incidentally, Velas was offered the opportunity to build and run a brewing school for Glen Ellen in Sonoma, California after a scion of the wine family took a brewing course with him and decided that the company needed to diversify. But Velas had already fallen in love with East Tennessee.
“Yeah,” he said. “I turned down Glen Ellen for Knoxville.” Any regrets about this? Velas says no. “We love it. We’re so happy our kids grew up here with the four seasons and the people taking the time to balance their lives. We wouldn’t trade it for anything in the world.