Sparta Business Brews Big Things Throughout State
Updated: May 12
By: Atlanta Northcutt --- Reporter for the Southern Standard
Walking into Calfkiller Brewery, the music of Led Zeppelin welcomes you from the moment you step out of your car. The place is eclectic with a certain sense of cool. Friendly faces greet you with jokes and kindness when entering the bar. Calfkiller Brewery is a little spot in the backwoods of Sparta, TN that combines excellent quality craft beer with nature and a feeling of freedom and community. Dave Sergio says, “The heart of Calfkiller is our want and our ability to make very drinkable beers while educating people on the idea of what beer is, what beer can be and how our beer can be very approachable.” Brothers, Dave and Don Sergio, created Calfkiller Brewery in Don’s backyard in 2001. The construction workers started making beer on a stovetop in Don’s kitchen before moving to their current location, continuing to making their beer and coming up with the logo in 2004. They were making small quantities and serving it at parties and weddings. In 2006, they decided to sell the beer made at the small brewery but had to go in front of the White County beer board first; however, it is a dry county. Their request was declined so the brothers wrote a letter to the attorney general of Tennessee, who sided with the Sergio’s. The brothers rescheduled a meeting with the beer board and handed them the attorney general’s letter of approval, but they were declined once again. After hiring a lawyer, the judge approved Calfkiller Brewery to manufacture beer in White County in 2007. They decided to build a larger space and scrap the idea of being a small brewery. While building the new facility, they used 75% recycled building materials of everything from lumber from Fall Creek Falls to tile from a 1970’s McDonald’s. By October 2009, they brewed their first large batch, which became their flagship beer, Grassroots Ale. Local restaurants and bars began to love the local beer and serve it at their locations, growing the brand’s name. They continued to grow the Calfkiller Brewery, also creating Grassroots Distributing Company, allowing them to both brew and provide 75% of the distribution of their own beer. The brand’s popularity and recognition of making really good beer has spread to Calfkiller being sold at 130 restaurants, bars and stores throughout the
region. Eleven employees, including the Sergio brothers, keep the brewery, distribution company and small bar inside filled with a light and positive energy, as they focus on continuously providing their customers with the best beer they can produce and a good time. Sergio wants his customers to know “there’s not just four ingredients in our beer. There is a fifth ingredient, which is love.” The bar is filled with locally made goods, including beer soap, lotion and essential oil. The Calfkiller mugs, shirts and leatherwork are all made and printed locally, as well. The front room has a plethora of Calfkiller memorabilia, band stickers, a cigar box guitar and a bottle cap arrangement on the wall, giving the small space a laid-back, hip feel. Bartender Gary Whiskur has worked at the brewery since the start. He says the bar is filled with “great beer and great people.” The relaxed environment and intimate gathering place attracts regulars like Matt Smith and Marty Usery, who come every Saturday to enjoy the atmosphere and the staff. Smith’s favorite beer is the Dead Horse and says, “The thing about Calfkiller is that it ruins you. You can’t drink a bottled or canned beer anymore.” During the spring and summer months, the Calfkiller crew brings their products to a variety of beer festivals and opens the lawn in front of the brewery as a beer garden where customers can drink pints of their favorite Calfkiller brew and have fun enjoying each other’s company on warm, sunny days. They are open throughout the year on Monday through Saturday from 10 am- 4 pm. If interested in taking a deeper look inside of the brewing facility, you can go to their website at www.calfkillerbeer.com and send an email to book a tour, which includes sampling the different beers they offer and keeping a complimentary Calfkiller glass. Calfkiller Brewery is located at 1839 Blue Springs Road in Sparta, TN. For more information, visit their website, call 931-739-BEER or just come in and enjoy a good drink with good people. .