In the Cherokee National Forest of Tennessee stands Buck Bald, a landmark treeless peak. In neighboring Copperhill, an old mining town turned tourist destination bordering Georgia, you’ll find a far more popular Buck Bald. The namesake craft brewery, housed in a scuffed-up, mid-century gas station comes to life on sunny afternoons as the pours flow, the patio overflows and the laughter spills into the crisp evenings. At 2,100 feet, the mountaintop Bald offers inspiring 360-degree views of the mystical Appalachian Mountains. The namesake brewery in the Copper Basin offers a gateway to immerse in this enchanting world and connect. People gather here by the dozens.
Patrick Keenan, owner of Buck Bald Brewing, and his wife Sylvie Jobin-Keenan will attest that their success is nothing short of magical. “I wanted to create a brewery that I would want to hang out in—one with great beer, an amazing atmosphere, and a cool family vibe. What has come out of our efforts has far surpassed anything I could imagine. I never expected for Buck Bald to take off so quickly. I had visions of me being behind the bar with 15 patrons at a time to start then slowly building a following over time. We skipped by that in the first few weeks and have continued to build rapidly since,” Keenan explains.
Their success is primarily due to the great beer and fun atmosphere, but Keenan also attributes it to being in the right place at the right time. “Copperhill is perfectly suited for our style of craft brewery. Not only do we have a great group of enthusiastic locals but we have so many reasons for people to visit the area. There is rafting, tubing, hiking, mountain biking, motorcycling—nearly any outdoor activity you can imagine is available nearby. We are an easy getaway for people from Atlanta, Chattanooga and Knoxville. People love the small-town feel, the friendly people, and the variety of excursion options.”
You will always find an interesting selection of great beer here. They feature 14 on tap, including popular favorites, season specialties and new concoctions. Keenan describes their beers as creative classics. “We most often start with a well-known beer style. We try to make the best example of the style we can and then look for ways to make it better.” While every good brewery has enthusiasts and armchair brewers critiquing their lineup, Keenan says that he is fortunate to have a team of collaborators who have brewed together since the beginning in 2018.
You can also find an interesting selection of people here: rafting guides and kayakers winding down and swapping stories after a busy day on the nearby rapids; happy kids chalking on the sidewalks and wagging-tail pups making friends and learning manners; thirsty endorphin loaded paddlers, peddlers, bikers and hikers coming in off the River Road; aficionados working on their best-brewery bucket list while pondering esters, hops and gravity; and a hub of locals on the large patio, planning their next rafting, tubing or kayaking foray on the Toccoa/Ocoee River, or mapping out an upcoming hiking excursion into the surrounding National Forest... that usually ends right back here with a celebratory beer.
In this place that once offered windshield-cleaning, tire-pressure-checking full service, “fill it up” has taken on a whole new meaning. “Fill a pint, fill a growler or fill your mind,” is the tagline that adorns the collectible glasses, banners and t-shirts sold here. They could also add “fill your heart.” Bottomland near rivers is known for its fertility. Likewise, friendships tend to flourish in this Copper Basin locale near the banks of the Ocoee. “Our locals make everyone feel comfortable. I've never seen a place so friendly. There are a lot of craft breweries that make great beer, but I think it would be hard to top the combination of delicious craft beer and our welcoming atmosphere,” Keenan says smiling. BuckBaldBrewing.com