Chattanooga’s brewery and taproom scene is rooted in historic buildings, creativity, and a consistent nod to the past. More good news: many of them are within walking distance of each other. Here’s where to start.
Naked River Brewing Company
What’s special about Naked River Brewing Company begins with the fact that its historic foundry building was once used for the production of railway cars. From 1873-1885, Wasson Car Works employed 250 people in the 11,000 square-foot space for an impressive feat of manufacturing: 64 car wheels and eight freight cars each day, including trolley cars for the original Incline to Point Park. In 2017, Naked River Brewing Company converted the building for the production of craft beer and small batch brews. And the modern crew doesn’t seem to take themselves too seriously. The Mangolorian, crafted for Star Wars Day, is a dry hopped wheat paired with 84 pounds of mango puree. Habba the Hut takes the Mangolorian brew into hyperspeed with the addition of 22 habañeros. The MoonPie Stout is creamy and brewed with fresh baked MoonPies. In addition to the wheats and stouts, you’ll find porters, brown ales, sours, lagers, and belgian beer. If you need a bite to complement the beverages, Naked River smokes its own pork, sausage, turkey, and brisket, Texas barbecue style. Specials for March 2021 include the Hawt Hawg Sandwich, which is pulled pork and Conecuh sausage topped with pickled jalapeños, pepper jack cheese, and Hoff’s Smok’n Ghost Mayo.
Before Prohibition closed its doors in 1915, Chattanooga Brewing Co. was a six-story brewhouse on Broad Street that produced more than 150,000 barrels of German-style beer a year. Brought back to life in the early 2000s by two local engineers, the taproom now sits on the Southside across from Finley Stadium, in walking distance from the Chattanooga Market and Chattanooga Football Club soccer games. Also known for its dog-friendly patio and beer garden, Chattanooga Brewing Co. year-round brews lean towards German-influenced lager and ale, like Chestnut Street Brown Ale and Hill City IPA. Paying homage to its pre-Prohibition roots, the brewery recently reinstated the original branding for the Faultless Lager. In celebration of St. Patrick’s Day, the taproom has released a new Shamrock City Seasonal Menu that starts March 16th, featuring a traditional reuben, corned beef and cabbage, shepherd’s pie, and a reuben burger. The menu will run through the end of March and is a themed menu to pair with the Shamrock City Red Ale, brewed with a base of English pale malt and a blend of caramel malts.
OddStory Brewing Company
With beers named for folklore, mythology, and other elements of history, OddStory’s message is clear: stories matter, tall tales and true ones alike. And sometimes listening to each other’s stories means a moment away from modern distractions. At OddStory, you won’t find a single TV. There’s wood paneling on the walls, button-tufted leather sofas, community tables, and lots of greenery. Creative Director Emily Boyd brings in the plants, and each summer, you’ll find pothos, Swedish ivy, monstera, and air plants propagated from the OddStory collection up for sale in the taproom. Wednesdays are trivia nights in the taproom, where the current menu includes the malt-forward Gingersnap Spiced Ale, the Golden Blackbird Belgian Blonde, the Barrel-Aged Dangerous Delight Bananas Foster Imperial Stout, and the Monkey’s Heart IPA. In the brewhouse, OddStory uses four different strains of yeast, which helps keep the draft wall differentiated.
“We are art.” That’s become the motto in the taproom at Wanderlinger Brewing Co., where the art is in the production of the beer, the food in the kitchen, the rotating art on the walls, and the music on the stage. Each month the brewery curates a new collection from a local artist to put on display and hosts an evening for the artist to come in and talk about their methods and inspiration. Live music returned to Wanderlinger mid-January 2021. Five days a week, soon to be six, you’ll find Monday Night Blues, Open Mic Nights, and opportunities to hear funk, rockabilly, country, rock, and poetry and spoken word readings. Co-owner Mike Dial says the brewery, which he owns with his brother Chris, is the product of “a hobby that got out of control.” Open since 2018, Wanderlinger is on the outskirts of the Southside, walking distance from the Chattanooga Choo Choo. Many of their beers are available in cans as well as on draft in bars and restaurants around Chattanooga. Soon they’ll be kicking out their Moonchute Wheat, a German weiss-like beer that they weren’t able to produce in 2020. Come May, you’ll find the addition of Stimulus Czech, a Czech-style Pilsner.
Hutton & Smith Brewing Company
Hutton & Smith Brewing Company is named after James Hutton and William “Strata” Smith, the fathers of modern geology who were the first to create a geological map of the earth and illustrate geological change over time. Located on East Martin Luther King Boulevard, the Hutton & Smith taproom is rich in references to Scotland, England, and some pretty unique rock formations. The Good Schist is an American Pale Ale with a citrus hop profile. Xenocryst is a barrel-aged red sour blend aged between 15 and 19 months. In 2018, the brewery’s Bivouac Black IPA won a gold medal at the World Beer Cup. This month, Hutton & Smith is bottling a cherry golden sour for release this summer, which has been aged for nearly two years in a barrel, then aged on cherries for three and a half months. Inside, the venue is small, but there’s something special about sharing space with the barrels and brewing tanks.
Five Wits Brewing Company
Five Wits Brewing Company
A Shakespearean reference to the five senses, Five Wits Brewing Company believes every cold glass of beer is a sensory experience. Located in the Market South building on Long Street, the space is built out as a taproom on one side and a food hall on the other, where you’ll have access to pizza, chow mein, burgers, philly cheesesteaks, and other bar room favorites. One unique Five Wits feature is its foeder, an oversized barrel that holds beer for up to 18 months while it develops a sour note. Opened in September 2019, the business is a partnership between Monen Family Restaurant Group and three beer enthusiasts who relocated from Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver, Colorado. This spring, watch for a brew called Send It! IPA, a west coast-style IPA recently released for the Southeast Climbing Coalition annual bouldering event.