Field Trips: Chattanooga Breweries
5 breweries to visit in Chattanooga
Tennessee’s tourism industry is exploding. All you need is one weekend in Nashville watching the hoards of bachelor and bachelorette parties roaming Broadway or a summer hike in the Great Smoky Mountains to determine that the state is no longer a hidden gem. Stepping outside of the hotspots, though, a different kind of transformation is taking place.
Chattanooga, a small city at the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains on the border of Georgia, is slowly creeping into the radar of non-locals for it’s easy to access natural beauty, laid-back Southern charm, and what is shaping up to be a great local brew scene. There are roughly a dozen breweries that have made Chattanooga their home with still more openings planned for the near future.
Aside from making excellent beer, the breweries here all seem to share a common goal to revitalize the city and invest in the community. Some source local ingredients, others donate their hops to nearby farms, and nearly all of them host events to engage with their neighbors.
These are 5 of the breweries that are helping to put Chattanooga on the map.
Located in the walkable Southside, Chattanooga Brewing Company is the OG around here. It’s the first of the current breweries, serving homemade brews as far as back as the early 20th Century. After being forced to close down during Prohibition, it was left vacant for more than 60 years. Thankfully, it was rescued and revived in the early 2000s and has been pumping out great beer ever since.
The interior is warm and cozy. Industrial and wooden accents attractively adorn the ceilings and walls, tall glass windows are situated to expose the brewing tanks, and ample family-style seating is filled with strangers getting to know each other. Chattanooga Brewing Company also packages and sells their beers regionally, with classics such as their Hill City IPA and Chestnut Street Brown Ale mixed in with innovative hits—hello rotating habanero brew!
The folks over at Terminal Brewhouse, which is veteran owned and operated, like to have fun, but they also talk about the importance of sourcing local products and services when they can to greater invest in the community they operate from. This, they take seriously—crafting beer and food with care and a passion that shows through in their high-quality productions.
Beers here rotate, but you can expect to find Terminal’s versions of the usual suspects. Scottish Ales, IPAs, and Belgian Whites are a few varieties you might find on tap at the brewery, though they occasionally throw a surprise curveball out to keep you on your toes.
The veteran-owned and operated Big Frog Brewery is sharing beer recipes that have been worked and tweaked for over two decades. Once an avid home brewer, Carter Wexler joined up with his wife to bring their passion to the public. All beers at Big Frog are hand-crafted in small batches, a practice they are committed to reviving.
Named for the nearby Big Frog Wilderness area—he country’s largest East of the Mississippi—Big Frog is aiming for a low-waste operation. Almost all of the grain used in the brewing process is composted or used as chicken feed for local farms.
Oddstory Brewing was started by another home brewer-turned-professional. After a stint in brewing school, Jay Boyd and his dad decided to open up shop on Chattanooga’s MLK Blvd. In spite of having less experience, the flagship beers here are great, notably the cloud walker pale ale and monkey’s heart IPA.
Great beers aside, Oddstory has probably the best atmosphere of the Chattanooga brewers. The aesthetics are modern and cozy, with the comfortable industrial look that makes you feel like it was pulled from the pages of a West Elm catalog. Plush leather couches are mixed in with tables and chairs, all of which invites you to linger over yet another delicious flight.
One thing that can be said about Hutton & Smith: the beers here are fantastic. The taproom is small and gets crowded, but the garage door rolls up to create an indoor/outdoor space that feels airy and light. Depending on whom you talk to, their no kids policy either makes it the best brewery to hang at in the city or the worst. No matter how you feel, the crafts at Hutton & Smith are well worth the trip over.
They keep up to 20 varieties on tap of the usual suspects, rotating in seasonal favorites like the Boysenberry Sour. The Igneous IPA is about as full of a beer as you’ll ever need without lacking in flavor.