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A Tipsy Tour with Chattabrew

Scenic Trend intern Ewan Whaley joined the cofounders of Chattabrew, Michael and Angela Ballard, for one of their tours.

One of my first questions when interviewing the Ballard’s about their business was why? Why start a brew tour in Chattanooga? Well for them the answer was quite simple: nobody else was. Years before starting the business, the two had gone on a beer tour in another city and loved the experience so much and they noticed that Chattanooga was lacking one like it, but with so few breweries in town at the time there simply wasn’t a big enough market. But with the advent of craft brewing and an ever expanding list of new breweries they finally had the tools to carve out their niche.

But their passion for the tour did not just stem from a business opportunity, but also a love for beer itself. The two have traveled across the world, trying beer in over 100 countries and that love for the drink has pushed them further towards spreading that love to others. When discussing the brewing of beer itself during the tour, Mike said that, “Brewing beer is both an art and a science that makes people happy, why would I be ashamed of that?” This genuine love for the art that both Mike and Angela have really shows during the tours through their infectious excitement and rampant enthusiasm.

The way the tour itself actually works begins once you have booked a tour and meet up at wherever the first brewery of the tour is. Each tour takes you to four different breweries that are selected based on which businesses are open to being visited that day and the tour itself is very welcome to include any preferences of those who have already gone on the tour before and want to ensure they get an entirely new experience. At each location you get to sample different beers and get one free big sample of your choice as part of your tour, along with having plenty of time to order delicious food from any of the individual places that you visit during your time. Along with the free drinks, certain breweries also offer the chance to get a behind the scenes of the brewing process and view their tanks, along with a history of each brewery either given by Chattabrew or by the workers of the locations. Mike and Angela also will offer canned versions of the beers offered at each location while you travel from location to location to keep you feeling nice and satisfied.

My specific tour began at Chattanooga Brewing Co. where I met up with Chattabrew and Scenic Trend’s own Nathan Tucker to begin our brew tour journey. We all got the introduction and breakdown from Mike before following this brewery’s head brewer into the back and got a rundown of the entire process of how beer is made and what each little piece of the puzzle does to form the picture that is beer. Once we got our fundamental understanding of what how beer is made we moved on to the next stop in our journey.

At Oddstory the main focus was the relaxing atmosphere and getting to eat some lunch, as by this time it was 1 Pm and most of us were pretty hungry. We all ordered our food and drinks and sat at a big table and just got to talking as a group going on a beer tour, despite most of us not knowing each other prior to the experience. Mike and Angela also got us a chance to talk to the head brewer here as well to learn more about Oddstory as a business and about their place in the Chattanooga community, and the more chill atmosphere provided a relaxing stop on our journey.

Next up on the docket was Empyreal, a veteran owned brewery that is all about trying new ways to brew things and creating truly unique drinks. We each got our choice of free sample beers but the real fun began with a taste test of the various batches they had been cooking that were still in the refinement stage, something that non-brewers rarely get to do. The vast array of experimental concoctions provided something unique to the tour that helped to set it apart from the rest. After our visit to the laboratory, it was time to end our tour with one final stop.

Our final stop was at Dynamo Brewing, a brewery operating alongside the restaurant Hello Monty that was originally started by the first brewers to operate in Chattanooga after the prohibition and their dedication to traditional European style beers added a good flair to finish off the tour. If you end up stopping here on your tour I would also highly recommend trying the cheese dip, a memorable and delicious way to end my trip with Chattabrew before we were taken back to Chattanooga Brewing Co. so we could all head home.

I can honestly say that my time on the Chattabrew bus was an extremely fun and worthwhile experience that helped me to gain a deeper appreciation of the Chattanooga brewing scene and craft beer community. Mike and Angela were extremely charismatic and welcoming and really helped to make everybody on the tour feel comfortable and ready to trek across downtown to taste various brews, and their deep love of beer really rubbed off onto us as we tasted beers from all walks of life. It is an experience I would highly recommend to anybody that is of a legal drinking age and wants something fun and adventurous to do in the city of Chattanooga!

Learn more about how you can take a brew tour by clicking here!