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Adventurous brewing: Craft beer boom offers plenty to love, lots of it local
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Sunday, April 28, 2013    |    By: Casey Phillips (Contact)
Chattanooga Brewing Co. displays a bottle of Imperial Pilsner, a half-gallon growler and a draught pint of Imperial Pilsner inside its brewing facility at 109 Frazier Ave.
Chattanooga Brewing Co. displays a bottle of Imperial Pilsner, a half-gallon growler and a draught pint of Imperial Pilsner inside its brewing facility at 109 Frazier Ave.
Photo by Tim Barber.

Local breweries

• Big River Grille & Brewing Works: 222 Broad St. 267-2739. www.bigrivergrille.com

• Terminal Brewhouse: 6 E. 14th St. 752-8090. www.terminalbrewhouse.com

• Chattanooga Brewing Co.: 109 Frazier Ave. 702-9958. www.chattabrew.com

• Moccasin Bend Brewing Co.: 4015 Tennessee Ave. 821-6392. www.bendbrewingbeer.com

• McHale's Brewhouse and Pub: 724 Ashland Terrace. 877-2124. www.mchalesbrewhouse.com

Southsidenstein Stout. St. Elmo Smart Ass. The Mud Slinger. Seven States Pilsner. Hill City India Pale Ale.

In the last several years, Chattanooga's community of microbreweries has grown by leaps and bounds, crafting new, adventurous brews with names that embody the eclecticism of the Scenic City.

The city may still have a ways to go before it can rival the craft-brewing community in banner Southeastern brewing towns like Athens, Ga., or Asheville, N.C., but the work of Chattanooga brewers is helping put it on the map, says Tony Giannasi, a dedicated home brewer and representative of BountyBev, a Nashville-based beer distributor.

"We're over the hump of people saying, 'What's that dark beer over there?'" he says.

Giannasi also is one of only a handful of Tennesseans to be registered as a cicerone, the beer-world equivalent of a wine sommelier.

Helping bring new and exciting craft beers to Chattanooga is his profession, but Giannasi also is a champion of local brewers, whose beers can be found on tap at dozens of venues downtown, in North Shore and -- in the case of Big River Grille & Brewing Works -- at area grocery stores.

That proliferation of craft beers, local and out-of-town, is contributing to a shifting attitude toward beer. A growing number of Chattanoogans no longer are satisfied with the domestics they've been drinking for decades, Giannasi says, so they're turning to craft brewers instead.

"People know that Terminal [Brewhouse] has an excellent stout and that Chattanooga Brewing Company's pilsner is rocking," he says. "Craft beer is becoming more about the experience."

When it opens off Main Street later this spring, Giannasi says the Flying Squirrel Bar will dedicate about half its 20 taps to local craft brews.

Sturm Haus, a recently opened beer market on Houston Street, specializes in craft beers, which can be purchased for on-site consumption or sealed in growlers to be taken home. Several of its 14 taps are dedicated to serving up offerings from Chattanooga Brewing Company and Big River.

Local beers can be found on taps from Community Pie on Market Street and Mellow Mushroom at Hamilton Place to Whole Foods Grocery and Riverside Beverage off U.S. 27 North.

Marc Marcum is the co-owner and brewer at Frazier Avenue-based Chattanooga Brewing Co. He says demand for their beer has nearly outpaced the brewery's annual capacity of 1,000 31-gallon barrels. The company plans to open a new facility in the Southside with a 5,000-barrel capacity soon.

Once that happens, Marcum says, the brewery will be able to begin addressing growing regional demand for Chattanooga suds.

"It's because of our capacity that we're not on tap at more places out of town," he says. "Our distributors want more from us, but we can't give it to them yet because we want to take care of the locals first."

Contact staff writer Casey Phillips at cphillips@timesfree press.com or 423-757-6205.