The growth of the brewery scene makes it easy to drink local in Chattanooga

Staff photo illustration by C.B. Schmelter / Brewer Bryan Harris pours a Lula Lake Lager at Five Wits Brewing Company on Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2019 in Chattanooga, Tenn.

In the last five years, the Chattanooga brewery scene grew so much that one local entrepreneur decided it needed its own bus.

"Five years ago, Chattanooga had maybe four or five breweries - not enough to sustain a brew tour, but breweries kept opening," said Angela Smith Ballard, who launched the ChattaBrew Tour with her business partners in 2018. "As the brewery scene stands now, it's a wonderful number for tours because we can rotate all the breweries in our schedule and give customers a unique experience."

With a dozen breweries up and running, Chattanooga isn't about to unseat Asheville, North Carolina, or Austin, Texas, as meccas of locally made beer. But give it a minute, said Tony Giannasi, a local craft beer expert with a deep background in home-brewing and a career in alcohol distribution that puts him in the middle of the action when it comes to area craft beer trends.