Melanie and Joel Krautstrunk have a suitably German last name to put on a beer label.
But the Krautstrunks chose Hutton & Smith Brewing Co. as the name of the microbrewery and tap room they opened last week at 431 E. M.L. King Blvd.
"[Krautstrunk's] a mouthful, and we're not doing any German-style beers," Melanie said.
The couple came from Las Vegas, Nev., where Joel worked as a high school guidance counselor — and squeezed in all the rock climbing he could — while Melanie went to graduate school for a master's degree in geology. So their beer pays homage to James Hutton and William Smith, the fathers of modern geology, and the tap room is decorated with rock climbing gear.
Hutton & Smith Brewing Co., seats 49 and sells beer on tap, growlers, and "crowlers," a 32-ounce combination of a can and a growler. The Krautstrunks plan to keep a handful of beer on tap year-round, and change out seasonal beers. Eventually, they hope to have their beer served in area restaurants, but they don't ever plan to serve food.
"We don't want to open a restaurant, we just want to sell beer," she said.
When the Krautstrunks decided to turn their home-brewing hobby into a full-fledged brewery, they chose Chattanooga after scouting the country for a suitable location. They considered such cities as Bend, Ore., Austin, Texas and Asheville, N.C.
Chattanooga's rock climbing and other outdoor opportunities helped convince the couple to move here, as did the business climate.
"What we saw when we visited here is local businesses are supported," Melanie said.
Without knowing anybody in Chattanooga, the couple bought a Tudor-style home in Old Brainerd in September 2013 and initially planned to open their brewery just past the Brainerd tunnel, but couldn't find a spot there.
They met Dr. Thomas Brooks, an obstetrician-gynecologist who owns property in Old Brainerd, and also happened to own the building on MLK that the Krautstrunks chose. Their brewery is across the street from Memo's Grill and not far from Champy's Famous Fried Chicken.
The area of downtown is being revitalized with help from the River City Co. and Chattanooga foundations. The Krautstrunks got a $5,000 grant to put up signs, which they plan to install soon, and a grant of roughly the same amount to improve the building's facade.
The couple also got help doing their business plan through BrightBridge, a private, Chattanooga nonprofit corporation that promotes economic development. The couple initially planned to find investors, but wound up getting a U.S. Small Business Administration loan from a private bank.
"We worked for six months on our business plan," Melanie said. "We got a lot of compliments on it."
The Krautstrunks signed a five-year lease and outfitted their brewery with as much previously-used equipment they could find to save money.
But they didn't skimp on equipment to maintain the beer's quality, including a three-phase water-treatment system. That way, each type of beer can have its own water "profile" with various pH levels and salt content.
"You need a different water for a pilsner than for stout," Melanie said.
Company at a glance
Hutton & Smith Brewing Co. is a microbrewery and tap room at 431 E. M.L. King Blvd. in downtown Chattanooga. It seats 49 and sells beer on tap, growlers, and “crowlers,” a 32-ounce combination of a can and a growler. Hours are Tuesday through Thursday, 5-10 p.m., Friday through Saturday, noon-midnight; and closed Sunday and Monday. Online at www.huttonandsmithbrewing.com or call (423) 760-3600.
The brewery also makes lagers, she said, which are more costly and time-consuming than ales.
The couple have three employees, Jonathan Driggers, Drew Bosehars and Priscilla Burns, who share all the work and have put in long hours getting the business up and running.
"How many hours are in a week?" Driggers joked Tuesday.
Chattanooga has about half a dozen microbreweries. But Melanie thinks there's room for more — unlike in Asheville, which she said is "saturated."
"Asheville has half the population, easily, [as Chattanooga} and four times the amount of breweries," Melanie said.
Staff writer Alex Green contributed to this report.
Contact staff writer Tim Omarzu at email@example.com or www.facebook.com/tim.omarzu or twitter.com/TimOmarzu or 423-757-6651.