Kennedy: Love beer? Hop on the bus

Kennedy: Love beer? Hop on the bus

April 12th, 2018 by Mark Kennedy in Opinion Columns

After first coming to Chattanooga in 1993, brewing has expanded to many locations across the city, including Big River, Terminal Brewhouse, Chattanooga Brewing Co., Moccasin Bend Brewing Co. and McHale's Brewhouse.

Photo by Tim Barber /Times Free Press.

Two Chattanooga couples say it's about time the city has its own beer bus.

In other words: Let the good times roll!

The founding partners of ChattaBrew Tour — Mike and Angela Ballard and Travis and Stacy Miller — say they have invested time and money launching a beer bus that will bring Chattanooga up to speed with other craft beer meccas in the mid-South.

Mark Kennedy

Mark Kennedy

Photo by Staff File Photo /Times Free Press.

"It's a chance to take something we enjoy and share it," says Angela Ballard, one of the owners. "... It's time to show off Chattanooga."

Her husband, Mike Ballard, says visiting neighborhood pubs is a tradition around the world and ChattaBrew Tour is a way for tourists and locals alike to experience the city at a more personal level than they otherwise might.

"We think it's time Chattanooga became a real beer destination city," he said.

The first weekend in May will see the debut of the ChattaBrew Tour company, the partners say. It is modeled after similar enterprises in places such as Nashville and Asheville, N.C.

"Every time we go on vacation, we end up taking a food tour or a beer tour," says Travis Miller. "The craft brewing industry has really blown up in the last few years."

Look for the ChattaBrew Tour bus to begin crisscrossing downtown Chattanooga starting May 4. It shouldn't be hard to spot. The business owners are designing an 18-passenger bus the color of pale ale and looks like it has a frothy head of beer on top.

Home base for the bus operation will be the Terminal Brewhouse on Market Street near the Chattanooga Choo Choo complex. That's where the $50-per-person tours will stop and start.

For that $50, customers will get a curated tour of three brewpubs with free samples at each stop. In addition, they'll get a lesson in Brewing 101 from a knowledgeable tour guide. Tours will last about four hours and are open only to those 21 years old and over.

The bus will be equipped with coolers for customers to transport closed containers of beer, but no beer drinking will be allowed between stops, the owners say.

Water will be provided.

With about 10 craft beer pubs already in town, and two more on the horizon, the beer bus seems a natural evolution of beer-based tourism in Chattanooga. Breweries such as Hutton and Smith Brewing Co. and OddStory Brewing Co., both on East M.L. King Boulevard, and Terminal Brewhouse are among the first breweries to join the tour.

Lest you think the universe of beer lovers is too small to support such a business, a recent national survey by National Today.com revealed one in three Americans drink more than five bottles of beer per week.

The owners of ChattaBrew Tour say private tours will be available for corporate outings, bachelor and bachelorette parties, birthdays and other special occasions. The tours can accommodate groups of between 12 and 18 people.

To book a group or to reserve a spot on a regular Friday afternoon or Saturday morning tour, visit chattabrewtour.com. The company also will use a scheduling app called Peek to book future tours.

Contact Mark Kennedy at mkennedy@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6645.

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