Melanie and Joel Krautstrunk of Hutton & Smith Brewing Co., Chattanooga, TN

Hutton & Smith Brewing Co., Chattanooga, TN

What happens when a hydrogeologist and a rock climber get married, move across the USA and start a brewery? You get beers with names like Igneous IPA, Belayers Blonde, Rope Gun Rye and The Good Schist, for one thing. But you also get a connection to the great outdoors and environmental stewardship.

A shared love of the outdoors and brewing was what brought Melanie and Joel Krautstrunk to Chattanooga. They had been living in Las Vegas, but “our careers weren’t working out for both of us,” says Melanie. Eventually they realized that their rapidly expanding home-brewing hobby could be a business.

“Water is very important.”

After looking at several towns across the nation as places to start a brewing company, they chose Chattanooga. It has the cliffs and trails that Joel likes to climb and mountain bike on, and it has the scenic places Melanie likes to frequent for training for triathlons—running, biking and swimming. “Chattanooga is great for us. The climbing is really good, and the biking is challenging,” she says.

They named their business Hutton & Smith after “the fathers of modern geology, James Hutton and William Smith,” says Melanie. It was a nod to her education as a hydrogeologist. But also she notes that Krautstrunk is a mouthful of German and besides, they had no plans to specialize in German beers.

You don’t have to be a hydrogeologist to run a good brewery, says Melanie, but it helps. “Water is very important,” she says. “We use a triple filtration system to ensure our water is pure, although the tapwater in Chattanooga is already good quality.”

“That’s why we care about forests.”

Hutton & Smith is committed to sustainability. “We recycle all we can,” says Melanie. “For example, a farmer picks up our used grain after we’re done brewing. He gets it for free and uses it to feed his cattle or compost with. We also partner with a guy who uses our spent grain to create dog biscuits, which he sells under the name Barley Bones.”

Hutton & Smith is proud to partner with The Nature Conservancy for OktoberForest. “You can’t have clean water without healthy forests,” she says. “When forests are damaged, you have issues with erosion and sediment in the water, and you have issues with water not being properly filtered by the soil. That’s why we care about forests. Plus, everyone likes to have a nice backdrop of green to look out on!”


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