I am a Chattanoogan. Although, I have had the pleasure of calling many different cities home, I worked on a path to come back to Chattanooga. I have witnessed this city transform through many different stages, but by far the best point of view is looking in as an outsider. Living in other parts of the country, and coming back as a visitor, really puts it into perspective on how wonderful the city and people of Chattanooga really are. Don't believe me? Move away for a while and come back to visit, you will agree.
Let's get the story back on track with the reasons of how and why I love craft beer. I apologize in advance for the long story, but it is the only fair way to explain how all the pieces of the puzzle fell perfectly into place to lead to the Grand Opening of Naked River Brewing.
The moment I "really" got into home brewing was a few years back when I was standing in my brother’s backyard in Charlotte, NC where he was attending law school. At the time he had recently upgraded from the beginners extract kits to using two 10 gallon Igloo coolers as a hot liquor tank and mash tun. He had added his own upgrades to the system to improve consistency and had gone far off the beaten path from what people would consider traditional beer (and it was good!). He explained to me, which was back around 2010, that the craft-brew market was exploding in North Carolina, and boy was he right! He told me how easy it was to get fresh ingredients like whole grains and hops at local stores, and how each ingredient and proportion could change the taste and style of the beer. I became intrigued with the complexity of the beer. Every step of the process can affect the final outcome of your product. A custom-built brewery, fresh grains, and a happy brewer can make some of the tastiest beers, and sometimes purely by accident.
Upon returning home, I decided to get my feet wet. Being a college student in a small apartment, I did not have quite the budget for anything more than a basic brew –in-a-bag kit. Essentially, you had one large stainless pot, a glass carboy fermenter, and a few dozen bottles and caps. While bottle conditioning is a very important part of learning to brew beer, I opted out and spent my remaining cash on a used soda keg, C02 bottle, and a mini-fridge from craigslist (which is still running and outlived the rest of my equipment). To use a boil-in-a-bag, you still order all of your grains, much like our process now, but you would put the grains in a giant tea bag and steep them just like you would in making tea. I like to believe I made some pretty darn good beers in my day. I was often offered to sell a 6 pack here or there but rather gave them away, I didn't want any legal trouble.
My junior year, two of my best friends at the time, one who introduced me to the brewer you will read about further down, moved out to a 5-acre cabin in the woods, North of Oxford, MS. As an engineering student, the school became a little harder and I put beer brewing on the back burner. One of the roommates that I mentioned above, I met while helping instruct a scuba diving course (At the time, Ole Miss had the largest open water dive certification program at a university, not kidding) took me back to his hometown in Pensacola, Florida. One day, while relaxing on the beach, a long-haired kid wheeling a skim board approached us. Andrew introduced him as one of his friends who occasionally lived on his couch when he wasn't sleeping in his station wagon by the beach. Meet Nathan, our head brewer. After that day, Nathan and I remained friends and stayed in contact. Nathan came to visit us a few times in Mississippi as well. He was well known for going to the bars and social events in his board shorts (Not a popular style 300 miles away from the ocean). It was during this time that my original mash paddle was brought down to Mississippi by our sales rep Trey Trundle, to be used as a stir paddle in lake crawfish party that I hosted.
Not long after we met, Nathan enlisted in the Navy and was transferred to Connecticut, and I received a job offer in the Gulf of Mexico. Shortly after moving away from Mississippi, the craft beer market had finally made its way to the Deep South. There was now an alternative to Anheuser and Miller products, whether the majority of the people recognized it or not. My girlfriend at the time (now my wife), stayed behind to get her Masters, and truly got to experience the craft boom in Mississippi. First, the city of Oxford removed a long time ban that wouldn't allow package beer to be sold cold. Rumor has it, the previous politician also owned the local icehouse. The state also began letting go of some Prohibition-era laws that prohibited decent beer from being brewed in the state. Several months after leaving the University, there were two major craft beer stores and a growler fill bar. This was my second awakening.
I moved to Lafayette, Louisiana the week after finishing college and began working in the oil field ensuring drilling safety and preventing spills. I worked 2 weeks on the rig and had 2 weeks off. This off time rekindled my love for brewing beer. When I came back on land I would brew the beer, allowing it to ferment for a little over a week. Right before heading back offshore, I would transfer into a secondary to rest for the two weeks off. When I came home the beer was ready to keg and carbonate! I ramped up my creativity and started adding ingredients and spices from around the kitchen. I can remember one brew where my roommate decided to add a 5th of whiskey to a brown beer as it was cooling (this was a huge hit!). Brew days became an all-day party for whoever was involved. We celebrated making new beer while drinking other craft beer and talking about what beer we wanted to brew next. It was during this time that the phrase "Life.Love.Beer." was carved into my mash paddle that I still homebrew with today.
I spent 5 years working in Louisana, although the last 2 years were much closer to New Orleans. My wife and I began using my time off traveling the country, ensuring our routes intercepted as many breweries as possible. From the small breweries of Sylva, NC, to larger breweries such as Bell's, Founders, and Dog Fish Head. We began a yearly pilgrimage to Asheville, NC to tour the breweries, and we got engaged in Brevard, NC after hiking (yes we had our post-engagement meal of peanuts at Oskar Blues, where we were the only ones at the bar that didn't work for the brewery). Needless to say, when I looked back to Chattanooga, I wondered why we didn't have a craft community like Asheville. About a year before I planned to return home permanently, Chattanooga experienced a boom in the craft industry. Another brewery came to town (ironically with the same background in the oil field, and education in geology), and I knew it was time to chase our dream. If you read the rest of Nathan's story, you will understand how the timing played out, and we put the wheels in place to start Naked River Brewing Co.
My pilot brewery nowadays is a little more modern than my boil in a bag, and I believe the flavor reflects that, but the innovation is in full display. I have slowly assembled a complete hybrid, gas-electric turn key 15-gallon brewery for less than $500. I even was able to develop my own mash recirculating system, and control the final temperatures down to 1-3 degrees. I want the beer and the brewery to reflect the individuality of the people who craft it. I want the roots of where it is produced to shine through the amber full body beer that many come to enjoy. From my glass to yours, and from a dream, to a hobby, and hopefully a lifetime of serving Chattanooga, Happy Beers to all.
My name is Nathan Woods, I started schooling at the University of West Florida in 2008. I where I took studies in marine biology, oceanography, and then switched over to hospitality. I unfortunately did not finish a degree from the university. After my third year at the university I decided I wanted to serve my country and enlisted in the United States Navy. I served two years in Groton, CT on the Naval Submarine Base. I finished basic submarine training, firefighting, damage control, flood control and electrical classes in my time there. I was medically separated by the navy due to an accident in 2012. I was nominated for a Naval Achievement Medal for the work I had done on base and given a Letter of Commendation from the Commanding Officer of the Submarine Base and was honorably discharged in 2013.
Since then, I have discovered my passion for craft beer and the brewing process. I spent time saving money and expanding my brewing knowledge on my own until I was able to find a school to continue my education. In 2015 I enrolled in the Professional Brewing Science program at South College Asheville, NC. In the winter term I was awarded Dean's List for my studies in the brewing program and I graduated that June with Highest Honors with a Certificate in Professional Brewing Science.
Since then I have been working at one of the best known breweries in Asheville, NC. I worked at Asheville Brewing Company, on Coxe Avenue in downtown Asheville, for 2 years and then began working hard on the Naked River Brewing Company. Asheville Brewing brewed multiple batches a day on a 15 barrel brewing system. I was working as a brewer's assistant which has given me the opportunity to further my knowledge and learn how to do many other things inside the brewery. On a typical day I would be given tasks including milling, grain handling, raw material handling, packaging, cleaning tanks and documenting beer progress for specific brews. Asheville Brewing Co. is one of the most manual breweries in town, which has given me a chance to see how things are done and also how to troubleshoot anything that could happen in the brewery.
After leaving Asheville Brewing Co. Jake and I really began to hammer in all the details for the Naked River Brewing Co. and we have turned this idea of making beer into a reality and will be in full production this fall. I am always learning more about beer and researching everything I can. I recently finished my certification for the base level Cicerone (which is the certified beer server exam) and plan to continue my beer education. I am still home brewing in my spare time and always trying to learn more. I have been brewing on my own since 2013 and have made close to 75 different signature batches of beer. I am very excited to be in Chattanooga and serving the community the best beer we can!
My Name is David Frank Trundle III, but everyone knows me as Trey. I have grown up and lived in Chattanooga, TN all my life. I started School at UT Chattanooga as a chemistry major to follow in my father and grandfather's footsteps to become a dentist. I soon came to realize that path wasn't in my deck of cards. I switched over to a Business Management degree, and after a couple of semesters I found engineering and loved the field.
After changing my degree a second time I decided to go into the field of Civil Engineering with a minor in Business Management. In the middle of my Collegiate Career I decided to take a few years off so I can do some traveling and get into the working force. I joined Best Buy and was in sales for 2 years selling high end TV's and Audio solutions. After 2 years i moved to the warehouse/inventory dealing with third party teams, ordering necessary parts with monthly budgets, and setting all functional displays in the store.
Over the past years I have done a small amount of traveling around the south. One of many things on my to do list is to visit all the SEC football stadiums, and I just have a few left to go. Through my travels I have tried many different beers. Some of the best happen to be some of Jake's many different brews, whether it be beer or whatever else that he had brewed up. I will be joining the Naked River team with a big smile. I am going to bring the knowledge of operations and merchandising from my time spent at Best Buy. I will also be going to be the marketing department spreading as much beer and joy around the Chattanooga area as I can.
Michael (Mike) Robinson joins the Naked River team with over a decade in food and beverage experience. Food and beverage is all he has ever known, getting his start in the kitchen of Outback Steakhouse when he was just 9 years old. Starting his first food venture in 2008, Mike has weathered the storms of a rapidly changing market to mastering the in’s and out’s of building, scaling and selling a concept from scratch to finish. Mike began his entrepreneurial career in the F&B industry as an owner and operator of small restaurant portfolio. Shortly after, he joined the Chattanooga Whiskey team, serving as their Chief Operating Officer growing the company through the construction and launch of their micro and macro distillery locations, and their footprint expansion through the southeast . He is also an investor and partner in Dr. Thatchers Cocktail Syrups. Considering craft beer and water sports are Mike's first loves he couldn't be more excited to join the NRB team as a partner and Chief Operating Officer.
Over the years I have been a part of many great teams and I can say without a doubt that we are building something special here at Naked River! We look forward to bringing our customers and our city some of the finest brews around!