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The history of Naked River Brewing Co.

Learn about how this brewery got its start and how it persevered.

NOOGAtoday | Naked River crew

Get an inside look at how this brewery has operated over the course of almost five years.

Photo by NOOGAtoday

In 2018, Chattanooga native Jake Raulston jumped at the opportunity of creating a brewery in his hometown that offered what he thought was missing at the time — a space where people could enjoy brews and food + was kid and dog-friendly.

Next thing folks knew, Naked River Brewing Co. was setting up shop in Southside at 1791 Reggie White Blvd. Jake, an engineer by trade, said he’s been a lifelong homebrewer, learning from his brother + when he got a call that the foundry building — a historic trolley car factory — was up for bid, he decided to upscale his brewery expertise.

“We didn’t have an architect or anything. I came in here with a can of spray paint and laid everything out,” Jake said. “We wanted an open layout where you could see the brewers work + hang out with the smokers as they smoke the meat.”

NOOGAtoday | Naked river beers

Editor Haley’s go-to beer is the Cosmic Turtle.

Photo provided by @naked_river_brewing

Naked River got to work on making the beers you see today, including the infamous Moon Pie Stout which was actually created by Jake’s wife, Liz.

Jake said the first year was a great start with rapid expansion, bringing in three more brew tanks within the first six months + distributing to all of Tennessee by the end of the year. Fast foward to the COVID-19 pandemic, when the brewery hit some snags.

“The one good thing I did before Covid, was going in and securing a loan to get a bunch of cans. When shutdown happened, we switched fast to cans,” he said.

The brewery had to shut down for three weeks during the pandemic due to not having business + strictly ran the canning line. After things began to settle, Jake said it was difficult coming back, and by mid-May of 2022, they reached the point of shutting down the brew house and its distribution.

“From August of last year to probably Feb. 1 of 2023, we were running on bare bones, minimal staff, no beer. Our beer wall was all guest taps,” he added.

In order to regroup, Jake went to the bank and filed for 11 U.S. Code Subchapter V, allowing them to restructure finances. He said they were able to rethink the business + its future.

Enter: The new Head Brewer, Candace Holmes. Candace joined the team at the start of 2023 + has helped build back up the beverage program. With experience from four other breweries under her belt, she said she’s been revamping existing beers, while rolling out some of her own.

Pro tip: Try Candace’s personal favorite creation currently — the A-Maize-Ing Race (aka a cream ale).

“I acknowledge everybody like different styles. Every two or three IPAs I make won’t taste the same,” Candace said. “We want this to be a very inclusive and accepting environment, which can also bring in different flavor profiles.”

NOOGAtoday | Naked River patio

The brewery often does events and allows anyone and everyone to be in their beer garden (pups, too).

Photo provided by @naked_river_brewing

Looking towards the future, the local joint will be rolling out a new menu, working on its new addition of being a full-service liquor bar (check out the specialty drink each week that they pair with one of the beers), and upping production.

Jake said he remains focused on getting up to 3,000 barrels a year, building up the brew staff, relaunching a streamlined core product in all stores in Georgia and Alabama, and continuing to support the community through outreach.

Fun fact: Jake was one of the youngest volunteer divers for the Tennessee Aquarium, leading to his work with the organization, including the River Series.

Jake said, “We donated so much back to the aquarium through our Cosmic Turtle that we were actually able to help two species of turtles move off of the endangered list.”

Want to hear more about the crew and their stories? You’ll have a chance on Friday, July 21 to enjoy brews at the “Meet the Brewers Q+A” which will feature different styles of beer, including some not made at Naked River.

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