Located in a modest building on Ashland Terrace, McHale’s Brewhouse may be one of Chattanooga’s best kept secrets. Operating for just over a year now, they have an impressive selection of beers on draft that you simply can’t find anywhere else.
The bartender, tucked behind a raised bar, greets you as you enter. With shamrocks, soccer jerseys and Irish and Scottish flags adorning the place, you get a feel pretty quickly for the vibe they’re going for at McHale’s—unassuming, with an Old World sensibility about what a pub should be.
The biggest surprise for me was finding out that they brew their own beers, with up to eight on tap at any given moment. The varieties available truly run the gamut. Looking for something dark to warm up on a cold, wintry day? McHale’s Stout, redolent of the darkest roasted malts, is one option, as is Black Pixie, a cosmopolitan French-style porter with ingredients sourced from around the globe.
Hop lovers will enjoy The Apollo, a pale ale which was voted the best in Chattanooga last year, as well as Bloody IPA, one of brewmaster Adam Hale’s first homebrew creations that has successfully transitioned to the taps.
McHale’s Light even provides an in-house option for those more accustomed to drinking domestics. Other offerings are available on a rotating basis, like the just-added Double Brown, which clocks in at 6.3 percent ABV. If you can’t make your mind up just from the descriptions, you can try a sampler of all of them at only a dollar per beer.
McHale’s passion for their brew is evident even in their food menu. Beer-battered mushrooms and onion rings? You can believe that their house beer is in that mix. The same holds true for their fish and chips, the filets fried crisp in a batter that’s all their own.
I suggest trying one of their half-pound, certified Angus burgers. Deciding might take a minute, though—from an open-faced option topped with chili, cheddar cheese and onions, to another with barbecue sauce, bacon, cheddar and onion rings, they are all enticing.
The Black and Bleu burger was my choice. Served on a soft, cornmeal-dusted bun, it was thick and hearty, with flavorsome bleu cheese crumbles melted atop. Adorned simply with mayo and fresh, crisp lettuce that contrasted with the cheese, it was a fine example of a burger. The fries that came with it were crisp and well-seasoned, and the spicy pickle spear was a nice flourish.
I was very happy that I also tried those beer-battered onion rings. Crunchy and salty on the outside, with thinly sliced onion in the center, they were complemented by a sweet and sharp special sauce. Absolutely fantastic, and, in my humble opinion, exactly what an onion ring should taste like.
I washed it all down with a nitrogen-pushed Scottish Ale. With its creamy mouthfeel and well-balanced flavors (leaning slightly towards the malt side), it turned out to be the perfect accompaniment to both of my dinner choices. After my meal, I decided to try another draft, and grabbed a pint of The Apollo. It was just as fantastic (and I can see why it won a competition).
Even if you’re not in the mood for dinner, McHale’s is a great spot to relax and enjoy a pint. Not a beer drinker? Not to worry—McHale’s has a full-service bar, as well. Happy hour runs from 3 p.m. to 6 p.m. every weekday, with specials on every adult beverage.
They’re currently lining up leagues for both pool and darts, and Friday is host to a lively karaoke night. Saturday brings live music into the mix. If you don’t already have plans for St. Patrick’s Day, you should definitely consider spending it at McHale’s—they’ll have special menu items, and you had better believe the green beer won’t be a cheap domestic.
McHale’s is a 21-and-older bar, so leave the kids with a sitter and come out to try some of Chattanooga’s best local brews. Whether you’re a beer nerd, burger lover, or just like to have a good time with great company, McHale’s has exactly what you’re looking for.
McHale’s Brewhouse and Pub
724 Ashland Terrace (423) 877-2124
Monday to Saturday: 3 p.m. to close Sunday: Noon to close
21+ at all times