People are quick to associate Tuscaloosa, Alabama, with the University of Alabama’s Crimson Tide football team. However, there is a lot more to the city and its history than an iconic football team. The landscape includes several local landmarks, which the ownership group of Black Warrior Brewing wanted to bring front and center when they opened their brewery in 2013.
In 2011, three friends who worked at the BFGoodrich tire manufacturing plant in Tuscaloosa and shared a love of homebrewing and mountain biking decided to open a craft brewery. While perfecting recipes, Joe Fuller, Eric Hull, and Jason Spikes met Wayne Yarbrough, who became the fourth member of the ownership group. In 2012, the group signed a lease on a former barbershop in downtown Tuscaloosa. They spent several months rehabilitating and renovating the space to accommodate a brewery. Eventually in November 2013, they opened the doors to Black Warrior Brewing Company.
Story behind the name
Founded in 1819, the City of Tuscaloosa draws its name from local Native American leader Tuskaloosa. In the Choctaw language, the name means “Black Warrior,” which is the name of the river that flows through town. As co-owner Eric Hull details, the group wanted to embody the city in choosing a name for the brewery. Black Warrior was an obvious choice because of its connection to the city and the river. The company’s logo features the city’s iconic train trestle bridge spanning the river on an arrowhead, which allows the brewery to connect to the city’s Native American history and its importance as an inland port.
Visiting the brewery
Black Warrior Brewing occupies a two-story building with ample seating on the first floor, including sidewalk seating. Merchandise is displayed on the wall shortly after visitors enter the brewery. Seating choices range from booths and high-top tables to the classic bar seating.
The second floor has seating, but primarily serves as an event space. It includes dart boards, a Foosball table, and a shuffleboard table. Additionally, local artists can display their work and sell their pieces.
Black Warrior Brewing features seven year-round beers. However, the brewery is best known for Apricot Wheat, Broad Street Brown, and Lock 17 IPA. The Apricot Wheat is a pale American wheat ale brewed with apricots, of course. It is light and refreshing, but not too heavy on the fruit, which makes it perfect for Alabama’s hot summers. Broad Street Brown, which is the former name of University Boulevard, is a classic American brown ale with roasted notes and a malty backbone. Lock 17 IPA, which is named for Bankhead Lock and Dam (a.k.a. Lock 17) on the Black Warrior River, is a classic West Coast IPA bursting with citrus notes. On Mondays, the brewery features a new small-batch release and sometimes offer a small batch “tap takeover” that features just their small batch beers.
In addition, the brewery features its own line of wine. Wine offerings include whites like pinot grigio and sauvignon blanc and reds like cabernet sauvignon, merlot, and pinot noir.
Touring the brewery
Currently Black Warrior Brewing does not offer public tours. However, co-owner Eric Hull gave me a tour of the facility. Additionally, visitors can see the production facility behind the first-floor seating area. The brewery currently operates a ten-barrel brewhouse with a mix of fermentation tanks, including two one-barrel fermenters for small batch beers.
Getting to the brewery
Black Warrior Brewing is in the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa on University Boulevard between 22nd and 23rd avenues. The brewery is a two-minute walk from the city’s Intermodal Facility Terminal (IFT), which makes it accessible via Tuscaloosa Transit Authority’s bus routes. Due to its downtown location, the brewery does not have its own parking lot. However, there is street parking along University Boulevard. The best parking is at the public parking garage at the IFT.
Address: 2216 University Boulevard, Tuscaloosa, AL 35401
Regular Hours: Monday to Thursday 3 to 11 p.m.; Friday 1 p.m. to midnight; Saturday noon to midnight; Sunday 3 to 9:30 p.m.
Note: The global pandemic may affect hours and services. Check the brewery’s social media accounts for the most up-to-date information.
Accessibility: There are no steps on the first floor of the brewery. There is an elevator to access the second floor.