• Alabama,  craft beer

    A pint at Ghost Train Brewing Co. in Birmingham, Ala.

    Within a year of brewing and distributing its beer, Ghost Train Brewing Company went from a startup brewing contracting its production to opening its own brewery and taproom in the Lakeview district of Birmingham.  The husband-and-wife team of Taylor and Paige DeBoer began operations in 2015 brewing their beer at a facility in Mississippi before moving into the former home of Cahaba Brewing Company off 3rd Avenue South in Lakeview in 2016.  The brewery sits in the shadow of U.S. 280 as it heads out to the Birmingham suburbs, which is where my visit began. The brewery’s space is quite compact, but despite its size there is a lot inside…

  • Alabama,  craft beer

    A pint at Cahaba Brewing Co. in Birmingham, Ala.

    A positive sign of the growth of craft beer in any place is breweries growing and moving to new, larger spaces.  After four years operating at a location off 3rd Avenue South in the Lakeview district, Cahaba Brewing Company moved to a former industrial site in the Avondale neighborhood.  The brewery opened the new taproom on Jan. 19, 2016 in an expansive 51,000-square-foot building that used to be part of the Continental Gin.  It isn’t always easy to find the brewery when driving north on 5th Avenue South, even though a sign points visitors in the right direction. The brewery draws its name from the longest free-flowing river in Alabama,…

  • Alabama,  craft beer

    A pint at Red Hills Brewing Co. in Birmingham, Ala.

    Nestled in a plaza on Central Avenue in a former A&P grocery store, Red Hills Brewing Co. may get overlooked by visitors who focus on the nearby dining establishments.  In fact, as visitors drive to the brewery they may overlook it because it is tucked into the corner of the plaza.  However, there is plenty of space to enjoy a cold beer in the shadow of Red Mountain. Once inside the building, there is no mistaking that you are in a brewery taproom.  The numerous tanks are visible in the distance the moment you walk in the door.  The bar sits in the center of the wall with two large…

  • Alabama,  craft beer

    A pint at Avondale Brewing Co. in Birmingham, Ala.

    Nestled in the area that formerly housed the Birmingham Zoo is a budding restaurant and brewery district.  The district lends its name to one of Birmingham’s earliest craft breweries, as Avondale Brewing Co. opened its doors in 2011. With its location in the heart of the Avondale neighborhood, the brewery lacks significant parking as it sits near the intersection of 4th Avenue South and 41st Street South. The building has a long and interesting history that has been incorporated into the brewery’s beers.  It was originally built in 1885 and served as a bunkhouse for railroad workers.  It was later used as a bank, a candy company, and a saloon. …

  • Alabama,  craft beer

    A pint at Interstellar Ginger Beer & Exploration Co. in Alabaster, Ala.

    In a craft beer scene getting more and more crowded, it is getting difficult for newcomers to make their mark on the landscape.  So when Shane Kelly and Daniel Sims decided to open a brewery, they decided to differentiate themselves in the marketplace by brewing ginger beer.  The duo settled on a location south of Birmingham in Alabaster off Interstate 65 near the Shelby County Airport in order to sell their product to an under-served population.  So the first thing visitors see when coming to the brewery is its signage at the entrance to an industrial park. The building that houses the brewery is at the end of a cul-de-sac…

  • Alabama,  craft beer

    A beercation in Birmingham

    Craft beer drinkers don’t usually think of visiting cities in the Southern United States, aside from Asheville, N.C., for a craft beer vacation, but recent changes in alcohol laws have led to a growth of breweries in Birmingham, Ala.  So with an extended break, my wife Katie and I decided to visit the Magic City for our own beercation over a two-day period. We’ll start our trip on Friday, March 30, by visiting the five breweries around downtown Birmingham (Avondale Brewing Co., Cahaba Brewing Co., Ghost Train Brewing Co., Good People Brewing Co., and TrimTab Brewing Co. ).  On Saturday, March 31, we will head to the suburbs to visit…

  • Alabama,  craft beer

    A pint at Rocket Republic Brewing in Madison, Ala.

    There are two notable industries in the area surrounding Huntsville, Ala.: space and craft beer.  When you bring the two industries together you get Rocket Republic Brewing Company in the suburb of Madison. Eric and Tatum Crigger along with business partners John and Lynn Troy launched (no pun intended) Rocket Republic in 2013, and eventually opened their own brewhouse and taproom in 2015.  Like many professional brewers, Eric started as a homebrewer before taking a course on opening a brewery, and eventually realizing that dream.  The taproom came to fruition after the brewery’s initial success with contract brewery and the aid of an Indiegogo campaign.  So onto the taproom… Visitors are…

  • Alabama,  craft beer

    A pint at Blue Pants Brewery in Madison, Ala.

    There are a lot of things you can do with an old cotton warehouse.  Building a brewery was an ideal fit because of the need for floor space to house all the brewing equipment.  It is a far cry from where Blue Pants Brewery started off Slaughter Road in a 400-square-foot space.  Now when visitors to the brewery and taproom arrive, they immediately see an expansive building with ample parking. Visitors immediately enter the taproom. The taproom maximizes the available space with a nice merchandise area. Uniquely among the merchandise is a cooler, so visitors can take home their new favorite beer and also some liquor that is distilled on…

  • Alabama,  craft beer

    A pint at Old Black Bear Brewing Co. in Madison, Ala.

    After losing their government contract jobs Todd and Dawn Seaton turned to a rather unconventional choice by opening a craft brewery.  After starting by contract brewing their beer, the couple finally realized the dream of opening a production facility of their own in 2015.  The pair went all in when they opened 7,000-square-foot facility that includes a restaurant.  So when people visit Old Black Bear Brewing Company in downtown Madison, you get much more than just beer. The brewery occupies two buildings in the corner of revitalized strip mall.  So there is a building that houses the production side and another building houses the taproom and restaurant.  In addition to…

  • Alabama,  craft beer

    A pint at Salty Nut Brewery in Huntsville, Ala.

    Proof that the craft beer scene is growing in Huntsville is clearly visible through the history of Salty Nut Brewery.  Brent Cole and Daniel Yant along with a team of partners opened the brewery in 2013 off Evangel Circle near the UA Huntsville campus.  In January 2016, the brewery relocated to its current location in Downtown Huntsville off Clinton Avenue in the spaced previously occupied by Yellowhammer Brewing. Although Salty Nut has changed the space to meet its needs, the general structure has not changed.  One building serves as the taproom while another building houses the brewing and fermentation equipment. Visitors immediately walk into the seating area before finding the…