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 inundated with the rocket theme because of Huntsville’s nickname as the “Rocket City” and its role in helping the United States land a man on the moon (read this piece for more details). Through Redstone Arsenal and related businesses, the Huntsville area still employs a lot of people in the sciences. So the name Rocket Republic is an homage to one of the industries that helped build Huntsville.
The brewery used to be a warehouse, which is the perfect location for a brewery and taproom because there is plenty of space for equipment and seating for guests. Visitors to the brewery immediately walking into the seating area, which is primarily to the right of the door.
To the left of the door inside the taproom is the bar.
So sitting down at the bar, my wife Katie and I ordered a flight. We have drank a few beers from Rocket Republic, but wanted to take advantage of being at the brewery and the opportunity to sample some taproom-only beers. We opted for a six-pour flight. Naturally, the flight tray was shaped like a rocket.
We ordered some of their standards like AstroNut Brown Ale (an American brown ale), Mach One IPA (an American IPA), Apollo Amber (an American amber) along with some specialty beers like the Russian Imperial Stout, Solar Sour Blood Orange, and Solar Sour Dry Hopped. Brown ale fans should definitely get the AstroNut Brown. It was smooth with nice roasted flavors. The Mach One IPA is a West Coast-style IPA, so it was big on grapefruit notes. The Apollo Amber was a less hoppy than the typical American amber, and was much more mellow and smooth.
When we visited, there were four versions of the Solar Sour on draft. We could have chosen the original, blood orange, raspberry, or dry-hopped version. We opted for the dry-hopped and blood orange variants. The Solar Sour Blood Orange was a bit sweet and kind of tangy from the orange. The sour was spot on, but the orange was a bit too powerful for my tastes. The Solar Sour Dry Hopped has a great mouthfeel and tartness with just a hint of citrus from the Citra and Falconer’s Flight hops. The Russian Imperial Stout was very smooth and not at all boozy despite it 8.1% ABV.
We did not opt for more beers, but not surprisingly there were plenty of other options on draft on the day we visited.
There is obviously much more to the brewery and taproom than the bar area. So I explored more of the expansive former warehouse and captured pictures of the brewing equipment and other seating areas.
Much of the decoration around the brewery relates to the space and rocket theme, so visitors can see that in the cold storage area with rockets on top of the structure and space scenes in the “portholes.” Just beyond the storage space is the brewing equipment.
Although there were no special events or food trucks at the taproom when Katie and I visited, there are numerous events and live music performances at the brewery each week. Food trucks are usually on site Mondays through Saturdays as well. An up-to-date list of events and food trucks can be found online.
Whether you’re into rockets and space or just trying to find good beer, visitors should be pleasantly pleased with their visit to Rocket Republic Brewing Company where you don’t have to choose between rockets and beer. Instead you have blast off for a good time with an AstroNut Brown Ale or discuss the inner workings of the Milky Way Galaxy while sipping on a Cosmic Cookie.