Once we left Atlanta, we headed west into Alabama again and found ourselves back in the Central Time Zone on Friday night. The next morning, we drove into Birmingham to see what Good People Brewing is all about. At first we just sat at their bar and spoke with some nice locals, who one might consider to be good people, then joined the 4pm tour with Tripp Windham as our guide. Tripp was one of the most entertaining people we have run into yet and, outside of giving tours, he works the canning line, serves beer in the taproom, and helps out with various other tasks at the brewery.
Founders Jason Malone and Michael Sellers both went to Auburn University where they started homebrewing together. Their friends liked the beer they were making so much that Michael and Jason started taking it to parties, which only caused those delectable suds to gain even more popularity. They ended up going off into careers in Finance and Business but, after realizing that they each had a hole in their heart, decided to get back into brewing. In 2006 they started working at The Mill in the Five Points area of Birmingham where they built up their reputation around town, then in 2008 Good People debuted at Brew Fest with the Brown Ale & IPA and sold their first keg on July 4 of the same year. You might have already noticed that 2008 was the year the brewery came to be, since they’ve taken a little jab a Alabama Laws by placing ‘Legally brewed since 2008’ on each of their cans.
More space was needed for their growing operations, so in 2010 Good People moved over to a new building (which used to be a mattress warehouse). The warehouse wasn’t exactly in the best part of town, but the mayor at the time, Larry Langford, decided to put an environmentally friendly park nearby to revitalize the area. He may or may not have gone to prison (hint: he did), but at least Mayor Bell came in and completed the park. Soon after, Regions Field Stadium was built right across the street from Good People. With the park/ stadium/ brewery trifecta of awesomeness now in place, combined with the fact that the Birmingham Barons (who play at Regents Stadium) won the Southern League Championships last year, the area truly has been revitalized. Good People sells some of their beer at the stadium, as well as throughout Alabama and Nashville, and will be expanding into the panhandle of Florida, Georgia, Louisiana, and more of Tennessee soon. To help with that expansion the brewery just purchased more storage space, so they will be moving the canning line and purchasing additional tanks soon.
Can they? Yes, they can… three of their beers year-round: the Brown Ale and IPA I mentioned above, as well as an American Pale Ale. Furthermore, the brewery has two other year-round offerings: the Coffee Oatmeal Stout they just started canning about three weeks ago and the Snake Handler Double IPA. We had the chance to try three of those five (the Snake Handler, Coffee Oatmeal Stout, and IPA) as well as one of their seasonal offerings, Fatso Russian Imperial Stout. In order to have a unique beer offered in each of the four seasons, there are three other brews – Hitchhiker Alabama IPA, Bearded Lady American Wheat Ale, and Mumbai Rye Rye IPA – that we did not get the chance to try. Rather than just calling it a day with those nine recipes, Good People expands on their selection with what they call their ‘rarest and most eclectic offerings’ in the Bearded Reserves series. Through that series, the brewers get a chance to experiment in interesting and inventive ways, mixing things up a little bit. For example, they have brewed beers under that tag using specifically southern ingredients, unpredictably wild yeast strains, and doubled up ingredients from one of their main recipes.
The brewery is dog friendly and holds a lot of special events. They also work with non-profit groups, like Black Warrior River Keeper – members of the water keeper alliance – who patrol the Black Warrior River to make sure it stays clean and natural; the water used at Good People comes from this river. A few days before our visit there was a non-profit church group who held a fund-raiser there, and the brewery is on board with helping out most groups who can prove their non-profit status. I would also like to mention the fact that one of the taproom bartenders, John Lytle Wilson, does artwork where he incorporates robots and monkeys into existing paintings; take a look at them here. The taproom is open every day, and public tours are given every Saturday from 2 – 4pm, on the hour. Big thanks to Tripp for taking time to answer our questions!
Author: Michael Roberts