Following a visit with the nice folks at Blue Pants in Madison, we trekked about 15 min east to Huntsville for our last brewery stop in Alabama. Straight to Ale Brewing co-owner and head brewer, Dan Perry, and sales manager, Rich Partain, greeted us at once and offered some samples of their vast beer line-up. The brewery got its start following a promise that Dan and some of his homebrewing friends made to themselves, mainly, that they would open up a brewery if Alabama’s ABV cap was ever lifted. They just didn’t want to make beer with those sorts of limitations and he openly gives much of credit to their and much of the Alabama brewing scene’s existence to the work of grassroots organization, Free the Hops. Though he admitted they never thought it would happened, nearly all of the group kept their promise and filed paperwork for the LLC about a week after the new law went into effect. Therefore, the Straight to Ale Brewing was born in 2009 and sold their first beer on May 1, 2010 – which they consider to be their true anniversary.
We packed our stuff back in Birmingham, headed north, stayed the night at Point Mallard Campground in Decatur, AL, and then made our way to Blue Pants Brewery in Madison on 2/17/14. Right as we walked up to the brewery, we noticed the beautiful 4,000 sq ft patio containing tables, chairs, and a stage outside. Apparently they utilize that space by bringing in musicians to perform on a weekly basis, as well as allowing patrons to hang out there anytime they’re open.
During an afternoon hanging out in the Good People taproom, we heard praise about a new brewery in town from several of the knowledgeable locals and decided to take a look for ourselves. We headed just a few miles across downtown to Birmingham’s Lakeview District and entered Trim Tab Brewing Company. That night the brewery was pretty busy but we were lucky enough to catch brewer Spencer Overton to discuss this young business’ philosophy and goals before we rejoined the party in the tasting room with a group we met at the brewery earlier in the day.
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.
After heading out of Mississippi but before crossing over into Florida, we stopped off at Fairhope Brewing Co located within “the dangly bits of Alabama” in the city of Fairhope on Friday, 1/24/14. Breweries were at one time sparse in the state, but after multiple law changes over the past 5 years, the Alabama brewery scene went from 1 operating, manufacturing brewery to about 25. Some examples of recent law changes include the Gourmet Beer Bill passed in May of 2009 which raised the ABV of beers allowed to be sold in the state and the Brewery Modernization Act in June of 2011 which, amongst other things, made taprooms legal.