ALEHEAD NATION: ALABAMA

In honor of the Crimson Tide’s shutout over LSU in the NCAA Championship Game,  I’m proud to present the next installment in our ongoing (but very sporadic) Alehead Nation series. So far we’ve given you the Alehead Map of America and Pennsylvania. Now here’s Alabama! This is a map showcasing all of the existing and upcoming breweries in the Yellowhammer State. There are currently 11 breweries operating or in the planning stages in Alabama. Not much relative to other states, but considering that there was only ONE operational brewery in the state just a few years ago, I’d say we’re making some serious progress.

There’s no geographic rhyme or reason to the placement of the breweries since the vast majority of them are either in Huntsville or Birmingham. I just tried to make it look pretty. The funky “border” lines between breweries are actual county borders, however. So that part is geographically accurate. The breweries included in the image are:

  • Cahaba Brewing Company: Birmingham-based. Fully licensed. Not operational yet.
  • Blue Pants Brewery: Huntsville-based. Operational.
  • Straight to Ale: Huntsville-based. Operational. Open taproom.
  • Back Forty Beer Company: Gadsden-based. Operational. Just won Silver at the GABF for their Truck Stop Honey Brown.
  • Avondale Brewing Company: Birmingham-based. Operational. Open taproom.
  • Below the Radar: Huntsville-based. Brewpub. Still in the licensing/renovation phase.
  • Salty Nut Brewery: Huntsville-based. Still in early phases. Just selected a location.
  • Good People Brewing Company: Birmingham-based. Operational. Open taproom. Largest brewery in Alabama at this time.
  • Chattahoochee Brewing Company: Phenix City-based. Brewpub. Still in licensing phase.
  • Perdido Farm Cider & Ale: Perdido-based. Operational as a vineyard and will be adding beer and cider to their repertoire.
  • Yellowhammer Brewing Company: Huntsville-based. Operational.

Thanks to Dan Roberts, Executive Director of the soon-to-be launched Alabama Brewers’ Guild, for sending me the details.

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3 comments

  1. Jimmy Hoppa · ·

    Very cool Barley! Tell me, how is the state as far as encouraging breweries to open and making it easy to get up and running? My impression is that the south is still very iffy on booze based businesses and still, to some extent frown on drinking in general (I tried to buy beer on a Sunday once in Nashville and got a lecture). Are they appreciative of the jobs and revenue that the industry can bring to the area, or does the acceptance of the industry still have a ways to go?

  2. The Southeast is certainly still the most restrictive region in the nation when it comes to beer…but those barriers have been falling swiftly in recent years. When I moved to ‘Bama in 2007, you couldn’t buy beer stronger than 6% ABV and breweries weren’t allowed to have taprooms. Today, thanks to the efforts of Free the Hops and thousands of activists, the ABV limit has been raised to 13.9% and breweries can serve beer on premises. There are still a number of absurd laws that limit the growth of the beer industry in the state. Breweries can’t sell beer to be taken off premises (ie: you can get a draft beer at a brewery, but couldn’t buy a sixpack to take home). Brewpubs face a TON of harsh regulations about where/how they can be operated. And worst of all (for Aleheads at least), it’s the only state in the nation that has a 16-ounce bottle-size restriction. No bombers or 750s for sale in ‘Bama (though, strangely, you can buy a gallon-sized growler…and of course you can buy a 750 of wine or spirits). It’s also strictly a three-tier state so no self-distribution by breweries. And it has one of (if not THE) highest beer tax rates in America. You CAN buy beer on Sundays here in wet counties, but usually not until after noon (ie: when church is over).

    The same is “generally” true in other Southeastern states. Most have strict regulations left over from Prohibition and enforced by bible-thumping state legislatures…but thanks to local organizations, those laws are changing. Mississippi is even more restrictive than ‘Bama, but their local group (Raise Your Pints) is doing great things there.

    On the flipside, the Carolinas (particularly North Carolina) have become VERY attractive to craft breweries thanks to wide open legislation. Asheville, NC is the envy of most cities not named Portland, Denver or San Diego as far as beer culture is concerned. Tennessee is home to Yazoo, Florida to Cigar City, and Georgia to Sweetwater, Wild Heaven, and MillerTerrapin. While we’re still well behind other parts of the country, the South has made great strides and if I were an investor looking to get in on the craft game, it’s absolutely the area I’d get involved with. Lots of craft beer fans down here and not a lot of regional competition. It’s going to be a wild few years in the beer industry in Dixie.

  3. [...] When I moved to Alabama, there was just one brewery operating in the state. This year, there are a dozen either operating or in the planning stages (with even more to come). Restaurants, bars, and package stores have embraced craft beer and have [...]

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