There’s been a beer renaissance in Birmingham. Like many of the neighboring southern states, Alabama has been shackled with bygone post-Prohibition laws, watching the rest of the country free itself from beer-binding amendments as the decades passed. Until very recently, Alabama breweries were taxed heavily and kept from distributing their products or brewing any beer over a skimpy 6% ABV.
In 2013, Alabama finally loosened their sobering grip and lifted the laws against homebrewing in the state. Now, Alabamans are showing off what they’ve got and what the country has been missing. And Birmingham brewers are leading the charge.
By way of introduction, we’re Bellhops – the modern alternative to standard moving companies in Birmingham. It’s a pleasure to meet you. But without further adieu, here is the Bellhop’s guide to breweries in Birmingham. Check out our ranking below for all the info you’ll need to get you movin’ and sippin’ through this Magic City.
Since Alabama has so recently released the legal binds on brewers, the topic of beer still feels quite taboo. True Story feels like the speakeasy of Birmingham’s few breweries. Located in the back of the owner’s vape store in a shopping center, most people didn’t know it existed except by word of mouth. This tiny microbrewery runs on a pilot batch system (about a barrel at a time).
The taproom fits the small-theme of the brewery with one glistening bar for seating. And though tiny, this backroom is decked out with quirky art and full-wall, sketched murals. Grab an in-house brewed drink or one featured from another Birmingham brewery and pair it with their tasty rotating food menu.
If you want to snag a sample of this brewery’s rare creations, try this refreshing Saison brewed with blackberries and cucumber.
Just after Cahaba Brewery moved out of their first facility, the Ghost Train snuck in and set up shop. Since then, they haven’t pulled the breaks – doubling their brewing capacity with larger tanks, installing an in-house canning line, and adding a distillery. They pump out solid beers – each one excellently straddling approachable and abnormal, like their Indian Pale Lager, Blueberry Cheesecake Wild Ale, and Chugga Peach Cobbler Smoothie Sour.
Try this: Kaleidoscope Kettle Sour. This gorgeous tart brew is fermented on pounds of wild berries, making it a fresh and fruity treat.
BDBC is deeply rooted in the history of Birmingham and the culture of Alabama. This deep care for their region was what inspired the founders to name their business after their city. This incredibly passionate brewery is small for now. But with 20+ years of combined brewing experience, tasty and diverse brews, a beautiful wood-featuring rustic taproom, and Southern hospitality at its finest, we wouldn’t be surprised if expansion is close at hand.
Try this: The Descent. This dark beauty (middle right) is bold, full-bodied, and balanced. Want to experience all the flavors of this stout even more? Order it on nitro.
Located in an 1895 town building in the heart of Avondale, this brewery’s beers and taproom are steeped in the region’s history, with a brand and beer inspired by the folklore of the town. Murals and depictions of a circus elephant speckle the building and beer labels. This elephant, or Miss Fancy as they used to call her, is told to have guzzled beer as she marched down the streets of Avondale, and that was enough to inspire ABC’s first beer, which they named in her honor.
ABC double dips as a brewery and music venue, hosting live bands and throwing music events several times a month. They pack out the taproom during these events and on weekends, but when the weather is nice, their large, dog-friendly back patio with its own bar invites patrons to relax outdoors.
Two more perks that rank this brewery high on our list:
First, its located less than a half-mile away from the 36-acre Avondale Park.
Second, ABC has a little brother located right next to the brewery called The Sour Room, where they serve a delicious and rotating list of barrel-aged and kettle sour beers.
Try this: Vanillaphant Porter.
Posted up in Downtown Birmingham, Cahaba pumps out tons of beer that’s spreading across the state. In 2016, Cahaba completed a massive expansion and moved to the 51,000 square foot Historical Continental Gin Complex. With their laid-back, fun atmosphere, outdoorsy themes, and great location, Cahaba is on track to keep expanding. And their adventurous, hop-forward brews, like their Bourbon Barrel Aged Oka Uba IPA, keep the patrons happily returning.
Try this: Kiwi Kolsch. This golden delicacy is fruity, clean, and dry. Catch it during the summer when its available, and grab some grub from the brewery’s daily lineup of food trucks.
Good People serves up some friggin’ good brews, and a few of the highest-rated beers in the South. Their location doesn’t hurt their business either. Stationed right around the corner from the 19-acre urban green space and bike path, Railroad Park and across from Birmingham’s new minor league baseball park, Region’s Field, Good People found a good spot.
Even though they opened relatively recently (with a celebratory 4th of July grand opening in 2008), Good People was the first brewery to hit Alabama soil. Since then they’ve been expanding distribution throughout Alabama and Tennessee, brewing some of the best beer in the country, and inspiring other Alabamans to join in this artful production.
From their industrial taproom right in the midst of their boil kettles and fermenters, Good People serves a beer menu full of bold, innovative flavors. Their five year-round brews and accompanying seasonals range from seasonable Mexican lagers to smack-you-silly, hop-heavy IPAs to 13.9% Rusian Imperial Stouts. While Good People doesn’t serve food, they encourage visitors to bring some grub in with them.
Try this: Urban Farmer
Named after a tiny rudder on ships and aircraft, Trimtab Brewing believes that their small sources of great craft beer can create big change. Their goal is to use their craft to make a notable difference in the people, organizations, and ideas around them. And while they are one of the newest breweries on the scene, they’re already making a big impact in the city.
This brewery came busting out of the restricting Alabama alcohol laws, and in less than five years, they’ve become one of the very top breweries in Birmingham. Their distribution has spread across state lines, they’ve tripled their brewing capacity, and they’re utilizing a new canning line. Plus, they’ve already taken home a bronze medal at the Great American Beer Festival for their Paradise Now beer.
Try this: Bankston 88
Back Forty planted its second location in Birmingham at Sloss Docks in the summer of 2018. Their first facility, only a little over an hour away which opened in 2009, brought the same struggles that all Alabama brewers experienced. But with the inspiration of beer cities popping up across the country, Back Forty was determined to bring more than watered-down macro brews to the beer scene of the South.
Back Forty is one of Birmingham’s only breweries that also serves food, and even if there were others, it’d blow the competition away. Even Vegans could stumble while perusing the menu of crisp-skinned sausage, double-patty cheeseburgers, braised beef with ricotta dumplings, cheese-loaded pizzas, and charcuterie boards. And most of the items on this fabulous menu have been locally sourced!
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