A new craft brewery is up and running in Mobile, just in time for the holidays. Oyster City Brewing Company (OCBC), out of Apalachicola, Florida, officially opened a taproom and brewery downtown Friday, Dec. 17. They are the first established brewers to launch a facility in this market.
Located in the former Serda Brewing Co. structure (600 Government St.), which closed in May, the new digs look familiar but refreshed. We stopped by Saturday evening and everything seemed to be running smoothly. There was plenty of OCBC-branded merch for sale and people were already making themselves at home. The indoor tables were full and kids ran around the outside seating area barefoot, playing tag.
The taproom had 16 beers available on tap, some brewed in-state and others brewed elsewhere in the South. Oyster City’s parent company, Made By The Water, recently acquired North Carolina-based Catawba Valley Brewing Co., so the Mobile location distributes and can brew Catawba- and Palmetto-branded beers in addition to the Oyster City ones.
We opted for a few flights, five pours for $10, served on a sturdy cross-section of a tree trunk. The options included coastal-themed brews like a pineapple hazy, Tupelo honey ale, salt lime lager and blood orange IPA. Some of our favorites were the raspberry-hibiscus Berliner Weisse, peanut butter porter and the Mangrove pale ale, which I’d wager to say is my new favorite pale ale.
The bartender told us the brewery is currently partnering with food trucks, but will open its own kitchen in the coming weeks to offer bar grub like sliders. Head brewer Joe Grove is also working on some original-to-Mobile beer recipes, which they hope to get out for special events like Mardi Gras.
In a video posted to Facebook, COO Clayton Mathis said the company was drawn to Mobile because it is like “a big Apalachicola.” Director of Sales Ian Berg, a Mobile native, said the age of the local beer market was also a major factor for them.
“Mobile has such a young craft beer scene,” Berg said. “But look at how quickly it’s starting to grow and the quality of beer out there. Everyone’s starting to recognize that. It’s a super cool thing and it’s just going to continue to develop.”
Fairhope Brewing’s managing partner Brian Kane worked with Oyster City on Fairhope’s annual “Friends in Low Places” collaborative beer, which was released last month to benefit the Alabama Coastal Foundation. The joint effort included all six of the breweries in Mobile and Baldwin counties — Fairhope, Big Beach, Braided River, Iron Hand, Old Majestic and Oyster City, which had not yet opened.
Kane said at the time he was excited about Oyster City coming into town and thought taking over the Serda building, with its prime location and good bones, was a smart move. Fairhope and Oyster City are nearly the same age.
“It shows that people think there’s still growth potential for craft beer in our area,” Kane said. “We [local brewers] always like to think that, but having somebody who is four hours east of us look at this location as being somewhere that would be a good fit for them is a real blessing. And Oyster City is a brewery, from everything I’ve seen, that makes very good beer.”
Kane said he often travels along the Panhandle to distribute Fairhope beer, and he sees Oyster City taps everywhere. Oyster City seems to be growing quickly right now; they also just expanded into Tallahassee, Florida.
“It says the Gulf Coast area, in general, is still a spot where craft beer can grow,” Kane said. “And if you come in and have a nice place and a good product, I think your chances of success are pretty good.”
For up-to-date hours of operation and a schedule of events taking place at the brewery, visit Oyster City Mobile’s Facebook page at facebook.com/ocbcmobile.
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