When the Fairhope Brewing Co. opened in 2013, those of us in Lower Alabama who love craft beer hoped its success would spark the development of other local taprooms. After all, Birmingham boasts four breweries, Huntsville nine (nine!) and even Montgomery has two, while here on the Gulf Coast, despite many promises and plans, we still have only the taproom in Fairhope. That is until now.
At the end of October, the Big Beach Brewery opened its (large) doors across the street from Tacky Jacks in Gulf Shores. I used the grand opening as a good excuse to head to the coast and check it out.
As you walk up, the first thing you notice about the Big Beach Brewery is the outside space. Despite being right on Highway 180, there is a large green area with a wide variety of benches, chairs and tables situated under some trees and umbrellas for shade. There was also a Frisbee golf goal, and a cornhole court situated under a very nice second-floor deck, where you can take in an (obscured) view of the intracoastal waterway while you sip your beer in the sun.
A number of people even had their dogs with them. The taproom itself is open to the outside area with a number of garage doors, letting the outside into the wood and metal interior. The modern, industrial feel is set off by some leather chairs and a couch in front of large fireplace (not in operation on the high 80s October day I was there). Overall, it is a great space, with a real beach vibe.
We sat at the outside section of the inside-outside bar and looked over the offerings. There were six different beers on tap the afternoon I was there — an IPA, an American Pale Ale, an Irish Red, a Cream Ale, a Brown Ale and a Hefeweizen. Our beertender allowed us to try some samples, and I settled on a pint of the American Pale Ale while my wife had the Cream Ale (which she really liked).
Later we got a flight of the other four beers, which were all good, and faithful to their styles, but — with the exception of the Brown Ale, which was very nice and bold — were all on the light side. The only one that was disappointing was the IPA, which was not nearly hoppy enough for an IPA. Pints at Big Beach Brewing cost $5 and flights cost $8. You could also buy a custom 64-ounce growler for $8 and have it filled for another $14.
I started talking with the owner of the brewery, Jim Shamburger, who just happened to be sitting next to me. He and his son, who was tending the bar, told me that they planned to have new styles available every two to three weeks and will keep rotating beers until they find a couple of styles that customers demand they keep. They also said they encourage patrons to submit ideas for beers and, if they sound good, they might brew them.
We had a great time at our first visit to Big Beach Brewery and plan to return soon. It is definitely worth your time to stop by for a pint or a flight while you are at the beach, and it is a welcome new addition to our local beer scene. Now if we could only get some taprooms open on the western shore of Mobile Bay.
Big Beach Brewing Company is located at 300 E. 24th Ave. (on Highway 180, right before Canal Drive starts) in Gulf Shores. It is open Tuesday through Thursday 3-10 p.m., Friday and Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. The brewery’s website (www.bigbeachbrewing.com) includes information on upcoming events.