Ghost Train Brewing Co.
Photo | Tom Ward
Birmingham has become a great destination for craft beer lovers. Now there’s even a Birmingham beer trail to follow (as long as you can stay upright) if you’re in the Magic City. In fact, a “Tour de Brewers” is being held this Saturday, March 16, where for $40 you can participate in an 11K bike/run/crawl that includes seven of the city’s breweries.
The running/cycling event begins at 11 a.m. at Tin Roof on 7th Avenue S. Participants get a race bib with five tickets, each good for a craft beer at any of the stops. The casual event allows runners/bikers to pick their own route and hit favorite taprooms before returning to Tin Roof for an after-party at 3 p.m. Information can be found at the “Tour de Brewers” Facebook page.
One stop on the tour is Ghost Train Brewing Co., located in an industrial area on 3rd Avenue, almost directly under the U.S. Route 280 overpass. The brewery opened in late 2016 in the space previously occupied by Cahaba Brewing, which relocated to a much larger facility a couple of miles away in the Avondale District.
Ghost Train’s taproom is directly integrated with the brewery itself, as the canning machine snakes right though the seating area. Patrons make their way around kegs, boxes and cans to a backroom with a pingpong table and some couches, reminiscent of a fraternity house basement. The main area has a small bar along with a number of tables and chairs scattered throughout. There is also a stage for live music on Friday and Saturday nights.
Outside there is another seating area in what is effectively part of the parking lot, and a place for a food truck. There isn’t much of a view, as it’s in the old warehouse district of Birmingham, but you come for the beer, not for al fresco dining — and the beer is excellent.
Brewmaster and co-owner Taylor DeBoar, who previously was a brewer with Cahaba, offers a wide variety of styles in the taproom. The night I was there, 14 beers were available — lagers, goses, porters, IPAs, sours, you name it — so Ghost Train probably has beer that will fit your taste. I tried the Dry Hopped Gose, which was light and flavorful with the right amount of a sour finish. My wife had the Boysenberry Smoothie Sour, a strong, colorful, tart and sweet offering.
Luckily for us, you don’t have to make the trek up Interstate 65 to enjoy Ghost Train, as its five core styles — Ghost Train Light Lager, Ghost Train Craft Lager, Switchman’s Stash IPL, Gulf Coast IPA and Kaleidoscope Kettle Sour — are available throughout Lower Alabama in grocery stores such as Publix and Piggly Wiggly, as well as on tap at a number of watering holes in Mobile and Baldwin counties.
I’ve tried a number of the Ghost Train offerings, both on tap and in cans, and have not found one that I dislike yet — which is saying something, as even the best craft breweries turn out some stinkers at times. They really produce top-notch brews.
While Ghost Train celebrates its lagers — which not all craft brewers even attempt — my favorites are the Gulf Coast IPA, a hazy IPA with good hop flavors and citrus notes, and the Kaleidoscope Kettle Sour, a very tart sour with berry flavors — one of the better sours you will find in our area.
So get on the train!
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