Last year was an exciting one for the Lower Alabama beer scene, and 2018 promises to be even more eventful. Perhaps most significant was the opening of Serda’s Brewing Co. in downtown Mobile, giving the city its first craft brewery in almost two decades. If you haven’t stopped by the brewery, located in the old Goodyear building on Government Street, do so soon. It has both great indoor and outdoor space and will be a prime spot during Mardi Gras. There are currently four beers available in the taproom with more on the way.
While we waited to finally get a craft brewery in Mobile, 2018 should provide a much wider selection of local craft brews. Haint Blue Brewing Co. seems to have finally put its legal issues behind it and hopes to open in the old ice house later this year. Its beers are already available at a wide variety of places, so when the brewery eventually opens, a large number of devoted fans will be streaming to its doors.
Iron Hand Brew Pub is also scheduled to open sometime later this year in the old Waterfront Rescue Building. Iron Hand will be an English-style pub with British Isles-style beers. Unlike Serda’s and Haint Blue, Iron Hand will serve traditional pub grub as well as its distinctive craft beers, including a periodic Sunday Roast.
On the other side of the bay, Big Beach Brewery took home two gold and one silver medal at last year’s Alabama Craft Beer Festival, for its Small Town Brown, Dixie’s Heart Red Ale and Rod’s Cream Ale, respectively. If you’ve not have a chance to try its fine selection of beers, resolve to do so in 2018. Its great tap room in Gulf Shores also hosts a number of events, including trivia on Mondays and board game Sundays. In February, Big Beach will have a Groundhog Day firkin tapping and a “Beer and Chocolate” pairing event for Valentine’s Day.
The granddaddy of local breweries in our area is, of course, Fairhope Brewing Co., which is set to celebrate its fifth anniversary this Saturday, Jan. 20, from 2-10 p.m. The celebration will have a Star Wars theme, with more than 40 beers on tap including Brewbacca, Jabba the Hop and JedIPA. It is rumored that Stormtroopers may even be onsite looking for droids.
Admission to the party costs $5, which includes a souvenir glass. There will be music, food and a wide variety of beers, both new styles and old favorites — including some that have not been offered in a while. There will even be two special anniversary beers available — one aged with rye and another with bourbon. One of the more interesting additions to the party lineup will be a number of styles developed by local home brewers and brewed at FBC.
Fairhope Brewing Co. has grown substantially since it opened in 2013 with four beers on tap and a 10-barrel brewery. Since then it has expanded its capacity 600 percent and regularly has more than a dozen beers available in its taproom (as well as its own red and white wine). Its beers can be found throughout Alabama and along the Gulf Coast from the Mississippi-Louisiana line all the way east to Apalachicola in the Florida Panhandle.
Five different Fairhope Brewing styles are now found in bottles, including its newest release, Cheap Sunglasses Pale Ale. While best known for its strong, hoppy beers, especially its Take the Causeway IPA, the two-time defending Nappie Award winner for best local beer, Cheap Sunglasses is a lighter (4.4 percent ABV), easygoing kolsch that still has a good, flavorful finish. Look for it soon in bottles and on tap throughout our area.
(Photo | Facebook) Fairhope Brewing Co.’s Fifth Anniversary Ale is a golden barleywine aged in two different types of whiskey barrels. It’s available for a limited time.