The former cotton warehouse that is now the home Old Majestic Brewing Company has come roaring back to life, as the brewery is now open.
Co-owner Chad Marchand greeted his “friends and family” guests on Thursday night into the space and offered pours of the brewery’s first two selections, a Four Fathers stout and a blonde. The soft opening was the culmination of a nearly three-year process for Marchand and John Minton.
“We’re excited,” Marchand said. “We’ve been anticipating this for a long time. We’re excited to open the doors.”
Minton, an Airbus employee, and Marchand, an attorney, were introduced when a friend discovered their shared passion for homebrewing. They signed paperwork to start the process three years ago.
“We said we wanted to give brewing a shot,” he said. “We both loved breweries.”
The brewery, next to The Cheese Cottage on St. Louis Street downtown, features a large brick-lined taproom and long wooden bar in front of a line of taps. Marchand said he thinks the city’s craft beer market is still strong.
“The market is prime,” he said. “There are a minimum number of breweries. It’s ripe for the picking.”
Old Majestic is the fourth new brewery to open in Mobile and the first to open on the burgeoning St. Louis Street corridor. A fifth brewery, Braided River, has received a recommendation from the Mobile City Council for a manufacturing license from the Alabama Beverage Control board.
Old Majestic, Serda, Haint Blue and Iron Hand all add to the downtown landscape, Downtown Mobile Alliance President and CEO Elizabeth Stevens said.
“It’s amazing how different each one is,” she said. “Each has its own style and culture and flair and I love that.”
Specifically, Stevens complimented Old Majestic on its building.
“It’s a fabulously beautiful building,” she said. “It’s like a work of art. I wish them well.”
Lafayette Land Company LLC was responsible for moving the cotton warehouse from Greenwood, Mississippi, to Mobile to house the brewery.
President and CEO Bob Isakson said the 1920s-era building has all original windows and brick. The two heavy doors on the front are new, he said.
“It’s really something,” Isakson said. “It’s beautiful.”
Crews took the building apart brick by brick in Greenwood, Isakson said, before moving it to Mobile and then re-assembling it.
“It took us two months to take it apart,” he said.
From there, Lafayette presented sketches of the building to Minton and Marchand, who agreed to use it for the brewery “sight unseen,” Isakson said.
“We brought to them the concept, sketches and floor plans,” he said.
To put the building back together, Lafayette crews poured a foundation, put up hollow foam board, filled it in with concrete and then placed the original brick around it, Isakson said.
With two beers ready to go and two more on the way, Old Majestic officially opened at 4 p.m. Dec. 18 with the following hours: 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., Tuesday through Thursday; 4 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday; noon to 10 p.m., Saturday; and noon to 8 p.m., Sunday. The brewery is closed on Mondays.
The brewery debuted with its blonde and a stout called Four Fathers. The latter can be dispensed with nitrogen. Those other two beers include a smoked molasses porter called Eliza Battle, named for a steamship that sank on the Tombigbee River, and an IPA called Boeuf Gras, or fat ox. The brewery also introduced a root beer.
Old Majestic fits in with other developments Isakson is working on along the corridor, which he hopes will bring more “livelihood” to St. Louis Street. Those plans include a rooftop bar not far from the brewery and grassy areas with activities such as bocci ball, he said.
The growth along St. Louis Street has been noticeable, but Stevens said it has been organic and is encouraging for the entire downtown area. The nature of the growth should not infringe upon the established corridor along Dauphin Street, she said.
“I think both can co-exist just fine and each can function in a slightly different way,” she said.
She described the Dauphin Street and St. Louis Street corridors as different “nodes” of downtown.
“As we get more residents [downtown] we’re going to need more nodes to help meet the needs of those residents,” Stevens said. “The more residents we have, the more services they’ll need.”
The downtown growth that has seen new apartments and condominiums come online will continue into the next decade, although it is expected to be a bit different, she said.
“In 2014, we set as a goal of 1,000 new housing units by the end of 2020 … Most would be multi-family,” she said. “From 2020 to 2025, our goal is 500. It’s a lot more small scale. We’re looking for single-family [residential] as infill.”
The addition of single-family housing would help the area capture more families and those in the middle stage of life, Stevens said, and not lose those folks to Midtown.
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