Cheers to the Teams!

Few businesses offer a truer flavor of a place—and its people—than a local brewery. With their egalitarian crowds; beers named for cultural landmarks or reflecting the local history or flora or fauna; multiple televisions tuned to what matters right here, right now; and enough space to host a team or two or three, breweries always beckon visitors.

Luckily, we have a lot of them. 

Birmingham was a little late to the craft-brewing scene, but a resolute “Free the Hops” movement in the mid-2000s resulted in changes to state laws and local breweries quickly became viable businesses. Making up for lost time, we’re now attracting national attention. Birmingham made Thrillist’s list of 13 U.S. Destinations That Are Secretly Hiding Incredible Beer Scenes. Several of our breweries have won national awards for their beers. As a bonus:  Most of them offer delicious foods in addition to their highly varied, hyperlocal craft brews. 

I wrote a story about our fantastic breweries for Alabama NewsCenter. You can see how awesome they made it here.

Here’s a list of some of Birmingham’s most popular public houses near The World Games venues, along with suggestions for what to drink (and eat) once you get there. Oh, and their merchandise makes for great souvenirs.

Cheers! And welcome to Birmingham!

Good People Brewing Company 

The owners of this brewery helped usher in the Birmingham craft-brewery scene, and for that reason and more Good People is beloved by our city. The slogan at this brewery in the heart of Birmingham’s Parkside District is “Drink Great Beer. Be Good People.”  Their merch (especially the Have a Good One t shirts and hats with the signature yellow truck) are seen all over the country. The unfiltered, dry-hopped IPA is the brewery’s flagship beer. It’s also the No. 1 selling IPA in the state for the past 10 years. Like things hoppier? Try Good People’s trademark Snake Handler Double IPA. The pale ale here is a hit, so is the Good People Muchacho Mexican-style lager. There are several seasonal and limited-release brews, and they have a popular barrel-aged sour beer program, too. Outside food is permitted, and there are rotating food trucks Monday and Tuesday, but you’ll want to stop by HotBox at Good People, which serves amazing food Wednesday through Sunday from a cool Airstream trailer. The arrival of HotBox at this brewery was a “game-changer,” says one bartender, noting that people often come for dinner and stay for a beer. The menu changes weekly (sometimes daily, so follow them on social media for updates), but the (gluten-free) Lemongrass Fried Chicken is a signature item. They also have a great currywurst, a VooDoo burger with candied jalapenos, Korean barbecue eggrolls and disco fries of the day. 

Monday Night Social Club 

Monday Night Social Club is Alabama’s first location of Atlanta’s Monday Night Brewing. Monday Night Brewing grew out of an Atlanta bible study, and this brewpub outpost in Birmingham is a bit of an experiment (it’s the first location with a full food and beverage menu). There are 25 brews on tap, including house-made beers, small batch IPAs, barrel-aged and sour beers from Monday Night’s Garage in Atlanta, guest taps from local breweries and a full bar with wine and cocktails. Popular brews include Dr. Robot (a tart, fruity sour), Slap Fight (West-Coast IPA), Drafty Kilt (a smoky Scotch ale), Space Lettuce (double IPA) and Blind Pirate (blood orange IPA). There are plenty of limited-release and seasonal brews, too. The food is nearly as much of a draw, and the breakfast burrito (on the brunch menu) was named one of the “Best in the World” by the digital publication Far & Wide.  You’ll also find salads and bowls made with fresh, local ingredients; dips and homemade chips; and Cajun-seasoned pork rinds with a poblano crema. There are a variety of tacos here including chorizo, cauliflower, steak, shrimp and fried mahi options. The “Beeria Tacos,” though, are a must. This is pork shoulder braised in a spicy Drafty Kilt consommé and fried crisp with cheese on a corn tortilla and served with a side of consommé and pickled red onions. There’s a nice kids’ menu, too. And the large outdoor space with games has a great view of frequently passing trains.

Back Forty Beer Company 

This brewpub, across from  Sloss Furnaces National Historic Landmark, is known almost as much for its delicious gourmet pub food as for its popular beers. Executive chef Russ Bodner’s full-service Back40 Kitchen features one of Birmingham’s favorite burgers—the Back40 Cheeseburger (two patties, American cheese, pickles, onions and aioli). There is an excellent kale salad (with shredded cabbage, peanuts, cilantro, mint, Parmesan and an Asian vinaigrette). Back Forty has an inviting wrap-around porch (with rockers) and the large, kid-friendly garden is the perfect place to watch trains go by. There’s a private event space, a large dining room-taproom, an indoor stage, a 20-foot projection TV screen and plenty of parking. You’ll find a variety (some 25 at any given time) of American- and European-style craft beer all brewed onsite. The Naked Pig Pale Ale, this brewery’s first offering, is still wildly popular, so are the Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale, the Freckle Belly IPA and Paw Paw’s Peach Wheat Ale. There are lots of rotating, seasonal brews, too. By the way, the name comes from the traditional farm term for the forty acres of land farthest from the barn (and often the hardest to maintain). It’s a nod to Birmingham’s slow start in the craft-beer movement and the success it’s become because of dedication and hard work.

Cahaba Brewing Co. 

Located in 51,000 sprawling square feet in the historic Continental Gin Complex near the Avondale Park venue, Cahaba Brewing Co., with “passion like a river flows” is named for our beautiful Cahaba River. (This is the longest free-flowing body of water in our state and its Cahaba lilies are both beautiful and super rare, so we think it’s a big deal.) You’ll find pinball machines, Skee-Ball tables, plenty of televisions and a private event space inside the 6,000-square-foot taproom. And the huge, shaded patio beckons everyone (kids and dogs are welcome at Cahaba). Numerous taps serve Cahaba staples like Blonde, Oka Uba IPA, Pale Ale and Lager as well as seasonal, pilot and small-batch brews like the Seasick Record Session IPA (a collab with a nearby beloved small business), Steel Cut City Oatmeal Stout, Event Horizon Hazy IPA and Squeeze the Day Blueberry Lemon Sour. They also mix cocktails from the bourbon, vodka, gin and rum they distill. Plan to eat here. The Current at Cahaba is a food truck that is permanently parked on the patio. Chef Ben Menken’s menu changes often, but he always has the big, juicy Smash Burger with two patties, provolone and cheddar cheeses, fried shallots, homemade pickles and comeback sauce (eat it upside down; trust us). He also offers a soft, giant pretzel with homemade mustard or beer cheese; bratwurst with sauteed onions, kraut and grainy beer mustard; crispy, beer-battered onion rings with that homemade comeback sauce; tacos; wraps; salads; and sharable nachos loaded with things like pulled barbecue pork, pickled jalapenos and carrots and house-made pico.  a Cahaba Brewing is a thoughtful community partner. There are monthly Goodwill Game Nights that benefit area charities and nonprofits. Local community events—ranging from blood drives to food truck festivals to art shows—have a home here, too, throughout the year.  

This brewery can host a crowd; they are expecting one when they team up with Redmont Distilling Company (the official vodka of The World Games) for a World Games Block Party on July 16.

TrimTab Brewing 

In 2019, TrimTab was named one of America’s Top Breweries—out of more than 7,000 others! The brewery, established in 2013 in Birmingham’s Lakeview District near Avondale, specializes in “expressive IPAs, experimental stouts and fruited sours” as well as an encouragingly positive approach to life. “Create a world you love,” is the brewery’s motto, and there’s lots to love here—from core brews like the award-winning Paradise Now raspberry Berliner Weisse and the wildly popular IPA with notes of orange marmalade, rose petal and peppercorn and the classic and crisp 205 Pale Ale. There’s a Gallery Series of small-batch, highly experimental beers and the Beach Club rotational series of tiki- and island cocktail-influenced fruited sours. The Tasting Gallery here is also an art gallery for local artists, an event space and a music venue. The patio has covered and open-air seating, and there are tables and chairs in the warehouse, too. Here’s another reason to visit TrimTab:  Uncle G’s Pizza truck. This Detroit-style pizza is, in a word, amazing. And the thick slices with caramelized edges are proof that it’s deliciously hip to be square. Try the Cool It Down with whipped ricotta, mozzarella, fresh basil and a drizzle of hot honey or the garden-fresh Dal Giardino with garlic ricotta cream as a base, three different cheeses, mushrooms, spinach and red onion. And the bright, simple margherita is awesome. (In case you’re wondering, the name of this brewery comes from a piece of equipment on ships and aircraft—the trimtab—that, while small and unassuming, is what makes the rudder move and, thus, determines the ship’s course. Small things—like a great craft beer and a tasty, square slice of pizza—can make a huge difference.) 

Avondale Brewing Co. 

Avondale Brewing knows how to host a crowd with an indoor taproom, a private event space, a sophisticated Sour Room and the popular backyard patio with its own bar and a large event stage. This brewery was bought by Good People in 2017, so you’ll find both brands here. Avondale’s Spring Street Saison (classic farmhouse ale) is a hometown favorite, so is Miss Fancy’s Triple (named for a beloved elephant who used to live in Avondale Park). The A-OK IPA is a core favorite, along with the refreshingly tart Sour Pash. There are visiting food trucks here like Tuff Love Provisions  with its Really Great Nachos (homemade chipotle crema and pico with pork, chicken or steak) and Smoked Pork Sammie (sesame Asian slaw, yum yum sauce, Asian BBQ and pickles on a brioche bun). You can pick up an order from the nearby Post Office Pies and SAW’s Soul Kitchen  to sample some of Birmingham’s favorite foods. Post Office Pies has hand-tossed, wood-fire pizzas and fresh salads, all made with locally sourced ingredients. We love the margherita with homemade Pomodoro sauce, roasted cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella, Parmesan and fresh basil. SAW’s is known for its smoked chicken with Alabama white sauce. And you’ll want to try the Pork n’ Greens mashup of smoky barbecue pork and collard greens atop a mound of cheesy McEwen & Sons grits

Birmingham District Brewing Co. 

At this microbrewery in The Battery on our city’s Southside, you can have your beer with a side of history. Before we were a banking- and healthcare-focused city, Birmingham was a coal-mining town. (We got the nickname “The Magic City” because of the rapid mining-fueled growth of the city in the early 1900s.) Birmingham District pays homage to that mining heritage, and you won’t have to dig deeply into the rotating selection of beers to find a favorite brew. The unfiltered, American-style Birmingham Pilsner is a local favorite, so is the sweetish Vienna-style Pecan Lager. There are several New England-style hazy IPAs here—the smooth Fallen Rock, the juicy Lose Your Way, the soft, pillowy (low ABV) Pulp, and a popular traditional Irish Stout. You’ll also find a couple of our locally beloved restaurants nearby. Wasabi Juan’s  specializes in tasty, easy-to-eat Asian-Mexican fusion with (raw and cooked) sushi ingredients rolled “burrito style” in soy wraps and nori. The Rick Roll has grilled steak, spicy tuna, cream cheese, ninja sauce, unagi sauce and Dorito crunch. The Rainbow is tuna, salmon, crab, spicy mayo, cucumbers and avocado. There are also crunchy tacos made with spicy tuna, shrimp ceviche, steak and more. Around the corner, you’ll find Gus’s World Famous Fried Chicken. Based in Memphis, it’s a Southern soul food treat. You can get individual pieces (breast, thigh, leg, wing, tender) with your choice of sides including greens, fried okra, fries and whole jalapenos. Plates come with baked beans and slaw and white bread (that’s how we do it here). Don’t miss the fried pickle spears and fried green tomatoes. Take your foods right back into the comfortable taproom at Birmingham District or onto the light-strewn shaded patio. Birmingham District Brewing Co. is “a family-owned business that’s very family-friendly,” says head brewer Jimmy Sumpter. Kids and dogs are always welcome.

Ghost Train Brewing Co. 

Beer for the People! Plus cocktails and music and games and more. Ghost Train started with a small brewery on Third Avenue South; they still have that location, and the stylish, two-level, open shipping container outdoor seating setup is cool. You’ll also find OffBeat Sandwiches inside the OG location near the fermentation tanks. The husband-and-wife team of Christopher and Krista Stewart serve shrimp po’boys; a Bama Boy po’boy with smoked chicken and Alabama white barbecue sauce; fried green tomatoes and fried pickles; rubbed, smoked, fried and dressed wings; and a shrimp burger.

Ghost Train recently opened a second location on First Avenue South near Avondale, and it’s something else entirely. This state-of-the-art brewery has more than 96 taps; a fancy cocktail bar; a large outdoor patio area (along the bike-friendly Hugh Kaul Trail) with shaded seating, a cool hammock and a huge Instagram-worthy mural; and lots and lots of event space. Founded in 2014, the brewery boasts Alabama’s first and only High Efficiency Brewing System, allowing them to produce more with much less impact on the environment. Core beers include the wildly popular, mixed-berry Kaleidoscope Kettle Sour; Select Blonde Ale, Gulf Coast IPA and a (99-calorie) Light Lager. Look for seasonal beers like the Judge Juicy IPA and a variety of small-batch beers on tap rotation. Ghost Train partnered with a distillery in Mexico in 2017 to make their own Proven Spirits vodka and tequila and now use them in all their made-to-order craft cocktails. The Ohemgee vodka and tequila canned and ready-to-drink cocktails are quite popular, too. There is a rotating cast of food trucks pulling up out back with tacos, barbecue, hot dogs and more. Every week sees Trivia Taco Tuesday with drink specials and a visiting taco truck. Both the new and the original Ghost Train locations are dog- and family-friendly.

Oak Mountain Brewing Company 

This brewery in Pelham, near Oak Mountain State Park, opened in 2021 and features a 15-barrel brewhouse. There are a variety of house-made beers here including classic styles like the Oak Mountain Blonde Ale, the Stober Vienna Lager, a German Hefeweizen and an West-Coast IPA. Try the Oak Mountain PeachMaker wheat beer for some nice, local flavor. The Spelt Farmhouse Ale is a Belgian-inspired farmhouse ale reminiscent of a Belgian Saison; for this one OMBC uses an heirloom type of wheat called spelt that has been cultivated since 5000 BC. There is a rotational series of hazy IPAs, and Daydreamz Hazy New England-style IPA is currently on tap. “Our international guests should enjoy the Pelham Pilsner, one of the brewery’s core beers. This is our take on a German pilsner. Pilsners and light lagers are some of the most popular beers in the world,” says head brewer Clay Baldwin. There are fun, experimental brews, too, like the Special Chocolate Nocturnal (house imperial stout with chocolate and Madagascar vanilla) and a fruity Moon Safari sour (made with mango, pineapple, kiwi, papaya, banana and toasted coconut). You’ll find 15 to 20 draft beers on tap at any given time as well as various “guest” can or bottle selections like Goat Island Brewing’s Blood Orange Berliner-Weiss sour and Sloop Brewing Co.’s low ABV Confliction sour. There’s wine here, too, with half-price bottles on Wednesdays. And they have a house-made root beer as well. A thoughtful food menu includes a variety of dishes made to order including an extra-large pretzel with cheese (or Dijon or Parmesan Garlic), quesadillas (chicken and roast beef), a variety of sandwiches including a chicken Caesar wrap and a club wrap, a meaty Peavine hoagie (named for a moderately challenging trail with a lovely waterfall in the nearby park), a classic French dip and a melty grilled cheese on panini. There are hotdogs and hamburgers, too, and various food trucks show up on especially busy nights.

Brock’s Gap Brewing Company 

This brewery in Hoover (a softball’s throw from the Hoover Met) is the area’s newest (it opened in March of this year), but they’ve hit the ground running and have become a popular hangout spot for nearby families. “We are incredibly family-friendly,” says taproom manager Jess Pascu, pointing out the “golf cart parking only” area. From the train logo on the beers to the names of those beers to the materials used to furnish the taproom, “there’s always something in the hopper” at this brewery, which honors Birmingham’s beginnings as a mining town and, especially, the role played by Brock’s Gap and the railroad. The beers here are brewed with more than 17 different hop strands from New Zealand, Washington state and other parts of the world, but a high gravity wort is the backbone of what they do. Popular core brews include Amplification (amber), The Sugar Cat (raspberry Weissbier named for the owner’s wife) Andrew’s Ale (Belgian Witbier named for the owner’s late brother-in-law), Elvira (vanilla milk stout named for one of the area’s most famous mines), Hopnoculum (East-Coast hazy IPA), Station 459 (pilsner named for the nearby interstate highway) and Going Going Blonde (ale). Brock’s Gap Brewing Company was built to be a space for large social gatherings with several different areas to kick back and relax—from the bright, spacious taproom to a vast outdoor space with games to a private event room to the mezzanine, which looks down upon the fermentation tanks. And you’ll find a rotating collection of food trucks pulling up outside like DixieDogs N Coneys (the chili cheese coney is popular and there’s a new burger), Uncle G’s Pizza  (Detroit-style pizza; any slice is delightful; see the info under TrimTab), Wasabi Juan’s  (Mexican-sushi mashup; see details under Birmingham District), Alabama Peanut Co. (a Birmingham tradition since 1907 with roasted and boiled peanuts), and Porky’s Pride Smokehouse smoked pork, brisket and turkey sandwiches as well as BBQ hot tacos). 

The brewery is teaming up with the City of Hoover for a World Games Block Party on July 8 from 11 to 11 with live music from Clinton Babers, Eric Essix, The Negotiators and Eat a Peach (Allman Brothers tribute band). 

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