Avondale Brewing Company
The newest member of Birmingham’s craft beer scene, Avondale Brewing Company is a rising star destined to become one of the most popular breweries in the Southeast. Located in east Birmingham, the brewery uses a drunken elephant as their mascot, and their Spring Street Saison, a Belgian-style ale, is a local favorite–that is, when you can find it. Avondale’s taproom isn’t open yet, but will be soon, and bars all over town are beginning to serve their beer.
Back Forty Beer Company
A little ways northeast of Birmingham in Gadsden, Alabama, Back Forty Beer Company is in the process of building a brand new brewery. They’ve been contract brewing at a facility in Mississippi for a while, and folks all over Alabama are familiar with their brews–Truck Stop Honey Brown is my personal favorite.
Good People Brewing Company
Arguably the city’s most widely recognized brewery, Good People Brewing Company is a Birmingham landmark–not in the physical sense (the brewery moved locations recently) but in the sense that the brewery plays a huge part in the efforts to change Alabama’s old-fashioned laws related to alcohol and brewing. Because of the efforts of Good People and Free the Hops, a local non-profit that lobbies for legislative change, breweries have more freedom to operate, giving drinkers more freedom to drink. I like their Snakehandler, but the IPA is popular, too.
Birmingham’s best beer bar hands down is the J. Clyde, located in 5 Points, Birmingham’s tourist area. The bar itself is anything but touristy. Sit down and a server (pierced, tattooed or both) will hand you a stack of pages stapled together. This isn’t a local ‘zine or a waiver to eat at the place; it’s the bar’s beer menu, and it changes constantly. That constant change is a plus when you’re looking to find a great new beer–say the latest from Good People–but it can be a drawback when you’ve found something you love, only to discover they don’t have your favorite on tap at the moment. No worries, though. There’s always something amazing to drink at the Clyde–be sure to ask about what’s on cask.
A new player in Birmingham’s beer scene, Slice is a pizza joint that recently opened in the Lakeview neighborhood. The great thing about this place is that they make a point to serve beer from just about every brewery in the state. In addition to Birmingham’s beers, you can find beers from Huntsville (Straight to Ale, Blue Pants and Yellowhammer). The pizza at Slice is on the pricey side, so if you plan to stay and drink a while, I suggest sticking with appetizers.
The Best of the Rest
While the J. Clyde and Slice are leaders of the pack when it comes to the sheer volume of Birmingham and Birmingham-area beer they serve, some other bars in town are starting to get in on the local craft-beer action.
Bottletree – Great bands, great food, great beer.
Rogue – Try the sliders (and the beer).
Crestwood Tavern – A good place for neighborly chats over beer.
On Tap – Your pick if you like sports. And beer.
Parkside – The best patio in Birmingham, hands down. What better way to enjoy some amazing fall weather than with a nice, cold beer?
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