Take A Road Trip to Experience Birmingham’s Beer Scene
By Brian Whitley, co-owner and head brewer at Piedmont Brewery & Kitchen in downtown Macon
Spring is in the air and that always gets me itchin’ to do some traveling. One of my favorite cities to visit is Birmingham, Ala. Just 230 miles away, the drive to Birmingham is all interstate takes just over three hours to get there. I really like any weekend road trip to be no more than four hours each way. That way, I feel like to still have plenty of time to wander around and explore.
Now, I am no stranger to Birmingham, as my lovely bride, Trish, went to Auburn University and has several college friends that live in the area. I have probably visited the “Iron City” a dozen times in the last 15 years. In fact, Trish and I just got back from a trip in mid-February. The city is changing quickly – and in a good way. I was shocked by the many new breweries that have opened in the last two years.
Here are a few great reasons, in no particular order, to visit Birmingham.
Good People Brewing Co.: Now 10 years old, GPB is the oldest and largest craft brewery in Alabama. In fact, its distribution footprint now includes Georgia. You can find most of the core line of GPB beers right here in Macon – but not their most well-known beer, Snake Handler, an imperial IPA. This beer is a sneaky 10 percent abv and tastes like a big mouthful of biscuit malt, big citrus and a dank pine. If you visit Birmingham during baseball season, then you just might get to catch a Birmingham Barons game; the stadium is right across the street from GPB.
Saw’s Soul Kitchen: Located just two doors down from one of my other favorite breweries, Avondale Brewing Company, Saw’s is one heckuva delicious barbecue joint. As one of the proprietors of a barbecue joint, I think it is my duty to visit other killer barbecue joints. The menu features Carolina style smoked pulled pork, chicken and ribs, served plain with bottles of three styles of sauce on the table. Sides include baked potatoes, beans, deviled eggs, macaroni and cheese, cole slaw and banana pudding. You just can’t go wrong here, y’all!
Avondale Brewing Company: When you are done eating at Saw’s, hang a right out of the door and head down to Avondale Brewing Company. ABC has been around since 2011, and offers a really nice selection of craft beer brewed onsite. If you dig sour beers then this place is for you; their sour beer program is off the hook. To top it all off, they have a great music venue out back.
The J. Clyde: There’s no place like The J. Clyde. Located on Historic Cobb Lane, the renovated front room houses one of the Deep South’s most unique bars. Originally horse pens and later a 1920’s era garage, the building has a unique history. Add in a German-style Biergarten and a Parisian street cafe and there’s a little space for everyone. The J. Clyde offers more craft beer than any other place in Alabama, and has the most taps of fresh ales and lagers in Birmingham.
Birmingham District Brewing: Birmingham District Brewing is one of the city’s newest breweries, and one I really enjoyed. BDB chose their name to pay homage to the rich geological history of the greater Birmingham area. The atmosphere is hip, fresh and lively. Their beer selection was among the best I saw on my recent trip.