Beer was a common part of Father’s Day celebrations with my late dad. I wrote a beer newsletter at the time and brewed myself, so we loved enjoying my latest and greatest discoveries.
If beer is on tap for this Father’s Day, microbrewery taprooms are a great choice – fun emporiums serving a wide range of brews. But the big boys and girls get all the attention, not to mention taps and shelf space at bars, restaurants, and stores all over Alabama.
For something a bit more personal, the intimate atmosphere of a brew pub may provide the perfect froth for Father’s Day. What’s the difference between a microbrewery and brewpub? Size is a factor, but the main difference is food.
In the early years after small craft breweries started opening across Alabama, they were not allowed to serve their beer on-premises. That changed in 2011 when state legislation allowed brewery taprooms. But they were banned from serving food prepared in-house (which ended up creating a symbiotic relationship with independently-owned food trucks).
A more limited Alabama license allowing brewpubs took effect in 2016, which allowed beer sales only at that location (to-go sales like growlers and six-packs are allowed). Brewpubs must serve food made in-house.
This Father’s Day, treat dear old dad to one of these brewpubs around Alabama.
Chandler’s Ford Brewing (Huntsville)
The small brewery in the BeeZr gastropub produces a large selection of its own naturally-carbonated beers, currently including Mexican-style and American lagers, IPAs, sours, barrel-aged brews, and super-strong Belgian-style ales.
Feature brew: Barleywine (11 percent alcohol) aged 11 months in a used Bookers Bourbon barrel, producing flavors of toasted pecan, brown sugar, toffee, and fudge.
Food: Champagne Taco Kitchen sells snacks, tacos, slate-oven pizza, sandwiches, and cheesecakes.
Address: 109 North Side Square
Coldwater Mountain Brew Pub (Anniston)
Jason Wilson, retired founder of Gadsden-based Back Forty Beer Company, was recruited to launch Cold Mountain Brew Pub and bring freshly-made beer back to Anniston. Open since February 2022 in the historic Union Freight House building, it also features a music venue. Coldwater Mountain keeps eight beers in the rotation, mostly ales but some lagers like Oktoberfest and its hybrid ale-pilsner Criterium Kolsch. Also on tap are national U.S. microbrews and beers from Back Forty. Limited wine and cocktails.
Feature brew: Smokestack Lightning Porter (6 percent) is dark and robust, with notes of chocolate, coffee, and smoke.
Food: Pub appetizers, sandwiches, desserts.
1208 Walnut Avenue
True Story (Birmingham)
Founded by Craig Shaw, the original brew master at Avondale Brewery, True Story opened in December 2018 in a plaza at the edge of Birmingham’s Crestwood North neighborhood. Four taps dispense True Story; guest taps feature Birmingham micros.
Feature brew: Sacre Bleu Saison (8.2 percent). Golden, spicy, and slightly tart, these refreshers were originally brewed to rehydrate field hands at midday.
Food: Hot dogs, tacos, and True Story’s signature “I’m Kind of a Big Dill” pickle sandwiches.
5510 Crestwood Boulevard
Oak Mountain Brewing (Pelham)
Father’s Day discounts! Actually, beers are $4 every Sunday at happy hour from 2 p.m. until 6 p.m. More than a dozen brews are listed on the brewery’s Untapped page, mostly medium- to mild-strength pilseners, wheat beers, and dark ales. Stronger exceptions are Booster Shot DIPA (a hazy IPA; 8.7 percent) and King’s Chair Barleywine (11.4 percent).
Feature brew: Schwarzbier is a black-hued German-style lager. Oak Mountain’s Dark Star Schwarzbier (5.4 percent) features notes of roasted grain, dark chocolate, and coffee. Samoa Dark Star (5.4 percent) is a special version made with toasted coconut from Marx Brothers importers in Birmingham.
Food: Pub apps, sandwiches and burgers, flatbreads, quesadillas, salads, and desserts.
110 Cahaba Valley Road
Circle City Brewing Co. (Dothan)
Circle City brews 15 beers in various styles and hues – golden, red, and dark. Specialties include blackberry cheesecake sour ale, raspberry cream ale, and hazy IPA. The bar also serves cocktails and limited wine.
Feature brew: Alcazar Black IPA (7.5 percent). It’s got all the hops and malty sweetness of an India Pale Ale, with chocolate and coffee notes from dark-roasted barley.
Food: Recently switched to a limited menu with chips, dip, and baked pretzel.
Address: 135 North Foster Street
Iron Hand Brewing (Mobile)
Mobile’s oldest brewery opened on January 6, 2016 under a pub license so it could serve food made in-house. It’s named after Henri De Tonti, a founding father of Mobile and an Italian native who used a metal prosthetic after losing a hand in a grenade explosion. Iron Hand Brewing is ultra small-batch, made using a one-barrel (31 gallon) system. Nine taps carry Iron Hand beers – classic English-style ales and a New England-style hazy IPA.
Feature brew: Wee Heavy, a strong (10 percent) Scottish ale full of sweetness from premium British Maris Otter malt and copper-colored crystal malt. It’s not bitter from hops.
Food: Pub food like bangers and mash, fish and chips, as well as classic American bar food, pizza, and appetizers. Brunch served 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Sundays.
Address: 206 State Street
(Courtesy of SoulGrown, a subsidiary of Yellowhammer Multimedia)