In 2009, the “Free the Hops” bill passed in Alabama allowing the sale of beer with an ABV content higher than 6.0%. A nearly five-year process provided Alabama with the opportunity to join 46 other states in the sale of high-gravity craft beer. In 2012, Tuscaloosa’s city council also voted to change the city’s zoning ordinance which allowed for brewpubs and breweries. This series of law changes provided a culture change and sparked a flourishing craft beer scene in the city of Tuscaloosa. Druid City Brewing Co., owned by Bo Hicks and Elliot Roberts, became the first official brewery in November of 2012.
Tuscaloosa is known to locals as “The Druid City” because of the giant water oaks lining the city streets in its early years, according to Encyclopedia of Alabama (Lewis, 2013). It’s only fitting the first official brewery derived its name from this fact. Initially, the two co-owners worked out of an office space before deciding to open a taproom in July of 2013. Druid City Brewing Co. is known for its Downtown North Porter which is described as, “a full-bodied malt bomb with rich chocolate and vanilla flavors from beginning to end” on their website. Coming in at an ABV of 9.1 this distinctive beverage is sure to have you in a blissful state of mind after a few sips. Druid City has other local favorites such as the Lamplighter IPA, Druid City Pale Ale, Riverside Saison, Tuskaloosa Stout, and Druid City Wheat. Each of these brews is uniquely named after a feature specific to Tuscaloosa. They have a variety of fun events throughout the week such as trivia and open mic nights as well as live music on site. DCBC is also credited as the first to legally sell beer exclusively brewed and bottled in Tuscaloosa. The brewery hand-bottled 144 22-ounce bomber bottles and released them at local stores such as Loosa Brews, Spirits, and Corks & Tops in March of 2015.
A second brewery arrived on the scene in November of 2013 when four friends: Joe Fuller, Eric Hull, Jason Spikes, and Wayne Yarbrough founded Black Warrior Brewing Co. These four gentlemen realized their dream could become reality and started home brewing in Jason’s basement. An extensive search eventually led to a perfect location to call home in the heart of Downtown Tuscaloosa. After months of hands-on work and renovation, they were able to open up the brewery named after the Black Warrior River which flows through Tuscaloosa County. Throughout the week Black Warrior has events such as trivia, movie nights, and American Outlaw watch parties. They have a vast selection of brews which makes it easy for everyone to find something they enjoy! Some of the local favorites include the Apricot Wheat, Crimson Ale, Broad Street Brown, Lock 17 IPA, Tashka Double IPA, and Sipsey Strawberry Blonde. No matter what style you prefer, you’re sure to find something you’ll fall in love with. Black Warrior Brewing Co. also distributes their Apricot Wheat and Lock 17 IPA throughout the area. This is the perfect way to take a little taste of Tuscaloosa with you wherever you go!
The newest brewery to arrive on the scene, Band of Brothers Brewing Co., opened its doors in September of 2015. Owned by brothers Jeremiah and Jeremey Donald and friend Quintin Brown this establishment provides a unique, easygoing atmosphere. With plenty of space to utilize, Band of Brothers frequently hosts live music, movie nights, games and much more! Their stellar selection of brews includes local favorites such as the Voodoo Mild, Monk on the Radio, and Station One Saison. Each of these beers provides a flavorful and noteworthy taste leaving you wanting more. Band of Brothers also distributes their Monk on the Radio Belgian ale to local craft beer hotspots such as Corks & Tops, Loosa Brews, and Cravings.
If you are in Tuscaloosa for a gameday at Bryant-Denny or concert at the Tuscaloosa Amphitheater, be sure to check out one of the many craft beer stores around town! They provide the perfect opportunity to take a taste of Tuscaloosa home with you. Loosa Brews features 63 different craft beers on tap with an even larger selection of bottled and canned beers to be bought for purchase. What better way to decide on which beer to take home than by trying it on draft first? Loosa Brews is a great place to bring the entire family! They have a plethora of arcade games for all ages to enjoy as well as a large back patio deck perfect for viewing the sunset.
With over 80 available draft beers from around the globe, Brass Tap is another must-visit for craft beer enthusiasts in the Tuscaloosa area! Some other places to purchase local craft beer include Corks & Tops located off of Bryant Dr. and Cravings located downtown off University Blvd. Both of these exceptional stores allow you to “build your own six pack” providing the opportunity to try a profusion of local specialties. Cravings also has a patio section in front of the store where customers can pour a cold one and enjoy the sights and sounds of Tuscaloosa.
Whether you’re a craft beer connoisseur or new to the wonderful world of beer, Tuscaloosa’s craft beer scene will leave you delightfully pleased. With plenty of places to #drinklocal, you can’t go wrong in the quest for the perfect beer. Craft beer culture in Tuscaloosa is still young, but expanding at a rapid pace which is great news for all of us! If you’re in town in the coming weeks for some Alabama football make sure to give one of these great locations a try.
Written by: Will Wyatt