Alabama

Hops in Heaven: Goat Island Brewing in Cullman, Ala.

When people survey the map of craft breweries in Alabama, one stands out as being convenient but maybe not as convenient as visitors may expect.  Goat Island Brewing in Cullman appears to be conveniently located off Interstate 65 north of Birmingham, which is true.  However, Cullman (respectfully) is not a city many people throughout the South much less in Alabama set out to visit because it offers other cultural or historical sights.

So if you have the goal of visiting each craft brewery in Alabama (like I do), you have to specifically set a goal of stopping in Cullman just to have a drink at Goat Island.  So recently my now-wife and I decided to visit the brewery because of a traffic backup on I-65 as we were heading to Nashville.  It was certainly an impromptu visit, but one that we both thoroughly enjoyed.

Main entrance to the brewery.

The brewery has a large seating space, as the brewery is in a large former industrial building.  There are numerous tables with four to six chairs at them to the left and a long bar to the right when you enter the building.

The draft wall.

Along the draft wall there is a display of Goat Island Brewing paraphernalia customers can purchase ranging from stickers to t-shirts and more.

A display of Goat Island Brewing gear available at the brewery.

The space at the brewery is nicely setup, but we stopped (and others stop) because of the beer.  The brewery had seven beers on tap (with an eighth – a hefeweizen – set to be tapped the following week).  The brewery has a wide distribution throughout central Alabama, so I had drank four of the beers before visiting the brewery itself.  So I ordered the Palomino Pale Ale and Big Bridge IPA.

Both sides of the five-ounce glasses.

The pale ale and IPA were both true to style.  Neither were overly hoppy, so if you avoid craft beers because you dislike the bitter taste both of these brews are quite acceptable for new craft beer drinkers.

I also decided to try the Son of a Bridge Jumper Double IPA, which had a bit more bite to it.  However, at only 7.8% ABV it is not as potent as some other double IPAs available on the market.

Additionally, from past experience I can endorse the Thrill Hill Vanilla Porter and the Richter’s Pilsner as two of my favorite beers by Goat Island.  Thrill Hill blends vanilla notes in nicely while not overpowering the beer.  Richter’s Pilsner is an excellent German-style pilsner, which means it is more malty than hoppy.  According to one of the brewery’s owners the recipe came from an old photo of Cullman (read the story here).

Additionally, the brewery celebrates its first history by framing a used bag of grain from its first brew.

Used bag of grain celebrating the brewery’s first brew, which took place in March 2016.

Incorporating Cullman’s German heritage into the brewery there are a pair of quotes regarding beer from famous Germans.

Wise words about the consumption of beer.

One critically important thing to consider about visiting the brewery is that you cannot stop by for a beer on Sunday because the county does not permit alcohol sales on that day of the week.  Additionally, there is no food available for sale at the brewery.  However, local vendors often serve food for purchase outside of the brewery or you can order food to be delivered.  Red Mountain Crawfish was serving up crawfish and shrimp along with the fixings when we stopped by the brewery.

Ultimately, I thoroughly enjoyed my impromptu stop at Goat Island Brewing.  It took a bit to arrive at the brewery off Interstate 65, but the beer was taproom setup was welcoming to all people.  The food available from a local vendor was tasty.  Most importantly the beer itself was excellent and offers a variety of options for the craft beer drinker’s palate.

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