Alabama

Hops in Heaven: Mad Malts Brewing in Huntsville, Ala.

A trio with a fondness for beer and an irreverent nature for naming traditions, led Chris Bramon, Jeff Peck, and Tracy Mullins to start The Brew Stooges in 2013.  The success the trio enjoyed was short-lived after receiving a cease-and-desist order from the C3 Entertainment, which owns the rights to the Three Stooges.  However, the group kept the wacky theme alive with the re-named company: Mad Malts Brewing.

The taproom is located in the building that used to house Mullins’s former business, Complete Plumbing.  Due to its former life the building is located in an industrial area near the intersection of Oakwood Avenue and Meridian Street.  There are some houses on surrounding streets, which can make parking difficult for visitors.  The issue is so important that the brewery posts a parking notice on its website reminding people not to park in front of houses or R&R Racing.  Once visitors park, they clearly see signage for the brewery.

Main entrance to the brewery.

The taproom is truly an all-in-one space with the equipment immediately to the right once people enter the facility.  On the Friday night that I visited the brewery with my wife Katie, a band was playing immediately in front of the fermentation tanks (more on the music later).  Just past the fermentation tanks is the cooler and draft wall.

We immediately ordered a flight of beers, which spanned the spectrum from standards like a Russian imperial stout to the experimental blood orange IPA.

A labeled flight of beers.

Splitting a flight with my wife allowed me the opportunity to sample a greater variety of beers, especially ones that I would not necessarily try on my own.  The flight included a yam beer, two different flavored porters, a flavored India pale ale, a dark sour, and a Russian imperial stout.  Katie and I split a pint of the Double Rye, too.  Out of the seven beers I sampled that night, my favorite was the Russian imperial stout.  It was malty with molasses and coffee flavors, and very smooth.  Yam I Am was also very good, and I especially enjoyed that Becky added a unique touch with the brown sugar rim.  The beer itself was very solid with a wonderful fall/Thanksgiving mix of spices, but the addition of the brown-sugar made the beer-drinking experience slightly more enjoyable.

The brewery has three areas for visitors: the downstairs immediately in front of the brewing equipment, an upstairs living room that is complete with couches, and an outdoor beer garden with picnic tables and a porch swing.

Sitting downstairs, I got a great view of the band playing in front of the brewing equipment.  The downstairs features about four six-foot-long tables designed to be used communally by visitors.

A view of a band performing in front of the fermentation tanks seen from the upstairs living room.

Upstairs has a different setup and vibe.  It is truly like a living room if your living room overlooked a working brewery.  It has couches, a few smaller tables for guests, and a collection of board games.  Overall it’s a much more intimate setting than the downstairs.

An overview of the upstairs living room.

The outdoor space was unoccupied when I visited partially because of the cool, fall temperatures, and assuredly in part because of the band playing that night.  The crowd gathered downstairs was intently listening and singing along to the songs as the band played a lot of songs from the late-1970s and 1980s.  Despite the lack of customer interest in being outdoors that night, it is a great setup.

The folks at Mad Malts may not call it a beer garden, but the outdoor space is reminiscent of one.  There is a trio of picnic tables, and a big, wooden porch swing.  There are also two grills that can be used during the summer and early fall.

Whether you sit downstairs, upstairs, or outdoors you are sure to enjoy the scene at the Mad Malts Brewing taproom.  The crowd is laid-back and fun.  The staff is friendly and helpful.  And the beers are unlike something you’ll mind most anywhere else.

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