Alabama

Hops in Heaven: Yellowhammer Brewing in Huntsville, Ala.

When work on Campus 805 started, Yellowhammer Brewing was the first tenant to break ground and ultimately the first to open its doors.  The opening is notable for many reasons.

The opening meant that the redevelopment of the 13-acre Stone Middle School property into Campus 805 was becoming a reality.  It also meant that Yellowhammer, which was started by a quartet of guys in 2010, had become one of the premier breweries in Huntsville, and was part of a major attraction for craft beer lovers throughout the state of Alabama and even surrounding states.

Yellowhammer occupies a new building on the Campus 805 landscape with plenty of parking surrounding it.  So visitors may get slightly different views of the property when walking to the entrance.  However, it is impossible to miss the iconic imagery of Alabama’s state bird, the yellowhammer (actually called the northern flicker; here’s a more detailed explanation).

Main entrance to the brewery.

Walking down the hallway to the taproom is a piece of art that connects the past of Stone Middle School to the present of Yellowhammer Brewing.

Artwork dedicated to Campus 805 as you enter the taproom.

As to be expected, the taproom is quite expansive.  It’s so large that I struggled to capture it in one shot.  It was easier to capture a shot of the bar before turning my focus on the width of the space.

Behind the bar is a window into the brewing area.  So while the taproom separates the two areas of the brewery, visitors can at least see the fermentation tanks and other equipment.

A view of the taps and view into the brewery itself.

Yes, that is a a crowler machine on the counter behind the bar itself.  My wife Katie and I did not purchase any beer to take home with us, but I am always excited when i see a crowler machine at a brewery.  They are much more useful than using the traditional glass growler to take beer home.  I prefer crowlers because I don’t have to store anything after finishing the beer, I can recycle the aluminum can from the typical 32-oz. crowler and not worry about the growing collection of growlers cluttering the beer room.

We visited Yellowhammer in the early afternoon just after lunch, so we did not take advantage of the food available at Earth and Stone Wood Fired Pizza.  In addition to pizza they also serve calzones, salads, some small-plate items like meatballs, and “adult” ice cream like bourbon butter pecan.

An overview of Earth and Stone Fired Pizza, which is connected to the brewery.

So without the need to eat, although I’ve seen the lines for pizza so I know it’s good food, Katie and I ordered a flight of beers.

A flight of beers.

Yellowhammer Brewing is available throughout Alabama, so I’ve had many of the brewery’s beers on multiple occasions.  So choosing the flight was about sampling beers only available at the taproom, brews we had not seen in our hometown of Tuscaloosa, or just beers we hadn’t tried before.  Despite Yellowhammer’s extensive beer list, it was relatively easy for Katie and I to build a flight together.

We chose…
Tobacco Road, which is an imperial amber ale.
Imperial Rebellion, which is a variant of their year-round Rebellion.
Nussknacker, which is a holiday bock.
Berliner Weisse, which is a tart German-style ale.
7th Anniversary, which is a Belgian tripel.
Bride of Frankenhammer, which is a Belgian strong ale aged in red wine barrels on cherries.

We also had two additional tasters because there were more beers than we wanted to sample that didn’t fit onto the flight of six.  So we ordered Belgian Pear Pale Ale, which is a Belgian pale with pears, and New England, which is a New England-style India Pale Ale.

Out of the eight beers I sampled, the beers I rated the best on Untappd were Nussknacker and 7th Anniversary.  Nussknacker is a good malty winter beer with just the right amount of spices that allow it to pleasantly warm you and make you think about your favorite holiday memories.  7th Anniversary is a potent Belgian tripel that celebrates the brewery’s seven years of operation.  It is boozy, but not overpowering and very smooth for a beer checking in at 13.8% ABV.

After finishing our beers, I explored the taproom a bit more and found some maps that were very interesting.  I liked them partially because I’m a geographer, and I’ve always loved maps, but also because of what information the maps contained.

As visitors head toward the back door to leave the brewery, you will see two large wooden-mounted maps with stickers on them.  One shows Alabama and its 67 counties with stickers brought by visitors showing the approximate location of each brewery in the state, and in some cases the stickers are actually from craft beer bars.  Next to the Alabama map is a map of the United States with stickers from breweries throughout the country.  These maps are two of the cooler customer-interactive pieces I’ve ever seen at a brewery.

The third map is in the taproom mounted on a wall.  The map shows the 10th Prohibition District and varying levels of public sentiment for “illicit distilling and unlawful selling, transporting, and possession” or alcohol.  The map dates to 1930, which made it exciting to see it preserved in a brewery.

The weirdest feature is something not everybody gets to see unless you wander into the men’s bathroom…

A view of the keg urinals in the bathroom.

In typical craft brewery style, Yellowhammer utilized a pair of old kegs for urinals in the men’s restroom.

When I visited the brewery was undergoing major expansion in an effort to double its overall space, partially to brew more beer and partially to add more entertainment space.  I didn’t tour the brewing side, but did get to see some of the progress made with the outdoor space.

Overview of the patio.

The patio was empty when I visited because it was early on a Friday afternoon, but the stage in the back allows a variety of entertainers to pack in the crowds.

Although I had visited Yellowhammer Brewing, it was a great time and always enjoyable seeing the new small-batch beers on draft.  I can’t wait to see what the new entertainment space looks like, especially in the spring when I can sit on the patio sipping a Belgian White while listening to some live music.

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