Hops in Heaven: Below the Radar Brewhouse in Huntsville, Ala.

There are a lot of great places to find craft beer in Downtown Huntsville, but one of the first places to open its door was Below the Radar Brewhouse.  Unlike many other breweries in town, Below the Radar (BTR) opened as a brewpub.  So the space is quite different from a standard brewery, and the view of BTR from the street is quite different.

The main entrance to the brewhouse.

When you walk in the door you are greeted at the hostess’s counter, but then immediately see the bar and a sizable seating area with high-top tables.

An overview of the bar.

Having been to Below the Radar a few times before, Katie and I usually sit at the bar.  However, on our most recent visit we met up with one of her graduate school classmates and were showing her around the craft beer scene in Huntsville.  So instead of immediately grabbing a pair of seats at the bar, we were escorted to a back room and sat at a table.  Whether you sit at the bar or in the front seating area or end up at a table farther back in the brewpub, you will see the brewing equipment through glass.

A view from the main dining room to the brewing area.

It was interesting being seated at a table for the first time because I hadn’t realized that BTR had such a large space.  Walking through to a dining room in the back also showed me just how many people were dining at the brewpub on an early Saturday afternoon.  As we took our seats and perused the beer menu, I took a moment to capture the scene of our dining room.

An overview of the back room at the brewhouse.

As the shadows clearly show there is a LOT of natural light in that back room, which was quite enjoyable for our visit.

As a brewpub, BTR brews and serves its own beer, but also serves beers from a variety of other breweries.  Some of the breweries are from Huntsville, but other breweries may be from Birmingham, elsewhere in the South, and sometimes just big national or international brands.  So regardless of your beer preferences, visitors should find something they enjoy.

Although I could have ordered any beer on the menu, I opted to stay local and order something from Below the Radar on this visit.  As it was early in the day, I opted for Heavy Lift, which is BTR’s hefeweizen.  It is served in a traditional wheat beer glass, and is brewed close to style with hints of bananas and cloves.  It is only 5.6% ABV, which makes it a great beer for all seasons.  Although I only had one beer on this day, I’ve visited BTR a handle of other times and have found that there is always a variety of their own beers on draft.  For example, I’ve previously drank the Oak-Aged Ares Amber (a barrel-aged amber), Edison Light (a pilsner), Gravel Road (a cream ale), and Firefox Pale Ale (a traditional American pale ale) on previous visits.

A big advantage of being a brewpub instead of a brewery is that Below the Radar also serves other alcoholic drinks, so visitors can order from a full bar and on the weekends take advantage of mimosas and bloody Mary specials.  Naturally, a brewpub also offers food.  I did not eat there on this visit, but have eaten there previously and enjoyed the very extensive and varied menu.

So whether you’re visiting from out of town or a local, Below the Radar offers a lot of options.  You have a wide variety of seating options whether you want to sit at the bar, a table, or a high-top.  There are alcoholic drinks for your friends who don’t drink craft beer.  There is food for everybody’s taste buds.  Perhaps most importantly there is on-site brewed beer for the craft beer lovers.


6 replies »

  1. Nice write-up and photos. Love being able to see the brewing area up close! I’m not a big beer drinker so this place, being a brewpub, would be up my alley. I’m sure though I’d try at least one of their own brews. The Firefox Pale Ale sounds good.


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