Previously I wrote for Rocket City Local about the by now regionally renowned beer brewing scene in Huntsville. There’s also a handful in Madison!
I myself haven’t hung out in Madison in years, having moved back home to the Huntsville area from New Orleans a couple of years ago. My wife Bridget moved here from Boston to work on Redstone Arsenal, and like the perfect social butterfly that she is, wasted no time getting to know the communal spaces to be enjoyed and Alabama ales to be quaffed. She’s been here five years, and has been to places in Rocket City I didn’t know existed.
“Old Black Bear and Rocket Republic are the two big ones,” she told me last week when I asked her about the Madison beermakers. Maybe I age myself saying stuff like this, but I don’t mind: I miss *asking* people for the skinny, not reaching reflexively for the computer in my pocket. So I still do the former, if only to cut down on my blue light pollution.
Madison is also home to Blue Pants Brewery. I would earnestly love to ask its founders without snark about its name, which I find unfortunate. Can’t say the same for their website, which I’ve just checked out. It looks quite nice. Bridget recommends their Double Stuff Pinstripe Stout, for all you Oreo lovers who like the thought of vanilla and cocoa nib flavors in a beer. The digs are basic but spacious, and located conveniently off I-565 near Hughes Rd. and Madison Blvd. “Think old Straight to Ale on Leeman Ferry,” Bridget says in regards to a ballpark comparison.
Rocket Republic on County Line Road, also just a small piece off 565 or Madison Blvd., offers an industrial vibe with metal tables and chairs. A pretty decent selection with around eight beers on tap, at least, says B. “Right now I’m really into their Cosmic Cookie Brown Ale. It tastes like oatmeal cookies.”
“The owner’s wife is a yoga teacher and so they offer beer + yoga classes, Sunday afternoons at 1:30 . . . They don’t have their own kitchen so there’s a nightly rotation of food trucks like Beast Mode, Manic Organic, or Back Alley Traveling Bistro. They also have live music on Friday and Saturday nights.”
Old Black Bear offers multiple warm rooms of wood walls and bear ottomans, a picnic style outdoor seating area with cable reel hightop tables, and live music. Cave City Lager is pretty popular, says the wife. At supermarkets throughout Huntsville, OBB’s attractive and understated cans feature their sleek and very cool bear graphic. It’s a feat to do a bear logo in a fresh way, but here ya go. He looks curious and alert, a nice change of pace as bear logos go. OBB’s brews are also available on tap at various other watering holes in town.
Named after a bear, they weren’t to stop there (!). OBB is also a distillery, producing vodka, gin, and rum in what I’d presume to be limited batches, creating a trend about the Rocket City—Straight to Ale at Campus 805 also began making spirits.
Bridget highly recommends Old Black Bear’s Bavarian pretzels with beer cheese. She digs the pimento cheese items and says they also do a mean Sunday brunch. Looking for chicken and waffles? They have it.
If you needed a few more reasons to check out what is clearly my wife’s pick for top brewery in Madison, well: they’re getting ready to start hosting live music (keep an eye on their events calendar), they’re kid friendly, and they’re out there being lovable by engaging multiple natural conservation efforts. Their LandTrust Trail Brown Ale donates $.20 from each can to Land Trust of North Alabama, and the Whooping Crane Red Ale donates portions of each sale to the International Crane Foundation.
That’s cool in our books.
By: Stephen Locke
Stephen Locke grew up in north Alabama, and returned to find a beautiful wife and East Limestone mutt to call family, after years of toil and revelry afar, and having absorbed the lesson, "Don'tcha think, sometime's it's wise not to grow up?" His true loves include waterfalls, houseplants, architecture, photography, basketball, and whistling along to his favorite guitar solos.Posted by Matt Curtis on