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Alabama breweries team up to craft co-op taproom

HUNTSVILLE — Dozens of breweries across Alabama have taprooms that serve their own products. But a new brewery and bar in Huntsville is a first-of-its-kind in Alabama—a joint effort among five state beer makers that puts collaboration ahead of competition.

The Brewers Cooperative recently opened a 40-tap location at the Stovehouse complex in Huntsville. A second, with 20 taps, will follow soon in Guntersville in the City Harbor development that overlooks Lake Guntersville.

The breweries behind the co-op are Straight to Ale and Salty Nut of Huntsville, Tuscaloosa’s Druid City, and Good People and Avondale of Birmingham.

From left to right: Bo Hicks of Druid City and Dan Perry, Bruce Weddendorf, and Jo Weddendorf of Straight to Ale (Bold Agency/Contributed)

The Huntsville and Guntersville sites have small breweries, where collaborative batches with guest breweries and one-off special beers by co-op members will be made. Both locations also feature chef-driven kitchens serving scratch-made, beer-friendly fare.

The co-op plans a membership program with perks such as discounts and the chance to help brew a batch of beer. Plans also call for tasting panels and beer-education programs.

The Huntsville co-op, which opened April 11, boasts the “(unofficial) longest bar” in Alabama. There is indoor seating and on an all-weather patio that faces the food court and concert area at Stovehouse.

(Bold Agency/Contributed)

Its bar pours nearly two dozen beers from the founding members’ selections and their collaborative brews. In addition to cider, wine, and hard seltzers, the bar dispenses draft cosmopolitan and mojito cocktails.

Huntsville’s food program is helmed by local chefs Marci May and Sim Hill, who have run brewpub restaurants.

The menu features pub favorites – burgers ($15-$18), Belgian fries ($8), and a fried green tomato appetizer ($12). Salad lovers have five choices ($10-$15; protein add-ons available). For meat mavens, there’s a charcuterie plate ($20), pork belly bites ($15) and the kielbasa sausage-filled chopping block ($12).

Entrees include Caribbean-style mojo pork shank ($28), vegetarian stuffed Portobello mushroom ($16), stewed beef Carbonnade served poutine-style over Belgian fries ($16), and steak frites ($25).

All five founding breweries are well-established. Good People, which opened in 2008, and Straight to Ale (2009) are among the pioneers of Alabama’s modern craft brewing industry. Avondale and Salty Nut both opened in 2011, and Druid City followed the next year.

There already is some overlap among them. Good People absorbed Avondale in 2017, while Druid City merged with Straight to Ale in 2019.

Announced in 2019, the cooperative’s taprooms were beset by construction and other delays during the pandemic. Even the official opening in Huntsville, originally announced for April 4, was pushed back a week.

The Brewers Cooperative is designed to be a hub to showcase local talents in the culinary, brewing, and art fields, according to a news release.

At a time when independent breweries and brewpubs seem to pop up like mushrooms after rain, the Brewers Cooperative founders seek to ensure success through the collective talent and effort. “United We Craft” is its motto.

“The cooperative will be a leader in collaboration for our craft,” Perry said in the release. “We aren’t looking for individual recognition for accomplishments. We are building a unique sustainable partnership of like-minded craft artisans coming together for the promotion of craft beer, wine, spirits, and food.”

Courtesy of Soul Grown, your source for Alabama-centric food and drink, travel, culture, living, and outdoors content.

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