Updated: Apr 15, 2019
Have you ever accidentally hit the “avoid highways” button on your GPS, and ended up on a wild trip on little two lane roads? That's what happened to me Saturday evening, as I wound up taking a seriously backwoods route between Huntsville, AL and Jasper, AL... which is a small town not far from Birmingham, the home of that night's venue, Tallulah Brewing Company.
The sun set just as I hit the road, so not only did I do the whole nearly 2 hour trip on skinny little country roads, through some of the most rural areas in the South, but I did it in the dark. Earlier in the day I had read that Alabama was the home to more than 50 types of snakes, including at least 3 large varieties of rattlesnakes, as well as cottonmouths and copperheads (which I'm very familiar with from my time living in coastal Virginia), and the coral snake, which has the most potent venom in North America). There are also big snakes now, as the south is home to a booming population of boas and pythons thanks to people releasing pets over the years and their insane breeding numbers.... so believe me, as a snake hater the last thing I wanted to was to break down in the back hills of Alabama in the middle of the night. Oh, and there's also alligators. Anyway, this is the neurotic stuff that can get in my head while driving too many hours, but suffice it to say I didn't break down, and never encountered a single snake of any kind in Alabama (plus it's February... probably a lot easier to find in the summer).
Tallulah Brewing is in little Jasper's downtown district, and has a logo that recalls the flapper period of the 1920s. The brewery, in fact, is named after actress Tallulah Bankhead, who is probably most famous for her role in Hitchcock's Lifeboat. Tallulah had quite the colorful life, and is worth a few minutes of reading. Her Alabama family included a U.S. Senator and a Speaker of the House, and she was politically active in civil rights issues, and was an outspoken critic of SC's Strom Thurmon. She also was known for being quite sexual, playing for both teams, with a pretty impressive list of partners over the years. Anyway, I linked her Wiki above if you'd like to learn more.
Tallulah Brewing Company - Jasper, AL
Beers are distributed in kegs regionally. Growlers and can 4-packs are available at the tap room. Wider can distribution soon coming after the brewery's expansion.
Played: 2/16/2019 ; 4/11/2019
The brewery was an old restored building, with lots of rustic woodwork, and barrels for tables, a sizable bar, and the brewery right in the taproom. Outside is a large deck, and then a big field with a stage for outdoor concerts and events. No kitchen, but there is a big old-style popcorn machine that is constantly running, and is complimented with about 10 different flavored toppings.
The beer selection provided a nice selection of various IPAs, and a healthy selection of other varieties. I started the evening with the 88 MPH Double IPA (8.8%), which was a great beer get the night started. A deep amber color, more malty than hoppy, a little sweet but more bold, medium bodied and with just right amount of edge and fizz. Refreshing yet bold in flavor, a tasty brew for a chilly night.
From there I moved to the Sophisticated Scotch Ale (6%), which kinda seemed like the next logical step into darker, maltier, and bolder territory from the double IPA... and it was! A little darker of hue more in the brown direction, a bit maltier, and just an all around more bold body and flavor. At first I was thinking it might be actually brewed or aged with Scotch, as I detected hints of a smokey whiskey overtone, but I think it was just me.
On my set break I tried their top two sellers... first was the Apricot Blonde (5%), which I only tried a small sample of. The apricot was slight, more of a hint than fruit-forward taste, and the blonde a mild balanced blonde. After the heavier beers it was a bit lighter than I was looking for, so I moved on to their top seller, the Moonlight Mile Raspberry/Blackberry Wheat Ale (5.2%). I wondered, is this named after the great Stones song? I don't know. This was a very tasty pint, the blackberry did a nice job of taking the somewhat perfumey elements away from the raspberry (which is what I usually don't like about raspberries, especially in beers), and it all balanced perfectly with an otherwise fine wheat ale. The color was almost a light amber with a hint of pink, and enough carbonation to keep it from being sappy. Very refreshing, this would be a great beer on a hot day, but was pretty fine on this chilly night.
Tallulah is a family-owned and run brewery, a team of brothers and a sister, their significant others, and on this night dad was manning the bar. The taproom was packed with a good cross section of age groups earlier on, and became a pretty young scene later in the night. As usual, I forgot to take pictures during my set, so the photo below shows the taproom just before the crowd arrived. I'm told in the milder weather when the deck and yard are open they'll pull a few hundred folks on a weekend... so a fun little spot hidden not far from Birmingham, if you're in the area!
I should also mention that they also had some wines on hand, which I did not sample, but they seemed to be doing a good wine business with some of the ladies.
After the show I headed back to my hotel in Huntsville, but this time my GPS put me on the highways. As usual, the drive in on the back roads was MUCH more scenic and interesting.
Dennis O'Hagan's Great Brewery Tour is a completely grass-roots operation. Please show your support by subscribing to the page for periodic updates, and visiting our shop for tour merchandise and music.