“If you don’t have a friend in the world, you’ll find one here.” Those words are written across the front of Iron Hand Brewing’s facade in large, hand-painted letters. The saying originated with the Waterfront Rescue Mission when the nonprofit used the De Tonti neighborhood location as its headquarters, but the mantra still somehow fits. The mission might be a little different these days, but the openness and camaraderie remain.
Ben Ross and his wife, Rebecca Williams, premiered their beer-making enterprise in December after three years of planning. Ben was anxious to change careers when his offshore job did not offer the ideal schedule for a flourishing new marriage, and Rebecca suggested a brewpub on a whim. The couple searched up and down the Gulf Coast for the perfect location, finding it in De Tonti Square.
The inspiration came from brewpubs Ben frequented while living in Portland, Oregon, when he was in his 20s. As the first and only eatery in De Tonti Square, Iron Hand is filling a void for area residents but also bringing new people in for food and a warm atmosphere.
Despite the number of small breweries opening in the Mobile area, Ben points out that it’s still behind most other cities of similar size for breweries per capita. His Alaskan hometown, a town of 7,000 people, has three breweries. Pensacola, he says, has seven. “All the brewery owners in this area are really supportive of each other, and a rising tide floats all ships.” The perfect analogy for a former seaman.
Ben and Rebecca always wanted to serve traditional British pub food because it would pair nicely with the porters and stouts he planned to brew. There’s a “nice, heavy-handed American IPA” on the menu as well. The Iron Hand has six taps, and they hope to eventually have five of those pouring their own beer. For now, however, their one-barrel system admittedly can’t keep up. They ran out of beer their first night and have been pushing their limits to meet demands ever since. In the meantime, they have plenty of other beers available, as well as wine and cocktails. “We’ll never serve a well drink here. The alcohol menu might not be extensive, but we keep it quality.”
The quality of the food is top-notch as well, with everything made from scratch, including the sausage for the bangers and mash. All the sandwich breads and hand-tied pretzels come from a sourdough starter that originated with his mom. We highly recommend you stop in and find a friend, whether you need one or not.
On the Menu
Housemade and hand-tied. We love it dipped in the Welsh rarebit (beer cheese) sauce made with Rebecca’s First Amber.
Shaved Roast Beef
This off-menu special is carved from super tender Sunday roast, covered in house gravy and served on a sourdough hoagie.
Bangers and Mash
Homemade sausage, mashed red potatoes, onion gravy and a side of peas. It’s not 100 percent authentic, but it’s close.
Fluffy, not too sweet and drizzled with seasonal berry sauces. Ben is searching for fresh rhubarb, saying in Alaska it grows like weeds.
Iron Hand Brewing • 206 State St. • 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5 – 10 p.m. Monday – Friday; 11 a.m. – 10 p.m. Saturday; closed Sunday. 725-6912 • average entree price $10