How did you get on this journey?
I grew up in Mobile, but my wife and I really fell in love with craft beer while living in Juneau, Alaska. When we found out Alabama laws had changed to make it easier to open and operate a brewery, we started investigating, and the more realistic the dream became. Neither of us had ever started a business or seriously brewed beer. We made a couple calls and were introduced to our head brewer, Dan Murphy, and the president of the advocacy group Free the Hops, Gabe Harris. Along the way, we picked up a law school friend, Jim Foley, who brings a business background to the table. Altogether, we have a great mix of creativity, industry knowledge and business sense. Oh, and some excellent beer.
For the casual beer drinker, how would you describe each brew?
Everyday Ale: The name says it all. This is our lowest alcohol content beer and a great option for someone new to the craft beer world. It’s got a very balanced flavor — not sweet, not bitter, but just a great taste for a warm summer day. Painted Black IPA: This is our unique take on the India pale ale that is popular now in the South. The malt gives it a dark color and cuts the citrus of the hops. The style is hard to find, so we’re giving locals an out-of-the-ordinary offering. No. 51: This is a crisp, hoppy American pale ale. Based on the traditional style of an APA, this beer has an extra kick to it.
How many barrels are you planning to brew per year?
A barrel is equivalent to 31 gallons. Our equipment’s capacity is over 1, 200 barrels, but our goal for our first year is to brew about 700. Once we get going, we expect to have no fewer than four beers on tap at any time, and after a few months we hope to have a few more – including seasonal offerings and pilot series beers.
What else will go on at the brewery besides beer making, of course?
We will have a couple of TVs on the walls so you can watch the big game, but we won’t be a sports bar with jerseys on the wall. Since we will distribute our beer to bars and restaurants, Alabama law prohibits us from selling food, but we hope that some local food trucks will make FBC a stop on their normal route.
Where and when will locals be able to buy FBC products?
We expect to start getting it out there soon after we open in late November. Our range will be from Orange Beach to Mobile, with all the towns in between — especially Fairhope.
Fairhope Brewing Company • 914 Nichols Ave. • fairhopebrewing.com
interview by Ellis Metz • photo by Ashley Rowe