Brewery Snapshot: Yellowhammer Brewing in Huntsville, Alabama
Of all the breweries that I visited in Huntsville, Alabama, I was most anticipating Yellowhammer Brewing. I had no real “beer” reason for my interest. I had never sampled their product before, nor had I even heard of Yellowhammer Brewing. However, the reaction of every brewer I met on my Huntsville beer tour told me there was something special going on at Yellowhammer Brewing.
The conversations all went like this:
“Are you going to Yellowhammer?” asked every brewer.
“Tell (head brewer) Keith that we make the best beer in Huntsville.”
Thus, in this edition of Brewery Snapshot I examine whether or not Yellowhammer actually brews the best beer in Huntsville.
Yellowhammer Brewingwas the first brewery to open in Huntsville’s new Campus 805 entertainment district.
Locals herald not only Yellowhammer’s German and Belgian influenced beers but also the quaintness of their former location. One local described it as “an adult frat house but with good beer.”
Fortunately, the “adult frat house” gets an upgrade to an “adult playground.” Yellowhammer’s new 10,000 square foot, 15-barrel facility is located adjacent to Straight to Ale. In between the two breweries is a city park with an amphitheater for live music. It’s the kind of setup that makes out-of-towners like myself jealous.
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There’s a genuine excitement about where Huntsville craft beer is headed in the Yellowhammer Brewing taproom.
I dropped in early on a Friday evening in the middle of February, and the brewery’s airy tasting room was already buzzing with life as thirsty patrons raised a glass to the closing of another workweek.
On the other side of the large window that stretched behind the bar, head brewer Keith Yager was busy brewing. Since the new location opened, the brewery team has been putting in extra hours to keep up with demand as the larger than expected crowds drink the brewery dry. “It’s a good problem to have,” said Keith with a smile on his face.
As Keith finished up another batch of brewing, Blue Pants Brewery Head Brewer Derek “Weedy” Weidenthal dropped by to both borrow a part and join Keith for Salty Nuts’ soft launch party. Thus, illustrating how close the craft beer community of Huntsville is.
Back to the original question. Does Yellowhammer Brewing produce the best beer in Huntsville?
It’s a trick question. There’s no way I can pick a favorite brewery from my trip to Huntsville. Each brewery I visited was unique, both outshining the others in some way and contributing to an overall vibrant beer scene.
Yellowhammer shines in their combination of focusing on Belgian and German styles. “I like how creative Belgian styles can be and how precise German styles can be,” says Keith. “Of course we still brew American styles, too like the IPA I’m brewing right now.”
I opened my tasting with their Belgian White, brewed with Kaffir lime and fresh ginger. It was a clean and refreshing way to start the evening, opening up my palate for what was to come. Next, I sampled the Tennessee Pearl Belgian Pale. It reminded me more of a tripel than a pale, which isn’t a bad thing. It was an easy sipper with pleasant notes of cloves and bananas.
Continuing along their Belgian line-up, I followed the Tennessee Pearl with the 1819 Dubbel. The ale carried beautiful notes of dark fruit and caramel malts with touch of yeasty spice. The Belgian Stout also carried forth the creative Belgian influences. Brewed with a Belgian yeast, I found it to be very smooth with rich hints of chocolate.
Moving over to the German style beers, I enjoyed the flagship Midnight Special Black Lager. The highest compliment I can give the beer is that it’s brewed as it should be – to German precision. The same with the other flagship beer, Rebellion Red Lager. It’s crisp, refreshing, and spot on. It would make a German brewery proud.
Lastly, I sampled two American influenced, hop forward beers – the Tobacco Road Imperial Amber and American IPA. The amber, aged in Jack Daniels barrels, carried a strong malt presence alongside West Coast hop influences. I imagined pairing the beer with a grilled ribeye. The IPA carried a bit of grit to it with bright, citrus hop notes.
While I can’t name a “best” Huntsville brewery, Yellowhammer Brewery is another great example of Huntsville’s amazing beer scene. Their beers can be found throughout Alabama and in parts of Tennessee.
What’s your favorite Yellowhammer Brewing beer?