Avondale Brewing

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Another old Birmingham building, another brewery.  Avondale Brewing is well to the east of downtown Birmingham in the historic Avondale area, which is benefitting from reinvestment and restorations in the last few years.  The building was built in 1895 as a fire station but has also been home to a post office, many businesses, and even a 2nd floor brothel, according to their website.  It’s nicer than it deserves to be given its age, obviously benefitting from reinvestment when the brewery took ownership.

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But the story of Avondale must wait a short bit.  We arrived hoping for a Crawfish feast held by Red Mountain Seafood, who operate out of a small trailer in the rear.  However, they were a no-show.  Maybe it’s past the season.

But, a reliable standby is just down the block, namely Saw’s Soul Kitchen.

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Not a big thing, is it?

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It’s even smaller inside.  And smaller still when those outside flee a storm to the shelter within.  My experiences here have been very good.  Their BBQ sandwich is excellent, but... they’re well known for their pork & greens.  I don’t eat greens.  Nevertheless, that dish is likely the reason they didn’t have enough pork left over for another BBQ sandwich, so I opted instead for a burger, which took “10 – 15 minutes.”  Actually, about 20.  Below is a glimpse of the menu.

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So, what you do is you get your order to go, then walk it down to the brewery.  Assemble the pieces, and voila!

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I had a side of cole slaw, which I like with BBQ.  Point of the story: convenience wins here for good food and good beer.

The venue itself has a lot going for it.  At the rear of the building is a fenced area with various tables, a separate shed with full assortment of taps, and a newly constructed concert stage.  It’s a happening place.

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My only reservation about this brewery is their choice of logo.  It’s an elephant, and the founders happen to be University of Alabama graduates.  I don’t have any particular animosity towards UA, but I’m not a fan either.  Instead, I’ll trust that their “Trunks Up” phrase and the elephant truly speak to a beer drinking elephant that resided in the Avondale area the first half of the 20th century (where the Birmingham Zoo was originally located).  I’d prefer some sort of orange colored tiger mascot... perhaps a paw.

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The bartenders inside were personable and efficient, which is helpful considering the 13 bars on tap this given day, six of which are their regular beers (viewed to either side in the picture below – click to enlarge).

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The old brick brings a nice vibe to the place, and there are a good number of seats within, definitely well suited and obviously intended as a gathering place.

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The brewery itself is visible but tightly positioned.  As I’m becoming accustomed, steel tanks are steel tanks.  The sizes are different from brewery to brewery.  In two visits, I have yet to hear mention of a “tour,” regrettably.
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They have capacity for 10,000 barrels, which is ample to serve the Birmingham area as well as to the corners of the State.  I think they sized their brewery with clear intent to establish more than a local brew, as they’ve only been open two years.

Avondale has a good diversity of beers, covering the main persuasions with their regular offerings, plus some odds and ends and seasonal brews.

This visit, I tried the (Jack Daniel) barrel aged porter, pictured below.  Not exceptional, but better than average.  The spirits residue didn’t overpower the flavor of the beer.  I also tried Mr. Todd’s double IPA, full of the expected hop character but easily drinkable despite the bitterness.

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Otherwise, this is a place to hang out.  A bartender from another night dropped in to say high, the cashier at Saw’s stopped in for a beer after work, and a handful of regulars were known to each other and the staff.  There should be one of these in every neighborhood. Well, located within 15 minutes from where I live, at least.  Damn Atlanta traffic.

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