Cahaba Brewing Company

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It seems part of Birmingham’s process of making the old new once again are breweries moving into older buildings in the general south side of the downtown area. 

Cahaba Brewing is, I think, the latest of the Birmingham breweries to embrace the growing craft beer market.  Located almost in the shadows of the elevated Hwy 280, the 8,000 sq.ft. building seems ready to ignore it’s service garage utility for brewing more social intentions.

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Almost without fail, breweries tend to take ordinary buildings, customize them for a process, and otherwise converting “some” space for the public.  As Alabama’s laws basically allow breweries to operate as bars, less the food, they aren’t necessarily limited to 2 hour tours as breweries are in, for example, Georgia.
Greeting us as we arrived was a sign of the culture they’re trying to build around their fledgling brand.  Food trucks, live bands, and....

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... a skeeball league.  Sure!  Why not?  It looks like weekends might be a fun destination.  Wednesday nights... those present were there just for the beer.

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For more traditional activities, there is a nicely provisioned, if drab, darts room.  It’s free, so I shouldn’t complain about the lack of atmosphere. 

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Or, for those not seeking entertainment (cough cough) you might enjoy a beer!

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And, while I’ve had several of their beers at local restaurants (their Liquidambar red ale is their flagship at present), I have to admit that I wasn’t familiar with their size and scope of their offerings.  So...  4 beers on tap was a bit of a disappointment.  The seasonal Kiwi Kolsch was out, which left their mainstays.
If I understood correctly, Oka Uba is an Indian name for Cahaba, and the Cahaba is a river that flows through the southern edge of Birmingham.  The Oka Uba IPA was my selection during the brief visit, and I found it to have a well measured and refreshingly restrained amount of hops, true to expectations but without the amped bitterness I usually find in IPAs.   I liked it better than the Liquidambar, actually.  But, IPAs aren’t for everyone.

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As you can see on the coaster, their motto is “Small Batch, Big Craft.”

The tanks in the background represent all of their brewing capacity.  I spoke with Taylor DeBoer, a co-owner, briefly.  The brewery makes 40 barrels a week, so roughly 2,000 barrels per year.  Their product is sold only in Birmingham, and they can’t keep up with the demand of the 50 area accounts they have. 

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So, it sounds like the starter set of brewing equipment that they purchased from Straight to Ale in Huntsville, only a year or so ago, might be getting some larger neighbors soon.  They certainly have space to expand.  The operation currently is small enough that they have one employee during the day, and several part timers during the evening.

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Kudos to providing pretzels, by the way.  Every brewery should have something like that, if only to decrease potential liabilities a slight bit.  Plus, beer tastes good with pretzels.

Anyway, it’s a pleasant diversion, and I’ll revisit sometime when they have a wider variety of offerings.

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