A familiar name to Alabama beer lovers is looking to create a brand new experience with the opening of a Birmingham brewery, restaurant and entertainment venue.
Back Forty Beer Company is opening its first satellite location with Back Forty Beer Company-Birmingham. The offshoot of the established Gadsden-based brewery is investing $1.3 million to convert a former 6,230-square-foot warehouse into an attraction with up to 30 new jobs.
Doug Brown is the owner and CEO of the Birmingham satellite of Back Forty. Brown earned a master’s degree in brewing science and operations from Auburn and worked for a few months with Jason Wilson, founder of the original Back Forty in Gadsden, before agreeing to start the satellite brewery.
“I think it will be a big hit for Birmingham and for other locations when we expand the operation,” Brown said.
Brown said in addition to a brewery producing 2,000 barrels of beer per year, the location will feature a full-service restaurant with executive chef Russ Bodner, former sous chef for chef Rob McDaniel at SpringHouse on Lake Martin before becoming the executive chef of Kowaliga, also on Lake Martin.
“We’re going to have a beer garden, a stage for live performances,” Brown said. “We will have two decks, an outdoor bar, a great indoor bar – the venue is perfect.”
There will also be an indoor stage for live performances and plenty of large televisions for watching sports.
“We’re looking forward to creating a really welcoming environment with a lot of entertainment options.”
Back Forty Beer Company-Birmingham will anchor the redevelopment of the 120,000-square-foot Sloss Docks.
“We had a strong vision for it, but we needed all of the key pieces to come together,” said Callan Childs, director of Design and Marketing at Sloss Real Estate, which is developing Sloss Docks. “Whenever you do a redevelopment, it’s very important to bring in the right players first. When we started thinking about what are the right kind of players to bring into this type of development, what immediately came to mind for us was a brewery.”
Childs said Back Forty was originally considering Pepper Place as the location for its first satellite brewery, but realized the Sloss Docks space was perfect.
Wilson noted that Back Forty poured its first beer publicly at Sloss Furnaces within view of the loading dock of the new location.
“We’re a few hundred feet from the first place we served our beer at Magic City Brewfest,” Wilson said.
Sloss Docks has more than 80,000 square feet of space remaining for redevelopment.
“As the anchor retail development in Sloss Docks, Back Forty Beer Company-Birmingham will help spur economic growth in an area prime for development,” said Tom Walker, chief operating officer at Sloss Real Estate. “Breweries have served as catalysts in several Birmingham neighborhoods already and by expanding the current growth in and around Pepper Place, Sloss Real Estate continues to execute on its mission of revitalizing Birmingham’s neighborhoods and connecting them to its urban core.”
Childs noted the brewery will sit next to 32nd Street, the current end of the Jones Valley Trail. That trail system is expected to be continued to the Avondale neighborhood. That along with Sloss Furnaces and the Pepper Place neighborhoods give greater connectivity to a space in need of redevelopment, she said.
“It will be key for this development,” Childs said. “We’re excited to see what happens next. I would say stay tuned because there is a lot that’s going to happen.”
Back Forty Beer Company-Birmingham is expected to open by mid-2018 and will brew Back Forty beers such as Truck Stop Honey, Naked Pig, Freckle Belly, Paw Paw’s Peach and Peanut Butter Porter in addition to specialty beers exclusive to the Birmingham market.