99 Bottles of beer on the wall...

May 18, 2013

Alabama Public Radio continues its collaboration on the new television program about business called “Alabama, Inc.” In the final days of the 2013 state legislative session, members of the Alabama House and Senate passed a bill to legalize the home brewing of beer. Up to that point, our State was the only place in the U.S. where making beer at home was against the law. The change prompted instant popularity of home brewing kits. For the founders of Good People brewery in Birmingham, it’s a case of “been there, done that.”

“We were home brewers,” says Good People owner Michael Sellers. “So, we did home brewing, kind of honed our craft that way. And, looked for opportunities and found an opportunity at the Old Mill location in the Southside, which allowed us to move into the professional world… the professional realm.”

Sellers also travelled through Europe, which exposed him to Belgian, German, and British styles of beer. The Birmingham Barons built their new stadium right across the street from Good People’s brewery, which means Sellers doesn’t have to go far to find thirsty customers. There’s growing competition as well in Alabama’s craft beer industry. When Huntsville staged its annual Rocket City Brewfest this month, thirteen Alabama breweries showed up to hawk their products. Some, like Druid City Beer in Tuscaloosa, offer flavors like chocolate, hot pepper, and strawberry. Sellers says Good People likes to stick to the basic…

“We don’t typically go into the fruit aspects of beer,” he says. “We like a little more traditional style sense, and we do things with hops. That’s what the brew likes to do, as far as their expression in the beer.”

Sellers says he’s even careful when offering Belgian or British style beers to his consumer base. Many of these Good People fans are used to “mega brands” like Bud or Michelob. He says he wants to avoid the so called “wineification” of craft beer.

“We don’t want to get a level where it’s an elitist kind of thing,” says Sellers. “It is beer after all. But, we do want to express what the beer is, and what the notes and food pairings and things of that nature that makes beer more interesting than just drinking a bunch of beer.”

When it comes to alcohol and political issues like whether a given county should sell spirits by going “wet” as opposed to “dry,” much of the criticism comes from Alabama’s conservative religious community. Good People may have resolved that issue for itself. A local church approached the brewery about holding a mixer, and chose to stage the event in Good People’s taproom. APR’s Pat Duggins will take you on a visit to the Birmingham brewery this Wednesday during “Alabama, Inc.” on your local Alabama Public Television station.