When we were in our 20’s and living in Germany, pub crawls were a standard weekend event. Now that our lives have spread out to include kids, pets, and continuing education, along with full time jobs, it only takes a few drinks to send me crawling to bed. Life changes. It grows as you do to include more responsibility and more people and creatures to love. As my husband’s birthday approached, we mused on the antics of our past. I ended one of these conversations with, “we just need new stories to tell, ones that didn’t take place more than a decade ago”. That was also a motivator for this blog. I wanted to keep finding new adventures and more, “so there I was”, stories. Inspired by our recollections I decided to give him a fun night out as his birthday came near.
The months after Christmas are so very dreary though. Even living in Alabama where outdoor activities can be enjoyed 9 out of 12 months in a year, these months are difficult. The weather is usually cold, with grey or drizzly skies. Not very conducive to the rock climbing or paddle boarding we usually go for. A little research led me to the Huntsville/Madison County Visitors Center. I should have looked here first because I found several things to do that I’d have otherwise missed. What caught my attention first was the Downtown Huntsville Craft Beer Trail. Pub crawl anyone?
Now I’m not going on any endeavor without a plan. So, I gathered my information and developed a route and method that would allow us to visit all eight, yes eight breweries in one day. Go big or go home right.
We would begin at 10:30 AM in the Huntsville/Madison Visitors Center to pick up our trail “map” which would be stamped at each location. At the last location we would turn in our fully stamped map and receive our prize, a unique bottle opener available only to though who have completed the trail.
Why begin so early? Planning of course! There were eight stops to our journey and even with one hour per stop that left us with a long afternoon/evening ahead. How to handle the task of eight beers when both of us are out of our pub crawling prime? Logic of course! We would alternate drinking. We are a team and only need one prize anyway. One would enjoy a beer the other would have water, then switch. Let me also state that we had back up plans for transportation though out our journey all the way to how we would get home if needed.
I announced to all our friends what we were doing and that at any point that day should they want to join us for a beer they only needed to text me and find out where we were. I plotted our course with care and precision. The first four stops were very close together and we could walk the .4 mile from stop 1 to stop 4 then back to the car easily. Even though the day was raining and chilly we brought rain jackets and umbrellas because were determined to achieve our goal and to prove that our youth and vigor was not laying dormant somewhere in Germany back in the late 90’s.
Here is a breakdown of our route:
- Straight To Ale
- Yellow Hammer
- Salty Nut
- Big Green Bus
- Under The Radar
- Mad Malts
- Rocket Republic
Plan B was to do this route in reverse, increasing our driving at the beginning but also causing us to walk in the dark. Not all stops have sidewalks in between so we went with plan A as I did not want to walk along the highway at night in the rain. I also chose to begin at the brewery that opened earliest so we could get going sooner in the day.
Straight to Ale opens at 11:00 AM so we could also have lunch there. I had a grilled portobello sandwich with house chips and Michael had Ale’s veggie burger (no goat cheese) with fries. Both were yummy. If I were an omnivore, I’d definitely stop in here for a meal. The menu is full of very tasty options. Stomachs full we continued to the next stop.
Each brewery was unique and I’m so glad we spent a Saturday exploring our town this way. Each stop offered its own unique brew and atmosphere. Some felt like a café, some felt like a traditional local pub, some were posher, and some felt like you were in a buddy’s garage who brews beer. All were great. I loved the theme of Interspace. Here we watched Robot Wars and played Cards Against Humanity. They also had a nice outdoor seating area. It was just too cold and wet to enjoy. At the Big Green Bus we sat with one of the owners and traded stories for a while. We had friends meet up with us a few times. Each bar tender helped us pick a new brew to try. They all encouraged and cheered us on our journey. Some even telling us their favorite brew at our next stop. At the Salty Nut we met a group putting up band posters which we also ran into at our last stop Rocket Republic. A guy from the group came to our table and said, “wow you guys are still at it!” When we told him our grand plan and that we had met our goal, this was the end of our eight-brewery trail he left us so impressed he returned with a friend saying, “I had to bring him over. They have done all eight today!”
So, there I was, at Rocket Republic after visiting eight breweries in one day, listening to Seducing Alice play live and waiting to spot Sax Squatch, when my five minutes of fame hit. Sadly I was so bloated and tired all I wanted was to go home and never put food or liquid in my body again.
Here are the brews we tried that day:
Straight To Ale – Plum Diggity
Yellow Hammer – Belgian White
Interspace – Cranberry Saison
The Salty Nut – Hawt Blonde
Big Green Bus – Scotty Doesn’t Know
Under The Radar – Bayerische Staatsbrueri Weihenstephan
Mad Malts – Blood Orange
Tips for your own journey
*Drink water in between beers not soda.
I made this mistake early in (Stop number 2) and had to deal with the ramifications for the rest of our evening. A good friend informed me later that of course this was a bad idea because beer is full of yeast and yeast loves sugar. I now had a belly full of carbonation, yeast, and sugar.
*Ask for a half beer or a taster
At about stop 3 or 4 we discovered that it is common to get a half beer or even a taster. Proof that we need to get out more often. This was a huge help to our epic endeavor though because we still had several more stops to go.
*Plan to walk to some and drive to others.
Dress appropriately and get the Uber or Lift app. If you have friends meeting you in some places there are options there too. Most of the stops are close together but some do not have sidewalks between.
*Take your time
We gave ourselves most of a day to get through all eight stops. I didn’t want to rush at all. I wanted to enjoy each stop and the company we shared. I would consider breaking the trail up into two days. Four stops per night would be a lot of fun plus give a reason to get together with friends again to finish up the trail and get the prize!