Black Warrior’s Story
This adventure into opening the doors to our very own microbrewery began years before our November 2013 Grand Opening. It’s a story of friendship, mountain biking and basement brewing. Individually, all four of our owners had homebrewed at some point in their journey to love the craft of brewing. Jason Spikes, now our Head Brewer, had the most extensive history and passion for brewing. The initial days of the unofficial Black Warrior Brewing actually occurred in his basement!
Jason met fellow owners Joe Fuller and Eric Hull while working at their then day-jobs at a tire manufacturing plant, and their friendship grew as they started mountain biking together extensively. While the dream of having a brewery was already in the back of their minds, it was during one of their annual biking trip in Chattanooga where this dream started to take form. There was something about that fresh mountain air, the thrill of racing down the trails of Raccoon Mountain, and possibly a few too many IPA’s that spawned the conversation that truly got the ball rolling on us living out this dream.
That spring day in 2011 set our path that we would be focused on for the next 2 ½ years preparing for our opening. In our initial days, there were long weekends spent brewing in Jason’s basement trying to perfect our recipes, during which our friends were lucky enough to have the opportunity to critique and help us to improve our beers. And yes, we gained a lot of happy friends during that time! One of those friends we gained was Wayne Yarbrough, who would soon become our fourth member of this team.
The search for the perfect location to build our dream was a long process, and it seemed like we would hit one roadblock after another. There were points at which we wondered if this dream would ever get off the ground, but then on a chilly day in November we found a little building in the heart of downtown Tuscaloosa that we instantly knew would be our home. It may have been run down and ugly on the surface, but we knew there was beauty and potential just under that rough exterior.
We signed the lease to that old barbershop Thanksgiving week of 2012 and our dream started to become a reality. With our combined engineering and construction backgrounds we knew that we needed to be completely hands on in the process of turning this run-down shop into the brewery we had dreamed of and would be proud to call our own.
We spent nearly every evening and weekend jack hammering plaster off the walls, digging trench drains, pouring concrete, running electrical, building walls, planing & sanding our reclaimed wood bar top, piping in our 10bbl brew house, and finally brewing our inaugural batch of Broad Street Brown. Many beers were sweated out, occasional blood was shed and muscles were sore, but our hearts kept pushing us further towards our dream. Opening day was almost a full year after we signed that lease and we were all nearing a point of exhaustion, but to pour those first beers to our satisfied customers made every part of our journey worth the effort.
Make sure to stop by the brewery and tap room while you are on your travels through Tuscaloosa and share a cold beer with us. We’re always happy to show you around and chat about the adventure we’ve been on in the starting of our very own microbrewery. CHEERS!