Live music playing, beer taps flowing and an all-around lively atmosphere welcomed anyone who came to the Red Clay Brewery on Friday night.
The Opelika brewery has been making many different styles of beer for three years now, including hosting a bar and tasting area to try out its different products, as well as a back lot to host bands and party fair.
The event hosted six different bands with their next-door neighbor, The John Emerald Distillery, had a bar open as well as local coffee store Momma Mocha’s having had a stand.
The energy and excitement of the owners translated into a fun, music-filled night. With bands including Wilk, Habanero Honey and The Peoples Rhythm Section, music was blasting the whole night from 7:00 p.m. to 2:00 a.m.
Everyone from college students, residents, families, dogs and a few men wearing kilts were in attendance to celebrate Red Clay.
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“It feels like we just opened a week ago,” said one of the owners, Kerry McGinnis, on what it’s like celebrating three years. “It’s just awesome.”
John Corbin, another of the owners, chimed in and said that the night was going to feature a “ton of beer, a ton of fun. Kids, pets, everybody’s welcome”
Talking about what it means to run a business in burgeoning downtown Opelika, McGinnis said “When I graduated high school in ’99, downtown Opelika was not a place you came. Seeing it come back to life and being a part of that is a really big deal to us.”
McGinnis also mentioned how they had “homebrewed for nearly ten years before we pulled the trigger on the brewery.”
Corbin said brewing in Alabama has its challenges, though it’s getting easier.
“There were still things that, you know, breweries in Alabama are working on," Corbin said. "Since we’ve been opened they’ve had the growler laws changed so we can do growlers. Nothing inhibits us from operating how we need to."
Red Clay has made its way canned into many stores including Kroger, Winn Dixie, Whole Foods, Piggly Wiggly and the Kold Keg. Corbin said keeping up isn’t easy, but the hard work is paying off.
“We’re pushing it out all over Alabama and we just released our last big area, other than Atlanta," Corbin said. "We’re basically everywhere in Georgia and Alabama, and we’re about to be in South Carolina as well."
When asked about the kinds of beers that Red Clay brews, McGinnis said “we’re up to nearly forty that we’ve done. We distribute three or four parts of a line-up, which changes seasonally. The hefe[weizen] and the brown [ale] never leaves, but the other two come and go. In the tap room, we’ve got twelve taps.”
The Halftime Hefeweizen is Red Clay’s flagship product, and, according to McGinnis, it can be a tricky thing to brew
“The Halftime has proven challenging," McGinnis said. "It can be finicky about the right amount of yeast."
“It’s our flagship beer, so we pay a lot of attention to that one," Corbin added. "We want to make sure it’s exactly how we want it."
So, what should newcomers expect from Red Clay Brewery’s Products?
“Our beers are very approachable and traditional to style," Corbin said. "We try to focus on the old-world style of beers. We’ve got a beer for everyone. And now we have cider, wine and sours. We don’t do a funky, cheesy, crazy sour. Ours are more tart or lemony."
For everyone who hasn’t tried their beers, McGinnis grinned and said, “What the h--- are you waiting on?”
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