Two local beer afficionados plan to turn the site of the former Jimmie Hale Mission into an upscale restaurant and brew pub.
According to the Birmingham News, retired economics professor Gary Dale and one of his former students, Brian McMillan, plan to have the New Vulcan Ale House up and running by next spring on the site at Third Avenue North and 24th Street.
Alabama regulations require brew pubs to be located in historic buildings. The 9,000-square-foot building is believed to date to 1906, and has been home to a candy company and a pet store. Historic features such as a pressed tin ceiling and murals that were hidden by a dropped ceiling will be preserved.
Dale and McMillan told the News that the menu, which will be seasonal, will be a key ingredient. We love good beer and good food, so we'd have to agree. At one time Birmingham had a couple of good brew pubs, Breckenridge in Five Points South and Magic City Brewery in the automotive district downtown. Both had great food when they opened, including some awesome duck enchiladas at Breckenridge and beer-cheese soup and wood-fired pizza at Magic City. But as time went on, the food quality at both declined, and they eventually closed their doors. Neither of them was locally owned.
There has been growing local interest in good beers in recent years. The inaugural Magic City Brewfest in June drew nearly 5,000 people, far exceeding the planners' expectations. The J. Clyde restaurant and bar that recently opened on Cobb Lane prides itself on offering more than 200 different beer offerings. The Free the Hops movement has been lobbying to get the state to change its 6 percent alcohol limit on beer, which it says excludes approximately one third of the world's beer styles, "some of them the finest, highest quality beverages on earth." So it may well be the right time for a locally owned brew pub to succeed.