It’s no secret that I like a good craft beer. I don’t home-brew, although I researched it at one time. It’s probably more because at the core I like to try different things. I think my wanderlust and thirst for having “experiences” is all the same part of me. On my craft beer journey I have tried over 2500 unique beers. Sounds like a lot but I know people who have tried over 6,000 unique beers. This probably puts me in the above average category, but also leaves me plenty of “beer experiences” to look forward to.
We have have had some decent luck with breweries since we started this adventure. In my humble opinion there is more to a great brewery than the beer. Don’t get me wrong, good beer is foundational, but it’s not enough anymore in a competitive business environment. Not everyone is chasing the next craft beer and with so many local brewery options you need more than beer nerds to build a successful business. The venue, music, food and alternative beverage options are all important these days. So when we blog or post about breweries we are considering all of these attributes.
Big Beach Brewing has nailed the formula. Let’s start with the venue. Big beach has as much seating outside as they do inside. When you are located 4 minutes from the beach and days reach mid to high 70’s most of the winter. Outdoor seating is important. The outdoor area has a mix of tables and Adirondack chairs. They have an outdoor stage for music. The only thing missing is a couple of big fire pits for the chilly evenings in winter. Those would perfect the space. Indoors you have bar seating, a big long high top table to provide that European beer house feel and lots of tables.
The front and side walls are all garage doors which allows them to easily tie the outdoor and indoor spaces together. They regularly convert the front corner from table to band space for the constant flow of music acts. Bathrooms are adequate but do create small lines on busy Friday and Saturday nights. The location is near perfect tucked in across the street from Tacky Jacks and backing up to canal rd making it easily accessible from Orange Beach as well. One other note about the location. Parking is inadequate for the number of people that show up and people often park on the street. I’ve seen the police come in a complain about it. The Mexican restaurant across the street is never busy but they have signs up that you will be towed if you park there.
Thursday-Sunday there’s a food truck onsite usually after 4pm. It’s a very good food truck and the menu constantly changes so the experience doesn’t get stale. The truck is efficient handing out pagers so you can go back to enjoying your friends and music while waiting on your food. The truck usually offers some type of dessert and appetizers also.
One of the things we have most enjoyed about this area so far is the abundance of live music and for the most part good music. Big Beach usually has music from 1-4 Thursday thru Sunday and from 5-10 on weekends. They also have special music events other days of the week for Madi Gras or what have you. You should definitely check out the music lineup on their events page. The music here has been consistently good. It’s a great atmosphere and most bands are happy to talk to you between sets or afterward.
The crowd is a mix of all ages, backgrounds and ethnicity. We have noticed that the snow-birds tend to come for the mid-day music and head to dinner as the younger, 50 down, crowd starts coming in for the evening. And hey what’s wrong with an afternoon of beer and music and still having time to get the early bird special.
I’m deep into a post and have not even talked about the beer yet. This should give you a hint how good the overall experience is at Big Beach, but alas we do need to talk about the beer.
The selection: We have been here for two months and the beer choices have been pretty consistent. The only change I’ve noticed was they replaced a sour with their Madi Gras beer which is also a fruit or sour depending on how you look at it. I think they had a beer launch the week before we got here of an IPA. So there is some variety but they seem to stick to a pretty solid set of beers. Currently, you can get a Kolsch, IPA, Hazy IPA, Sours, Stout, Irish Red, Cream Ale and a German-style Schwarzbier. For non-beer drinkers they offer wine and craft sodas.
I have not tried all of these yet. I’ve really been in a Pilsner/Kolsch mood lately but Big Beach’s best beers in my opinion are the Area 251 Hazy IPA and the Surrender Cobra German-style Schwarzbier. First let me say how rare it is to find someone brewing Schwarzbier, much less brewing a good Schwarzbier. I highly recommend this beer. These two have been my staples when visiting Big Beach. Cathy is currently partial to Mish Mash which is their Madi Gras release. They also have packaged beer to take home and of course merch.
Generally, in my experience, when visiting breweries you are lucky if you find two or three good beers that represent the style well. I wouldn’t say that I’ve had a bad beer at Big Beach. It’s obvious that they have one of the better brewing programs we have come across. They are not to the level of saw a Hutton and Smith in my opinion, but the consistency that’s required to be a good to great brewery is definitely present.
To sum things up. Big Beach has all the components of not just a great brewery, but a great place to hangout. A great place to meet friends and make friends. To enjoy a cold beer or glass of wine and just chill, indoors or outdoors. Take in some great live music or an interesting snack. This is a must visit when you are in the area and you should go more than once as the experience is a little different each time.