Calhoun County already is home to the first Alabama brewpub to open since the Brewery Modernization Act of 2011. Soon it may boast two.
Cheaha Brewing Company asked the Anniston Planning Commission last week for zoning approval needed to open a restaurant and brewery at the site of the former Louisville & Nashville rail depot downtown, on Walnut Avenue.
Rodney Snider, who’s leading the effort to launch the downtown brewpub, didn’t want to say much more than that on the phone today. But he said the company expects to make announcements about its plans very soon.
The Planning Commission on Tuesday approved Cheaha Brewing’s request for conditional use of the site, which is zoned for light manufacturing. The depot dates to Anniston’s earliest days, opening in 1883, according to The Star’s archives. In 1996 Anniston architect Julian Jenkins and his wife Anita Jenkins renovated part of the space into a restaurant called Le Mama’s; that eatery was closed by 2002, according to old Star stories. County tax records available online show that Anniston developer Earlon McWhorter acquired the property in 2001.
Cheaha has for some time been a member of the Alabama Brewers Guild
, a trade group for the state’s young but growing industry of independent brewers. Craft brewing at production breweries has grown immensely since Alabama began relaxing its beer laws in 2009. Brewpubs are beginning to take off, as well.
In July, Heroes
, an existing restaurant in Weaver, began serving Patriot Joe’s Ales, brewed on-site by Jacksonville resident Joe Donahue. (Here's a story I wrote about Patriot Joe's
.) That operation was at the time Alabama’s only operating brewpub, the first to open since Alabama changed its laws governing brewpubs in 2011. More brewpubs are in the works in Huntsville, Montgomery, Fairhope, Phenix City and Tuscaloosa.Edit: I should give The Star's Anniston City Hall beat writer, Laura Camper, a big thanks for tipping me to this development.Click here to read more from The Bitter End.