Mayor Tommy Battle proclaims Straight to Ale Day in Huntsville

By Lucy Berry DeButy

Love was in the air – and on tap – Friday afternoon at Straight to Ale in Huntsville.

Why? Because Mayor Tommy Battle proclaimed Friday, Feb. 14, as Straight to Ale Day in the City of Huntsville.

The Valentine’s Day proclamation came on the heels of a recent accolade from RateBeer, which named the Huntsville brewery the 2019 Best Brewer in Alabama. It was the fifth time in six years Straight to Ale has earned the coveted title.

Straight to Ale also received RateBeer’s 2019 Best Beer in Alabama award for its flagship Monkeynaut IPA. Guests on Friday tasted samples of the beer while supplies lasted.

Dan Perry, who co-founded Straight to Ale in 2009 with local home brewers Bruce and Jo Weddendorf and Colin Austin, said receiving a proclamation from the City was a surreal experience.

“Being someone who was born and raised in Huntsville, I never, ever in my life thought we’d have a Straight to Ale Day in Huntsville, Alabama,” he said.

Humble beginnings

Since opening its first 500-square-foot location at Lincoln Mill, Straight to Ale has seen nothing but growth. In 2011, the business moved to Leeman Ferry Road, where it operated a 10,000-square-foot tap room and brewery and began rapidly expanding its footprint.

Straight to Ale was the key anchor tenant at Campus No. 805, a redevelopment project adjacent to downtown Huntsville, nearly four years ago. The 45,000-square-foot facility has helped Straight to Ale gain both regional and national attention within the craft beer community.

The brewery has since grown to include cider and mead production, Shelta Cavern Spirits and Ale’s Kitchen, a scratch-made kitchen. The location is also home to Speakeasy and the High Falls Wine Tasting Room, as well as a biergarten and patio space.

A key part of the City’s workforce recruitment efforts, Straight to Ale has enticed other beer makers to start-up and locate in Huntsville, creating a “craft beer trail” and bringing numerous tourists to the area. It is currently one of the state’s largest breweries and employs about 100 workers.

“We couldn’t be happier with their progress and the success they’ve had in our community and beyond,” Mayor Battle said.

Coming full circle

Bruce Weddendorf said they started Straight to Ale with a simple goal: make Huntsville a more fun place to live. To their surprise, the business flourished and sparked a craft beer movement across Huntsville.

Getting recognition from both RateBeer and the City is “confirmation that we’re doing the right thing,” Weddendorf said.

“We’re just so happy the people of Huntsville have really appreciated all the things we’ve done and especially now that we’re getting this recognition,” he said. “It’s just amazing to feel the love coming back for all the things we’ve been doing.”

Bruce’s wife, Jo, echoed her husband’s words. After years of long, hard hours building Straight to Ale, she said the proclamation and awards make it all worthwhile.

“It makes my heart happy when I come in here and I see people I have no idea who they are having a good time,” she said. “It used to be we’d know a lot of the people coming because they’d be our friends. It’s grown to so many people and it’s so satisfying.”

RateBeer recognition

RateBeer recognizes the best new brewers, best places for beer by region and country, best reviewers, best beers in the world, best beers by style and best 100 brewers each year.

The world site for craft beer enthusiasts tabulated more than 4.2 million reviews from its global community, examining more than 640,000 beers by over 33,000 brewers and over 74,000 places around the world. Click here for the full list of winners.

“2019 was our most competitive year to date, seeing continued growth in the number of brewers, beers and ratings added to the site,” said Joe Tucker, founder of RateBeer. “We couldn’t be prouder to recognize these breweries for this hard-earned honor.”

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