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Thursday, February 10, 2011

Best Beer in Town: Mobile, Alabama

Best Bar: Hopjack's Pizza Kitchen & Taproom
@ Dauphin and Joachim

Hopjack's Pizza Kitchen & Taproom boasts 49 beers and 1 root beer on tap. About 30 of those are regularly available. There are also about 75 bottled options. The beer selection changes fairly often; so, the menu is not always current. Make sure to ask about the seasonal brews. I've been told to look for beers from Southern Tier Brewing Co. and Victory Brewing Co. coming soon to Hopjack's in Mobile. 

Belgian fries
with Rogue Double
Chocolate Imperial Stout
The food at Hopjack's Pizza Kitchen & Taproom deserves a few words at the least. Their Belgian fries, fried in duck fat, are delicious with any brew. They're served with ketchup and a creamy roasted garlic herb dip that I've come to crave. The Butcher Block, a specialty pizza with bacon, filet mignon and pepperoni, is a best seller at Hopjack's, while the kitchen recommends the Jerk Chicken pizza with bacon.

Like most places, Hopjacks's has a few downsides. On nights featuring live music, it's too loud for conversation, but this can be expected anywhere, really. The state of the women's restrooms is dismal. The first stall is claustrophobically small and doesn't lock. Last month, my husband and I made the mistake of visiting Hopjack's shortly after opening, around 11am. As soon as I got my hands on the beer list, I spotted Rogue's Double Chocolate Imperial Stout, my favorite beer. I ordered a pint, but our server returned empty-handed and informed us that it had not yet been tapped. Apparently, neither had our second or third choices. We were told that the individual in charge of the taproom would not be in until the afternoon. 

Back to the positive side of things, Hopjack's has some awesome daily specials. Tuesdays feature the "$4 Holla" - anything from the bar (with a few exceptions) just $4 from 7p.m. to close. Thursday is "Pint Night". They choose a brewery. You buy a beer from that brewery and receive your very own pint glass to take home plus $1 off refills of that brewery's beers. Sundays are the best, with half price
all draught beer, all day and all night.
Best Grocery Store: Bruno's 
@ Airport and University

The selection of craft beer available at Bruno's is larger than that of the average Mobile grocery store; however, the majority of it is not refrigerated. They recently began offering a small selection of refrigerated beers from which you can make your own six-pack for $9.99. Bruno's does not currently sell singles. 

Best Convenience Store: Myers Market 
@ Airport and Gen. Bullard

The Myers Market offers a surprising selection of beers from craft breweries including Left Hand and Magic Hat. Looking to try something new but don't want to buy an entire six-pack of something you may not like? Pull a beer from any six-pack and purchase it as a single for a very reasonable price.  
Best Liquor Store: Cottage Hill Package
@ Hillcrest and Cottage Hill

I've saved the best for the last. Cottage Hill Package is my first stop and favorite place in Alabama to buy beer! The management and staff are both friendly and knowledgeable. They will gladly help you pick out something new or search the back just to find you the very last Terrapin Pumpkinfest in town. They have an unrivaled selection of domestics, imports, and craft brews in four-packs, six-packs, party packs, variety packs and singles (not to mention liquor and wine). Take a jacket! The store features both a walk-in beer cooler and a walk-in humidor. Having a big party? Over 200 beers can be ordered in kegs. And I've recently noticed glassware from breweries like Thomas Creek.

Eight taps (and possibly more to come) make Cottage Hill Package quite unique. Take home half a gallon of ice cold draught beer for $14.99 to $24.99. On tap as of this Tuesday, February 8, are Sweetwater Georgia Brown, Rogue Yellow Snow, Great Divide Oak-Aged Yeti, Sweetwater Happy Ending, Avery Hog Heaven, Abita Select Vanilla Porter, Rogue Double Dead Guy and Abita Andy Gator. The latter is a staple on tap at Cottage Hill Package. If you've got your eye on something in particular, don't wait! It could very well be gone tomorrow. 

Know a place in Mobile with a better selection? Please share with the rest of us!

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