Before the change, city ordinances prevented bars from operating within 500 feet of one another. But Friday’s vote excludes brewpubs from that requirement.
“I’m happy it went through,” said Mark Jones, council president, about the ordinance amendment. “I know there are several others that have been successful and I’m anxious to see how it’s going to work.”
Brewpubs are small-scale beer manufacturers, who emphasize taste and the craft of brewing. State law prohibits them from selling more than 10,000 barrels of beer each year.
Earlier this year, Joe Donahue began asking the council to consider the change. Donahue hopes to open up his brewpub at what’s known as “the mini mall” on the city’s Public Square. The site is within 500 feet of another bar.
“I’m very excited. I think it pretty much opens up the door for me to do what I want to do,” Donahue said.
There are five brewpubs in Alabama, including Cheaha Brewing Company in Anniston, according to the Alabama’s Brewers Guild, a state trade association for craft brewers.
The council planned to move forward with the ordinance earlier this fall, but postponed a decision over concerns that the brewpub might also sell beer made in large, commercial breweries. But the council added a clause to the ordinance that restricts brewpubs to selling only specialty beer.
Donahue said he hasn’t yet signed the lease for the mini mall property, but he plans to take that step now that the council has made the change.
Donahue said he must do renovations to the building, acquire food and alcohol licenses and move his brewing equipment into the building before opening the business. He said he expects it to take two months.
“It’s just lots and lots of work now,” Donahue said.
Staff writer Laura Gaddy: 256-235-3544. On Twitter @LJohnson_Star.