New brew pub offers beer lovers wide variety of options

mowen@ledger-enquirer.comApril 17, 2013 

Bi-city beer lovers now have a second place where they can enjoy locally brewed beverages.

The Chattahoochee Brewing Co., a brew pub near the base of the 13th Street Bridge in Phenix City, has joined the Cannon Brew Pub as the only local commercial brewers.

Derrell Winowich, a former engineer and small business owner, opened the pub in February and is still working to get the brewery up to full speed. He said the idea for the business grew out of his 18 years as an amateur home brewer.

"It grew as a passion," he said. "I would make something and I wasn't satisfied with it, so I'd keep working at it and working at it until I finally got to the point that my hobby outgrew being a hobby."

He reached the point where he had the potential to produce "brewery-size volumes" of beer at his house, and was just giving it away to his friends and family. That made him popular with just about everyone … but his wife.

"It got to be very expensive," he said. "My wife, she'd had enough of that and said, 'If you're going to do this, you might as well make a job out of it.'"

Winowich currently has 12 taps in the pub and only one locally brewed available (Yuchi IPA). Eventually he plans to have 36 taps with as many as eight or so of his own brews among the others from craft breweries around the country. As many as possible will come from Alabama breweries, and there are at least 18 of those.

To help customers keep up with the constantly changing bill of fare, a flat screen TV over the bar tells patrons what's on tap that day.

But don't look for Silver Bullets or Bud Light Limes in the mix. Instead, you'll find selections such as Straight to Ales Monkeynaught IPA, Founders Allday IPA, Sierra Nevadas Torpedo Extra IPA, Bells Oberon Seasonal wheat beer, Yellowhammers Belgian White, Heavy Seas Uber Pils and Avondale Brewings Spring Saison, among others.

IPA, for the uninitiated, stands for India Pale Ale, a light-in-color but heavy-on-the-hops brew with a sharp, slightly bitter taste that has become one of the most popular options among craft brewers lately.

At the other end of the spectrum, Winowich will have porters and stouts, for those who like the practically black brews. They have a creamier feel and an often sweeter taste than the tart pale ales.

For now, the only food available at the Chattahoochee Brewing Co. are chips and pretzel kinds of snacks. But a small kitchen will soon make limited traditional pub fare available.

That's one of the differences between his pub and the Cannon.

"They have a restaurant that happens to have a brewing system. I'm just the opposite. I'm a brewery that's about to have some food in in," he said. "I don't want to be a restaurateur. To me, it's all about the beer."

The pub is open from 3 to 11 p.m. Monday through Thursday and 12:30 p.m. to 12:30 a.m. on Fridays and Saturdays. It's closed on Sundays.

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