Brewery Review: Old Black Bear, Madison AL

oldblackbear(Note: A version of this article will appear in the December issue of 256 Magazine.)

Old Black Bear has become a fixture in Madison’s Historic Downtown district, which has recently undergone a modern transformation that still retains the old town charm adjacent to the railroad tracks. We recently chatted with Todd Seaton, President of Old Black Bear Brewing Company.

dsc01594“The fact that we’re in on the revitalization of Downtown Madison and that we’re a community hub is a big thing for the city we’re proud of,” Seaton explained. “We have a lot of groups like the Rotary Club that come here to meet, we’re that local community focused pub that people really needed here.” Pride in the city is another reason that Seaton hoped to grow further in the coming years. He commented that “Madison is made up 50,000 people, but until recently it hasn’t really seemed like that.”

Initially brewing their beer out of Gadsden and distributing their brew locally, Old Black Bear has been in their Madison location for around a year. After bringing in their brewing operation and growing business to the corner of Downtown Madison, Seaton says that the excitement in new restaurant and pub in the same location has been the biggest surprise.

In addition to pride in their city, Seaton and Black Bear also raise both awareness and funding for wildlife and outdoor initiatives. One way they’ve tackled the challenge is through their Whooping Crane IPA. The red and white can features a design of the Sandhill Whooping Crane, and tells a bit about the conservation efforts to repopulate them.

“Young hunters take shots at them without really knowing what they are,” Seaton explained. “We’re trying to bring awareness to people, and give a quarter from every can we sell to the International Crane Foundation.” The IPA proved popular, as they were able to raise around $3,500 in the past calendar year.

With Old Black Bear’s focus on being a growing part of Madison, as well as their passionate advocacy for outdoor and wildlife initiatives, they’ve become a unique voice in the local craft brewery scene. With plans to expand both the business and growing nightlife of Madison, Black Bear is a big local brand to watch in the coming years.

Beer Review:

We tasted two different brews during our visit to Old Black Bear’s rustic and welcoming bar, the Land Trust Trail Ale and the Cave City Lager.

The Land Trust Ale is an extremely smooth brew that’s not too dark that would be great to sneak into your pack on a long hike on its namesake. It has a very quick and clean taste that has just a hint of roast to it. We wouldn’t necessarily pair it with a hearty dinner, but it absolutely is the perfect pairing with a strenuous adventure outdoors. The Cave City Lager, however, is that perfect pairing with a nice dinner. Described by Old Black Bear President Todd Seaton as “Yuengling on steroids,” it has a great rich and dark taste with a bit of a chocolate note.