Story By Lauren H. Dowdle
Photos By Christina & Daniel Dennis, Untold Imagery
From handcrafted, color-coated menu boards to glasses designed to highlight each type of drink, The Beer Hog in Pelham makes beer the main star. And it’s that focus on the frothy beverage that truly sets this spot apart, says owner Chris Lawrence.
Managing a business is nothing new for Chris. He also owns Deermans BBQ in Adamsville and planned to open another BBQ restaurant in the Alabaster-Pelham area. But when that idea fell through, Chris decided to focus on another one of his passions: craft beer.
He became interested in craft beer in his late 20s around 2008 when it became legal. “Beer was fun,” says Chris, an Alabaster resident. “I got to see different varieties and started doing some homebrewing.”
Chris says he knew others loved craft beer like he did, and with no other breweries nearby at the time, he opened The Beer Hog in Pelham near the bowling alley in 2016. They offered a wide variety of beer and also brought in food trucks.
“Most people hadn’t really seen anything like it,” he says. “We’re a bar with a package store.”
Last spring, The Beer Hog expand its menu and moved to a larger location at Pelham’s Campus No. 124, which is the former Valley Elementary School. Along with their large selection of craft beers, they now have a kitchen to go with them—along with bourbon and whiskey. The fully stocked bar has 64 craft beers on the wall (no domestics), six wines on tap, bourbon and whiskey.
They also have about 300 bottled craft beers residents can take home to enjoy. Beers from local breweries like TrimTab Brewing, Ghost Train Brewing and Cahaba Brewing Company are especially popular with regulars.
Thanks to their new kitchen, guests can now pair these flavorful beverages with savory dishes. Their food menu includes a variety of tasty meals and snacks, starting with appetizers like garlic knots, spinach dip, soft pretzels and smoked salmon dip.
Their thin-crust pizzas are cooked to order and come in 12- and 16-inch sizes. They have cheese, pepperoni, the loaded hog, the no hog, BBQ chicken, buffalo chicken and crowd-favorite the whole hog, which comes with a blend of mozzarella, provolone, pepperoni, sausage, bacon and ham.
Even though they are able to offer a food menu now, guests won’t be confused about the focus of The Beer Hog.
“It feels more like a brewery than a restaurant,” Chris says. “It’s really rustic with a lot of burned oak wood, charred oaks and a live-edge cedar bar. It’s got a warehouse, steam-punk look.”
Chris and area manager Eric Messer built everything by hand, from the menu boards and flights to the blowtorched backsplash. They took old whiskey barrels and refurbished them into tables, which is especially fitting now that whiskey is on the menu.
There’s a second room with a pool table, pinball machine and darts that’s open to the public and can also be rented out for events and parties. The Beer Hog is the perfect spot for friends and families to come together for good drinks, food and atmosphere.
When they were getting started, it took a little creativity to figure out how to create a menu board because they’re constantly making changes and adding new beers. They decided to create a color-coated menu: IPAs are in green, stouts in white and so on.
Customers can easily look at the type of beer they want to make their selection. Their beers on tap rotate and can include mead, cider, stout, brown ale, sour, IPA, red ale, porter, strong ale, farmhouse ale, wheat beer, cream ale, hard seltzer and blonde ale.
While other places might serve all of their beer in a pint glass, The Beer Hog treats each craft beer differently. “We’re beer nerds,” Chris says. “You’re supposed to use a certain glass for each beer. We also keep all of the original craft handles.”
The glasses also don’t have logos, allowing guests to appreciate the colors and flavors of the beer. They also have beer and whiskey flights, along with growlers for to-go beer.
“You can experience craft beer in a way you never have before,” he says.
Chris, who describes himself as an IPA guy, says his favorite thing there is his staff, from the bartenders to the managers. “They’re all amazing,” he says. “Regulars come in here and they feel like family. That’s the best part about The Beer Hog by far.”
While they are constantly looking for ways to improve—including possibly expanding to a second location—The Beer Hog will keep the same feel customers have grown to love.
From the 50-inch televisions and free WiFi to an outdoor patio and nice couches, there are plenty of ways to relax and enjoy a fun time out. They have karaoke on Mondays, trivia on Wednesdays and live music Thursday through Saturday nights.
They hold events throughout the year like ones on Fat Tuesday, St. Patrick’s Day, a chili cookoff and a crawfish boil—along with hosting food trucks. Check out their Facebook page for upcoming events.
The Beer Hog is open Monday and Tuesday from 2 to 10 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday 2 to 11 p.m., Friday noon to midnight, Saturday 11 a.m. to midnight and Sunday noon to 11 p.m. It’s located in Campus No. 124 at 2408 Pelham Parkway in Pelham. For more information, visit Thebeerhogal.com.