A BREWERY LAUNCHESAt Interstellar Ginger Beer and Exploration Company, the beer is going where no beer has gone before.
By Emily Sparacino
Photos by Dawn Harrison
“Glowing beer is cool.”
So says Shane Kelly, co-owner and president of Interstellar Ginger Beer and Exploration Company, a new space-themed brewery that opened in Alabaster last month.
Kelly and his business partner, Daniel Sims, have fueled excitement in the area for their glow-in-the-dark brews, made of alcoholic ginger beer, and for the brewery, which is one of Shelby County’s first breweries. Lined with corrugated metal, framed comics and black lights, Interstellar is designed to give people a fun place to relax and enjoy their glowing drinks.
The brewery offers seven beers on tap, each marked with custom-made wooden rocket ships. The two glow-in-the-dark beers are Blue Nebula Ginger Tonic, which glows blue, and Sun Spot, a yellow beverage Kelly likened to Limoncello, a lemon-flavored Italian liqueur. Other brews include Dark and Spicy, First Contact, Ginger Colada, Martian Mojito and Space Mule.
“Ginger beer is light, effervescent, gluten-free and it’s delicious,” Kelly says. “It tastes like ginger ale, but fermented.”
By day, Kelly, 34, is a scientist at UAB. By night, he is a master brewer at Interstellar.
The idea to open a brewery crystallized when Kelly, who had been home brewing for about 10 years, started experimenting with making beer with ginger instead of hops or barley. “We discovered that not only was ginger beer delicious, but we could do other stuff with it,” Kelly says. Hence, the glow. “I decided that I was going to make glowing beer, make ginger beer available to everyone who wanted ginger beer. People like our stuff.”
Sims, who works in real estate, decided to partner with Kelly, a longtime friend, on the brewery venture after Kelly sought his real estate advice for it. Kelly’s educational background (he has a bachelor’s degree in biology from Elon University and a doctorate in physiology and biophysics from UAB) has helped him work out the logistics of ginger beer production and which natural products to use to make it glow. The pair has crafted several appliances they use in the brewing process, including a ginger grinder.
“It’s been a learning experience,” Kelly says, and admits no shortage of sweat has been shed in the process. “I had to figure out how to do things. The process is rough, but once that machine is turned and oiled and rockin’, that will be fun. We do it for the enjoyment of others.”
And what better way to appreciate glow-in-the-dark ginger beer than to take it into a little alcove illuminated only by black lights? This space at Interstellar is called the “Dungeon.”
Kelly and Sims brew all of the ginger beer at Interstellar’s 1,500-square-foot facility on Regency Park Drive.
Construction to transform the facility into the space-themed hangout it is now started in April. Soft opening events were held several months later, and a grand opening event––complete with a rocket launch––was held Sept. 9. “We’ve definitely tried hard to make it cool,” Kelly says.
Kelly and Sims chose Alabaster to launch their brewery because of the area’s continued growth. The facility itself offers ample parking and room for the operation to expand, if needed.
In short, Kelly and Sims are simply aiming for their ginger beer to go where no beer has gone before.
“The response from people has been pure excitement,” Kelly says. “It’s really fun.”
Interstellar’s hours are Friday, 4 p.m. to midnight; Saturday, 11 a.m. until; and Sunday, 12-10 p.m. Well-behaved dogs on leashes are welcome at the brewery. A non-alcoholic ginger beer called Space Lizard is available for free for children.
Interstellar beer also will be available at local businesses, including Champy’s Chicken, Hop City Beer and Delta Blues Hot Tamales.
For more information, visit Interstellar Ginger Beer and Exploration Co. on Facebook.