By Morgan Bryce
Area homebrewers and winemakers can hone their skills or pick up necessary ingredients for making their beverage of choice at Whistle Stop Brew Shop, a new business slated to open in mid-May to early June in downtown Opelika.
Located at 830 N. Railroad Ave. between La Cantina and Smith T Hardware, the shop’s name comes from its close proximity to the trains which pass by its storefront on a daily basis, according to owner Scott Brown.
A Mobile native, Brown went on to have a 28-year career in the U.S. Coast Guard, with the latter part of his career spent in the Baltimore area. Retiring from the service in 2011 as a lieutenant commander, he began working as a federal contractor.
Nearly a year later, Brown’s sons purchased him a homebrewing kit. Already a beer enthusiast and fan of sampling craft beers from local breweries, he said he soon discovered that this was far more than a hobby.
“I had played golf for years and gave up because I knew that wasn’t going to get me anywhere. I also rode motorcycles some, but this was the most interesting thing I’d done,” Brown said.
In 2017, Brown and his wife Julie relocated from Maryland to the Auburn-Opelika area. Soon after settling into his new home, he joined the Auburn Brew Club, where he said he discovered the area’s need for its own homebrewing and winemaking supply store.
“The closest store like this is in LaGrange, which isn’t a problem, but I know that others like myself like to shop locally as often as they can. That was my primary motivation for pulling the trigger and going forward with this,” Brown said.
Brown signed a lease agreement for the 2,500 square foot space and the neighboring building in January. Built in 1920, the structure formerly housed a creamery, and he said he plans to retain most of the building’s features, including its “beautiful interior brickwork.”
In the heart of downtown’s entertainment district, Whistle Stop is within a close proximity to John Emerald Distillery, as well as Red Clay and the soon-to-be-opened Resting Pulse breweries. Brown said he has been cultivating a strong relationship with those nearby businesses and is excited to see how they can work together moving forward.
“People who like to brew their own beer always go to local breweries. We already have the right clientele coming down here,” Brown said. “Those who make their own beer don’t stop going to their local breweries and enjoying the opportunity to meet folks. And they’ll also be able to taste things that they haven’t had before and want to try to make themselves.”
Once opened, the shop’s offerings will include access to a broad array of the hops, grains and yeasts needed in beer production, as well as those used in wine. Brown said he also plans to begin offering instructional courses taught by local experts for those interested in homebrewing and winemaking.
“I hope that it does impart a passion for homebrewing and winemaking and that people get excited about it. Ideally, after a couple of years and gaining recognition, people will feel comfortable enough to come here and know exactly what they need and how to make their beer or wine,” Brown said.
For more information or updates, like and follow the business’s Facebook page or visit www.whistlestopbrewshop.com.