Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Red Hills Brewery brings Tuscaloosa a lighter beer


Joe Pilleteri used to make beer in his kitchen, until his wife banished his hobby to the garage. His passion for brewing beer kept growing as did his fascination with the science behind it. After a while, he started considering business plans to see if opening a brewery would be feasible, but it wasn’t until one night in Homewood, Alabama, when he saw the perfect building for his project. 

Four years later, last September, Red Hills Brewery opened. The bar took its name from the state amphibian, the red hills salamander. Six months after its opening, they decided to start distributing their beer in other cities, starting with Tuscaloosa. 

“One of the cool things about Alabama is we don’t really have a bad breweries,” Pilleteri said. “You have three in Tuscaloosa. There’s not a bad brewery in Tuscaloosa.” 

That presents a challenge, Pilleteri said — making the beers distinct. For Red Hills, he said, that comes in their style. They currently have three year round beers, the Homewood Hefe, a hefeweizen with a hit of banana and cloves, A Pound A Brown which is their British style mild beer and a German pilsner called the Phase 3 Pilsner. 

“That’s what a beer should taste like,” Pilleteri said of the Pilsner. “I joke with people when I tell them what it tastes like. I tell them it tastes like beer. It’s just well balanced, it’s a nice crisp easy drinking beer.” 

All of the Red Hills beers are what Pilleteri calls “easy drinking” with only 4 or 5 percent alcohol content. 

“I’m 41 so I’m not big on very high alcohol beers,” he said. “You can enjoy the beer. I’m thinking for down there if you want to tailgate you don’t want to drink 10 percent beers, you won’t enjoy the game, but if you have a 4 or 5 percent beer, you can have a couple, enjoy yourself.” 

Red Hills Brewery beer has been offered at multiple locations around Tuscaloosa. Alcove Tavern and Wilhagan’s Tap Room have both offered it in the past. 

“People love anything local or from Alabama,” said Joe Cook, the bar manager at Wilhagan’s. “People will try it just because it’s from Alabama.” 

Wilhagan’s rotates the brews they have on tap, so they don’t have Red Hills beers currently, but Cook said they plan to have it again in the future. 

Loosa Brews on 20th Avenue has had three Red Hills beers on tap for six months. Like Cook, Jeremiah Gaines, the manager at Loosa Brews said part of the success comes from Red Hills’ local status.

“Local beer is really popular in Alabama, but it’s been really well received and they keep trying new stuff so we keep getting new beers from them,” Gaines said. “It’s kind of nice to test the market, see what works.” 

Gaines said he thinks people like it because it’s got a distinct flavor and identity. 

“When you try it you can tell it’s Red Hills,” he said. “For the evolving palate of the Tuscaloosa market, it’s perfectly timed in for what they’re looking for. If they want a darker beer, the brown’s perfect for it. If they want an IPA, the malt isn’t too heavy so the hops kind of shine through just a little bit juicier. Their wheat beer is the perfect banana clove hefeweizen mixed with a lighter feel to it. They came in knowing what they were doing.” 

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