By: Lauren H. Dowdle
Photos By: Don Naman Photography, Untold Imagery
Bikes and beer normally don’t pair well. But for longtime Hoover resident Jamie Cato, the first brought the idea for the other, leading to Hoover’s first brewery: Brock’s Gap Brewing Company.
While teaching his son how to ride a bike in the Met parking lot during the COVID lockdown, Cato looked over and saw a piece of land for sale. As his son’s tires were spinning so were the ones in Cato’s head.
“My son made it about 20 yards before I picked up my phone and called my business partner and told him we have to buy some land,” Cato recalls.
He says the city was missing a large, family-friendly gathering spot. The property seemed like the perfect place to create one and fill in that gap. And it didn’t take him long to come up with an idea for the type of place they should build there.
“I told my business partner we were going to build a brewery on the land, and he said, ‘You know you don’t know how to make beer, right?’” Cato says.
While Cato didn’t have prior brewing experience, he had run other businesses and said he knew someone who would make the perfect head brewer: Jeff Huemmer. So, along with Cato’s main business partner, Michael Blumenthal, and other partner, Brian Toth, they purchased the property.
The Hoover City Council initially had concerns about the potential for loud concerts at the brewery. But when Cato explained their plan for events and noise control, the council got behind the idea and saw the value it would add to the community. After two years of planning and construction, Brock’s Gap Brewing Company officially opened March 3 next to the Hoover Met.
“It is a tremendous honor for me personally and our group that we could build Hoover’s first brewery,” Cato says. “I’ve heard no less than a thousand times, ‘Thanks for building this for our community. We’ve needed this for a long time.’ The reaction has been phenomenal.”
The brewery has about 16 beers on tap at a time, including both core and seasonal options. A few popular drinks include their Going Going Blonde, The Sugar Cat, Rock & Roll All Lite, Hopnoculum and The Shuffler. “We have a lot to offer a lot of different people,” he says.
In addition to refreshing drinks, Brock’s Gap Brewing Company also tries to have food trucks there every day—from ones with snow cones and chocolate goodies to Cajun and pizza. It’s easy to see why it is turning into a one-stop shop for many families.
The brewery has a variety of indoor spaces customers can rent for private events, along with an outdoor green space that’s perfect for all ages. From cornhole to large checkers’ pieces, Jenga and Connect 4, the outdoor area will become families’ new go-to hangout.
“It’s just a place to have a little fun,” Cato says. “Parents and kids can have fun together.”
As the brewery continues to grow, so will its list of happenings. Their director of events, Darrius Jackson, is working to bring a concert series and other events in the coming months. They plan to offer live music almost every Friday night, along with trivia and other socials. The brewery is also planning special events for the SEC baseball tournament and World Games.
“We’re going to grow and continue having a nice community brewery that’s family-friendly and makes really good beer,” Cato says. “I’ve met so many cool people from the city and cemented myself and my family in the community.”
A Hoover resident since 2004, Cato says he also wants the brewery to give back to the community he and his family love.
“The city built the Finley Center, and it’s been a tremendous asset for the city,” says Cato, whose brewery is walking distance from the development. “Our brewery is a value-add for the city for advertising and marketing large tournaments.”
The brewery doesn’t only give back to the community, but it is also a reflection of the area. Its train logo is a nod to the South and North Alabama Railroad that crossed by Brock’s Gap, and the names of the brewery’s beers also pay tribute to the role Brock’s Gap played in the founding of Birmingham.
“I think Brock’s Gap Brewing Company is uniquely us, and we have a really cool atmosphere,” he says. “People who come in say the beer is fantastic, and our staff makes them feel at home. Come in and check us out.”
Brock’s Gap Brewing Company is located at 500 Mineral Trace in Hoover. They are open Monday through Wednesday from 3 to 11 p.m.; Thursday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; and Sunday 12 to 10 p.m. For more information, visit Brocksgapbrewing.com.