Founder Rodney Snider believes in the quality of locally sourced food. Snider said the Cheaha Brewery staff pays close attention to what food is used, and the kitchen prides itself on using local products. They even make their own ketchup.
“Ketchup has high fructose corn syrup in it,” he said. “So, we started making our own because we felt we couldn’t buy it at the quality we want.”
Behind the bar, cocktail mixes like sour mix and margarita mix are made from scratch as well. And Snider said the brewery is in the process of making four or five beers.
“We want to give people an opportunity to try lots of different things,” he said.
Snider said using local products, rather than buying wholesale from a big market, is not necessarily harder for a new business to tackle. It’s just a matter of wanting to do it.
He said Cheaha Brewing Company strives to produce what he and his staff would want to eat.
“We believe in keeping it local as much as we can,” Snider said. “Whether that’s out your backdoor or in the country.”
Like Snider, David Mashburn, owner of Classic on Noble, favors the quality of locally sourced products.
Mashburn said the restaurant had to adjust its menu when Wright’s Dairy Farm could no longer deliver Classic’s usual order of 60 gallons of heavy cream along with milk, cheese and ice cream last summer when the farm closed for maintenance.
“The quality of his heavy cream is amazing,” Mashburn said of Wright’s product. “We also try to get as many local foods as we can.”
Classic’s tomatoes, greens and types of lettuce are all locally grown. The bestseller is the fried green tomato salad.
Mashburn said the freshness of local ingredients produces high-quality dishes because the food has not been packed for weeks to ship across the country.
Over in Gadsden, clinking bottles and the smell of rich, earthy wheat fill Back Forty Beer Co. each day as the brewery creates its four year-round locally brewed beers. Tripp Collins, director of operations, said the brewery uses Chilton County peaches in its Peach Wheat Ale and Cold Creek Honey from Hokes Bluff in the Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale.
“It’s Southern, it’s high quality and it is a craft,” Collins said of the local brews.
According to Collins, any time someone buys Back Forty Beer, it supports the local economy.
“Nobody’s getting rich, buying second homes or getting raises,” he said.
Last year, Back Forty donated $10,000 to local charities, including the United Way and Etowah County Red Cross. The brewery also hosted fundraisers for downtown Gadsden with the Front Porch Revival festival.
“We’re from Alabama and we want to support Alabama as best we can,” Collins said.