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Braided River Brewing Company Crafts Beer And Sustainabilityr

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It might seem like a new bespoke or craft this or that is popping up every week in every town across America. It can be an ice cream shop with unique flavors, an apparel store that appeals to whatever idiosyncratic custom the locals there enjoy, or a small craft brewery plying its singular take on a hoppy treat for its community. 

While it may seem like these places are sprouting up everywhere, a few of these businesses are setting themselves apart. They stand out not just for their cut-above offerings but also for how they approach their businesses. 

Braided River Brewing Company is one such business. 

Owned by Erin and David Nelson, the craft brewery sits at the confluence of the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico in Mobile, AL. It seeks not only to satiate its customer’s thirst but also to give back to the community and the planet from which it draws the source of its tasty beer. 

Photo Courtesy David Nelson

The Business Download chatted with David to find out a little more about the good brews and good deeds happening at Braided River.

“In 2007, my wife, Erin, and I were living in Chapel Hill, NC, where she was getting her doctorate in archeology,” David explains. “Erin had to go out of town for a few months, so she bought me a homebrew kit to keep me entertained. I was a trained chemist and just got hooked. It turned out I really liked making beer, so I kept learning about it and making more and more.”

“For five years, I worked as a toxicologist, making beer on the side at home,” he continued. “I volunteered at a brewery to get some production experience and then quit my full-time job to become a brewer at Lonerider in Raleigh, where I worked for five years. In 2017, Erin accepted a teaching job at the University of South Alabama, and we moved to Mobile, AL.”

Photo Courtesy David Nelson

And just like that, what started with a passion for beer and an interest in creating his home brews blossomed into a full-time business. 

“There were no brewery jobs here, so I decided to create my own. I researched how to start a business and came up with ideas for my own brewery, which I named Braided River Brewing Co. in honor of the nearby Mobile-Tensaw River Delta,” David said.

“I moved into our downtown production space at 420 St. Louis Street in the summer of 2019 and opened the taproom in February 2020.”

When asked to explain why being a sustainable and earth-conscious company is so vitally important to the Nelsons and Braided River, David seems to imply that there is no other way for them to operate as they see it.

“We like to say that we’re drawn to the Delta and united by beer,” David said. “We take inspiration from the natural world and are proud to have an amazing natural resource, the Mobile-Tensaw Delta, in our own backyard.”

“Known as ‘America’s Amazon’ for its biodiversity, it is a unique resource we want to help preserve and share with others,” he continued. “Being as passionate about our local environment as we are, we’re conscious about our environmental impact and are always looking to make choices that can have a positive effect — no matter how small. We also love our city and want to work with and promote the groups that are making it a great place to live and enjoy for everyone.”

Some of the brewery’s practices include using LED lighting and reducing plastic use by replacing plastic wrap in distribution pallets with reusable rubber bands.

The company also has brewing designed to recover heat and reuse water, sends its spent grain to local farmers for feed, and gives grain sacks to environmental groups to use as sustainable garbage bags.

The business also gives a portion of the proceeds from selling its Coastal Stout and Summer Crush brews to local environmental agencies — the Alabama Coastal Foundation and the Mobile Baykeeper. In the future, the brewery plans to install solar panels and institute reusable to-go cups, just to name a few projects.

Photo Courtesy David Nelson

Braided River’s customers seem to appreciate these efforts to be good stewards of the natural world and community around them as much as they appreciate their meticulously crafted offerings.

“For like-minded people, we find they’re very interested in what we do and appreciate the efforts we make,” said David. “And for those that don’t consider sustainability very much, we hope to show that it’s worth thinking about and that there are plenty of small things that are easily done which can add up to a meaningful change.”

With plans to distribute statewide and continue to grow their operation and good work throughout their local area, Braided River Brewing Co. is poised to expand and enhance that meaningful change throughout the South.


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