An inside look at Opelika’s Red Clay Brewing Company

Owners Of Red Clay Brewing
Two of the three founders + owners of Red Clay Brewing, Kerry McGinnis (left) and John Corbin (right). (Audrey Kent / The Bama Buzz)

It was mainly for themselves when John Corbin, Kerry McGinnis and Stephen Harle ran their handmade brewery for many years. Brewing was just something they loved to do.

However, after the demand for their home-brewed creations and their ambitions to work for themselves grew, the trio opened Red Clay Brewing Company in the Auburn-Opelika area, which has been its home for nine years.

Keep reading to learn more about Red Clay Brewing Company and its brewers.

Meet the founders + owners of Red Clay Brewing Company

Red Clay Brewing Owners
Corbin and McGinnis pictured outside of their brewery. (Audrey Kent / The Bama Buzz)

When Corbin left college, he wanted to transition to a period where he was working for himself. McGinnis, who had served in the military, was searching for something similar.

Corbin has a background in the hospitality industry. After working as a chef for a number of years, he decided he wanted to start a brewery.

So, he started a home brewery with McGinnis, his brother-in-law, and Harle, his best friend. After years of home brewing, they took the first steps to create something bigger.

“We enjoyed homebrewing at that time, and because we knew we wanted to work for ourselves, I figured we should do something we’re interested in and something that we love.  So, we spent a year looking at different breweries, and ended up deciding here was the place we wanted to be. I was born here in Auburn. Stephen’s family is from here. So, we all have a reason to call this place home. After a lot of preparation and hard work, we opened our doors here almost nine years ago.”

John Corbin, founder + owner, Red Clay Brewing Company

The beginning of Red Clay Brewing Company

It wasn’t easy preparing Red Clay Brewing Company for opening. 

According to Corbin, the beer industry is much different from others, presenting hurdles such as gathering appropriate equipment and answering to state and federal laws to ensure everything was in working order before they officially opened.

“You have to be creative to run a business like this. We had stresses and doubts at the beginning, but overall it’s been great. It helps that we all have different backgrounds. Myself in sales and marketing, Kerry with operation and engineering and Stephen with finance and taxes. So, we were able to bring a three-pronged approach to the business and work together instead of stepping on each other’s toes.”

John Corbin, founder + owner, Red Clay Brewing Company

According to Corbin, Red Clay Brewing Company is one of the first breweries and cideries in the Southeast, and they were curious if there would be any pushback from the surrounding churches and city buildings when they opened.

However, Corbin said the support from the community was overwhelmingly positive when they first opened the doors to their brewery.

“I think the fact that this is a welcoming space helped bring the community in. This isn’t strictly a college student hub like many of the bars around here. We have families come daily, and even pets are welcome. On a Saturday morning, you’ll have a group of parents here with their young kids playing games and having a good time. Then you got groups of pet lovers come in and play with their dogs out back. Then, you know, around 8:30, it becomes, you know, more of that typical, lively brewery situation.”

John Corbin, founder + owner, Red Clay Brewing Company

What Red Clay Brewing is all about

Although Red Clay Brewing has a variety of beer, ale, cider and more, their most popular drink is the Tres Barbas Mexican Lager. If you enjoy this drink or any other, the brewery sells their drinks by the can, in packs and in growlers. 

Their drinks have also been picked up and distributed by grocery store chains in places like Florida and Puerto Rico. 

“The public lets you know very quickly what their favorite drink is. Tres Barbas is a great beer, but it it also one of our more simple beers. We’ve noticed the trend of lighter beers really becoming popular. We’re a brewery and winery at the same time. We carry a mix of everything that’s not purely liquor. Anyone can find something they like.”

John Corbin, founder + owner, Red Clay Brewing Company

Although Red Clay Brewing is known for its delicious beer, it has excellent food, such as pizza and Bavarian-style pretzels.

Locals and visitors can visit during regular business hours, but they also can visit during the multiple events Red Clay Brewing hosts or even schedule their own private event. Many of Red Clay Brewing’s events benefit charity. 

“We participate in many local festivals like Beer Fest. We have trivia every Tuesday night. We also have anniversary parties and can host your private event. We do a lot of charity events. One event we’ve done is the Crawfish Festival, which benefits Alabama Rivers Alliance. We’ve done Oyster Fest, which is for The Alabama Coastal Foundation. Almost every event we have has some type of charitable aspect to it.”

Kerry McGinnis, founder + owner, Red Clay Brewing Company

Red Clay Brewing frequently updates its social media pages to deliver news about new ideas, beer releases, events and more. 

Whether you’re a college student, a parent, a pet lover, a beer lover or someone looking for a fun and friendly place to hang out, Red Clay Brewing invites everyone to come see what they have to offer. 

“We’re constantly working to create a fun environment. We love our community and our supporters. So, bring your friends, bring your kids, bring your pets, and enjoy some good food and beer in a chill place where you can always experience something new. We have our outdoor front and back space, too. If you’re not usually a beer drinker, don’t be intimidated. We have a variety of options. You can sample and try anything you want. You can ask questions. We try to make it open for everybody here.” 

John Corbin, founder and owner, Red Clay Brewing Company

Want stories like this delivered straight to your inbox? Sign up for our newsletter today.

Audrey Kent
Audrey Kent
Articles: 24