Someone once said to me that after a trip to a battlefield, one should always try to visit a winery or brewery right afterward. I’m not entirely sure why, but it seems to be a theme amongst historians to search out great places to eat and grab a beer after a conference, symposium, or battlefield tour.
Down the road and around the corner from the Richards DAR House and Museum, you can find such a place at the Iron Hand Brewery on State Street. Opened in January 2016, Iron Hand has dedicated themselves to providing a family friendly pub atmosphere. They serve their own specially crafted beer selection – as well as traditional favorites – and present guests with a menu just as unique and homey at the same time. Pub fare like shepherd’s pie, corned beef, and even Japanese curry are just some of the comfort-food eats you can find here. While downing a glass of your new favorite beer or taking a bite of some cheesy pretzel appetizers, you can entertain yourself by watching the game on the wide screen television near the bar or knock yourself out on a boardgame with your friends or family. You can find a whole cabinet of games at the front of the house just outside the foyer. If I brought my husband here, we might never leave (we’d be playing games well past closing hour). Trivia nights and live music can also be enjoyed if you plan your visit ahead of time for the right day.
My experience at Iron Hand has always been a good one. The bar tenders are friendly and attentive, and though I’ve never had a beer, their food is fantastic. I especially enjoyed the Reuben sandwich. Most Reubens I’ve had weren’t bad, but the Reuben at Iron Hand is top notch. Everything about this sandwich is house made from the bread to the sauerkraut to the Russian dressing. It’s definitely a one-of-a-kind eating experience. Parking is available along the street and there’s a small dirt parking lot beside the building, but it’s a little cramped so be mindful of that.
There are two historic aspects of Iron Hand that made me glad that the Mobile Civil War Roundtable chose this place to hold their meetings. First, the building is the site of the old Hunter Memorial Baptist Church and Waterfront Rescue Mission. Stepping inside, it makes sense that this used to be a church. The open floorplan and high raftered ceilings decked in light pine gives the place a sort of modern rustic feel. Most pubs I’ve been in tend to be dark with low ceilings, so this was a refreshing and comfortable atmosphere. Secondly, the name “Iron Hand” was taken from Henri “Iron Hand” DeTonti, a French explorer in the late 17th century. He was called the “Father of Arkansas” for claiming land along the lower Mississippi River in the name of Louis XIV. He also negotiated peace between native tribes under the orders of Pierre Moyne, Sieur d’Iberville, founder of the Louisiana colony. He gets his nickname from the iron hook he wore in place of the hand he lost during an explosion while serving in the army.
What’s his connection to Mobile? In September of 1704, he contracted yellow fever while in Old Mobile and died. According to local lore, de Tonti’s “remains were laid to everlasting rest in an unknown grave near Mobile River, and not far from the monument erected in 1902 to commemorate the site of old Mobile.” His legacy lives on in Mobile as the De Tonti Historic District also bears his name, along with the Iron Hand Brewery.
Monday – Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday – Thursday: 4pm-10pm
Friday – Saturday: 11am-10pm
Sunday: 11am – 8pm
Address: 206 State Street, Mobile, Alabama
To find out more about the Iron Hand Brewery and about their (MANY) upcoming events, visit them on Facebook at: https://www.facebook.com/pg/ironhandbrewing/
If you’re interested in the history of Henri de Tonti, you can read more here: https://encyclopediaofarkansas.net/entries/henri-de-tonti-2537/