Meet Serda’s Director of Brewing
Originally from the greater New Orleans area, Todd moved from Destrehan, LA to Mobile in 1982, starting 6th grade at St. Dominic Catholic School. He then went to McGill-Toolen Catholic High School, graduating in 1988. After high school, Todd attended the University of South Alabama from 1988-1992.
Todd first became interested in the fickle art of fermentation during his teenage years. Ironically, his initial inspiration was his family’s winemaking hobby. After Todd won a Best Specialty Wine award for a potion made from Prickly Pear Cactus fruit, his Mom shut out her main competition by buying her son a “True Brew” beer rig for his 18th birthday. Already having a taste for great imported beers, Todd knew, with practice, that he could brew beer himself. By the time he got to the University of South Alabama, he was experimenting with every type of unique brew he could concoct.
Todd Hicks is a familiar face in the craft beer community’s cast of professional brewers and beer advocates. He joined Mobile’s Port City Brewery, located on Dauphin St., in 1993 and was instrumental in the opening of Alabama’s first brewpub since Prohibition. Todd started as an Assistant Brewer in training under Brewmaster Bradley Fournier and was quickly promoted to Head Brewer. He also brewed occasionally at the company’s other location, Magic City Brewery, in Birmingham, AL. Over the years of beers to follow, his devotion to brew the best and most unique craft beers possible has never strayed. This determination (and subsequent reputation) has led to numerous head brewer and consulting positions for Todd all over the southeastern US. Todd’s specialization within the trade is troubleshooting and upgrading equipment, reviewing procedures to increase efficiency, and hands-on training of brewery staff. Not to mention, he is adept at producing a variety of great tasting, unique beer styles!
While still working occasionally for Mobile’s Port City Brewery, Todd moved to the Florida Panhandle and began brewing along the Emerald Coast. He started brewing with Steve Fried at McGuire’s Irish Pub in Pensacola and then was key in the 1996 startup of McGuire’s of Destin. In 1997, Todd left McGuire’s to brew at the Santa Rosa Bay Brewery in Fort Walton Beach, and later that year also took over brewing for Sharktooth Brewery, which later became Nigel Manley’s Microbrewery across the island in Destin.
After Mobile’s Port City Brewery closed in 2001, Todd began consulting, training new brewers at Hal & Mal’s Brewery in Jackson, MS, and providing brewing services to The Cannon Brewpub in Columbus, GA. He knew, however, that with the closure of Port City, a prime location and a lot of brewing equipment became available back in Mobile.
Starting in early 2002, Todd developed a plan to purchase and reopen the former Port City Brewery under a new banner, Mr. Jim’s Cannon Brewpub. The name was in memory of the deceased co-founder of The Cannon Brewpub in Columbus. 2003 was a year of extensive renovation with Todd as Project Manager. “Mobile’s” Cannon Brewpub opened in early 2004 with Todd as Brewery Manager. On the refurbished 15-barrel brewing system, he brewed a few of the original Cannon brands with revised recipes and a few revamped brands from Mobile’s beer past.
Unfortunately, the absentee owners from Columbus had legal issues back in Georgia and in early 2006 had to eventually sell their entire operation. Mobile’s location was not exempt, and Mr. Jim’s Cannon Brewpub closed as a result.
In mid-2006, Hurricane Brewing purchased the equipment, leased the property, and began plans to open at the same location on Dauphin Street. Todd was hired as Head Brewer and was responsible for developing fresh recipes for the new operators. Hurricane Brewing opened in late 2006 after six months of renovations. Todd’s brewing goal was to keep the focus on the beer itself and increase the number of beer styles available by adding new keg space and upgrading the draft beer system. He created a variety of contemporary English/Irish beer styles that have been widely reproduced in the wake of the craft brewing
revolution. Sadly, Hurricane Brewing also only lasted about two years due to a myriad of internal issues. The building owners decided to turn upper stories into offices and lease out the bar area to a Mexican-themed restaurant, which is where Montego’s is located today.
Back in 2003, Todd joined the grass roots movement of “Free the Hops” as a founding member. He volunteered to organize the Mobile Free the Hops Chapter and lead the local beer community in support of shattering the embargo against craft beer in Alabama. This work continues today with his involvement in the Alabama Brewers Guild, where he was also a founding member and briefly a Board of Directors member.
By word of mouth, and through introduction at the WYES International Beer Festival in New Orleans, Todd was approached by two business partners about consulting on a brewery business plan in 2010. After about a year of planning, a site was selected in Baton Rouge, and construction began with a tight budget, a used 30-barrel brewing system, and a few new fermenters. Todd spent a couple of years consulting in various stages of recipe development, construction, training of brewers, and equipment expansions. Their business and facility is growing every year and shows no signs of slowing down. This brewery is known as Tin Roof and continues to be very successful to this day.
Currently, Todd and four investment partners (who are also all McGill-Toolen graduates!) are opening Serda Brewing Company, a 30-barrel brewhouse and packaging microbrewery with a tap room style pub in Mobile, Alabama. The downtown location, at 600 Government Street, is directly adjacent to Lower Dauphin Street and connects directly with the LoDa Entertainment District and the many popular restaurant and bar venues nearby. It is also directly on the Mardi Gras parade route! Serda Brewing will have ample outdoor patio seating (shaded by large sail cloths) and an outdoor food truck court. The tap room will feature one of Mobile’s largest bars, nearly 40 feet in length and crescent shaped that will span the width of the tap room. On site, secure parking will be plentiful. Serda will both keg and bottle its year-round beers for distribution. Seasonal and specialty test beers will be available only in the taproom in the near future.
A July 2017 opening is being targeted.