Because I Had To

I drink ale. That said, local craft breweries keep creating new ones and I believe it is my duty to attempt to sample each and every one of these locally made beer as we travel about the country in our motorhome.

Checking out a local brew is clearly a must-do when visiting a new area. New ones pop up constantly. Each of these beers is more than just a beer.

You should drink them all, but not before appreciating their significance. Let’s get rolling.

Gadsden, Alabama: Black Forty Paw Paw Wheat

When Back Forty’s Jason Wilson got into the brewing game in 2009, Alabama was a pretty lonely place. The fifth-generation Roll Tider discovered that, thanks to some antiquated liquor laws, his baby business venture was, in fact, super-duper illegal. So he marched down to the capital, argued to overturn the Prohibition-era legislation, was elected President of the Alabama Brewers Guild.

Soon after Paw Paw Peach Wheat was born. The peach-packed wheat beer is basically the definition of a porch beer, and there’s nothing more Alabaman than idly passing a sticky summer afternoon with plenty of cold, light beer and a rickety porch swing. Well, nothing except for calling your gramps Paw Paw, I guess.

Atlanta, Georgia: Sweet Water 420 Extra Pale Ale

It’s not often that the name of a beer is so ubiquitous that a music festival is named after it, but not every beer is SweetWater’s 420. SweetWater Brewing Co. was founded in Atlanta over 20 years ago, and lives by the motto “Don’t Float the Mainstream!”

The first 420 Extra Pale Ale was brewed on April 20, 1997, and the flagship brew continues to be a favorite among craft beer fans. Back then, SweetWater and 420 together meant one thing: a West Coast-style extra pale ale.

Kiln, Mississippi: Lazy Magnolia Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale

Mississippi natives Leslie and Mark Henderson started making beer by chance when Leslie bought her husband a beer brewing kit for Christmas. Now, the company is Mississippi’s oldest packaging brewery—and the first in the state since Prohibition. The Hendersons have been serving their products since 2003, brewing in the flavors of their home state.

The Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale is the first beer in the world, to our knowledge, made with whole roasted pecans. The pecans are used just like grain and provide a nutty characteristic and a delightful depth to the flavor profile. This beer is lightly hopped to allow the malty, caramel, and nutty flavors to shine through.

Birmingham, Alabama: Avondale Battlefield IPA

The motto of this Birmingham brewhouse is “What do you have to lose? And I couldn’t agree more. Avondale is housed in a historic building that’s been everything from a saloon and pharmacy to a brothel.

This brewery’s roots in Prohibition and the industrial brewing during the early 1920s and ’30s informs their beer making process today. They make bold, hoppy concoctions named after and inspired by local history of Birmingham and the Avondale neighborhood.

Nashville, Tennessee: Yazoo Gerst Amber

While the gold medal-winning Hefeweizen is arguably the best-known offering from Tennessee’s best-known brewery, it’s the old-school Gerst Amber that’s the most iconic. Its retro design and classic stubby brown bottle instantly evoke a sense of turn of the century industrial times—and that’s no accident.

Gerst was the name of Nashville’s very first brewery, and though it sadly didn’t survive Prohibition, Yazoo decided to resurrect the celebrated Amber with the help of a local, Gerst-related restaurant. This is no knock-your-socks-off IPA, just a good, old-fashioned beer with mostly German malts.

Birmingham, Alabama: Good People IPA

Good People Brewing Company started as most craft breweries have, the passion of home brewing taken to the next level. Good People was born, with the sale of their first keg on July 4, 2008. Their offerings now include five year-round brews, four seasonals, and an occasional one-off.

Good People IPA doesn’t have a fancy name, it just states the style, IPA. A hidden gem. A somewhat subdued hop profile on the nose. Lemon and grassy hops balance with a malty sweetness. The taste is way more pronounced. Pineapple, apple tartness, and light citrus notes prevail. A quick, hoppy dryness takes over the back end. The body is perfect for this IPA.

Worth Pondering…

From Our RV to Yours—Cheers Y’all!

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