This was originally printed in the ALE STREET NEWS April-May issue. You can see the latest news at alestreetnews.com/
The Southern Update
Blue Pants in Madison, AL is releasing a new IPA variety pack called Blue Pants Hop Box that will feature four IPAs. The varieties include Weedy’s Double IPA, Peach IPA, Session IPA, and Hop Bursted. Look for Peanut Butter Pinstripe Stout as a special release in 22 oz. bombers. Blue Pants hoppy spring seasonal Pilsner is out and limited quantities were made this year due to constraints on ingredients reports the brewery. Singin’ River Brewery, Florence, AL is growing by leaps and bounds adding two 30 BBL fermenters this past January. After canning their Handy’s Gold and IPA the extra space was needed just to keep up with packaging demands. Owners Rob and Michelle Jones have expanded distribution to Tennessee and Mississippi as well. The brewery also added a nano system that utilizes three two BBL fermenters for test batches and one off beers for tap room release only.
The Alabama Brewers Guild brought together all of the brewers in the state for a collaboration called St. Stephens Stout 7.2%. The American-style Stout utilizes Alabama-grown rye and wheat malts provided by Bama Malting Company, and yeast propagated by Leavendary of Huntsville. St. Stephens was released in 22 oz. bombers on March 14th at Eat Drink Birmingham and then retail stores March 17th. Dan Roberts, Executive Director of the Guild told me that St. Stephens was a rough frontier town and the first capital of Alabama, serving as the territorial capital from 1817-1819. “This project was originally conceived as a way for the breweries in Alabama to mark the 100th anniversary of Alabama being dragged into statewide prohibition. The state legislature passed prohibition on January 22, 1915 over the veto of Governor Henderson and despite voters having rejected constitutional prohibition in 1909.” The Guild plans to do collaboration each year leading up to the bicentennial of Alabama in 1819.
Briar Scratch Brewing, Cottontown, TN opened in mid-February by Brad Singleton with four beers, Cottontown Brown 4%, Creekbank Blonde 5.2%, Night Rambler, and Pop’s Hops. Brad uses a 2.5 BBL nano system to craft his beers. He started brewing while at the University of Tennessee in 2009 and has never looked back after getting hooked on craft beer. Another new Tennessee brewery has opened in Knoxville, Fanatic Brewing Company. Marty Velas heads brewing duties for Fanatic, and they released Tennessee Blonde Ale back on March 6th.
Birdsong Brewing, Charlotte, NC and Hi-Wire Brewing Asheville, NC collaborated on a peated Wee Heavy Ale called Bird On A Wire 8%. It was released March 13th at Charlotte Beer Week and can be purchased and both breweries tasting rooms and in limited bottle shops across NC. Birdsong brewer Conor Robertson traveled to Asheville to work with the Hi-Wire brewers on the special beer that uses peated malt, and Scottish yeast. Be on the look-out for Natty Greene’s next Silo Series release, Old Fort Black IPA. It blends a variety of dark malts to make medium-bodied, hoppy west coast ale. You can find Old Fort on draught through April. Carolina Brewery celebrates 20 years of brewing in Chapel Hill. Owner Robert Poitras has been working with Head Brewer Jon Connolly for the entire run and they have made a great team as is proven by their longevity and growth in the market. When Carolina Brewery began they were operating as just a brewpub, but now have two locations and are distributed across the state of North Carolina and in South Carolina as well. Look for a new operation in Shelby, NC in the form of Newgrass Brewing Company. Plans are to be open by mid-summer in a location that was previously Hudson’s Department Store. The building was originally built in 1909. The brewery will be run by Shelby native Jordan Boinest. She is very excited to not only help to preserve the historic building but bring a new destination for visitors to Shelby and Cleveland County. Head Brewer Lewis McCallister is excited to start brewing on the new system that has been delivered and awaits construction build out to be completed. Boisest told Casey White of the Shelby Star “For us, myself and Lewis, this is coming home and getting to do what we love,” Boinest said. “We couldn’t be more proud to share this with anybody but Shelby, North Carolina.”
New releases from one of my favorite breweries Wicked Weed Brewing, Asheville, NC are on the way. Starting March 29th Red Angel 7% bottles were released. Red Angel is the first of a once-a-year release in their Angel Series. The beer is “a vibrant blood red sour ale that received 1.5 pounds of fresh raspberries per gallon and was aged in red wine barrels for nine months.” The beer was then blended onto another pound of raspberries per gallon and aged an additional two months. The Wicked Weed team was in San Diego in March – look for some sort of collaboration between them and Stone Brewing in the near future. Tony Kiss reports that Nantahala Brewing, Bryson City, NC will be installing a bottling line and additional brewing equipment so we can expect to see more of their beers out in the market. Head Brewer Greg Geiger operates a 10 BBL system that puts out around 1,200 BBL per year.
Bluegrass Brewing Company, Louisville, KY celebrated 10 years of The Blessing of the Beer, the annual celebration that unofficially kicks off St. Patrick’s Day and the release of BBC Bourbon Barrel Stout. The celebration includes a blessing of the barrels by Father Joe Fowler, members from the local Ancient Order of the Hibernians in kilts with bagpipes, and each year several people are chosen to be knighted into the order. This year Co-founder of BBC Phil Dearner was knighted.
In South Carolina Swamp Rabbit, Travelers Rest has hired Andrew Myers on as a cellar and apprentice brewer. Swamp Rabbit celebrated one year of business on March 28th and owner and Head Brewer Ben Pierson keeps turning out his excellent creations like a new Cherry Wit brewed with 180 pounds of Michigan Cherries. Swamp Rabbit makes a killer Oktoberfest that just brewed on February 3rd so it should be ready soon! Also look for Ben’s Double IPA 7.8% brewed and dry hopped with Kent Goldings for an English twist, German Pilsner5.2%, and his multiple award-winning Wit 5.5%. Brock Kurtzman has left New South Brewing, Myrtle Beach, SC after nine years to pursue other brewing opportunities and has been replaced by John “Jilly” Garner. Jilly has been a home brewer since the early 90s and started the local homebrew club in Myrtle Beach. When asked about his new position he told me “I’m the luckiest guy in the world and have been given the chance of a lifetime – my dream job.” Jilly is a great addition to the team at New South!
We had a chance to check out the new restaurant Suelto at Holy City Brewing, Charleston SC this past month. Chef Shay MacDonald has joined the team full time and is operating out of a new expanded kitchen at the brewery. The menu was simple but exciting. Our daughter had the Ciabatta French Toast with Peanut butter and strawberry cream cheese stuffing, while we enjoyed the Pork Chili Verde done with home fries, green chili pork, a six minute egg and cheddar cheese. The menu changes each time you go and is posted on the Suelto Facebook page. There were a slew of killer beers on tap, around twenty, so plenty to choose from. We enjoyed the IPA aged in tequila barrels and aged on pineapple and jalapenos. Yeast Wrangler DIPA 10% was smooth and pleasantly hoppy and the Holy COAST Black Rye IPA collaboration was excellent.
I recently had the chance to try some delicious brews from JDub’s Brewing Company, Sarasota, FL. Their UPTOP! IPA 6.5% had strong aromas of tropical citrus and grape fruit notes from Falconers Flight and poured a beautiful orange with nice lacing in the glass. UPTOP was very smooth and easy to drink, not overpowering like some IPA’s. Their Esperanza 8% rum barrel-aged Scottish Ale was on the sweet and malty side, and defiantly worth seeking out. The rum barrel imparted and excellent flavor and married up well with the Scottish ale style. Next was their first anniversary beer, Dub-ious 8.3%, a sweet, strong stout brewed with oak spirals that were soaked in brown sugar, blueberries, navel oranges, Siesta Key spiced rum, and vanilla beans. The spirals were then caramelized over hickory smoke to add complexity to the brew. This was a great beer to share with friends before we poured Legacy 3, a 10% imperial smoked porter brewed with Beachwood smoked malt and Oak smoked wheat malt. Northern Brewer and Chinook give the beer a nice bitterness that doesn’t overpower the smoke character or malt in the beer. Barrel aging in 14 year old George Dickel barrel adds another layer of complexity to Legacy 3 with notes of vanilla and coconut.
Kent Waugh has joined the team at the new Crooked Can Brewing, Winter Garden, FL. He leaves Big River Disney to take over the brewing duties at this new startup. Brewing began in February of the four flagship brands High Stepper Imperial IPA7.2% and 92 IBU, McSwagger’s Own American Amber Ale 6.8%, Duck Tail American Pale 6.5% and Belgian Golden Strong Ale 9.5%. Kent won GABF medals for Big River and you can expect more great things from him at Crooked Can now that he will have more creative license. Other new Florida breweries to open are Barrel of Monks in Boca Raton, brewing Belgian-style ales. Opened by Bill and Maria McFee and brewing duties headed up by Kevin Abbott previously with Due South and Funky Buddha. From the operators of Tequesta Brewing comes Twisted Trunk Brewing, Palm Beach Gardens. They opened with El Dorado IPA, Session IPA, German Pilsner, Irish Red, Watermelon Saison, English Stout, and Black Saison. Fran Andrewlevich and Matt Webster are the pair behind this new gem of a brewery.