As Birmingham beer culture improves, from time to time there will be too much beer news for me to devote an entire column to every notable happening. So this week I am introducing a semi-regular feature I’m dubbing “Beer News Around The Ham”, in which I highlight a variety of news bits that will be of interest to metro beer drinkers.
First up, breweries seem to be rolling into Alabama left and right these days. Last month saw the debut of O’Dempsey’s, while this month both Heavy Seas and Wild Heaven hit the market. Heavy Seas is a well-established brewery in Maryland that distributes all along the East coast. Their beers happen to have debuted at The J. Clyde on the same night that Adam Avery was in town and some rare Avery beers were pouring (Thursday, November 4th). It was a great night for the Clyde and for craft beer in Alabama. Both O’Dempsey’s and Wild Heaven are brand new, based in Atlanta, and are currently being contract brewed.
They haven’t yet hit shelves in Birmingham, but the official word is out that Tampa’s Cigar City is also about to arrive here. Cigar City is the relatively young brewery I mentioned in my recent column about GABF medals, as they won a silver for their Humidor IPA. They are generating lots of buzz and the beer geeks around here are very excited about them. Another one that is “official” but hasn’t yet arrived is Southern Tier out of New York. Southern Tier is most famous for their dessert beers, like Crème Brulee and Mocha. They’ll be here either very late 2010 or early 2011. I know of one or two more that will be here soon but aren’t ready to be announced. Stay tuned.
Birmingham’s own Good People has launched a new “County Line” series. True to the name, these are beers that can only be purchased on the county line (of Coosa county) because they are twenty-two ounces. Bottles larger than sixteen ounces are illegal throughout most of our state, but due to “local option” (think wet vs. dry counties), some counties have legalized larger packages. Coosa is one of a handful, and so Good People are selling some small batch beers there in extremely limited quantities. A few cases of two different beers went on sale last Friday and are now sold out. More will follow. See www.goodpeoplebrewing.com/countyline for details.
Also on the Good People front, their new location may be in danger because of the recently-proposed baseball stadium. Birmingham residents are generally excited about the prospect of having their minor league team back within the city limits, but the proposed location for the parking lot runs right over Good People’s new brewery. Owner Jason Malone has said no one discussed any impact the stadium might have on his business prior to the first draft of the design being released to the media. The folks at Good People spent considerable time, effort, and money renovating an old warehouse to transform it into their new brewery, and the prospect of being forced to move so soon must be disheartening. Let’s hope a compromise can be reached.
And finally, most Birmingham craft beer aficionados probably know Jimmy and David Gorji, the brothers who own Highland Package Store. Only open for a year, Highland Package has earned a reputation as one of the best beer stores in Birmingham. Now it’s about to get better, as David and Jimmy are expanding into the space next door. The move will double the store’s size and facilitate the addition of twenty-eight more taps, bringing their total to fifty-two different beers available for draft to-go.
Though it’s not really news on par with the previous items, I would also add that you should be on the lookout for winter seasonals. Nearly every craft brewery has at least one, and a boatload are making their way into Birmingham. Sierra Nevada Celebration Ale, Bell’s Christmas Ale, Boulevard Nutcracker Ale, Avery Old Jubilation Ale, Great Divide Hibernation Ale, and Rogue Santa’s Private Reserve are just a few.
“Hopped Up” is a weekly brew review by Danner Kline, founder of Free the Hops and co-organizer of the annual Magic City Brewfest. Send your feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.