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Thursday, March 31, 2011

A Vintage Kind of Family

This Saturday (April 2), Bellingrath Gardens will host the 18th Annual Camellia Classic Open Car Show. I am almost too excited for words! I think it's genetic.

My grandma collects antique Avon bottles and other knick-knacks. My mom has a great collection of World War II memorabilia. I've been working on an antique thimble collection since childhood. And then there's my dad. He collects everything from vintage typewriters and cash registers to antique fire extinguishers and furniture. When I had friends over as a teenager, they would compare our house to Cracker Barrel, with its walls covered in random vintage items, including snowshoes and a gun. 

I have mixed memories regarding Daddy's vintage vehicles. To be honest, I can't quite remember which one came first. At one point, he was the proud owner of a 1955 Chevrolet pickup. I didn't care for it much then. It wasn't in the best shape; but, thinking back, it had some lovely curves. Then there was the Mercedes-Benz. She was a cream-colored convertible from the mid-'60s, and from the beginning, I was in love. Years away from legal driving age, I would dream that she would one day be mine. And then Daddy sold her. I had invited a friend to a sleepover, and in the morning, when her parents arrived to retrieve her, they too fell in love with the Benz. Apparently, she wasn't worth saving, and Daddy made a nice little profit. Years later, I heard that the new owner backed over the Benz with her Chevy Suburban. It's tragic, really. It took while to get over the loss, but my fascination with classic cars and trucks continues. 

I've been fortunate enough to fall in love with and marry a man who's also genetically predisposed to classic cars. His parents are active members of the Mobile Bay Mustang Club, the group that sponsors the Camellia Classic year after year. They own a '66 convertible, while their other son recently inherited a '66 coupe. It's all in the family. 

On its own, Bellingrath Gardens is an attraction worth seeing. This time of year, the azaleas are in full bloom alongside Easter lilies, hydrangeas, marigolds, salvia, fuschia, impatiens, delphiniums, geraniums and more. Bellingrath's natural beauty, paired with hundreds of vintage vehicles, makes the Camellia Classic an event for all, and one that I look forward to all year. Plus, proceeds from the show benefit the Bay Area Food Bank. Bring a canned good to receive $1 off admission.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Chipotle Ale & Makin' Bacon

Rogue's Chipotlé Ale pours golden with a creamy two-finger head. The aroma is warm and inviting - spicy, smoky and slightly sweet. The flavor is spicy, slightly sweet, and super smoky with hoppy and malty undertones. It's mildy crisp and appropriately carbonated. Like a good pepper, the heat is practically addicting, yet not overpowering. Chipotlé Ale is by far the best spiced ale I've had the pleasure of drinking. Rogue recommends blending Chipotlé Ale with my personal favorite, Chocolate Stout, for a molé black and tan. I will definitely be giving this a try next time I get my hands on a bottle. 5.5% ABV.
Rating: A+

This deliciously smoky brew and a recent trip to the BBQ Championship & Hog Wild Festival have inspired my husband and I to cook up some chocolate-covered bacon. 

1 lb thick-cut bacon strips cut in half
1 lb dark chocolate chips
2 cups brown sugar
1/2 cup chili powder
coarse sea salt to taste 

Temper chocolate in a double boiler while cooking bacon to desired doneness. I prefer mine chewy. Use a fork to combine brown sugar and chili powder in a shallow bowl. While hot, coat both sides of bacon in brown sugar and chili powder. Then, dip bacon in tempered chocolate. Lay flat on Silpat or wax paper. Sprinkle with coarse sea salt before chocolate sets. Use leftover brown sugar and chili powder mixture for dry rub. 

Thanks to my husband for cooking and to our brother for bringing the beer. 

Monday, March 21, 2011

Spring Snacking

        It's the second day of spring, and this afternoon on the Gulf Coast, it's about eighty degrees and sunny. On a beautiful day like today, a Mini Babybel Gouda paired with an Abita Strawberry Harvest makes the perfect little afternoon snack. The creamy, salty wheel of cheese complements the sweet yet crisp brew.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

"Green" Beer

Many of you will celebrate this St. Patrick's Day with cheap light beer tinted green with food dye. I would like to suggest an alternative:   metaphorically "green" beer  -  beer from eco-conscious breweries like these:

Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins, Colorado recently completed upgrades to their facilities to maximize their sustainability. Solar panels now generate approximately one third of the facility's power during peak summer hours. The new warehouse lights at Odell shut themselves off when natural light is sufficient, and a new water recovery system cleans rinse water from the bottling line and then uses it to irrigate the landscaping. As if they're not already doing their part to be "green", Odell uses 70% recycled materials in their bottles, donates leftover grains to local farmers as animal feed, and reduces runoff with permeable pavers.

Also brewing sustainably in Fort Collins, Colorado is New Belgium Brewing Company. By 2015, New Belgium plans to reduce their greenhouse emissions by 25% per barrel. They are certainly off to a good start. In 1998, by unanimous employee vote, New Belgium became the very first wind-powered brewery in the United States. New Belgium encourages employees to be "green" and ride to work, with bicycle parking and employee showers to wash off that satisfying I-rode-to-work stink. Every summer since 2004, they have hosted a Bike-In Cinema on their front lawn that raises thousands of dollars for charity. New Belgium also hosts the annual Tour de Fat travelling bicycle festival, "spreading the good word about the positive societal offerings of the bicycle." 

Established in 1980, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company is the second largest craft brewery in the nation and a leader in sustainable brewing. In 2008, they completed the construction of one of the largest solar arrays in the country. The brewery even plans to make their surplus energy available to help with the overloaded California power grid during periods of peak power usage. Sierra Nevada converts 100% of its "spent" vegetable oil  from their Taproom and Restaurant into biodiesel for their long haul and local route trucks. They have also installed a two-step anaerobic and aerobic treatment plant that reprocesses and purifies all of the water produced from brewing operations. Methane generated from this treatment plant is then captured and used to fuel the boilers.

In 2003, Brooklyn Brewery became the first company in New York to be powered entirely by wind-generated electricity. Annually, this saves approximately 335,000 pounds of carbon dioxide, 1500 pounds of sulfur dioxide and 500 pounds of nitrogen oxide from polluting our atmosphere. Brooklyn Brewery also pays local farmers to haul away "spent" grains to feed their livestock.  

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Beerfests and Brewfests

Suds of the South Beerfest

Where: Tuscaloosa, AL

When: March 12

Price: $10-$20

Featured Breweries:
Good People Brewing (Birmingham, AL)
Straight to Ale (Huntsville, AL)
Back Forty Beer Co. (Gadsden, AL)
Terrapin Beer Co. (Athens, GA)
Sweetwater Brewing Co. (Atlanta, GA)
Yazoo Brewing Co. (Nashville, TN)
Highland Brewing Co. (Asheville, NC)
Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. (Kiln, MS)
Abita Beer (Abita Springs, LA)
Bell's Brewery (Galesburg, MI)

Where: Abita Springs, LA

When: March 19

Price: $15-$60

Featured Breweries: TBA

HopsFest Craft Beer Tasting

Where: Mobile, AL

When: March 26

Price: $25-30

Featured Breweries:

Michelob Brewing Co. (St. Louis, MO)
Southern Tier Brewing Co. (Lakewood, NY)
Avery Brewing Co. (Boulder, CO)
Back Forty Beer Co. (Gadsden, AL)
Gordon Biersch Brewing Co. (San Jose, CA)
Great Divide Brewing Co. (Denver, CO)
Red Brick Brewing Co. (Atlanta, GA)
St Bernardus (Belgium)
Tommyknocker Brewery (Idaho Springs, CO)

SweetWater Brewing Co. (Atlanta, GA)
Terrapin Brewing Co. (Athens, GA)
Abita Beer (Abita Springs, LA)
Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co. (Kiln, MS) 
Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, FL)
Magic Hat Brewing Co. (South Burlington, VT)
Bell's Brewery  (Galesburg, MI)
NOLA Brewing Co. (New Orleans, LA)
Sam Adams (Boston, MA)
Shiner Beers (Shiner, TX)

Where: Baton Rouge, LA

When: March 26

Price: $30

Featured Breweries: TBA


Where: Lafayette, LA

When: April 9

Price: $35-$60

Featured Breweries: 


Where: Pensacola, FL

When: May 13-15

Price: $33-160

Featured Breweries: TBA

Rocket City Brewfest

Where: Huntsville, AL

When: May 13-14

Price: $10-38

Featured Breweries: 

Abita Brewing
Anchor Brewing
Anderson Valley Brewing
Atlantic Brewing
Avery Brewing
Back Forty Beer
Bell's Brewery
Blue Pants Brewery
Boulevard Brewing
Choc Brewing
Erie Brewing
Flying Dog Brewery
Good People Brewing
Great Divide Brewing
Harpoon Brewery
Heavy Seas Beer
Highland Brewing
Lazy Magnolia Brewing
Moylan's Brewery
North Coast Brewing
O'Fallon Brewery
Paulaner Brauerei
Red Brick Brewing
Rogue Brewery
Samuel Adams
Sierra Nevada Brewing
Stevens Point Brewery
Straight to Ale
Sweetwater Brewing
Terrapin Beer
Thomas Creek Brewery
Tommyknocker Brewery
Wild Heaven Craft Beers
Williamsburg AleWerks
Yazoo Brewing
Yellowhammer Brewing 

Magic City Brewfest

Where: Birmingham, AL

When: June 3-4

Price: TBA

Featured Breweries: TBA


Where: Jackson, MS

When: July 30

Price: $35-65

Featured Breweries: TBA
View last year's featured breweries here.

I will be updating these events as information (like featured breweries) becomes available. If you know of a beer festival in Alabama, Mississippi, Florida or Louisiana that I have missed, please let me know so I can spread the word. Thanks!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

HB161: The Brewery Modernization Act

At this point in time, there is not a single operating brewpub in Alabama. Archaic restrictions make it practically impossible to operate a brewpub in a profitable manner. Under current state regulations, a brewpub must be located in a historic building located in a county in which beer was brewed for public consumption prior to prohibition. Brewpubs are also prohibited from bottling their brews for consumption off the premises:

"(1) The brewpub premises must be located in an historic building or site as defined in Section 40-8-1, in a wet county or wet municipality, in which county beer was brewed for public consumption prior to the ratification of the Eighteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution in 1919." §28-4A-3(a-1)
"(3) Beer brewed by the brewpub licensee shall not be possessed, sold or dispensed except on the premises where brewed, and shall not be packaged or contained in other than barrels from which the beer is to be dispensed on the premises for consumption on the premises." §28-4A-3(a-3)

Many breweries outside of Alabama feature tasting rooms, where beer (and sometimes food) may be purchased. Most also give brewery tours that often end with samples. Unfortunately, tasting rooms and tours are also prohibited in Alabama: 

"No manufacturer licensee shall sell any alcoholic beverages direct to any retailer or for consumption on the premises where sold, nor sell or deliver any such alcoholic beverages in other than original containers approved as to capacity by the board and in accordance with standards of fill prescribed by the U. S. Treasury Department, nor maintain or operate within the state any place or places, other than the place or places covered by the manufacturer license, where alcoholic beverages are sold or where orders are taken." §28-3A-6(b)

Last Thursday, Representative Johnny Mack Morrow (D-Red Bay) introduced the Brewery Modernization Act to the Alabama Legislature. Last year, this bill was passed in the Senate but failed to reach the House. 

Synopsis: "Under existing law, alcoholic beverage manufacturers located in Alabama that produce beer are not permitted to sell any alcoholic beverages on-premises. The only exception is a special class of beer manufacturers called brewpubs, permitted under the Alabama Brewpub Act, which may sell beer brewed on-premises to consumers for on-premises consumption only.This bill would remove certain limitations on brewpub operation and allow brewpub licensees to sell beer brewed on-premises to a licensed wholesaler for distribution to retail licensees."

Read the full bill here: Brewery Modernization Act

What can you do to help?

Join Free the Hops and sign up for their newsletter.

Call, fax, email or write a letter to our elected officials requesting their support on HB161. A list of officials and their respective districts can be found here