Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Straight to Ale on the Today Show

Local Huntsville chef Jimmy Boyce was on the Today show showing off some of his recipes. In his first recipe he makes beer, bacon and beet greens which feature a "local beer". If you look closely at this video, around the one minute mark, you will notice that his local beer is from Straight to Ale!

Monday, July 25, 2011

Cigar City Black Whole

Cigar City Brewing in Tampa Florida is planning on releasing a special beer for us craft beer and music lovers in Alabama. This tribute beer is in honor of the indie band "El Chupa Cobras" and craft beer. The text from the bottle label shown above gives us the story about this brew:
Black Whole is a tribute to El Chupa Cobras, a mathy indie band from Montgomery, Alabama. This effort came about from our realization that craft beer and indie music have something in common…they both share about the same amount of their respectful markets and challenge the consumer. Wayne Wambles, our head brewer, and Kenny Johnson, the front man for El Chupa Cobras, played in indie bands together many years ago and this tribute is for all indie music fans and craft beer lovers.
Black Whole is a multi-dimensional ale that takes many twists and turns similar to our daily lives. It has a big chocolate expression with moderate caramel notes, complex toasted to biscuit notes and hints of clove and black licorice. Don your chocolate mask and discover the meaning of life as you sip this complex, dark beer.
I also had the opportunity to chat with Wayne Wambles, head brewer at Cigar City about this beer:
HsvBeer: Was this tribute beer in planning for a while?
Wayne Wambles: I started working on the idea in conjunction with a small start up nano brewery in the Atlanta area of Georgia called Burnt Hickory. I wrote all of the recipe and formulated it with the Dazzling Killmen's Face Of Collapse album in mind. I approached the front man from the Dazzling Killmen and asked him if I could use their name in my effort to make a beer that was a tribute to an indie band he kindly refused my offer due to life choices that he has made. [Burnt Hickory decided not to follow through with the collaboration so this beer is strictly a Cigar City Brewing beer.]

I called up Kenny Johnson (the frontman of El Chupa Cobras, long time friend and former band mate) to try and brainstorm in an attempt to find other options. He made a couple of suggestions and I just started thinking, "how about the Cobras"? He was enthusiastic about the idea and we just ran with and never looked back.

HsvBeer: How did you decide on the beer style you wanted to create?
Wayne: I thought about the music that El Chupa Cobras perform and decided that the beer that would best suit the sound of their music was a hybrid between a Belgian Dubbel and an English Porter fermented with a French Saison strain. Dark in color and very complex.

HsvBeer: Has being a musician helped you be a brewmaster?
Wayne: The many years of listening to music has inspired my creative spirit. It has helped to get me through long work days and some of the more challenging moments of my personal life. Music and brewing are essential and symbiotic, in my opinion.

HsvBeer: Do you still get the opportunity to play music?
Wayne: I don't play music very often anymore. I'm too busy working or spending time with my family now. I kept all of my musical instruments/equipment in the hope that I will some day have time to start playing and writing material again.

HsvBeer: Will we see more tribute beers from Cigar City in the future?
Wayne: I believe so. I just think that the idea of combining music and beer is about as good as it gets. Microbreweries and indie bands have many commonalities. They struggle in a similar manner due to the nature of the business. The way that I refer to it on the Black Whole label is that "we(indie bands and craft breweries) share the same amount of our respectful markets and challenge the consumer". The challenge of creating a beer that suits a specific band or particular type of music has been a rewarding and fulfilling experience. I will jump at the chance if ever I am provided with the opportunity again.

The current plan is to release this beer in 12oz bottles around Alabama in mid August. Looking forward to trying this special beer! Update: Liquor Express and The Nook will have limited quantities starting 7/27.

Update 2: Montgomery Advertiser has posted an article about the beer as well.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Yellowhammer Saison de Détente

Yellowhammer Brewing is releasing a summer seasonal brew named Saison de Détente. It is described as "An earthy Belgian summer seasonal". This beer should be available starting this Saturday with a special release at The Nook.

Update: Here is a better description
This summer seasonal is a medium gravity beer with a complex character. We combine two types of European malts along with a blend of noble European and American hops. The beer is light and refreshing, but also derives hints of spice from the French yeast, which leaves behind a crisp dryness that allows the maltiness and the flower-like hops to shine.
6.7% ABV

Update 2: 801 Franklin will be pouring this brew as well on Friday July 29th.

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Interview: Salty Nut Brewery

I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with the three founders of Salty Nut Brewery, Brent Cole, Daniel Yant, and Mark Ivie. They are just starting to get everything together to start their brewery so we sat down for a little bit to talk about their plans.

HsvBeer: How did you come up with the name Salty Nut Brewery?

Salty Nut Brewery: Well we used to have weekly grill outs; have some people over, drink a few beers and just hang out.  This all started in the summer, but as winter came it was too cold to be outside so we started playing rock band.  Our band name was, Salty Nuts.  So sitting at the Nook one night we got to talking about taking our homebrewing to the next level and starting a brewery; our first thought was what should our name be, and out of the air we decided, Salty Nut Brewery.  It all came from the Rock Band nights. We think it's a catchy name, it gets people attention and makes them laugh a little. It shows that we are just some laid back guys that like to brew beer.

HsvBeer: How long have you guys been in planing?
Salty Nut Brewery: It's probably been about a year. Since we have
 started making beer we have wanted people to be able to try it. We
 just want to be able to have other people try what we make. That's
 what got us excited to get everything going; to share
 our beers with others. 

We have been talking to the State, County and everybody else. Trying to make sure we get it all going, and correctly.  So it just takes some time.

HsvBeer: What do you think will make your beer different than others?
Salty Nut Brewery: We think we will be different by having subtle
flavor characteristics in our brews. For example, with our IPA we wanted it 
to have that hop flavor but not a kick you in the face taste. We wanted
 someone who wasn't really an IPA drinker to enjoy it and start
 venturing that way. We don't want to be overly strong or under
flavored but right in the middle area. Something that a hop head can
drink or someone who has never had it before can drink as well.

 When we make recipes we don't always go by the norm. We follow the guidelines as much as possible, but always try and throw in a little curve ball here and there, just to make it different and unique.  But still falling within the beer style profile.

HsvBeer: Do you have a lot of recipes that you guys are planning on doing?
Salty Nut Brewery: Right now we have three brews we plan to offer, an IPA, an Irish Red and a Robust Porter.  We also plan to offer fall seasonal brews.

The IPA  is our “flagship” brew.  We have brewed it the most and have got it where we want it. The Red we have brewed a couple of times and are happy with it.
The porter we have brewed multiple times and are satisfied with the results as well.

We are really excited about our Red.  It is called "Imperial Moustache Red". We named it after our good friend who is the former world imperial moustache champion. He has
 traveled to Alaska and Norway to compete in the world beard and
moustache championships. He won first place in 2009 and this year he
won second place, so we named the beer in honor of him.

HsvBeer: Do you have a location for the brewery yet?
Salty Nut Brewery: Right now we are looking; we think we have a place nailed down and are looking to sign a lease in the next few weeks.

HsvBeer: What size brewery will you start out as?
Salty Nut Brewery: Our plan is to start with a 1bbl setup. We
 will have 4 fermenters that can hold 2bbll. It's a 3 kettle system, so we can end up brewing two barrels in one sitting. The beer will be keg conditioned before being sent out to our 
distributor. We want to see how people receive our beer before buying 
a lot of larger capacity equipment.

HsvBeer: Will your beer start as draft only?
Salty Nut Brewing: Yes, draft first. 
Then we can work on getting our beer in bottles. We really want to
bottle sooner rather than later. If someone enjoys our brew, we want people to be able to take it home and enjoy at any time.

Monday, July 11, 2011

1892 East Beer Dinner

1892 East is planning on having their second beer pairing dinner with Straight to Ale. It will be Thursday July 28th, with probably two evening seatings again. No word yet on the menu, but the beers will be “Monkeynaut” IPA, “Monte Sano” Maibock, "Altabama" Altbier, and “Girlfriend” Raspberry Wheat. The last beer dinner at 1892 East was very well received and many people have been looking forward to the next one. I'll update this post once the menu gets finalized and the exact seating times.

Update: 1892 East has posted more details about what they will be serving:
We will have the Monkeynaut IPA paired with chick pea "fries"; Monte Sano Maibock paired with prawns, arugula salad , and sweet corn red pepper sauce; a new release Altbier named Altabama with pork tenderloin and wild rice; and dessert will be a dark chocolate pate paired with “Girlfriend” Raspberry Wheat. As Always, vegetarian and vegan substitutes will be available for the beer dinner.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Best Southeastern IPAs?

The guys over at came up with their own list of The Best Southeastern IPAs. It's good to see two of our local breweries on there, Blue Pants and Straight to Ale. The blog post is a good read if you haven't seen it already. Also, they updated their own best IPAs in America list, but sadly none of the local breweries made that one. also posted a tour of Good People's brewery with lots of good pics.

Friday, July 1, 2011

3.7 Million People, 1 Craft Brewery

Imagine yourself for a second on an island with 3.7 million other people and then come to find out that there is only one local craft brewery. This is unfortunately the case you will find yourself in when visting Puerto Rico. Old Harbor Brewery is Puerto Rico's only craft brewery on the whole island. I had the opportunity to visit Puerto Rico this last week on vacation and stopped by Old Harbor in the search for some local beer.
The outside of Old Harbor Brewery in Old San Juan
There is of course the local beer you will see everywhere around the island, but it would be easy to confuse it with a Bud Light since it is just another light lager. I wasn't in search of another light lager, I wanted to try something that would be more like the styles of beer made here in Huntsville. Some craft beer! I choose to try their "Old Harbor Pale Ale"
Old Harbor Pale Ale
Their Pale Ale isn't quite as nice as any of the beers you can find by our local breweries but it was certainly refreshing after being in the hot Puerto Rico summer weather.  And it was certainly better than having another light lager.

Since I was there for lunch I decided to order something a little lighter than one of their steaks. Their food ended up being quite tasty and would be worth trying their dinner. I'm looking forward to seeing a brewery in Huntsville open up that brews their own beer and serves a full menu. As someone interested in beer and brewing it was cool to be able to eat and drink while admiring all of their brewing equipement.
I highly recommend visiting Puerto Rico if you have never been before, it is a great place to have a vacation. You might be a little limited on craft beer but one option is better than none!