Well, the Alabama Brewery Modernization Act has failed to pass. Having made it through the State Senate, it got bogged down in the House and never even came up for a vote. The Alabama State Legislature is only required to meet for 30 days during the year and the session wrapped up last week…so the bill won’t be back on the table until next year. To say the political process here is a joke would be an insult to humor. It would be one thing if a bill I supported was voted down by the Legislature. It would be frustrating, but I’ve been on the losing end of votes before (witness both “elections” of W the Idiot-Prince). But it’s a whole ‘nother level of irritation when a bill you support gets chewed up and spit out by the crippling impotence* of the Alabama political machine. For the most part, this was a bill designed simply to create jobs and bring dollars into Alabama which has the most restrictive brewery/brewpub laws in the country. Craft brewing is big business these days and Alabama is woefully behind every other state (except good ol’ Mississippi which always brings up the rear). The bill would have allowed Alabama to catch up a bit, start a craft brewing revolution, and bring a new industry and new jobs to the state. Instead, it’s another year of waiting, shaking our heads in disgust, searching on real estate websites for a new house in a more progressive state, and drinking away our frustrations.
*The crippling impotence of the Alabama state legislature should not be confused with the Baron’s crippling impotence which is entirely caused by his massive crystal meth habit. We’ve tried to wean him off the ice for years, but the Baron insists that the crank is what causes his celebrated daftness, and without the daftness, he’s just another fabulously wealthy, Bavarian noble waiting for feudalism to return.
In order to facilitate the latter method of dealing with our Alabama-focused rage, Wifey McHops* and I decided to sample some brews at our favorite, little haunt, the J. Clyde’s.
*It should be noted that Wifey McHops doesn’t really care about the Brewery Modernization Act…she has her own little pet piece of legislation to get angry about. The Alabama Midwifery Bill, which attempts to legalize midwifery in a state with horrendously backwards laws pertaining to maternity care, also went down in flames this year. Shocking, I know.
Wifey tucked into a Terrapin Oak-Aged Wake ‘n’ Bake and I sampled a Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza. Halfway through our respective brews, we noticed a number of new offerings on the draught list. Feeling curious, we decided to get a flight of five of the new brews for future reference. The list includes the Capt’n Krunkles and Monk’s Revenge from Terrapin, the Bam Noire from Jolly Pumpkin, the Seven Sisters from Highland, and The Reverend from Avery. To keep things brief, I’m just going to do some quick-hit tasting notes on these brews to simulate the rapid manner in which they were consumed:
Jolly Pumpkin Oro de Calabaza: Pours a cloudy yellow with a big, resolute head and strong lacing. Nose replete with fruit (bananas and ripe peaches), spice, and yeast. Taste is spicy, pungent, peppery, and sweet, with a sour-tart finish and little alcohol burn. It’s a Biere de Garde and tastes like a pleasant cross between a good Tripel and a Belgian Farmhouse Ale (like Hennepin). It’s a creamy, smooth brew with a medium, well-carbonated mouthfeel and very high drinkability. 3.5 Hops.
Terrapin Capt’n Krunkles: This is the latest Side Project by Terrapin and is categorized as a Black IPA. Pours black with a big, foamy, toffee-colored head and pronounced lacing. Weirdly compelling mixture of dark, heavily-roasted malt and big, citrusy hops in the nose. The nose leans towards the malty, sweet side, but the taste is all IPA. There’s a touch of coffee and chocolate sweetness in the flavor, but mostly a grapefruit and pine hop profile that lead to a big, bitter finish. Medium-to-full bodied brew with average drinkability (which is hurt a little by the lingering bitter flavor of the hop resins). Very interesting beer and I hope to sample others in this vein. 3 Hops.
Terrapin Monk’s Revenge: An older Side Project brew (#5), but a good one. It’s a Belgian IPA that pours a hazy orange with a creamy, white head and average lacing. Big, fruity nose with sugar and spice that melts away and is quickly supplanted by hops, hops, hops. Floral, pine, and a little kick of booze finish off the aroma. The taste is mostly hops…just like the Capt’n…the Terps do love their hop-bombs. The bitterness is met with a mild ABV-burn and some medicinal phenols. The biscuity malt profile is present, but subtle and there’s a big dash of yeast fruitiness as well. Medium-bodied with a slippery, slick feel and about the same drinkability as the Capt’n. 3 Hops
Jolly Pumpkin Bam Noire: A farmhouse ale from the Pumpkin that pours a dark chestnut brown with a good tan head and medium lacing. Sweet, clean nose with some musty spices, and a touch of fruit from the yeast. Taste has a hint of sour tartness and farmhouse funk, but it’s surprisingly clean…almost lageresque. It’s a touch too phenolic and has no real finish to speak of. Mouthfeel is bubbly and effervescent and on the lighter side of medium. Drinkability is good, but mostly because of the lack of body and finish. Wifey McHops did not enjoy it…her least favorite of the night. 2.5 Hops.
Highlands Seven Sisters: This is a Dubbel from one of my favorite Southern breweries, so I had high hopes. Those hopes were dashed instantaneously. I checked out some other reviews of the beer and it sounds like my pour might have been from a stale keg or an unsanitized line. It certainly “looked” fine…poured with a pretty amber color and a nice, off-white head with gentle lacing. But the nose was all stale funk, yeast gone wild, and far-too-strong medicinal bitterness. The taste matched the nose and it was practically undrinkable…sulfury, spoiled, and astringent. Not as bad as the Mikkeller It’s Alright! but clearly there was something wrong with the beer. I can’t judge the mouthfeel since I didn’t keep it in my mouth for long enough and the drinkability was nil. I’m giving this 1.5 Hops even though it deserves lower because I suspect this is actually a decent beer and I just got a bad pour. Hopefully I’ll have better news regarding this brew in the future.
Avery The Reverend: Our favorite of the night from one of the best American ale factories. It’s a Quad which can be a tricky style, but Avery acquits themselves well. The Rev pours a clean, clear, orange color with a big, creamy white head that lasts throughout the session (and leaves excellent lacing). Very spicy nose with a candi-sugar sweetness and a big, caramel-malt profile (with just a touch of ABV nose-burn). The taste is very pleasantly balanced…some citrus and bananas, some spicy cloves and pepper, some sweet, well-rounded malt, and a good alcohol kick at the end. Mouthfeel is very full and creamy and drinkability is high (for a Quad, that is). A very enjoyable brew…3.5 Hops.
The flight of brews may not have erased the bad memories of the Alabama State Legislature continuing to fail its constituency, but at least it made us tipsy enough to laugh about it. Ah, the power of beer.