I like a beer that gives me a sense of place. Winter ales that use snow melt from a nearby mountain range, or a Heartland brew that uses locally harvested rye offer more than just a tasty brew and minor buzz. These beers let you taste a region, the best of them even put in you in a particular state of mind.
Back Forty Beer Company, out of Gadsden, Alabama (don’t worry, I’ve never heard of Gadsden either), knows how to put you Down South with a can of beer. The brewery has been around since 2009, one of the first commercial breweries in Alabama, and goes out of its way to deliver Southern charm with each beer. Take the names. Kudzu Porter, Truck Stop Honey Brown, Paw Paw’s Peach Wheat. I can’t tell you how many grandfathers I knew when I was growing up, that were called Paw Paw.
Then you have the ingredients, which Back Forty tends to source locally. The honey in Truck Stop comes from the local Cold Creek Honey Beekeepers. The peaches are grown in the same county as the brewery.
I had the chance to try a couple of Back Forty’s beers recently. The Naked Pig Pale Ale has a great malty sweetness to it, almost like an amber ale, but with just enough hop profile to let you know you’re drinking a pale. It’s not gonna knock the socks off of people looking for a hop forward pale, but I think it works well enough within the style.
You’d be hard pressed to find someone who didn’t like The Fence Post Session Ale, though. This beer had me searching the back of the fridge for more cans. The beer smells like the pineapple juice/grapefruit juice blend you get at resorts during the breakfast buffet, but it has an awesome malty backbone. The whole thing plays out with a sugary sweetness underpinned by a faint hop bite at the end.
The brewery also has a passion for food pairings, partnering with Alabama Gulf Seafood and local chefs to help spark a beer/food revolution in ‘Bama. They’ve created a series of how-to videos that feature a killer beer/food recipe. The Sex Truffles episode, which features Naked Pig Pale Ale and a dude wearing nothing but a robe should be mandatory viewing for any beer/chocolate lover.
Brewery: Back Forty Beer Company
City: Gadsden, Alabama
Style: Session Ale
Availability: Year Round