Author: Tom Ward

Celebrating the many shades of ambers

Most of you have tried, or at least seen, amber styles of beer. They have become ubiquitous, with many micro- and macro-brewers producing their own various versions. A number of breweries, such as Colorado’s New Belgium, put out a year-round amber ale while many other brewers put out seasonal ambers, often in the fall as an homage to their supposed roots in the German “Oktoberfest” brews, which had an amber color and malty flavor. Some of the most popular ambers are Mexican imports — Modelo Negra and Dos Equis Amber. While we often think of Mexican beers as being...

Read More

Olde Towne Daphne pub crawl

If you’re looking to try some different places with excellent choices for craft beer, head over to Olde Towne Daphne on Scenic 98. Centered, as it has been for as long as anyone can remember, around Manci’s Antique Club, Olde Towne Daphne has a couple of Italian restaurants, a cigar bar, a wine and tapas bar, and a traditional pub, all within about two blocks. If you want to hoof it about a half a mile, there’s also the Southern Napa Wine Store which, in addition to carrying a fantastic selection of wines, also stocks craft beers and, of...

Read More

‘Goat Castle’ gives insight into Old South’s final throes

During the depths of the Great Depression, a shocking murder in the Deep South held a nation transfixed. In “Goat Castle: A True Story of Murder, Race, and the Gothic South,” historian Karen L. Cox of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte recounts an infamous Natchez, Mississippi, murder, investigation and trial while giving deep insights into issues of race, class and justice in the Jim Crow South. With a historian’s eye and a novelist’s prose, Cox weaves a story of Faulknerian protagonists — a reclusive, wealthy heiress, the scion a cotton fortune; her cousin/beau, also a member of...

Read More

It’s come to this: ‘generic’ craft beer

As the popularity of craft beer has grown over the past few years, it is not surprising that the world’s beverage mega-conglomerates have taken notice and sought to get in on the action as well. While craft beer was once identified with small, independent, regional microbreweries, the term now encompasses a wide-ranging number of beers that seem to include almost anything that is not a traditional macro-brewed American lager. Everyone, it appears, wants to be crafty. Some of the traditional macro-breweries entered the craft brewing arena by producing their own craft styles under a separate label, such as MillerCoors’...

Read More

Brewing abounds in T-Town

Tuscaloosa is, of course, best known for football, but in the past few years it has also developed into a significant craft brewing locale, currently home to three breweries. On a recent visit to T-Town, I decided to check them out. I found a number to great beers, and three very distinctive taprooms. Opened in 2012, Druid City Brewing Co. was Tuscaloosa’s first brewery. Best known for its Downtown North Porter, which won the top beer prize at the 2016 Alabama Craft Beer Festival, it now puts out six beers that can be found on tap at bars in...

Read More

Hard sodas catch fire

I’m always looking for new column ideas, and a number of people have recently urged me to write on the rise in popularity of hard sodas, which my son dubbed “reverse mocktails.” The concept didn’t sound too good to me — kind of like candy cigarettes — but, in the interest of science, I thought I’d give a couple of a try. Hard sodas are, technically, flavored beers — as they are malted alcoholic beverages with added sugars and other flavors — although they don’t taste anything like beer. While the boom in hard sodas is a relatively recent development, with a number of different brands putting out a host of different flavors, such beverages go back a number of years to the introduction of Mike’s Hard Lemonade (which, incidentally, I really like) and, for those of you who remember the early ’90s, Zima. Small Town Brewery of Wauconda, Illinois, puts out a number of hard sodas (which, incidentally, they define as beers), under the “Not Your Father’s” and “Not Your Mom’s” brands. The female versions include apple pie, iced tea and strawberry rhubarb flavors, while the male offerings are root beer, ginger ale, cream soda and Mountain Ale. Small Town’s “Not Your Father’s Root Beer” is actually the best-selling hard soda in the United States, but as I had not seen a Mountain Ale from another company, I...

Read More

Craft brew pioneer Dogfish Head comes to Alabama

As much of my misspent youth was on the Delaware shore, I was excited to see the First State’s favorite beer finally available in our area. When Dogfish Head Craft Brewery opened in Rehoboth Beach in 1995, it was the smallest brewery in the nation (in the second-smallest state), according to founder Sam Calagione, who was recently in Mobile to promote the launch of his beers in Alabama. From its humble beginnings, Dogfish Head (the name of a peninsula in Maine) has become one of the country’s most successful and creative craft breweries, and Calagione has become a celebrity...

Read More

Beer festival season is upon us!

We love festivals on the Gulf Coast, and as we approach the end of summer, a number of brewfests for fans of craft beer are coming up in our area. In Mobile, the Dauphin Street Beer Festival has become a staple event of late summer, and as it enters its 20th year it looks to be bigger and better than ever. This year’s festival is Saturday, Aug. 26, from 6-9 p.m. There are will be 29 participating bars and restaurants throughout the LoDa entertainment district, plus the official Beer Fest tent on Cathedral Square. Tickets are $30 and available...

Read More