Author: Tom Ward

Brews and bowl games

Holiday season is also the climax of football season, and as we get ready for all the bowls and playoffs, there are a number of great local sports bars to watch the games and enjoy some good beer. With so many local universities participating in one of the seemingly 900 bowls this season — from the Jags in Arizona, Auburn in the Sugar Bowl, Troy here at the Dollar General Bowl, and, of course, the Tide in the national semifinal on New Years’ Eve — there are ample opportunities to head out and have some beers and watch the game with friends. Across the bay, Baumhower’s in Daphne has long been a great place to watch a game, with loads of TVs and a great atmosphere. During bowl season, Baumhower’s, along with Bob Baumhower’s upscale restaurant Dauphin’s on the top of the Trustmark Building in downtown Mobile, are registering people to win national championship tickets. Baumhower’s also runs daily happy hour specials, and happy hour prices Sunday afternoon. Also on the Eastern Shore, not a lot of people may think of heading to Beef O’Brady’s, just off the causeway in Spanish Fort, but it recently remodeled and expanded its bar, and with 42 TVs, it is a great place to watch a game as well. Its bar boasts 20 beers on tap, including some unique craft brews, such as...

Read More

Holiday growling

As holiday party time approaches, consider arriving with something more creative than the standard six-pack or bottle of wine, such as a local microbrew, a regional favorite or perhaps something no one has heard of before. One of the best ways to do this is with a growler, a reusable 32- or 64-ounce jug for buying draft beer to take off-site. Mostly associated with microbreweries, growers allow patrons to partake of their favorite beers — many of which are not available in bottles or cans — at home. They also can make a nice gift for a beer-loving host, as the growler can be saved and refilled. In our area, both Fairhope Brewing Co. and Big Beach Brewing Co. sell (and fill) growlers at their taprooms, so if you want to share a fresh (Take the) Causeway IPA with Santa, you can now do so. In addition to our local breweries, there are also a number of other locations in Mobile and Baldwin counties were you can purchase a wide variety of draft beer in growlers, and not just local favorites, but selections from craft breweries from across the country. Mobile’s Cottage Hill Package Store offers a wide variety (17 beers on tap), available for purchase in 64-ounce growlers and (single-use) 32-ounce aluminum crowlers. Old Shell Growlers recently opened across the street from the Dew Drop Inn, with more...

Read More

Choosing a brew for your Thanksgiving feast

Thanksgiving is our national holiday dedicated to overindulgence. With food and football dominating the long weekend, it’s also an opportunity to not settle for whatever swill is sitting in your crazy uncle’s garage refrigerator and try something new. While many reserve Thanksgiving dinner for a bottle of wine, if you so choose there are certainly a number of beers that go well with turkey and dressing. As long as you refrain from setting a can on the table, you can enjoy a nice beer at the family feast without looking like a Philistine. As a rule, darker beers go...

Read More

Big Beach makes Gulf Shores a taproom destination

When the Fairhope Brewing Co. opened in 2013, those of us in Lower Alabama who love craft beer hoped its success would spark the development of other local taprooms. After all, Birmingham boasts four breweries, Huntsville nine (nine!) and even Montgomery has two, while here on the Gulf Coast, despite many promises and plans, we still have only the taproom in Fairhope. That is until now. At the end of October, the Big Beach Brewery opened its (large) doors across the street from Tacky Jacks in Gulf Shores. I used the grand opening as a good excuse to head...

Read More

Abita getaway

For many of us on the Gulf Coast, Abita was the original craft beer, long before Alabama laws were relaxed to allow for the development of our now-thriving microbrewery industry. Founded in the tiny hamlet of Abita Springs, Louisiana, the Abita Brewing Co. has been creating a host of distinctive brews for three decades, from perennial standbys Turbodog and Purple Haze to seasonal favorites such as Peach Lager and Mardi Gras Bock. However, as Abita has grown from a regional treasure to a national brand, many of us who love craft beers have moved on to newer, shinier objects...

Read More

Customize your Oktoberfest six-pack

As autumn descends on Lower Alabama and the mercury dips below 90, “Fall Collections,” “Oktoberfest” lagers and the dreaded pumpkin-infused brews appear in local bars and grocery stores. A recent stroll through the beer aisle of my neighborhood market turned up no fewer than six different brands (Shock Top, Sierra Nevada, Sam Adams, Sweetwater, Dundee and Blue Moon) offering fall variety 12-packs. I am a sucker for these collections, and I always end up purchasing a couple of different varieties during the fall months. Most include four different varieties, and, invariably, there is always one totally unpalatable brew (usually...

Read More

The fine art of paring beer with food

In Brooklyn, New York, tucked behind a cozy, wood-festooned beer bar called Tørst, is the 16-seat Michelin-starred restaurant Luksus. It is the brainchild of Jeppe Jarnit-Bjergsø, best known as the gypsy brewer of Evil Twin beers, and Daniel Burns, a well-known chef with experience at some of the world’s greatest restaurants. Luksus isn’t just any Michelin-starred joint; it’s the only one in the world that pairs beer exclusively with each course of every meal. The prix-fixe menu changes weekly along with the pairings, based on what’s fresh and in season. Simply put, Luksus elevates the marriage of beer and...

Read More