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Commissioner Chris Blankenship of the Alabama Department of Conservation and Natural Resources speaks to attendees of Mobile Bay Green Drinks in Fairhope in August. The group meets once per month in Fairhope and Mobile to discuss environmental issues.

Despite what they sound like, Green Drinks have nothing at all to do with St. Patrick’s Day, but are monthly events held in Fairhope at the Fairhope Brewing Co. and in Mobile at Alchemy Tavern, for people interested in the environment to meet and discuss (usually local) issues over drinks. They are informal, free events, open to anyone. 

Green Drinks is an international organization that started in London in 1989. The concept was introduced in our area by Elizabeth Tonsmeire in 2010. After attending a Green Drinks meeting in Portland, Oregon, Tonsmeire founded Mobile Bay Green Drinks.

Initially, meetings were held sporadically at various locations in Mobile and along the Eastern Shore, until November 2013 when they found a permanent home at Fairhope Brewing with the aid of brewery owner Michelle Kane. 

Held 5-7 p.m. on the second Tuesday of every month, Green Drinks Fairhope usually features a speaker as well as a number of local vendors, including Sunflower Café, which provides its delicious spinach artichoke dip; the End of the Road Farm, which features organically grown farm products; and the NO Soap Company, selling its all-natural handmade soaps. Representatives from local organizations concerned with the environment, including the Alabama Coastal Foundation, Mobile Baykeeper, Five Rivers Delta Center and Natural Awakenings Magazine are also usually on hand to discuss their programs and give announcements. 

And, of course, there’s beer. If you haven’t been to Fairhope Brewing in a while, there are a number of new styles on tap with a host of others set to debut or return in coming weeks. My new favorite is the Air Boss Johnson, a mango gose sour ale from the brewery’s Top Gun line. If you don’t think you like sours, give this one a try anyway, as it is not too sour and has a hint of sweetness at the end. At 4 percent alcohol by volume it shows you don’t have to be overpowering to be tasty. Another Top Gun offering, the Wolfman raspberry rhubarb sour, is coming out soon, as is a Sweet Potato Porter and, now that summer is over, the Bayway IPA.

For those who love IPAs, on Sunday, Nov. 11, Fairhope Brewing will host its IPA Day, with at least seven IPAs on tap and live music.

In 2014, Mobile Bay Green Drinks added a second regular meeting at Alchemy Tavern in downtown Mobile, held every third Wednesday of the month from 5-7 p.m. Like its predecessor across the bay, Green Drinks Mobile features speakers at most meetings and announcements from local environmental groups. Past speakers have included Mayor Sandy Stimpson, Mobile Baykeeper Director Casi Callaway and Mike Reynolds of the Share the Beach Sea Turtle Conservation program.

Alchemy is, if you’ve never been there, a beer lover’s dream, with at least 20 beers on tap from local, national and international brewers. The selection rotates regularly so there’s always something new to try.     

Green Drinks will be held in Fairhope this month on Tuesday, Nov. 13. The speaker will be Elizabeth Hammock, who is opening The Mill (formerly Windmill Market), in downtown Fairhope. Because of Thanksgiving, there will not be a Green Drinks held in Mobile this month, but it will return Dec.19 for its annual holiday potluck meeting. The December meeting in Fairhope will feature its annual green gift market. 

For more information on Mobile Bay Green Drinks and to be informed of upcoming speakers and events, check out the group’s facebook page

If you are looking for another way to support our local environment and have some good drinks as well, the Alabama Coastal Foundation will be hosting its annual “Cocktails for the Coast” Thursday, Nov. 9, 4.30-6.30 p.m. at the Grand Hotel in Point Clear. This event will celebrate the foundation’s 25th year improving and protecting Alabama’s coastal environment, and will feature fresh oysters from the Mobile Oyster Co., local beer from Fairhope Brewing and a magnificent sunset over Mobile Bay. For tickets, visit joinacf.org.