Last Saturday more than a dozen homebrewing enthusiasts gathered at The Wine Smith, Mobile’s oldest homebrew supply shop, for an open house and beer tasting event in the shop’s back yard.

Owner Dennis Smith manned a grill festooned with Conecuh sausage links while local homebrewers discussed the characteristics of various hops and yeasts as they shared samples their homemade beers, which ranged from raspberry wheat to India pale ale to a beer simply described as “a big beer.”

This kind of gathering isn’t anything new at the store on Moffett Road — I was assured that these events occurred yearly, even before homebrewing was legalized in the state in 2013 — but Smith decided recently to increase their regularity to once a month, on the second Saturday.

Homebrewing has been a popular hobby in Mobile for decades, and Smith has been the only local source for homebrewing supplies since 2001. But as the hobby’s popularity has increased nationwide, he’s seen a lot of his local business go to myriad websites that sell homebrewing supplies.

The internet, however, doesn’t provide the sense of fellowship I found at Saturday’s gathering; you can’t ask what that off-flavor in your beer is, or what a fellow brewer thinks of your latest recipes. As a fledgling homebrewer, I found these interactions invaluable, and would follow some of the advice I learned early on well into my time as head brewer at Fairhope Brewing Co.

The craft beer industry is a well-known standard bearer of the “locavore” movement, but it can be easy to leave that mentality at the beer cooler. If you’re a homebrewer in Mobile and have yet to visit Dennis at The Wine Smith, do yourself a favor and mark your calendar for the next gathering on Aug. 13 at 6800A Moffett Road in West Mobile.

Back Forty releases AmerIPAck
As you may have heard, Budweiser changed its name to “America” this summer, a marketing ploy that doesn’t change the fact Budweiser is owned by AB Inbev, a conglomerate based in Belgium and Brazil.

If you’re a hophead who really wants to support a great American brewery this summer, you can’t go wrong with the AmerIPAck mixed 12-pack from Gadsden’s Back Forty Beer Co. Three different India pale ales — Snapper Biscuit White IPA, Rattle Trap Red IPA and old favorite Freckle Belly IPA — are showcased in this mix pack, which is now available at better beer stores in Lower Alabama.

(Photo | Back Forty Beer Company)  Back FOrty’s AmerIPAck features the brewery’s Snapper Biscuit White IPA, Rattle Trap Red IPA and Freckle Belly IPA.

(Photo | Back Forty Beer Company) Back FOrty’s AmerIPAck features the brewery’s Snapper Biscuit White IPA, Rattle Trap Red IPA and Freckle Belly IPA.

According to the brewery, Snapper Biscuit is “inspired by the brilliant white beaches of the Alabama Gulf Coast … This white IPA is as refreshing as it is bold. Tropical citrus notes of Citra, Galaxy and Amarillo hops combine with a slight spice and fruit finish from the golden wheat, making this one perfect for a low-tide stroll in the sand.”
While I’m not normally one to succumb to marketing lingo, this description is spot-on, and this beer was certainly a standout in the 12-pack.

Dan Murphy is a Certified Cicerone® and the founding brewer at Fairhope Brewing Co. Follow him on Instagram @Grand_Krewe and on Twitter @Beer_Man_Dan.