Six of Lower Alabama’s breweries are coming together to collaborate on a specialty brew — called Friends in Low Places — to benefit the Alabama Coastal Foundation (ACF). ACF’s (joinacf.org) mission is to improve Alabama’s coastal environment through cooperation, education and participation.
Collaboration beers are nothing new. A number of craft breweries from across the nation have done them before, including big-name brewers like Sam Adams, Dogfish Head and Sierra Nevada, but Friends in Low Places is the first such effort among our local brewers. The idea behind a collaboration beer is thought to have started in 2004 when Colorado’s Avery Brewery and California’s Russian River Brewery both released Belgian ales named Salvation. Instead of fighting, the two brewers blended their wares and came out with their Collaboration, not Litigation Ale.
The idea for Friends in Low Places originated from Marissa Thetford, Fairhope Brewing Company’s (FBC) marketing director, who suggested the Garth Brooks song would make a great name for a beer. FBC managing partners Brian Kane and Jim Foley loved the idea and thought the Friends title lent itself to a collaboration beer, something they had been thinking about for a while.
They reached out to their fellow local brewers and found there was an interest in going ahead with the project beer. Serda, Iron Hand and Big Beach all signed on, and even Mobile’s two newest, yet unopened breweries, Braided River and Old Majestic, will also take part in the collaboration. While the beer will be brewed at Fairhope, brewmasters from all six breweries came together last week to give their input and participate in the making of what is described as a hazy, New England-style IPA.
Kane said the idea behind producing a collaborative beer was to promote the good relationships among Lower Alabama’s craft breweries and to show the public they are not really competitors, “but all together for great beer.”
Once they were determined to all get together, Kane said the breweries decided to use the beer as a means to give back to the community, which is where the Alabama Coastal Foundation came in.
“Good beer needs clean water,” Kane said, so supporting the work of ACF was a cause all of the breweries could get behind. They approached Mark Berte, executive director of ACF, who said, “I thought it was such a neat concept and was sincerely honored to be a part of this fitting partnership.”
The beer will debut in late September, with a launch party Sept. 26 at Bluegill Restaurant in Spanish Fort, and will then be available on tap and in four-packs of 16 oz. cans throughout Lower Alabama. Because of Alabama laws, only Fairhope and Iron Hand of the collaborating breweries will be able to serve Friends of Low Places at their establishments, but all the participating breweries will have merchandise to sell to promote the beer.
One dollar of each pour in the Fairhope taproom will go to ACF, and a portion of the merchandise sales, four-packs and kegs sold will also go to benefit environmental stewardship on the Gulf Coast. “Whatever is raised in donations will go to support our education programs,” Berte said. “Moreover, we hope to raise awareness of our work through this concept to encourage people to donate their time by volunteering with ACF.” Kane said the goal was to raise $15,000 from the 30-barrel batch, so everyone needs to get out and do their part for the environment and drink some beer!
On another note, this will be my final column for Lagniappe, as I have moved from the shores of Mobile Bay to those of Long Island Sound. This was an appropriate column for me to finish with, as it combines two of my passions during my time in Mobile: the development of the craft beer industry and the protection of our beautiful environment. I have greatly enjoyed my almost three years as the “Beer Professor.” I’ve met a ton of great people, drank too much beer and shared a lot of laughs. I want to finish by thanking Rob and Ashley for giving me the opportunity to write for their great paper.
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