Photo courtesy of Dogfish Head Brewery
Spring is here and snowbirds are being replaced with college students along the coast, so it’s time to start looking for some warm-weather beers for those hot afternoons and evenings that will soon come our way.
From a novelty just a few years ago, fruit-infused beers have become much more widespread. It seems almost every style of beer — lagers, pilsners, sours, IPAs, you name it — now has some fruity version. Not all are worth it, however, as they range from way-too-sweet to barely noticeable fruit flavors. While brewers have put almost every type of fruit imaginable into their beers, I thought I’d take a look at just those made with oranges.
Sierra Nevada puts out a number of fruit-infused beers, and Sidecar is its orange IPA. For an IPA it is not very bitter, and while the orange flavors are very subdued, it has a citrus finish. If you like a light, or hazy, IPA, you will like the Sidecar.
Long known for its innovative styles, Delaware’s Dogfish Head Brewery was an innovator in fruit-infused beers long before they were in vogue. Much more robust and flavorful than the Sierra Nevada, Dogfish Head’s Flesh & Blood is a strong (7.5 percent alcohol by volume, or ABV) IPA made with real blood-orange juice, with the hops tempered by a nice citrus finish. It’s available in cans in grocery stores all over our area.
However, by far the best of the orange beers I tried recently is from Cullman’s Goat Island Brewing. Goat Island is one of my favorite Alabama breweries, and while not impossible to find in our area, its beers are not nearly as ubiquitous as many of the Birmingham or Huntsville offerings. Its excellent Big Bridge IPA is found on a lot of taps in Lower Alabama, but when I see a style from the Cullman brewery I haven’t tried yet, I always get a taste.
Such was the case a couple of days ago when I came across Goat Island’s Blood Orange Berliner Weisse at District Hall in Fairhope. It has a great deal of orange flavor, but still tastes like a real beer, not an orange soda, and at only 4.6 percent ABV you can enjoy a few. It’s not widely available, but has recently been on tap at O’Daly’s in LoDa and Yinzer’s in Daphne. Give one a try if you get a chance.
While I don’t know if they’ll have any orange beers on tap, the 6th annual Firkin Fest will return Saturday, April 6, to Moe’s Original Bar B Que in downtown Mobile, in conjunction with Budweiser Busch Distributing and benefiting the American Cancer Society.
Firkins are small casks that hold 10.8 gallons of beer that have undergone a second fermentation to become “cask conditioned,” where the carbonation comes from live yeast in the firkin, not from pumped-in CO2 like most beers. Eleven craft breweries from Alabama and Florida will be represented at this year’s festival, competing for a number of awards.
Tickets cost $22 in advance and $25 at the door, which gets you a glass and samples of each beer. There will also be crawfish and live music. The tapping ceremony takes place at 2:30 p.m. and the tastings will go on until 5.30 p.m.
Finally, Nappie time is back, so make sure to go online between now and April 7 and nominate your favorite bars, beers and bartenders to a be a finalist.
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