Recently I was lucky to have the chance to sample some new beers that we’ll see soon in Athens and Georgia. Back 40 Beer Company was founded in Gadsden, AL in 2008 and recently brewed their first production batch at their facility in Jan. 2012. I just so happened to be in LA, you know, lower Alabama in 2009 and happen to find their brown ale. I’m not a brown ale fan, but this was a gorgeous marina with a small restaurant that had a dive feel to it, serving beer in plastic cups. Since then their Truck Stop Honey Brown ale is probably still my favorite brown ale. Later that year it would win silver at GABF and give Back 40 a rocket launch into the craft beer world.
One thing that I love about the presentation of their beers is the food pairing aspects. Wine has long-lived by the belief that each wine style pairs well with certain foods. There is no reason that craft beer can’t live and prosper off the same mentality and I believe it should. My wife is a perfect example of needing to cleanse your palette while sampling. Her facial expressions of trying a DIPA I’m drinking after she’s had some gummy worms is priceless. If you’ve ever been to a beer dinner you know this all too well. Especially if each course is paired with two different beers, one to marry the flavors while the other is for contrast. On their well laid out website, bottle labels, packaging and even promotional flyers I had, all listed the recommended food pairings in picture format. A chili pepper suggests that the Freckle Belly IPA pairs well with spicy dishes.
Naked Pig pale ale suggests pizza as a food pairing. Not all pairings have to be over the top.
Kudzu Porter even recommends ice cream, i.e. dessert as a pairing. Some may ask why would I drink a porter with dessert? Because of its rich, roast-y flavors from the malts has you thinking coffee. Which many of us enjoy during dessert. I however did not pair my porter with dessert. I went with the pork option and finished off some bbq after I smoked a pork butt earlier in the week. I kept it Athens local by throwing in some Phickle Pickles hotties on the sammich with an okie on the side. I went deeper into BAMA local by having some Golden Flake chips, aka BAMAchips.
This was my first taste of the Freckle Belly IPA and it’s actually an IPA. Many today taste as if they target the lower end of the BJCP guidelines for bitterness. But this one is near the top of the 70 IBU limit, hopping out (see what I did there?) at 65 IBU. As I mentioned before the label has a chili pepper on it and I do love spicy dishes. Pork chops were on the menu, so I made some spicy mustard-peach bbq sauce and went way over board on drowning my chop in sauce. But the spiciness of the sauce highlights the bitterness of the hops. This is a die-hard pairing for sure.
Still my favorite is the Truck Stop Honey Brown that I enjoyed with a third generation recipe from the wife’s family. It’s simple and we make it with ground turkey breast which doesn’t over-power the other ingredients like red meat does. The earthiness of the mushrooms pairs great with this ale. I’ll post the recipe later today, so watch for an update. Still my favorite Back 40 and brown ale.
Here in Athens we may not care much for BAMA football, but their beer is getting better and better coming out of our step sister state to the left. Will #BAMAbeer ever be better than #GAbeer? I won’t vote no, but they have some tough competition. I’d put Terrapin against anyone’s favorite. I’m not sure exactly when we’ll see Back 40 around Athens or Atlanta for that matter, but I was told soon. So keep an eye peeled for it and if I can get my hands on a shirt, I’m the guy around town wearing a Back 40 shirt.