Redbrick Brewing 16th Anniversary Ale

May 11, 2011

Well, how do you like that? It was just pointed out to me that today, May 5th, is my one-year anniversary scribing this very column. Let’s put on a party hat, throw some confetti, hire a dancing lady to jump out of a giant cake and talk about some beer, shall we?

Where were we one year ago? I was still a Florida resident, Hopjacks only had a meager 63 tap selections, Pensacola Bay Brewery was still filling its production floor with beer-making gear and Vinyl Music Hall was three months away from filling the air with the “noise” of progress. And progress Pensacola has whether or not her citizens realize it. Compare the changes seen in the last three years, especially this last one, to the quagmire that is Alabama politics.

The Free the Hops organization were unsuccessful in their attempt to drag the ol’ boys’ club of Montgomery kicking and screaming into the 21st century. Seems our lawmakers over here enjoy being one of two hold-out states in the nation to restrict homebrewing to a total 5 gallons a year. I know people who go through 5 gallons in a week by themselves. The other measure was to relax the packaging restrictions. Alabama says “no” to individual 22oz “bomber” bottles yet if I were to purchase a 6-pack of 12oz bottles, two of those six equal 2oz more than the one big bottle… and I’d still have four beers left over. Makes sense? Didn’t think so.

Homebrewing is part of America’s patriotic history; many if not all of our founding fathers made their own beer. Heck, George Washington grew –ahem- hemp on his estate… but that’s an argument for another person to bring up, not me. These silly restrictions on a beverage that has, literally at times, fueled whole societies towards progress brings to mind the temperance movement and all the bootlegging that went on during one of America’s darkest periods. No, not disco… prohibition.

All this talk about anniversaries and Southern politics has me in the mood for Atlanta Brewing’s Redbrick 16th Anniversary Ale. Redbrick only makes beer for Southern distribution or, as they call it, “Beer from around here.” As recently as two years ago, the 14th Anniversary was being aged in spent Pappy Van Winkle barrels. Don’t know if they’re still using Pappy, per se, but what they are giving us is a terrific malty ale that extracts plenty of nuance from the whisky barrels. Dark brown with a tan head, 16th gives off deep scents of vanilla, caramel, chocolate and bourbon. The 11%abv is well-masked under a creamy-to-viscous texture and expressive flavors of dark fruits, toffee, oak and, well, more bourbon. Outstanding. Oh, yes… happy anniversary to me.