We were recently reunited with even more old brewery friends here in the Florida Panhandle. This one comes from right next door, relatively speaking. Let’s welcome Back 40 Brewing Co. from Gadsden, Alabama to Pensacola.
I first met Back 40’s owner and founder, Jason Wilson, while I was the general manager of our much-missed restaurant in Mobile, Alabama. Never one to let hired hands do the work for him, Jason likes to run around the South to press the flesh and grow his company. I met him at the end of another long day while enjoying a pint on our front patio. A car pulled up to the curb and this wide-eyed guy bounded out, spied our company attire and came right up to us like this: “Hey, my name’s Jason and I own Back 40. Would you like to try our beer out of a hop randall?”
A hop randall, by the way, is like a French press meets a Super-soaker, but for beer.
From a beer enthusiast’s point of view, there are few better ways to begin a working relationship. I mean, we already carried the two brews they made – they’re up to four year-round items, now – but seeing that exuberance and passion for his product was infectious. If I wasn’t already sold on this brewery, I was at that moment pressure-pushing his beer through a chamber full of whole-cone hops out of the backseat of a car.
Jason and his Director of Operations, Tripp Collins, paid us a visit the other day for the official launch of their brewery in our territory. No randall this time, but plenty of free shirts and stickers to go with their four tasty offerings. While they’re all great, I find myself going back to the well, unable to stay away from their flagship beer, Naked Pig Pale Ale.
This isn’t some Henny Youngman- or Rodney Dangerfield-inspired name reference. Instead of cracking wise about one’s wife, Naked Pig is so-called because it’s pale ale and, as Jason explained it, there’s no paler critter on the farm than a new-born pig.
This beer is straw-to-pale-gold in color with a creamy head that settles to a white cap that never leaves. Abundant lacing shows off a nice hop oil presence. Pig’s scents are amazingly floral with notes of orange blossom and a slight hint of rose along with some sweet malt. That malt shows up first in the flavors but immediately gets run over by bitter lemon peel and herbal hops with a long finish. It’s light-bodied, soft-edged and drinks very easy.
Jason equates his brewery to the tough-to-farm back-end of the property that pays off big once cultivated. Keep on plowing, sir, and bringing us great beer!