What does it mean to be “southern?” As an ex-Californian transplant of over 28 years, I think I’m still trying to figure that one out.
First and foremost is the accent. I’m not sure where or how it came to be, but the southern accent lends itself to the attitude of its people. There are certain ways one would wish to express themselves that only work in the southern style. For example: calling someone “honey.” Unless you’re southern, the only time you’ll hear this affectation is a neutral-accented husband endearing himself to his wife. In all other instances, it’s Flo from the TV show “Alice,” and if it’s not honey than it’s sugar, sweetie-pie or any other dessert-based nomenclature. Oh, and those grits Flo wants you to kiss? Not generally found outside of The South.
When I first came to The South, I spent a week puzzling over “y’all.” It took me a while to work out that it was “you all” and not “yawl,” as in a small boat. Why is everyone calling each other a boat?
Walk outside on a sultry summer day and you’ll hear the orchestra of cicadas and crickets making their almost alien rattle through the air. Anymore, I don’t know if I could believe it was summer anywhere without this noise.
Guy Harvey t-shirts. Why is this a thing here? No idea, but it’s on the southern list.
The rest is a roll call of unique foods, sounds, attitudes and activities that, unfortunately, I don’t have the space to write about here. I can point them out as if I’m making fun of them, but truth be told I’m not. These are all things that are a part of me now. You don’t question what it is to be southern, you simply let it be.
Breweries don’t come any more southern than Back Forty out of Gadsden, Alabama. From the farming reference in their name to their Naked Pig Pale Ale (nothing’s more pale than a new-born pig) it seems southern tropes keep showing up in every drop of beer they make. Not that farming is exclusive to southern living, just that southerners are known for having clever colloquialisms. A northerner might have called the same beer Wilbur.
Perhaps their most southern-sounding is Paw Paw’s Peach Wheat. I can’t even picture a New England accent on that one. “Pah-Paah’s.” It’s southern or nothing. And it’s a beer that’s killer on the hot days The South is known for.
As gold as the sun setting over the bayou and with a head as tall as summertime clouds, the lemon scents coming off of Paw Paw’s wheat base will make you pine for your momma’s lemonade on a hot Sunday in July. Despite the light hop profile, there’s tons of lacing down the side as sticky as a Banana Spider’s web. All that natural peach flavor is balanced out with hints of citrus, tropical fruit and just enough bitterness to make a preacher man say “amen!”
I may have over-southerned it there, but that’s what Back Forty’s beers will do to you and Paw Paw’s Peach Wheat is The South in a glass. Cheers, y’all for not being a boat.