Of course, this might leave you feeling overwhelmed. You’ll soon have access to more than double the selection of beers you did just a few months ago.
Here comes Birmingham Weekly to the rescue, providing me a forum each week to highlight a different beer, including a few you may have never heard of. Hopefully, after reading this column, you’ll know whether my selection sounds like something you want to try before you shell out five, six or even $10 at your favorite watering hole.
First up, let’s take a look at Birmingham brewery Good People’s double IPA: Snake Handler. Double IPAs are the monster trucks of the beer world: oversized, showy, a bit obnoxious, good for demolishing stuff (like taste buds) and brashly American. I love them. They feature massive hop bills supported by lots of malt. Their bitterness can be intimidating, but for the initiated that bitterness becomes something to crave.
I am not stretching the truth when I tell you that Good People has released one of the finest examples of the style that I have ever tasted. And I have tasted several dozen, at least.
Some double IPAs are harshly, unpleasantly bitter. Some are exceptionally one-dimensional and boring. Some have little or no aroma. Some feature clumsy and unappealing combinations of hops. Some have an off-putting alcohol hotness. Good People avoided all of these traps.
The Snake Handler specs: 9.3% ABV (alcohol by volume), 103 IBU (international bittering units), seven varieties of hops (including my personal favorite, Simcoe). First-wort hopped with Columbus; dry-hopped with Centennial, Cascade and Amarillo.
What does all that mean? The 9.3% means sip it slowly and don’t have too many in one sitting. That’s more than twice the alcohol content of your typical light beer. The 103 IBU means it contains more bitterness than the human tongue can detect (the threshold is commonly cited as 100 IBU). But there is sufficient sweetness to balance it out, and the generous use of hops late in the boil means lots of interesting flavors, like grapefruit, orange and pine. All those hops that begin with a “C” are quintessential Pacific Northwest hops that result in American pale ales, IPAs and double IPAs bursting with unique flavors.
Don’t be intimidated by the word “bitter” here. This is phenomenal beer that holds its own up against many of the finest beers in the world. Brewed right here in the ‘Ham. Drink up!
Danner Kline is the founder of Free the Hops and co-organizer of the annual Magic City Brewfest. Send your feedback to email@example.com