Beer Hopping

You can almost smell the hoppy, malty aroma on the Bay breeze. Is your mouth watering in anticipation? Eastern Shore watering holes can quench the craving with intriguing craft beers at the ready on cooler shelves and taps.

Go Nuts

The first stop is Daphne’s downtown mainstay, Manci’s Antique Club. Behind the bar you will find Alex Manci, who represents the third generation of the Manci family to own and operate the establishment. He has a frosty mug and some sweet Southern Pecan Nut Brown Ale waiting.

These suds are brewed by The Lazy Magnolia Brewing Co., in Kiln, Miss. As far as the brewer knows, the ale, left, is the first in the world made with whole roasted pecans. Sniff the dark mahogany drink to discover a nutty, caramel scent. That smell is reflected in the taste.
Southern Pecan is malty and lightly hopped, with a full, smooth body and medium carbonation.

Manci says people come in asking for this beer. “It’s getting more and more popular, ” he says.

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He suggests ordering a burger with your Southern Pecan. The beer is 4.25 percent alcohol by volume (ABV).

manci’s antique club
11 a.m. – 9 p.m. daily.
1715 Main St., Daphne.
626-9917. 626-3124.

Swamp Thing

At Moe’s Original Bar B Que, a wide selection of cold beverages is available to accompany your barbecue and blues (played on the weekends). Take in the breezy, oak-canopied atmosphere over a high-gravity Andygator, a product of the Covington, La.-based Abita Brewing Co.

Called the “creature of the swamp, ” the Andygator, right, has a faint fruit aroma, a hint of sweetness on the tongue and a dry finish. The beautifully translucent, golden beer is made from malt, lager yeast and hops.

“Even though it’s a high-gravity beer, it’s not heavy, ” says bartender Russell Bush. Enjoy it as an aperitif or with dark-meat barbecue like Moe’s ribs or pork. Be sure to savor each sip, because the ABV is 8 percent.

moe’s original bar b que
11 a.m. – 8 p.m. Su – M, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
T – Sa. 6423 Bayfront Park Drive, Daphne. 625-7427.
9 a.m. – 2 p.m. Th/F, 9 a.m. – 4 p.m. Sa, Noon – 4 p.m. Su.
85 N. Bancroft St., Fairhope. 990-8533.
11 a.m. – 8 p.m. daily. 25603 Perdido Beach Blvd., Orange Beach. 981-7427.

The Bee’s Knees

Enjoy the scenic drive into Fairhope, park near the intersection of North Bancroft Street and Equality Avenue, and head to McSharry’s Irish Pub.

Inside these doors you will find authentic Irish brews and a tasty beer from right here in Alabama. Back Forty Beer Co., just up the road in Gadsden, brews Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale, and yes, it is made with honey. Not just any honey — this is honey from Alabama wildflowers right here in Mobile.

“It’s a hometown hero, ” says bartender Ovie Moore, “and an antihistamine.” The Mobile honey, fresh hops and roasted malts compose the medium-bodied English brown ale. And, wouldn’t you know, it has a sweet hoppy taste and scent, but it’s a strong pale ale. “Truck Stop is a popular beer here, and it’s on draft, ” Moore says. With a 6 percent ABV, it pairs well with the fish and chips, burger or shepherd’s pie. “Or, you might just want it with a soup or salad, ” Moore suggests, “because the beer fills you up.”

At McSharry’s, you’ll also find the Titan IPA, top, from the Great Divide Brewing Co., in Denver, Colo. “You might need an acquired palate for this one, ” Moore warns. The India Pale Ale has a strong hops scent and taste. Citrus undertones and even sweetness will hit you before the crisp, signature bitterness.

The British first started to brew hops-loaded IPAs with a natural preservative so that it would survive the trek from Great Britain to the British colony of India. “You can’t pound these like you do a Bud Light, ” Moore advises. The ABV is 6.8 percent. “I’d go lighter on the food with this one, like a beef or chicken wrap, ” Moore says, “unless you want to match the taste with something heavy and full.” For more on McSharry’s, see “Fairhope After Hours, ” page 60.

mcsharry’s irish pub
3 p.m. – Midnight Su – W, 3 p.m. – 2 a.m. Th – Sa.
101 N. Bancroft St., Fairhope.

New Kids on the Block

Across the street from McSharry’s is My Place Downtown, a neighborhood bar with a rustic, whiskey atmosphere.

“It’s a quintessential hole in the wall, ” says Bobby Kilpatrick. He and co-owner Robert Yarbrough (who also owns The Wash House) opened the business two years ago. The Food Network and Southern Living have already found the spot and noted its fabulous food and beverages.

Living up to its name, My Place grants regular customers a lot of say-so. For example, they get to judge whether offerings will stay for good.

“There is a weeding process, ” Kilpatrick says. “The beer has to be popular to survive here.”

One of the survivors is Dead Guy Ale, bottom, from the Rogue Brewery, in Oregon. Deep hop and malt are present in the aroma and flavor. They’re accompanied by a strong, bitter taste. The rich, hearty, honey-colored beer is a German-style maibock, made from Rogue’s own “Pacman” ale yeast. It pairs well with the red beans and rice, boudin or hot roast beef sandwich. The ABV is 6.6 percent.

Brace yourself for the $9 price tag, but beer connoisseurs will tell you the Chimay Red Ale is worth it. The copper-colored brew has a silky texture, and a fruity aroma and taste, with a bit of bitterness. This abbey dubbel, created by Chimay, is a Belgium Trappist beer. Monks have been brewing this blend since the Middle Ages, so they’ve got the art down pat.

An added incentive for selecting this beverage is that the majority of the revenue generated from sales goes toward charitable purposes. The Chimay Red Ale has a 7 percent alcohol content. Try it with lighter fare, like grilled shrimp. For more information about the nightlife My Place Downtown has to offer, see “Fairhope After Hours, ” page 60.

my place downtown
4 p.m. – 2 a.m. M – Sa.
68 N. Bancroft St., Fairhope. 928-1300.

christy dobson reid

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