The Alabama Brewers Guild has announced that it will recognize the 10th anniversary of the passage of the Gourmet Beer Bill – along with all members of Free the Hops, the homebrewers of Right to Brew, and the multitude of other advocates who made a true craft beer experience possible in Alabama – with the release of their fifth collaboration beer, Bitter Constituent, on January 12.
Not too long ago, the idea of craft beer in the state of Alabama seemed like more of a dream than anything else. Local breweries were almost non-existent, beer was restricted to 6% ABV, large format bottles were illegal, and homebrewing was outlawed.
After several years of attempts, hope finally arrived in 2009 when the members of Free the Hops – a grassroots non-profit consumer advocacy organization focused on changing the hostile laws restricting the beer community in Alabama – rallied enough legislative support to pass the Gourmet Beer Bill and raise the ABV limit to 13.9%. This change was just the spark the area needed as it inspired local brewers to step out of the shadows to open their own breweries in Alabama and enticed respected breweries from all over the world to seek distribution in the state. As beer shelves and taps quickly filled across the state, that spark caught fire and shined a bright light on those willing to raise their voices for change. At long last those cries were being taken seriously and led to a rapid succession of legislative accomplishments: the Brewery Modernization Act in 2011, allowed for “breweries to sell on-premises like a brewpub, or to wholesalers, or to both, and removed the crippling restrictions which prevented new breweries and brewpubs from opening”; the Gourmet Bottle Bill in 2012, legalized the sale of bottles up to 25.4 oz./750ml and opened the door for the acceptance of growlers in Alabama; and the Alabama Homebrew Legalization Bill in 2013, Right to Brew – a grassroots homebrew legalization organization – sees their efforts come to fruition as homebrewing in Alabama is legalized. With these new laws in place, the Alabama craft beer community has since grown to become one of the most welcoming in the country.
“Over the last decade, groups like Free the Hops and Right to Brew have pushed for legal changes to make the craft beer industry possible and viable in Alabama. They showed how ordinary people can come together to enact real change.”
– Dan Roberts, Alabama Brewers Guild Executive Director
Recognizing that the work of Free the Hops, Right to Brew and throngs of other passionate beer lovers in Alabama should never be forgotten, the Alabama Brewers Guild has decided to use these groups as the inspiration behind their upcoming collaboration beer. Arriving as the fifth release in the Guild’s Capital Series, Bitter Constituent (7.5% ABV) is an American India Pale Ale brewed with “a one-time, special recipe developed by Guild members and made with five different hop varietals.” This recipe was executed by several brewers in the Alabama Brewers Guild on December 4, 2018, at the recently-opened Common Bond Brewers in downtown Montgomery. Bitter Constituent was made possible with the help of the following sponsors: Baker Street Digital, Country Malt Group, Crowler Nation, Resource Label Group, White Labs, and Yakima Chief Hops.
Developed in cooperation with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, the Alabama Brewers Guild Capital Series is a series of limited release collaborations that “celebrates each one of Alabama’s five historic capitals, culminating with Montgomery in 2019, the 200th anniversary of Alabama’s statehood.” Previous releases in the Capital Series acted as tributes to St. Stephens | St. Stephens Stout (2015); Huntsville | Badlun Brothers Imperial Porter (2016); Old Cahaba | Mulberry Road Belgian-Style Dubbel (2017); and Tuscaloosa | Duffie’s Tavern Strong Ale (2018).
“Ten years ago, my dream of bringing craft beer to Montgomery wouldn’t have been possible and, thanks to others paving the way, here I am today, the Alabama Brewers Guild collaboration producer. It’s amazing and humbling.
“We have the best fans in the world. Not only are they loyal customers and evangelists for craft beer, they are also dedicated advocates. We owe them everything.”
– Andrew McNally, President & Co-founder of Common Bond Brewers
Bitter Constituent will debut at 3 p.m. on Saturday, January 12 with a release party at Common Bond Brewers that “will include the opportunity to meet craft brewers from around the state and to win brewery gear in a door prize raffle.” This event is free to attend, and Bitter Constituent will be available for purchase “in the taproom and in on-demand, to go packaging” (a.k.a. crowlers). Bitter Constituent will also see limited availability at select craft beer-friendly establishments in Alabama shortly after the launch party. Prost!