Big Brews


Discover large format, craft beers at Piggly Wiggly.

by Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

The first time I encountered a large format bottle of beer was 20 years ago in Egypt. It was a memorable experience that evolved my perception and appreciation of beer. Today I find these “bombers” (a 22–ounce bottle sold as a single) at my neighborhood Piggly Wiggly River Run store, as well as other locations of Homewood, Crestline, and Clairmont.  In 2012 Alabama’s craft beer market got a big boost when the Gourmet Beer Bill was signed into law. The bill increased the size of beer bottles legally produced and sold from 16 ounces in most areas to 25.4 ounces. Three recommended, big bottles are Stillwater Artisanal Ales’ American Farmhouse Ale, Tuxedo Black Indian Pale Ale and—especially for St. Patrick’s Day—Moylan’s Dragoons Dry Irish Stout. Stillwater Artisanal is a Baltimore brewery that was at the forefront of brewing Belgian beer in the United States. The style of their Stillwater Artisanal Ales’ American Farmhouse Ale ($11.79) is saison, which is a strong farmhouse ale traditionally brewed in wintertime for summertime consumption.

This style was becoming an endangered style until the recent revival in the United States. Earthy notes and floral aromatics blend in this complex brew of spelt and rye, accented with heather, honeysuckle, and hyssop. It is 6.8 percent alcohol, rust in color with bold spice and tartness, and a hint of sweetness in this balanced brew. Tuxedo Black India Pale Ale ($6.99) is made in Alabama by Blue Pants Brewery in Madison. This bomber is one of a relatively new yet emerging beer style—Cascadian Dark Ale, which refers to the Cascade Mountain Range, also known as Black IPA (India Pale Ale). Big hop flavors with no harshness dominate in this 7 percent alcohol, subdued and smooth dark brew. And Moyland’s Dragoons Dry Irish Stout ($4.99) is brewed in Novato, California. It is made of imported hops and malted barley from the United Kingdom. This beer is a traditional, dry Irish stout that commemorates General Stephen Moylan, the Irish born commander of the 4th Continental Dragoons during the American Revolutionary War. It is black in color with a tan head and good lacing. Roasty mocha notes, a touch of sweetness and a dry finish combine in this sturdy brew.

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