Bicentennial Beer

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By Hardy Jackson

In case you haven’t noticed, Alabama is in the midst of its Bicentennial Celebration.
And how better to mark this historic event than with a Bicentennial Beer.
Yessir.
The Alabama Brewers Guild, in cooperation with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, has enlisted breweries from across Alabama to collaborate in concocting a series of beers, each honoring one of the state’s five capitals.  These will be released to the public, one-by-one, from now until 2019.
What a dandy idea.
The first beer in the State Capital Series was St. Stephens Stout which appeared in 2015 to pay homage to Alabama’s territorial capital. It is a pity that the beer was not available back when St. Stephens was a bustling town, for it would have likely added a bit of refinement to a place whose citizens were described as an “illiterate, wild and savage” bunch, a people “of depraved morals, unworthy of public confidence or private esteems.”
Certainly not beer drinkers.
Fortunately, the town also attracted men like Harry Toulmin, an educated (at least literate) Scottish freethinker, who said he came to St. Stephens because it was “so far from civilization that he would be safe from Presbyterians.”  Toulmin strikes me as the sort of fellow who would enjoy sitting with friends and discussing predestination and infant damnation over a beer, rather than consorting with “depraved” folks who drank rot-gut whiskey that they called, with a fine feeling for words, “busthead.”
Yes, St. Stephens Stout would have been Toulmin’s drink.
If he could get it, for St. Stephens did not have a brewery.
Huntsville, on the other hand, did.
    A far more populous and progressive place than St. Stephens, Huntsville was where the convention met in 1819 to draw up a constitution for what was by then the “state” of Alabama and where the first session of the state legislature was called to order. Huntsville was also the location of Alabama’s first brewery, which James and William Badlun opened that same year..
Although I can’t prove it, I am sure that holding the convention in a town where beer was brewed was not coincidental.  Nor can I prove, but I do believe, that ready access to beer influenced the writing of what has been judged to have been one of the most “liberal” state constitutions of the time.
So it is right and proper that the second beer brewed by Guild members is Badlun Brothers Imperial Porter, which is described as “a modern take on a traditional porter recipe.”
However, Huntsville was not meant to be the “permanent” state capital.  A committee of the territorial legislature recommended Tuscaloosa, but William Wyatt Bibb, the state’s first governor, would have none of it.  Bibb and a powerful coalition of planter interests favored a spot at the confluence of the Cahaba and Alabama Rivers, where they felt they could make their fortunes in Black Belt real estate and Black Belt cotton. So Cahawba became the capital.
For six years Caawba was the place to be, at least if government was your business.  Unfortunately for the city, if you had other business to conduct, it was more profitable to conduct it upriver, at Selma, which would eventually replace Cahawba as “The Queen City of the Black Belt,” though not as the capital.  If Selma had become the seat of government the Guild might be brewing Samuel Bogle’s Beer.  Bogle was a hotel proprietor whose “assembly room” was the social center of the town.  It was there that the city council, after doing the city’s business, reportedly “adjourned to take a drink.”
But until Selma came into its own, Cahawba flourished.  So, what would be the beer for that capital?
Birmingham’s Cahaba Brewing Company is one of the breweries collaborating on the Bicentennial project.  Taking inspiration from the mulberry trees that lined Cahawba’s streets, Cahaba brewed “Mulberry Road” which came out this year. A portion of the proceeds from its sale will go to preserving the Old Cahawba historical site.  Drink up.  It is for a good cause.
The 2018. a beer will honor Tuscaloosa, which launched a “fake news” campaign and snatched the capital from Cahawba.  A Montgomery beer will follow and finish the Series.
For the sake I good journalism, I decided to sample the beers released thus far and pass judgement upon them.  To help me in my research I enlisted my son.  He is a recent Auburn graduate and as such is not unfamiliar with beer.
We concluded (drum roll please), they are all good.
My favorite was “Mulberry Road,” but I tend to lean toward lighter beers.
The boy judged the St. Stephens Stout excellent and added that Badlum Brothers Imperial Porter could hold its own at any gathering he had ever attended.
So we declare this first round of Bicentennial Beers a roaring success and sufficient to satisfy our beer cravings until the next round is on the shelves.
Cheers.
(Harvey H. “Hardy” Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University.  He can be reached at hjackson@cableone.net.)  In case you haven’t noticed, Alabama is in the midst of its Bicentennial Celebration.
And how better to mark this historic event than with a Bicentennial Beer.
Yessir.
The Alabama Brewers Guild, in cooperation with the Alabama Bicentennial Commission, has enlisted breweries from across Alabama to collaborate in concocting a series of beers, each honoring one of the state’s five capitals.  These will be released to the public, one-by-one, from now until 2019.
What a dandy idea.
The first beer in the State Capital Series was St. Stephens Stout which appeared in 2015 to pay homage to Alabama’s territorial capital. It is a pity that the beer was not available back when St. Stephens was a bustling town, for it would have likely added a bit of refinement to a place whose citizens were described as an “illiterate, wild and savage” bunch, a people “of depraved morals, unworthy of public confidence or private esteems.”
Certainly not beer drinkers.
Fortunately, the town also attracted men like Harry Toulmin, an educated (at least literate) Scottish freethinker, who said he came to St. Stephens because it was “so far from civilization that he would be safe from Presbyterians.”  Toulmin strikes me as the sort of fellow who would enjoy sitting with friends and discussing predestination and infant damnation over a beer, rather than consorting with “depraved” folks who drank rot-gut whiskey that they called, with a fine feeling for words, “busthead.”
Yes, St. Stephens Stout would have been Toulmin’s drink.
If he could get it, for St. Stephens did not have a brewery.
Huntsville, on the other hand, did.
    A far more populous and progressive place than St. Stephens, Huntsville was where the convention met in 1819 to draw up a constitution for what was by then the “state” of Alabama and where the first session of the state legislature was called to order. Huntsville was also the location of Alabama’s first brewery, which James and William Badlun opened that same year..
Although I can’t prove it, I am sure that holding the convention in a town where beer was brewed was not coincidental.  Nor can I prove, but I do believe, that ready access to beer influenced the writing of what has been judged to have been one of the most “liberal” state constitutions of the time.
So it is right and proper that the second beer brewed by Guild members is Badlun Brothers Imperial Porter, which is described as “a modern take on a traditional porter recipe.”
However, Huntsville was not meant to be the “permanent” state capital.  A committee of the territorial legislature recommended Tuscaloosa, but William Wyatt Bibb, the state’s first governor, would have none of it.  Bibb and a powerful coalition of planter interests favored a spot at the confluence of the Cahaba and Alabama Rivers, where they felt they could make their fortunes in Black Belt real estate and Black Belt cotton. So Cahawba became the capital.
For six years Caawba was the place to be, at least if government was your business.  Unfortunately for the city, if you had other business to conduct, it was more profitable to conduct it upriver, at Selma, which would eventually replace Cahawba as “The Queen City of the Black Belt,” though not as the capital.  If Selma had become the seat of government the Guild might be brewing Samuel Bogle’s Beer.  Bogle was a hotel proprietor whose “assembly room” was the social center of the town.  It was there that the city council, after doing the city’s business, reportedly “adjourned to take a drink.”
But until Selma came into its own, Cahawba flourished.  So, what would be the beer for that capital?
Birmingham’s Cahaba Brewing Company is one of the breweries collaborating on the Bicentennial project.  Taking inspiration from the mulberry trees that lined Cahawba’s streets, Cahaba brewed “Mulberry Road” which came out this year. A portion of the proceeds from its sale will go to preserving the Old Cahawba historical site.  Drink up.  It is for a good cause.
The 2018. a beer will honor Tuscaloosa, which launched a “fake news” campaign and snatched the capital from Cahawba.  A Montgomery beer will follow and finish the Series.
For the sake I good journalism, I decided to sample the beers released thus far and pass judgement upon them.  To help me in my research I enlisted my son.  He is a recent Auburn graduate and as such is not unfamiliar with beer.
We concluded (drum roll please), they are all good.
My favorite was “Mulberry Road,” but I tend to lean toward lighter beers.
The boy judged the St. Stephens Stout excellent and added that Badlum Brothers Imperial Porter could hold its own at any gathering he had ever attended.
So we declare this first round of Bicentennial Beers a roaring success and sufficient to satisfy our beer cravings until the next round is on the shelves.
Cheers.
(Harvey H. “Hardy” Jackson is Professor Emeritus of History at Jacksonville State University.  He can be reached at hjackson@cableone.net.)

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