Cigar City Brewing (Tampa, Florida) has released Wiregrass Post-Prohibition Ale, a new collaboration beer brewed in celebration of homebrewing finally becoming legal in Alabama. Wiregrass hits Alabama shelves and taps this week.
Some may wonder why Cigar City has such an interest in Alabama's homebrew scene, and the answer is because their brewmaster Wayne Wambles is an Alabama native. Thanks to a series of fortunate events in Dothan in the early 90's, Wambles formed a homebrew club called MOOLA (the Malty Orgasmics of Lower Alabama) with Ron and Sharon Montefusco and Jeremy Pate, now of Folklore Brewing and Meadery. Each of the founding members pursued their passion for homebrew despite it being illegal at the time, and their dedication yielded them prominent status within the local and/or national craft beer scene. Now that homebrewing has become legal in Alabama, these four teamed back up to collaborate on Wiregrass Post-Prohibition Ale as a means to celebrate with all Alabama homebrewers. The label artwork for Wiregrass is nothing more than the story of their friendship and the circumstances that led to the brewing of this beer. Since the provided picture is a little small to make out, it reads as follows:
In the early 1990’s, four Alabama residents were brought together by their fascination for and love of beer. Ron and Sharon Montefusco were seeking out flavorful imports and American craft brands while homebrewing just outside the small town of Dothan, Alabama. While dining at a local Greek restaurant one evening, they were served by a young waiter named Wayne Wambles. They asked him for beer recommendations and he quickly offered a hoppy, American craft beer. Upon further conversation, the three realized that they were all very much intrigued by beer and both shared the hobby of homebrewing, a practice that was considered illegal in the state of Alabama. The three agreed to meet at Ron and Sharon’s house in the near future and brewed an all grain batch of homebrew together, discussing the possibility and anticipation of starting an under-the-radar homebrew club. Sunset Suds, a homebrew supply shop in Florida, was kind enough to share their client list and the three reached out to a fourth individual in the Dothan area that was also homebrewing, Jeremy Pate. Wayne soon began brewing commercially at a local brewpub in Dothan. Jeremy walked into the brewhouse one day and began asking technical questions about the commercial process, quickly becoming friends with Wayne. Two weeks later, Jeremy drove Wayne and all of his beer to a festival in Panama City Beach, Florida, to serve his beer commercially for the first time. Soon following, the four member club, which became known as MOOLA (the Malty Orgasmics of Lower Alabama), began to have meetings and discuss ways to grow the club without creating any legal issues. The club slowly grew through the years with Ron and Sharon continuing to be very involved in the American Homebrewers Association and judging beer at regional and national competitions with Ron achieving national status as a BJCP judge. Jeremy began to get his feet wet brewing commercially and brewed at several breweries in Georgia and Alabama then went on to consult for breweries all over the country, finally deciding to open Folklore Brewery and Meadery in 2011. Wayne continued to brew commercially and brewed for breweries in Florida, Georgia, Alabama and North Carolina, eventually settling in as the head brewer for Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida. “The love of beer and the craft brought all of us together and by Alabama state law made us criminals at the same time. We persevered regardless of the risk for the sake of knowledge and the enjoyment of the exploration of beer. This beer is in commemoration of the recent and long overdue legalization of homebrewing in the state of Alabama. Cheers!”
– Ron and Sharon Montefusco, Jeremy Pate, and Wayne Wambles
As for the beer itself, Wiregrass Post-Prohibition Ale is described as "a straw-colored ale with a mélange of citrus notes that take your palate on a journey through orange, lemon, lime, and grapefruit flavor and bitterness with subtle hints of lightly toasted bread and a delicate whisper of corn". This brew is a limited release that has been produced and packaged by Cigar City Brewing, and it will only be available in Alabama and in the Cigar City taproom. Beginning this week, Wiregrass will be available in cans and on draft in the cities of Birmingham, Dothan, Huntsville, Mobile, and Tuscaloosa. There will also be a three city release and meet & greet with the brewers beginning Thursday, October 24. The schedule is as follows:
Birmingham - Thursday, October 24
Mobile - Friday, October 25
- Alchemy Tavern - 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Dothan - Saturday, October 26
- Oak & Olive - 7 p.m. to 9 p.m.
The release of Wiregrass Post-Prohibition Ale also marks the return of Cigar City Brewing products to Alabama. The brewery's flagship Jai Alai IPA will join Wiregrass on Alabama shelves in limited quantities for now, but it should see wider distribution next month. With that news, it sounds like we have two things to celebrate here in Alabama.
Make sure to grab some Wiregrass Post-Prohibition Ale while you can because I do not imagine it will be hanging around for too long. If you are free and have the opportunity, swing by one of the release parties and get to know the folks behind the beer. It is sure to be a good time with great beer and the best of company. Prost!