Great beer can come from places where you would least expect, and in Alabama, that is more than accurate. Look at Tuscaloosa, a city that is practically floating in cheap light beer, but you have two breweries producing craft beer that could stand up against many beers of the style from anywhere in the country. Look at Florence, a small college town in northwest Alabama and home to Singin’ River Brewing Co.: you can go there and drink one of the best IPAs ever made. Literally all over the state of Alabama, we have great breweries that make great beer, and the small southern Alabama town of Fairhope is no exception. The only brewery in South Alabama, Fairhope Brewing Company is currently brewing some of my favorite beer in the state. Started by five people with a mission to bring great beer to lower Alabama, Fairhope has since expanded to Birmingham taps at a few places (no packaging yet). I was recently at Hop City and decided to bring home a growler of their ever popular Pale Ale: Fairhope 51. Here are my thoughts:
Named Fairhope 51 for being the 51st recipe entry in head brewer Dan’s beer notebook, The beer pours a burnt orange with about one inch of white bubbly head that fizzles out quickly, but leaves some nice lacing on the glass as you drink. I was too into this beer after being poured, so I didn’t get a great picture of the head.) Hop forward, this Pale Ale has a distinct aroma that is strong in the way of floral and citrus hops with strong notes of malt. Some earthy hops come in once the beer warms to room temperature, but blended with the fruitier hops and the floral notes, it makes for a fantastic scent.
Fairhope 51’s taste essentially follows the nose, powered by floral hops and a strong malt flavor, this American Pale Ale stays true to the style. Starting with the first sip, you get a lot of floral hop notes on the front end. As it continues, you really begin to pick up on the maltiness that really evens out the flavor and makes it somewhat savory. Toward the end, there is a strong presence of citrus hops that delivers a bitterness quality that I personally think all Pale Ale style beers should have. Some things I picked up on but wasn’t sure about were some spice flavors I picked up on toward the end after the beer warmed a bit. If you let the beer rest on your tongue and allow yourself to analyze the flavors, you begin to notice that the flavors of the beer don’t really change. Other than the fact that the bitterness comes in late, a consistent flavor is something that Fairhope can pride itself on and, to me, are what make a great beer. If I can take a sip and have the same flavor from front to back, I have had something that not many brewers can do. Just something to think about next time you’re drinking one of your favorite beers.
When I bought the beer, I was expecting the mouthfeel to be similar to what it had been the times I had it before, and it was right on the money. Perfectly carbonated to complement the beer in every aspect. I was so happy to see consistency in the beer in other than the flavor. Medium body with a smooth, but still bubbly, carbonation and a session quality unlike most Pale Ales. This is one beer that I could definitely drink a few of and still feel great. They don’t really start to settle in your stomach until you drink about four or five, trust me.
Overall, this will always be one of those beers for me. If I see it, I drink it. Fairhope is run by great people who make great beer, and I’m so glad that they’re finally starting to expand North. Hopefully soon we can get more than one style at a time and really show people how great their beer is. So, like I said, if it’s available, I always get it, and I suggest you do as well if you enjoy classic American Pale Ales. Actually, even if you don’t, you should still try it, because it’s not often you drink something so solid.

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