Back Forty Beer Company has quite a bit going for them lately. Their current situation of contract brewing out of Kiln, Mississippi at Lazy Magnolia Brewing Company should be winding down by the end of the year. They are working hard at making Back Forty more than an Alabama concept, but a full blown Alabama brewery by setting up shop in Gadsden, Alabama. The brewery was incredibly active during Alabama Beer Week, getting their name out there and sharing their beers with the great people of this state. Their beers are turning up in bars and on shelves across the state, and they just added Mobile to their distribution area. They have found great success with their Naked Pig Pale Ale, and now Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale has started becoming more and more prevalent around Birmingham. I figure now is as good a time as any to sample Truck Stop Honey and do a little review.
Truck Stop Honey hits the glass as a good looking, honey hued brown. Held to the light, a little more of the orange from said honey hue comes through the brown. This creates a vibrant appearance that is really nice to look at. The body is clear with a steady stream of carbonation moving up the center of the glass. The pour only yielded about a 1/4 finger of slightly off-white head, but that head had enough retention to hold that level throughout the entire experience. The foam has only a little bit of stick to it, but most of it just slides back into that lasting top cap.
The aroma of Truck Stop is probably my favorite part of this beer. The scent starts out as a small, but wonderfully executed, roasted malt aroma. This shifts into a sweet honey character that has a nice floral note to it which comes from this beer being brewed with Alabama wildflower honey. The hops do not come in to make a name for themselves on their own, they just contribute to the overall aroma wonderfully with some earthy, grassy and wood like notes. The aroma just melds together beautifully.
The flavor starts off with some honey of course. It is sweet, but it is not excessive or cloying enough to hurt drinkability at all. The wildflower honey has a more ambiguous, but pretty dynamic floral quality to it. The honey works nicely with a light chocolate malt presence that sneaks up on you from time to time. The grassy, floral, and earthy hops presence also helps keep the sweetness in check by bringing out just a touch of bitterness. It is not incredibly noticeable, but it does cut the sweetness nicely. Sadly, the roasted malt presence I got in the aroma did not translate into the flavor profile for me very much.
Truck Stop comes across as being on the lighter side of medium in body with a lighter carbonation to it. The carbonation level allows this beer to have a really smooth texture to it. The brew mostly plays with the sweet part of your tongue, but it does brush up against the bitter side just a touch. The aftertaste is mostly just lingering floral notes coming from the honey and hops.
Overall, I believe that this beer will make a great gateway brew for folks newly experimenting with craft beer. I think this brew will really speak to those who are fan of beers like Newcastle Brown Ale because it has the accessibility of Newcastle but with more complexity. With that said, it does not have as vast a range of complexity that is going to completely wreck your palate or overwhelm you to the point of stopping at just one bottle when you are in the mood for more. I believe this quality could work well for craft beer lovers by it being a beer with good drinkability and enough flavor to satisfy scrutinizing palates. This beer leads me to a realization that I made a long time ago. That is is that not all beers have to be crazy complex or incredibly unique to be good. Simplicity, cohesion of aromas and flavors, and quality ingredients are really all that beers need to have in order to be enjoyable. With these criteria set, this beer executes and comes out as a solid offering by Back Forty Beer Company. I believe it is a good counterpart to Naked Pig Pale Ale, and I cannot wait to see what will join these beers in Back Forty’s portfolio as the brewery continues to establish itself and grow. Prost!