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National Food Service Worker’s Day

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Market Square Staff

Today is a good day to reflect on one of the finest parts of Tomato Head – past and present; from the very beginning of our journey all the way through today we’ve attracted a lot of interesting people – not just the folks eating at our tables but also the many fine people who work to put the goods on those tables.

Today is National Food Service Worker’s Day, which strikes us as both a day of celebration and gratitude.

It doesn’t matter what aspect of life, whether you’re putting together a sports team, casting a play, or assembling a band, finding the right group of humans who share your passion, your values, and your own brand of common sense can be a Herculean labor – and finding all of those qualities in a group of people that you actually like to be around is a stroke of luck. And yet for going on 26 years, Tomato Head has been inordinately fortunate in terms of having a team from the kitchen all the way to the front door that’s caring, considerate, hard-working and pretty groovy, too.

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Gallery Staff

So we want to say thanks!

If you’ve ever worked in a restaurant, you know that the job comes with more challenges than meet the eye, and that it takes a lot more effort than just slinging hash on a grill or dropping it off at table 15. From the kitchen and dish room to the bar and the patio, too, the work requires a keen set of eyes, mad skills in multi-tasking, diplomacy out the wazoo, and a really good pair of shoes.

Thanks in part to the great proliferation of cooking shows, there’s a little more appreciation for the demands of life in food service than perhaps once there was.  Still, it’s a tough job that comes with its fair share of difficult experiences. So today, perhaps you’ll consider joining us as we make a point of saying thanks a little more clearly and a little more often.

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Across the bar at Market Square

Of course, we’re not encouraging our guests to get up and hug the kitchen manager after every meal – I suspect we’d be looking for a new kitchen manager if that were the case. But, if you think of it, an extra thanks goes long way to helping anybody feel better about the day and what they do with it.

Watermelon Salsa

The passing of summer always makes me sad – not for the end of sultry days and blinding sun, of course, but for the end of market days and backyard harvests, of warm tomatoes and sweet corn.  Even so, I am made equally happy for the first sweet smell of autumn when I find it in the air of some cool September morn carting the promise of cooler days and warm cider.  But September is a teasing month, and those wafts of fall give way to still sultry, sunny afternoons that surprise me like a sudden slap.

It’s the contrast of these transitional days that make me think of Pablo Neruda.

If you don’t know Neruda’s poetry, it’s worth a trip to the library, particularly if you’re a food lover.  Neruda, a Chilean poet and the winner of the Nobel Prize in 1971, wrote a wide variety of verse including some fabulous odes to food.  My college roommate introduced me to the haunting Ode to Salt and, my favorite of all, the joyous Ode to Watermelon:

the throat
becomes thirsty,
the teeth,
the lips, the tongue:
we want to drink
waterfalls,
the dark blue night,
the South Pole,
and then
the coolest of all
the planets crosses
the sky,
the round, magnificent,
star-filled watermelon.

It’s the promise of autumnal breezes juxtaposed with the last cruel rays of sun that make me thirsty above all things and bring to mind my favorite line of the ode, “we want to drink/ waterfalls”.  And so I go in search of the melon, clinging to the sweet spot of the sunny season even as I grasp the joys of transition to the days of football fields and the first taste of fall flavors.

It’s an awfully romantic way to describe a food obsession, I grant you, but that’s just how I roll.

But that transition, particularly in terms of flavors isn’t always jarring – in fact, it’s harmonious in our kitchen.  That’s because when our thoughts run to tailgating we find that watermelon sneaks into many of our considerations of game-day nosh.  And one of the best ways to assuage all the feels that fill our hungry heart is to incorporate melon into dishes.  It keeps the flavor in our minds and mouths and makes for some pretty clever eating, too.

Ready to Eat

Consider the case of Watermelon Salsa.  At first, you’re thinking of the spice and heat and how odd that might seem with our beloved sweet fruit, or perhaps you know about the secret and sacred flavor connection between tomato and watermelon – if you do, you know that this salsa makes perfect sense.  The tomato at its finest is also a sweet treat, full of the same waterfalls that our friend Pablo imagined.  So it’s never hard for us to imagine a dish of salsa with watermelon in it – somedays, it’s hard to imagine salsa without it.

For any doubter’s out there, we’ll show you how it works right on your own TV – if you’ll tune in to WBIR’s Weekend Today, on Saturday morning, Mahasti will be making Watermelon Salsa just in time for when football time in Tennessee really heats up.

Try it, you’ll like it – even more so if you’re reading aloud a bit of poetry – like you do before college football games, right?  Or perhaps not – but you’ll be feeling it – maybe even just a bit like this….

Jewel box of water, phlegmatic
queen
of the fruitshops,
warehouse
of profundity, moon
on earth!
You are pure,
rubies fall apart
in your abundance,
and we
want
to bite into you,
to bury our
face
in you, and
our hair, and
the soul!

Thanks, Pablo – we feel you!

The ingredients

The ingredients coming together

Tomato Head’s Watermelon Salsa

8 cups watermelon, diced

1/3 cup cilantro, chopped

1/2 cup onion, diced

1 large  jalapeno, diced about 2 Tbls

1 tsp salt

2 Tbl fresh lime juice

Cut Watermelon in half, then cut into 1 inch segments.  Lay each segment on cutting board and carve out the flesh.  Cut the watermelon into ¼ inch cubes and place in a medium mixing bowl.  Add chopped cilantro, diced onion and jalapeno along with salt and lime juice.  Mix everything together with a large spoon until all the ingredients are distributed evenly.

Serve as a dip with Tortilla chips.  Also makes a great salsa for topping your favorite fish tacos or black bean nachos.

Cynthia Tipton – Artist

When you take a look at Cynthia Tipton’s artwork, you may find that it’s looking back at you.

Cynthia is, as she puts it, a jack of all trades, so it’s difficult to pin her down.  If you visit her studio, you might find her occupied teaching a figure drawing class, or even knitting, but what may catch your eye, and keep it, are the portraits that hang about the walls and sit on easels.  For the next month, though, many of these will hang at Tomato Head Market Square in Tipton’s exhibit, “Discord and Rhyme.”

Two of the most notable of these portraits feature the nearly iconic faces of Scott and Bernadette West.  Both are engaging works of art, vibrant and almost pulsing with the energy of the subjects.  In fact there’s so much life in them that one might think that they were looking back.

Cynthia likes to paint people, but, she says, she’s really interested in more than just a pretty face:  “I love painting people, always have.  Usually I have some understanding of the person that interests me enough to paint them…. I’m really trying to capture their essence, some part of their personality other than the stoic kind of portrait. “

That interest moves through the paint and across the gulf between canvass and viewer – whether it’s Bernadette West’s kind and colorful gaze or a young girl in the midst of some emotional fit – the paintings speak through eyes as well as through the tilt of the head, the subtle lines of lips and cheek.

Although it’s easy to classify her as a portrait artist, Tipton isn’t comfortable with that mantle, she says, “I’m a portrait artist, though I hate saying that – it doesn’t quite say what I do.  So, perhaps, Painter of People?”

But it’s not just the eyes and attitude of faces that seem to look back at you in her work.  A verdant landscape with its life and changing color also seems to peer back – perhaps it’s the sense of a breeze stirring in the leaves, or the movement of light over the greenery.

But the exhibit only touches a small portion of what Tipton does to fill her life with beauty.  As she said, “I’m a little bit of a jack of all trades.  I’m also in the Foothills Craft Guild for fiber art.  I’ll be teaching a class on that at the KMA in the fall.  I knit and felt – generally every year I set up at the Farmer’s market Holiday market and sell my knitted stuff.” She also buys and sells vintage jewelry and turns some of her art work into smaller pieces, decorative pieces that you can find in the gift shop at Broadway Studios and Gallery – just across the street from K-Brew.

“Discord & Rhyme” an exhibit of oil on canvas/board by Cynthia Tipton will be on view at the Market Square Tomato Head in downtown Knoxville from September 5th thru October 2nd.  Cynthia will then exhibit at the West Knoxville Gallery Tomato Head from October 3rd thru November 7th.

You’ll want to stop in see the work for yourself – or, perhaps, let yourself be seen by it.

Oskar Blues

At the end of the day or mug or keg, what really draws us to any frothy beverage is the quality of its flavor.  Of course, all things being equal, we always prefer beer that is handmade, that honors tradition and that is brewed close to home.  But, in addition to all that, there’s another thing that really tickles our fancy, and that’s beer that comes in cans.  This explains part of our love for September’s featured brewery, Oskar Blues.

Perhaps it’s the memory of greener days when that’s how we all thought of beer.  I suppose I’m dating myself, but once upon a time beer always seemed to come in metal cans with pull top tabs.

Those are long forgotten and reckless days – days when we were still immortal and rode Big Wheels unsupervised, accelerating furiously down the steep inclines of the Little Mountains behind the old home place, always just missing a stretch of ancient and rusty barbed wire fence that marked the end of our course. They were the kind of days that would send me into massive panic should my own young tribe attempt to repeat them today.

They were also days of long, unaccompanied hikes and explorations of forgotten sheds and barns were we would sometimes find a dusty, old skin magazine amid a pile of rusty beer cans.  I never drank beer when I was young and tender – I was, at least in the formative years, a slow learner in the ways of the world.  But we scoured those cans for treasure.  One of our gang, a cousin from up north who visited every summer, collected beer cans, and every time we found something that looked old, we also found value.  Who knew, maybe this can was worth some money or would occupy a place of honor in our cousin’s collection?

We were full of optimism then and never daunted by the fact that these old cans were too common and too poorly kept to mean much of anything.  But the thought really counted – we could see that at the beginning of summer when we offered our trove to our favorite summer co-conspirator.  The way we showed affection when we were boys is really sweet to remember.

So even when beer in cans had lost its place in the cool kid’s corner, we had an enduring passion- even if cans had become aluminum and only contained the kind of beer our friends described as, how do I put it, equine urine.

But that all changed when we met Oskar Blues.   This brewery began the modern “beer-in-a-can-craze.”  Cans, as they say, “keep beer fresher, longer by eliminating the damaging effects of light and ingressed oxygen while being infinitely recyclable and portable…taking them where your next soul saving adventure takes you.”

And the beer is good, craftsy too.  And Oskar Blues has an interesting business model, too.  You probably know that while the brewery originated in Longmont, Colorado, it has a satellite location in Brevard, North Carolina and has purchased other breweries in Michigan and Florida,as well as Austin, Texas.  Of course, that smacks a little of corporate acquisition, but in an interview with Market Watch, Dale Katechis, founder of the brewery, indicated that Oskar Blues basis for selecting these purchases had nothing to do with typical corporate, ahem, ethic: “…we all sat around and said: ‘Would we be able to travel there and spend our lives in this town?’ And the unanimous answer was ‘yes.’ That’s really how those decisions get made.”

He also said that “From a cultural standpoint, what I believe Oskar Blues is made up of is beer, bikes, food and music, in no particular order. Just things that I find fulfilling about this world. I think we’ve built a pretty interesting culture around here and I think people feel the same.”

Well, that’s enough to make us love these guys in theory.  But the fact is that the beer is good, so our buds are satisfied, and it comes in cans so we can sip our tasty adult beverage even as we wander through the memories – and barbed wire – of our reckless youth.  That’s sweet in a whole new way.

For September we’ll be featuring Oskar Blues on tap and in cans, including a limited amount of the Passion Fruit Pinner.  It’s a happy marriage but limited partnership of Pinner Throwback IPA and the cheery personality of Passion Fruit that you’ll want to get before we run out.

We’ll also have these brews (cheerfully described by the brewery):

Priscilla

“This AmeriCAN take on the Belgian Classic Wit, featuring orange peel and coriander spice emanated from the basement blues music legacy Dave McIntyre (Oskar Blusologist) built at the original Oskar Blues Grill & Brew in Lyons, CO. On draft for over a decade, Priscilla’s zesty citrus and light fresh baked bread aromas mix with spicy, fruity fermentation. Light bodied with a subtle savory spice accent and a dry, lightly tart finish you can nearly feel the flicker of the neon and sounds of the King. White Wit Wheat.”

Dale’s Pale

“…delivers a hoppy nose and assertive-but-balanced flavors of pale malts and citrusy floral hops from start to finish. America’s first-craft-canned mountain Pale is a hearty, critically acclaimed trailblazer that changed the way craft beer fiends perceive portable beer.”

Mama’s Little Yella Pils

“… an uncompromising, small-batch version of the beer that made Pilsen, Czech Republic, famous. Unlike mass market‚ “pilsners‚” diluted with corn and rice, Mama’s is built with 100% pale malt, German specialty malts, and Saaz hops. While it’s rich with Czeched-out flavor, its gentle hopping makes it a luxurious but low-dose (by Oskar Blues standards) refresher.”

And we may even have a few more, all while supplies last.  You better come on in and check…

Cheers!  We’ll see you soon.

National Bacon Lover’s Day

August 20th is a subtle food holiday.  Whereas most of the time we’re celebrating a particular thing we love to eat, this day honors those who do the eating.  And while we’re certainly all about lifting people up, it just doesn’t seem right to give bacon lovers, of all people, their own holiday.  After all, they revel in the joy of eating every time they sit down to their favorite treat – an official recognition smacks of indulgence or perhaps a little insider trading.  Bacon enthusiasts are very well placed – even, we’re told, among the illuminati.

Perhaps it’s too much to assume that there’s a secret society at work – after all, there is no arcane knowledge about the food.  It announces its presence boldly with rampant assaults on the olfactory bulb that travel to the brain like wild fire to enflame craving and ignite desire.   As far as I can tell, babies with candy are safe, but little ones with bacon are sure to be without it soon.

Of course, this part of the world is particularly subject to bacon love owing to our proximity to the center of the known bacon universe.  Our charming neighbor to the south, Madisonville, may seem like a quiet place, but it’s a hotbed of bacon agitation and the home of many, very smoky revels.  Benton’s Bacon is one of the most odiferous examples of this already odiferous edible, and it acts on the average person’s nose in much the same way that the sirens’ call ensnared sailors of ancient seas.

If you consider the subject carefully, bacon love is really more cult-like than anything as it lures even the strongest of hearts into its web of longing; there’s a good chance that Meatless Monday has been thwarted more by bacon than anything else.  Still, some of our favorite people are ensnared by this compelling food obsession – even folks we call family – so we tolerate this obsession and do our darnedest to love them the best we can.

Given the nature of this love that not only dares to speak its name but proclaims it loudly, one wonders if the purpose of the holiday isn’t so to acclaim the bacon lover but, instead, to call attention to their plight.

Regardless, as far as we can tell there’s no cure for this food affliction until the afflicted themselves have had enough.  And until that day, we do our best to treat them well and make sure that the bacon they get is at least of good quality, acquired legally, and not taken out of the mouths of babes.

As for Tomato Head, admittedly we’re enablers.  Really big enablers.  We serve Benton’s Bacon as an a la carte brunch option, a topping for salad and pizza, and as an essential part of the “OH!” in our Oh Boy sandwich.  All bacon has excellent crunch potential, but Benton’s takes that texture an extra step and becomes both crunchy and softly yielding in the same bite.

Allan Benton in the Smokehouse (image by smokeymountaineer)

And then there’s the fact that Mr. Benton delivers a smoking that permeates not just the bacon but the entire dish – sometimes the whole room – suffusing it with flavor and memories, too.  Just the smell of this bacon ignites bonfires of glory days long past, fireplaces filled with crackling flames and romance, and campfires redolent with comfort, bonding and adventure.  Even its appearance recalls the memory-laden, failing autumn light, a dusk horizon streaked with shades of umber, ochre and Sienna.  But edible.  Really edible.

While naturally, WE do not suffer from bacon obsession, we understand and sympathize with those who do.  Thus we raise rashers to those who love the bacon on this their special day.  And though it’s easy to malign the bacon-addled, today we encourage you to show love and tolerance and to embrace them even if their hands are greasy and their breath, smoky.

Fattoush

Unlike hummus, baklava or even falafel, fattoush is a word that hasn’t quite made it into the common food vocabulary.  Like the other foods mentioned, fattoush is an important dish in the cuisine of Levant – a broad and imprecise area that includes much of the eastern Mediterranean.  The word Levant doesn’t get used so much anymore in English – apparently the French still like it, though I didn’t actually ask them – and, according to an article on PRI.org, “It literally means “the rising,” referring to the land where the sun rises. If you’re in France, in the western Mediterranean, that would make sense as a way to describe the eastern Mediterranean.”

And all of that makes perfect sense if you’ve ever eaten fattoush; it’s a simple, summery feast of color, flavor and texture that brings a lot of the rising sun into each bite.

Fattoush is part of a larger group of dishes, like panzanella, that are basically bread salads, all born of frugal food sense and a no-waste kitchen economy.  These dishes stretch the dough, literally and figuratively, to make stale bread not only useful but delicious.  The secret starts in the toasting, of course, but what happens after is the real magic – the kind that comes from sunshine.Fattoush1JustinFee

Good fattoush is simple and combines crispy pita, olive oil, tomatoes, and cucumber.  There are other ways to dress up the salad, but those four essentials are what make or break the dish.  The key is freshness – not only of the produce but of the composition itself.  Sure the pita can be stale, but it must be freshly toasted – and the whole salad has to be tossed together just before serving so the bread doesn’t turn to mush.

When it’s made correctly, it’s a dish that you can eat like nachos – picking up pieces of pita piled high with summer veg and dripping with olive oil.  The combination of cool, crisp cucumbers, and tomatoes ripe from the vine slick with the sun-packed flavor of oil makes for a textural match made in food heaven when joined in a single bite with the crunch of toasted pita.

It’s a remarkable dish that’s straightforward, pantry friendly, and simple but all the more elegant because of that.  It’s a feast for the eyes too: the colors are bright and shiny with oil and reflect the best rays of the summer sun.

If your appetite is activated now, just wait until Saturday when you tune in to WBIR’s Weekend Today.   Mahasti is back on the air after a brief sabbatical, and she’ll show us all her secrets for one of her favorite warm weather meals.  We hope you’ll tune in, and shortly thereafter, chow down!

Tomato Head’s Fattoush

2 cups quartered cucumbers

2 cups quartered or diced tomatoes

1/3 cup chopped onion

¾ cups crumbled feta cheese

1 TBL chopped mint

1 TBL fresh lemon juice

3 TBL olive oil

1 TBL Balsamic Vinegar

1.25 tsp salt

1.5 – 2 cups Stacy’s Pita Crisps

Place cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, feta, mint, lemon juice, olive oil, balsamic

vinegar, and salt in a large bowl and toss well. When ready to serve, add pita

crisps, toss and serve.

Serves 2-4 people

Lesley Eaton – Featured Artist

Like many artists before her, Lesley Eaton, our featured artist for August, questioned her vocation.  It was in college when those pangs of doubt hit her – but like many other creatives, instead of leading her to some truly profitable and practical study like accounting, Eaton says, “I decided studying English literature and creative writing was more practical than art.”

Thus, the call of wild and the creative urge stayed with her and when the Savannah College of Art and Design opened a campus in Atlanta, where she was living and working, Eaton applied and was accepted to pursue an MFA in illustration.   We’re very happy to see some of the results of that decision hanging on our walls this month.

The exhibit is entitled “By Land or Sea, a collection of painted paper collage by Lesley Eaton.”

For Eaton collage is a specific, detailed approach: “I paint all of my papers and then cut out and glue each detail. The painting is very free and expressive, and the cutting and gluing is very meticulous. I like the balance of my process and the balance of the result, with the sharp clean edges of my design complimenting the chaos of the painterly papers. The fact that my work is all cut paper is very subtle. I’m always telling people to look closely to see the detail. “

In addition, the exhibit will include a handful of her older collage pieces, and she says, “I’m experimenting with some more expressive designs and am excited to see these hanging next to my other peppered paper pieces.”  In some ways this style represents creative recycling because, she says, “My peppered paper is a collection of papers originally used as a type of drop cloth. I use butcher paper to cover my drafting table as I paint my papers, so it catches all of the spills, splatters, and brushstrokes as I paint. The result is this paper covered with a beautiful mess of color and texture; it’s ‘peppered’ with paint.”

The process may sound chaotic, but, while there’s certainly an element of the random and unpredictable, Eaton’s eye creates order out of all these shapes and colors and textures.  “The image or idea comes first, then it’s trial and error until I find the perfect piece of ‘peppered paper’ for each part of my object. On my drafting table now is the body of a lobster and part of a shrimp that didn’t make the final cut. Most often I have an idea for what color I want each piece to be, like, ‘I really want these antlers to be bright blue with lots of texture,’ but in the end it’s more important how the piece is coming together as a whole.”

Eaton’s work is vibrant and alive with color and detail.  She says that she’s drawn to sharp, delicate edges: “I like how graceful and clean these shapes are when crafted out of cut paper. Clean, sharp lines are a unifying element in most of my collage pieces: whiskers, antlers, antennae, claws, petals, thorns, guitar strings.”

Still, Eaton’s art isn’t chained to precise representation, though, she says, “Most of my work isn’t super realistic, but I like to have the right number of strings on an instrument and legs on an insect.”

You can see “By Land or Sea, a collection of painted paper collage by Lesly Eaton” from August 7th to September 4th, 2016 at the downtown location and September 5th to October 3rd at the West Knoxville location.

National Chocolate Chip Cookie Day

The oddity of food holidays, who decides what food gets a special designation and the odd times that those days appear in the calendar of celebrated comestibles is a common and whimsical lament in our blog. But this particular day, Chocolate Chip Cookie Day, is no mystery to us – among these fanciful food fetes, this particular festivity makes perfect sense.

Unlike most popular foods, the Chocolate Chip Cookie has an identifiable lineage – its creator and its rise to popularity are known quantities.  Arguably it is the Great American Cookie and, during World War II, for many soldiers, it was America in one semi-sweet bite.

Restaurateur Ruth Wakefield created the cookie as an accompaniment to ice cream to serve in the Toll House restaurant that she ran with her husband in Whitman, Massachusetts.  There are any number of myths about how the semi-sweet chocolate landed in the cookie dough, but it was most likely the result of planned recipe development.  (You can read more on the subject in Carolyn Wyman’s, “Great American Chocolate Chip Cookie Book.”)

The cookie famously caught the attention of Marjorie Husted (Betty Crocker) and then Nestle, and then the nation.  All of this was happening in the 1930’s in the midst of the Great Depression, when a single bite of richness was an indulgence extraordinaire.  I’m no scholar or psychologist of history, but I suspect that the cookie came to represent everything that Americans held dear about their country as a land of plenty, of hope, of shared opportunity and prosperity.  Whatever it was, this cookie became an essential morale booster and taste of home as it found its way into mess kits and gift packages for soldiers who crossed the oceans blue to fight fascism and oppression and, thus, earned a special place in the pantheon of American icons.

TH_winter014_54Today, we take the cookie for granted, and toss its name around without regard to quality.  Just walk down the grocery cookie aisle and you’ll find hundreds of hard little discs called chocolate chip cookie.  Some are better than others, and a few might achieve greatness – I don’t know about all those cookies.  What I do know is that nothing touches the special longing of my inner cookie monster like a rich, made-with-love-by-real-bakers kind of Chocolate Chip Cookie.

At the Tomato Head we’re committed to cookie equality for all, so when we do chocolate chip we do it in all sorts of ways for all sorts of people.

Of course we serve a good old-fashioned cookie made from a traditional recipe that comes loaded with chocolate chips in a rich brown sugar batter that will transport you to the long-gone days of sneaking bits of dough from wooden mixing spoons in Grandma’s kitchen.  That goodness also pervades our Gluten Free Chocolate Chip Cookie and our Vegan recipe, too; both of which give the same kind of memory thrill and homey flavor that comes from our original recipe.

But if you’re really celebrating the day, then you may want to engage in the great American pastime of making the good even better by trying a bite of our Triple Chocolate Chip Cookie.  The first bite and delicate crunch of this chocolate bomb gives way to a gooey, brownie-like center that bursts with a perfect medley of milk chocolate, white chocolate, and semi-sweet chips.  And if you’re feeling really excitable, go ahead and grab a “Rock Your World” cookie which combines chocolate chips with walnuts for a big mouthful of happiness.

Today, throw caution to the wind and grab a friend for a cookie date.  It’s a tasty way to show some love and treat yourself to a little bite of American history – and there’s enough diversity in our Chocolate Chip Cookie selection to make everyone feel great!

Yellowhammer Brewing – Featured Brewery

It is an unfortunate truth that many Tennesseans regard some of our neighbors to the south as less than friendly.  Perhaps it’s a persecution complex, an enduring legacy of a long tradition of gridiron rivalry fueled by fears of more than one Red menace.  These things are difficult to understand, but they can’t be good for us over the long haul.  Fortunately, there are good people in the world, even in Alabama, people who don’t bear a grudge or worry so much about old wounds at the goalposts.  We know this because they evince that most noble gesture of reconciliation and friendship: they share their beer.

In August we celebrate a special bond of foamy communion with our friends in Alabama by sharing the good work of Huntsville’s Yellowhammer Brewing.

Of course, you may know that Alabama itself is called the Yellowhammer State.  It takes its name from the state bird, also known as the Northern Flicker, whose association with Alabama dates back to the civil war.  (To read more, check this link:  http://archives.state.al.us/emblems/st_bird.html).

Like many success stories in the world of craft brewing, Yellowhammer is a collaboration that started with some thirsty professional’s hobby.  Brewer Keith Yager, once a graphic designer at the Huntsville Times, was a little disappointed with beer selection when he moved to the South.  In an interview with Southern Brew News Yager said, “I’m from Pennsylvania.  When I moved down here I could not find much good beer outside of Samuel Adams. My mom got me a homebrew kit for Christmas.  I don’t think she had any idea where it would take me.”

The journey from a happy holiday package to Yellowhammer wasn’t a direct route.  Yager started his homebrews in 1995, and it took over a decade for him to form the idea that his passion could also be his paycheck.  Yellowhammer came into being just about 6 years ago when Yager and partners Don Milligan, Challen Stephens, and Ethan Couch renovated an old cabinet shop to produce their froth. In December of last year they upgraded to lovely quarters and an excellent taproom at Campus 805 – a new development that repurposed an old middle school to beautiful effect.

You may want to take a drive to Huntsville to check out this rapidly growing enterprise.  Of course, you should do some initial research at our place.  This month our taps will flow with one of the best things about Alabama – you’ll find that all these brews are friendly characters.  We’re fairly certain that if you give them the chance they’ll treat you just right.  After all, Southern hospitality is a real thing, especially where the craft brews grow…

Yellowhammer Belgian White:  This beer offers a twist on a traditional Belgian staple. Instead of adding hints of orange and coriander, the Yellowhammer white ale derives its spice from Kaffir lime leaves and fresh ginger. Perfect on a hot day.

Midnight Special Black Lager:  A German-style schwarzbier, or “black beer,” brewed with a blend of German Munich malt, Vienna malt and huskless roasted malts, which give the beer a smooth toasty character.

Rebellion Red Lager: A red lager inspired by German brewing tradition, this year-round brew is crisp and refreshing. The aroma holds light malt and caramel notes, and the beer is capped with a light hoppy bitterness.

And…

Hops Fell Lager – this is a new sessionable hoppy lager – come write your own tasting notes, eh?

© 2016 The Tomato Head Site by: Robin Easter Design