Mama Annie’s

Mama Annie’s Southern Style Cuisine restaurant is like a cross between Blue Plate and Birmingham’s Highlands – it’s a scratch kitchen with some fine dining touches.  Mama Annie’s is located at 4550 Meridian Street just north of Alabama A&M on the right.  The price for a meat and two sides is $7 and the entree choices change daily – for example today the choices were Ribs, Meat Loaf, Fried Catfish, or Fried Tilapia.  The sides are just what you’d expect only better.  Bring an appetite because you’ve got to try dessert…

The staff is friendly, the service is great, and the food is fantastic.  Their Health Department rating is 90 as of 10/13/2010

Don’t be surprised to find local politicos eating there…  Hey! I voted for you!

Huntsville Brewmasters












Blue Pants Brewery introduced their Knickerbocker Red Ale (“a moderately hoppy, but balanced, aggressive American Red Ale with a good Cascade taste and a strong malty backbone”) to a crowd of more than 200 at The Nook on Saturday.  The weather was perfect for partying on the new patio – the laurels provide a sense of the outdoors even in the middle of the City.  Kudos to The Nook for building an enjoyable… nook.

Pictured above are some of the people who make beer happen in Huntsville;  representing Straight to Ale, Yellowhammer, Olde Towne, Blue Pants, and Alabev.  It may surprise you, but some of these people hadn’t met before yesterday.  Even though they are business competitors, they still showed up to support Blue Pants Brewing.

Blue Pants is available at The Nook and Mason’s.

Beer proteome deciphered

Beer news from the American Chemical Society (tip Instapundit):

In an advance that may give brewers powerful new ability to engineer the flavor and aroma of beer — the world’s favorite alcoholic beverage — scientists are publishing the most comprehensive deciphering of the beer’s “proteome” ever reported. Their report on the proteome (the set of proteins that make beer “beer”) appears in ACS’ monthly Journal of Proteome Research

They identified 20 barley proteins, 40 proteins from yeast, and two proteins from corn, representing the largest-ever portrait of the beer proteome. “These findings might help brewers in devising fermentation processes in which the release of yeast proteins could be minimized, if such components could alter the flavor of beer, or maximized in case of species improving beer’s aroma”…

I don’t know a proteome from a prion, but this is good news. Can we get genetically engineered ‘FrankenBeer’ in time for Halloween?

Local beer news update from Blue Pants Brewery:

Received my ABC license this afternoon.  We are officially good to go, and this Saturday [October 2nd] at Noon at the Nook is (Still) officially on!  Mason’s I believe will also start pouring at 5pm.   I’ll be at the bar all day trying to not drink all of my own product so that I can talk to all of you guys about the beer, the brewery, what you want to see in the future.  Feel free to come up and chat…

I also did an email interview with an editor from Draft Magazine who is doing a piece in the November issue about the breweries springing up in Huntsville.   Huntsville is going to be a big beer town soon, and as of the end of October will have more breweries than the entire state did at the beginning of the year.

Even more local beer news updated:

Yellowhammer Brewery will start pouring at The Nook at noon on October 16th.  They will start pouring at Mason’s on October 19th.  I dropped by the Yellowhammer Brewery today – it’s on Clinton Avenue fairly close to Governors Drive.  Brewmaster Keith Yager introduced me to their excellent Yellowhammer IPA and described their upcoming Belgian White Beer (witbier) made with ginger and coriander.

Huntsville is truly The Beer Capital of Alabama, thanks largely to Free the Hops and our own brew pioneers Olde Towne Brewing Company.  I should also mention the great folks at Supreme Beverage and Alabev / Birmingham Beverage who distribute our local craft beers.  Alabev distributes Huntsville’s Straight to Ale and Birmingham’s Good People in addition to Blue Pants and Yellowhammer.

I hope you’ll notice that the passage of the Gourmet Beer Bill generated a lot of business activity.  Those Alabama Legislators who voted for the Gourmet Beer Bill deserve credit for shaping the environment for job creation.  This year, Free the Hops is lobbying for the Brewery Modernization Act:

The Legislature finds that it is in the best interest of the public welfare of the State of Alabama to promote the growth of the state’s brewing industry…

Rocket City Brewfest 2010

Free the Hops is hosting the Rocket City Brewfest Friday night May 7th (7PM – 11PM) and Saturday afternoon May 8th (3PM – 7PM).  The Brewfest is at the Historic Huntsville Depot downtown (Church and Monroe).

Festival Tickets are $32 at the gate per session. Includes souvenir tasting glass, brewfest program and access to beer samples for the selected session.  Tickets bought online through Ticketmaster are $29.50  (additional tickets are $27).  Designated Drivers are free if accompanied by a ticketholder.

…funds raised from the Rocket City Brewfest go to help Free the Hops in its efforts at lobbying the state legislature.

Tips for a fun weekend:

Buy your tickets early.
Bring cash for food pairings (food tickets are $1 per ticket – we expect food prices to average about $5 – each restaurant sets their own prices).
Prepare for transportation home after the festival.
Respect the beer.
Respect the two ounce pour rule (ABC board policy).
Bring a chair if you’ll want to sit.
Drink water.
Appreciate the beer you’re drinking.
Be patient.
Thank a volunteer.
Bring cash for accessories (Brewfest gear, brewery gear, loaves of FredBread to go).
Educate yourself.

Food vendors are Bandito Burrito, FredBread, Mellow Mushroom, Roland’s Cajun, Schnitzel Ranch, and Stem ‘n Stein.

Friday night bands are Hot Soup and The Sideshow.  Saturday afternoon bands are Bourbon and Shamrocks and Angry Native.

Then there are the beers!

Some of our participating breweries plan to bring a limited amount of something special. The beers in this list will be available from a set time until they are gone. In most cases, a single 1/6 barrel keg will be available for each session. The items on this list are subject to change.

Thursday night (May 6) – several bars are hosting beer events:   The Nook, Bandito Southside, Stem ‘n Stein, and Mason’s.  Huntsville’s new brewery ‘Straight to Ale’ will have special tastings at each bar, plus many other brewers.

UAH ATO Battle of the Buffalo 2010

Thanks to the Huntsville Times for publishing an article promoting this event in Sunday’s paper.

Alpha Tau Omega fraternity at UAH is hosting their annual  Battle of the Buffalo chicken wing competition to benefit the Russell Hill Cancer Foundation.  The Battle of the Buffalo competition “heats up” on Friday, April 9, 2010 from 6 – 9PM at the UAH Intermodal Parking Facility.

The event is open to the public for $5 admission, live music, and “munching on as many wild wings as they can handle”.  Judges include Mayor Tommy Battle and State Senator Tom Butler (D-2).

Last year’s winner (in a close finish) was Domino’s:

Judges, including Maj. Gen. Jim Myles, University of Alabama in Huntsville’s President David Williams, Mayor Tommy Battle and Times reporter Jon Busdeker, had the tough job of tasting wings from each restaurant.

This year’s competition should be even better than last year’s event (from the exponent):

The event was wildly successful, with over 500 people in attendance. Everyone arrived hungry, and left satisfied. With sponsorships and entrance fees combined, ATO signed a check for $2,500 to donate to the local Russel Hill Cancer Foundation in memory of Paul Salmon, a brother who passed away in 2007 from leukemia.


Best in the Barrio

Dan and I road-tripped down to Montgomery yesterday for the Free the Hops Legislative Tasting at the RSA Plaza.  The Tasting provided FTH with an opportunity to speak with about 25 Legislators in support of this year’s Brewery Modernization Act – which should actually be called the Jobs and Industry Creation Act.

After the event, about a dozen FTH organizers went to the El Rey Burrito Lounge in the Old Cloverdale neighborhood of Montgomery (on East Fairview off I65).  Great place – nice atmosphere, tasty food, and great beer and wine selection.

The owner of El Rey joined us for awhile and thanked us for passing the Gourmet Beer Bill last year.  He said that passing that bill had made a world of difference in his business during these tough times.  In comparing his detailed year-to-year sales information – he told us how adding Gourmet Beer to his menu had improved sales enough to offset losses in other areas.  This is a real world anecdote of a FTH talking point – good beer is good for business.  The City of Montgomery has a growing restaurant, people have jobs, and taxes get collected.  Thank you to the Legislators who voted for the Gourmet Beer Bill last year.

This year’s Brewery Modernization Act will create jobs and help grow an industry that’s good for people and good for tourism.


Got to see my friend Jason of Good People from Birmingham.   We talked about getting their Coffee Oatmeal Stout to Mason’s in downtown Huntsville – I also got to introduce Representative Randy Hinshaw (D-21) to a sample of the stout (he was tentative in his praise, but IMO Randy just wasn’t used to the taste of this big beer).

Jason and I also spoke about brewfests.  FTH is gearing up for the Rocket City Brewfest on May 7 and 8, 2010 at the Depot Roundhouse.  With the rising popularity of brewfests around the country, breweries are having to make tough calls every weekend as to which events they will attend.  For example, Jason said that his brewery had three invitations for events held at the same time as the RCBF – he chose us because Huntsville is an important market for his company – but you get the picture.  Brewfest organizers are increasingly going to have to compete for breweries – and may have to start actually (gasp!) paying for the beer (at cost).

Being the inquisitive and obviously rude person that I am – I asked Jason if Good People was making a profit – I am happy to report that they are, and I’m happy for them – it means that they can keep making and selling great beer!

Dan at Straight to Ale brought a couple of fine beers – his brewery at Lincoln Mills will be opening soon, which along with Olde Towne makes Huntsville the beer capitol of Alabama with TWO breweries!


Got to see Brent Buchanan and Josh Pendergrass - a couple of the people behind the Public Strategy Associates ‘GOP Governor and Attorney General Poll’.  I also got to meet Matt Braynard from DC, who “worked for the Republican National Committee through three election cycles and was part of the initial team assembled by then Chairman Hailey Barbour to develop the Republican Party’s first national voter database” (the ‘Voter Vault’) – he’s a brilliant guy and very nice.

The poll of “likely Republican primary voters” showed Gubernatorial candidates Bradley Byrne at 20%, Roy Moore at 17%, Tim James at 8%, Robert Bentley at 4%, Kay Ivey at 3%, and Bill Johnson at 2% – with 46% of GOP primary voters Undecided.

The poll showed Attorney General candidates Troy King (incumbent) at 27% and Luther Strange (24%) – with 49% of GOP primary voters Undecided.

IMO this is a good opening poll for the GOP.  It shows that half of the primary voters have a candidate in mind and half are up for grabs (as could be expected).  For the gubernatorial candidates, it reinforces the ‘conventional wisdom’ of Byrne as the leading candidate with Roy Moore a close second.  The poll provides a check to the Moore folks who believe that Moore’s numbers were as high as the 30s or 40s, however, it also shows that Moore has a lot of strength with “very conservative” voters.

IMO the biggest “news” out of the poll is the relative weakness of the incumbent Attorney General Troy King – he is essentially tied with Luther Strange.

Thanks to Public Strategy Associates for conducting the poll – fun reading!


I also got to meet a lobbyist from Birmingham who is an investment banker.  We talked about the sewer mess (his firm wasn’t involved) – he doesn’t think that Jefferson County can walk from the sewer debt – that a bankruptcy judge would still make the County pay (and possibly appoint a ‘special master’).  We also talked about the legislature wanting to raid the Alabama Trust Fund – he said the legislature shouldn’t “invade the corpus” of the trust fund.

Help a soldier in need

I don’t think that the City of Huntsville has a clue about the notoriety it has earned from CJ Grisham’s story.  I don’t think they have a clue about how well-respected and widely-known Grisham is in the military community.  In a City that is (rightly) proud of it’s many accolades – all that goodwill is in peril of being negated by the actions of the school system and the police, and by the inaction of the School Board, City Council, and Mayor.

This story is not going away – there is a storm coming…

Today at Blackfive, one of the most widely-read nationwide and top-rated milblogs, Matt posted ‘Help a soldier in need’:

My friend and fellow MARNE soldier,CJ Grisham, needs some assistance.  He is an enlisted soldier and combat veteran.  And he’s done more for the troops by his words and actions than just about anyone I know.  Please read this and help CJ if you can.  THANK YOU!

CJ Grisham needs help with his Legal Defense.  Please donate at A Soldier’s Perspective using Paypal.  Redstone Federal Credit Union accepts contributions – you can mail checks to:

Grisham Legal Fund
c/o Redstone Federal Credit Union
220 Wynn Drive
Huntsville, AL 35893

If you use the RFCU drive-through, it’s easy to fill out a white payment slip to ‘Grisham Legal Fund’ and contribute whatever cash you have with you.  Every little bit helps.  BTW you get a secret bonus for contributing at the drive through – the receipt has CJs first name on it!

Please help make this right.


Here are some of the milblogs who’ve posted CJ’s story:

Mudville Gazette (which is a huge milblog) – ‘Zero Tolerance’ and ‘More Zero Tolerance’.

Miss Ladybug – ‘Freedom of Speech & the Army’.

Pebble Drops – ‘The Truth will Stand’.

Knee Deep in the Hooah – ‘A school in America forgets they are the parent’s EMPLOYEES’.

Liberty Research Institute – ‘CJ Grisham: A Man and His Beliefs’.



CJ’s story at Instapundit:

WHILE MAJOR NIDAL HASSAN’S JIHADI SPEECH WAS HANDLED WITH P.C. KIDGLOVES, other members of the military are treated very, very differently. My advice: Convert to Islam, so you can get away with saying almost anything . . . .

How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company

John McWhorter wrote an article in City Journal “Thus Spake Zora”, about Zora Neale Hurston from Notasulga Alabama – she was a novelist and playwright and one of the best writers of the 20th century.  The article is part biography and part book review, and it provides an unusual look at race and politics.  McWhorter calls Hurston “America’s favorite black conservative” due to her self-help politics and anti-socialism.  City Journal is a must read – add it to your favorites.  From the article:

Hurston held a fiercely asserted black conservative politics akin to Clarence Thomas’s. Her most famous statement in this vein comes from “How It Feels to Be Colored Me,” an essay of 1928: “I am not tragically colored. There is no great sorrow dammed up in my soul, nor lurking behind my eyes. . . . I do not belong to the sobbing school of Negrohood who hold that nature has somehow given them a lowdown dirty deal and whose feelings are all hurt about it.”

Even though she died in 1960, her words are prescient:

In saying that the black vote should not be one “dark, amorphous lump,” she anticipated today’s black conservatives in pointing out the pitfalls of reflexively supporting one party: “It’s time for us to cease to allow ourselves to be delivered as a mob by persuasive ‘friends’ and become individual citizens.”

Though her works show tremendous pride in black culture, her view of race is evident in this quote:

Now, suppose a Negro does something really magnificent, and I glory, not in the benefit to mankind, but in the fact that the doer was a Negro. Must I not also go hang my head in shame when a member of my race does something execrable? . . . The white race did not go into a laboratory and invent incandescent light. That was Edison. . . . If you are under the impression that every white man is an Edison, just look around a bit.

If you’re like me, you laughed a bit at that, but her underlying thought is spot on – and illustrates a big difference in thinking between conservatives and liberals – we think of people as individuals and liberals think of people in terms of collective factions. 

And to explain the title of this post, there’s this:

“Sometimes, I feel discriminated against. But it does not make me angry. It merely astonishes me. How can any deny themselves the pleasure of my company!”

Anyway, it’s a nice article about one of our own, even though not every Alabama conservative is a Hurston…

Back Forty Beer Company

Alabama’s newest brewery sent us a link to their website – Back Forty Beer Company.

I tried their Naked Pig Pale Ale at the sold-out Magic City Brewfest in Birmingham and it was good.

From an nice article at by Beverly Taylor:

Jason Wilson, co-owner with Zach Folmar of a new local brewery called Back Forty Beer Company, said that they brought in eight kegs of beer Friday, thinking it would be enough for the weekend.

“We went through seven last night,” he said. “We had to go to the J. Clyde and get back kegs we had given them because the distributor was locked up for the weekend.”

The article also raves about the other Alabama breweries: Olde Towne and Good People, plus interviews Don Alan Hankins of Olde Towne.  Taylor also interviewed Xandy Bustamante who represents Colorado breweries including Great Divide, Durango, and Tommyknocker.  Xandy is a great guy – hopefully he and his father Ed are coming to Huntsville soon to bring Great Divide here.  Read the whole thing.

In other beer news – I heard that The Nook has plans to sell TO GO beer.  They have a license that will allow them to sell ‘warm’ packaged beer to go (during limited hours – like lunchtime).  The Nook already carries the best selection of Gourmet Beer in Huntsville so this will be a  great resource for beer-lovers.  As soon as the distribution systems get set up, Huntsville should start to receive some of beers Free the Hops has been ‘agitating’ to get.

Oakwood Avenue Culvert Crash

The Huntsville Times has a photo that you’ve got to see with the story “SUV runs into culvert under Oakwood Avenue”.

I was pumping gas at Kroger on Oakwood (yes, I’m that frugal) when I heard a car crash – it sounded almost like an explosion.  I looked toward the sound but didn’t see anything out of place, except that a fence surrounding a catch basin was down.  I didn’t see any cars, however. No dust or smoke either.

Me and another guy stopped pumping and went over to check it out, saying “what just happened” to each other, then we saw a young man stumble out from the culvert. We asked him what happened and he just pointed into the culvert. Then we ran around to where the fence was down and saw the SUV in the culvert, just as if it was in a tunnel.

Called 911, went to check out the passengers (I’ve got some good Don Webster Paramedic training).  I could see that the young man was OK and the other guy was talking to him. I checked on the driver – she was shaky and bleeding a little, but not too bad. Then I checked on the passenger, she was alert, but she was trapped.  Several other guys came down into the culvert to help, but then HEMSI and the Rescue Squad arrived.

Kudos to the 911 Operator, HEMSI, the Rescue Squad, the Fire Department, and HPD. I know they’re right across the street, but in the time it took to check out the people in the car, HEMSI and the Rescue Squad were there. The Fire Department and Police were there seconds later.  We are blessed to have such a great emergency response system in Huntsville – blessed by the efforts of a lot of dedicated professionals. 

Plus, kudos to the handful of citizens who responded to people in trouble. It’s nice to know you’re out there…