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Surf & Suds Branding Match

Back Forty Beer Co. co-founder Jason Wilson spends a lot of time thinking about the fine points and eccentricities of beer flavor.

The brewing craft, he maintains, offers 85 different malted barleys and 50 varieties of hops to choose from, while wine producers have only seven kinds of grapes.

“We can really dial in flavor profiles to match certain foods,” Wilson says. That being the case, the folks at Back Forty thought, why not partner with another iconic Alabama industry: Alabama Gulf Seafood. New packaging designs for Back Forty, based in Gadsden, will include the Alabama Gulf Seafood logo.

Alabama Gulf Seafood is a branding campaign commissioned by the Alabama Seafood Marketing Commission, a state promotions agency set up in 2011 to help the industry recover from the BP oil spill.

It’s a natural pairing, says state Marine Resources Director Chris Blankenship. “The movement to get diners to ask restaurants where their seafood comes from, and asking for Gulf seafood at restaurants and retail shops, has helped the state as a whole.”

The craft beer industry, meanwhile, has brought needed jobs to such diverse Alabama towns as Birmingham, Gadsden, Huntsville and Fairhope. Craft brewing takes a lot of employees because “we’re not very efficient,” Wilson jokes.

So what beer is perfect to pair with that delicate flounder fillet or pot of crab-kissed gumbo? Well, the beer you like, Wilson concedes. We’re talking about God’s gift to the working man here. Can’t have too many rules.

But in general, look for a beer that can keep up with your entrée. If it’s a spicy dish, pair it with a bold, hoppy beer that can take the heat. A more delicate grilled fish or shrimp cocktail, on the other hand, might call for a malty, sweet brew, Wilson says.

There are 86 recognized varieties of beer in the world, he adds. Just take your time while exploring them.

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