Back Forty Beer
Since releasing their first offering in 2009, Back Forty Beer Company has tripled capacity at the brewery, they employ 22 individuals across the country, and they have further plans to expand to keep up with demand. The lineup includes award-winning and nationally sought-after beer that you can find both within and outside the state.
And since their inception and work through dozens of regulations and restrictions, the Back Forty team has made the way for other craft breweries to flourish in the Deep South. When you begin your journey on the Alabama Craft Beer Trail, start with the brewery that started it all.
A CHAT WITH BACK FORTY BEER COMPANY
Tell us about what you make.
Jason Wilson, Founder & CEO:
Back Forty Beer Company produces an award-winning lineup of craft beers and artisan vinegar.
Naked Pig Pale Ale, Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale, Freckle Belly IPA and Fence Post Session Ale are available year-round in 12-ounce bottles, 12-ounce cans, and on draft.
Paw Paw’s Peach Wheat (brewed seasonally in the spring and summer) and Trade Day Cuban Coffee Stout (brewed seasonally in the fall and winter) are available in 12-ounce bottles and on draft.
Back Forty has received awards for excellence from the Great American Beer Festival, The World Beer Championships, The United States Chamber of Commerce, Business Council of Alabama and many more.
In addition to award-winning craft beer, Back Forty also produces small-batch artisan beer vinegar, which is available online and at limited retail locations in Alabama. The vinegar has been featured in “Southern Living” magazine, as well as “Garden & Gun” magazine’s “New Encyclopedia of Southern Food.”
Tell us about your background. What brought you to Alabama in the first place? Are you native or a transplant?
I am a fifth-generation Alabamian, and my family has been in the Gadsden area for over 100 years.
I was born and raised in Gadsden and graduated from Southside High School. I went on to graduate from Auburn University with a degree in logistics and supply chain management.
After several years of corporate work in Atlanta, I made the decision to return to my hometown of Gadsden and establish a production brewery.
You could make your product/service anywhere. Why do you make things in Alabama?
I truly identify as an Alabamian. So much of who I am today has been shaped by the rich cultural experiences of my childhood. I grew up swimming in the Coosa River. My family vacationed in Gulf Shores. We went to Space Camp. We did our Christmas shopping in Birmingham and bought our peaches in Clanton. I met the woman of my dreams here. I picked a side in The Rivalry on the day I was born, and I’ve eaten more varieties of smoked pork than most people even know exist.
The people here are an unstoppable force of hospitality and work ethic. I honestly couldn’t imagine doing what we do anywhere else.
What inspires you to make your product/service? Was Alabama behind any of the inspiration behind your product/service?
“Back Forty” is an old agricultural term used throughout Alabama to reference the 40 acres of land lying farthest from the barn, hardest to maintain, where the tractors go to die. Likewise, many people once viewed Alabama as the “Back Forty” of the craft beer community in the United States. It was seen as too difficult to develop and generally not worth the effort.
The irony of the Back Forty acres, however, is that the land is actually quite fertile if you are willing to put in the hard work. That’s what inspired us to name our brewery, and it’s what continues to inspire us to keep working hard and sowing the seeds.
Since Back Forty Beer Company was founded, there have been over 30 new brewing operations in Alabama, so we think the hard work is paying off!
What do you think makes Alabama makers different?
Alabamians know how to work with what they have. We know how to stretch a nickel without compromising quality or creativity. We know how to speak passionately about our work, and we know how to learn the craft from someone who knows it better. We know how to treat people, and we know how to not take ourselves too seriously.
Which Alabama makers inspire you?
Our amazing staff @ Back Forty Beer Company
Jamie Ray @ High Ridge Spirits
George & Paulette Archibald @ Archibald’s BBQ
Chef Leo Maurelli @ Ariccia Trattoria Restaurant
Chef Rob McDaniel @ SpringHouse Restaurant
Chef David Bancroft @ Acre Restaurant
Chef Bill Briand @ Fisher’s Restaurant
Chef Chris Hastings @ Ovenbird Restaurant
Tasia Malakasis @ Belle Chevre Artisan Goat Cheese
The Sims Family @ Wickles Pickles
Patricia Barnes @ Sister Schubert’s
Cal & Christy Breed @ Orbix Hot Glass
Jay & Laura Pritchard @ The Overall Company
Explore the area
Alabama Beer Trail – Flight 1
Wonder Falls & More: Gadsden, Attalla and Beyond
Lookout Mountain & Little River Canyon