Back in ‘Bama, Full Steam Ahead: Crafting the Home Brew Story


Michael and Ryan with the 2014 Back Forty Beer Co. family, shot on site at the brewery yesterday.


The team in 2012!

What a difference two years can make.  As Michael prepares to set sail on Quantum Class with Michael’s Genuine Pub in the fall, we flash back in order to cruise forward into uncharted waters with Back Forty Beer Co.  For this first American gastropub on the high seas, as with its progenitor in the Design District, good food and good beverage go hand in hand.  Michael’s menu of Snacks, Charcuterie & Cheese and Sweets is complemented by American craft cocktails & spirits, beer and wine at the hands of Beverage Director Ryan Goodspeed and Wine Director Eric Larkee on the flip side.

Today our focus is craft beer, with Michael and Ryan making the trip north to Gadsden, Alabama this week for some southern hospitality, with a crew from Royal Caribbean in tow to capture it all.  Michael’s new role as Quantum Experience Advisor for Culinary affords us a unique opportunity not only to influence food and beverage offerings class-wide, but to educate the cruising public on his fresh, simple, pure approach fortified by relationships with suppliers. What better setting than a family reunion with our partners in Michael’s Genuine Home Brew?

“Gadsden is great! It’s been fun having Michael and Ryan in town for a few days,” says Back Forty’s Director of Operations Tripp Collins.  “Gadsden hasn’t changed a whole lot from the outside looking in but there are a lot of things on the horizon in terms of economic development.”

When we began working with Back Forty in March 2012, the brewery had just released its first production batch of beer from 4, 30-barrel (bbl) fermentors.  The facility is now home to 6, 30 bbl tanks and 5, 60 bbl tanks, and there are plans for 5 more 60 bbls this summer.  And only four months after introducing Naked Pig Pale Ale and Truck Stop Honey Brown Ale in aluminum cans, the brewery just announced Freckle Belly IPA and Fence Post Session Ale in 12-ounce cans.  This, while continuing to package its complete line of year-round craft beers in 12 and 22-ounce glass bottles, making Back Forty the first Alabama brewery to offer all three options.

“Right now, we are in full swing with our Summer Seasonal, Paw Paw’s Peach Wheat. Wheat base with peaches. Crisp, refreshing and smells like Summer,” Tripp adds.  “I am really excited about our Rye Saison that we will put out in July, its a small batch, draft only release. Rye malt, local rosemary, juniper berries, peppercorns should work well in the style.”

Back Forty’s name is inspired by an old agricultural term referring to the 40 acres of land situated furthest from the barn. The back 40 acres are historically the most challenging land to maintain and are often overlooked due to their remote location.  Likewise, Alabama has historically been seen as the wasteland for craft beer in America, dominated by mass produced light beer.  By digging a little deeper into its rarely-used, fertile soil, the company has successfully cultivated Alabama’s market for craft, overcoming multiple challenges including a prohibition-era legal environment.  At the end of the day, it comes down to great product, and these guys and gals have their liquid down pat.

After the crew scouted Back Forty’s 27,000 Sq. Ft. 1940’s-built warehouse, Tripp and his family invited the whole team back to the house for a back porch, southern-style meal.

“We did not allow Michael to cook,” Tripp continues. “I had a few boxes of local produced delivered. Several types of lettuces, carrots, beets, onion, and cucumber were the base for smoked turkey from a nearby BBQ restaurant and chicken that I grilled and smoked at the house. We picked up some Conecuh sausage out of Evergreen and topped it with homemade pimento cheese. Of course there were several Home Brews consumed along with plenty of BFBC cans. Everyone from the brewery was there. It was just a good night of food, beer and friends.  I cannot discuss any particular anecdotes due to the fact there was moonshine involved…”

Michael and Ryan kept us all up to speed at HQ with lots of video and Instagramming, from revisiting Saw’s BBQ for lunch to learning about the Caraaroma malt that makes up only about 3% of the grain bill for Home Brew but really defines its flavor profile.  There may even be Back Forty Beer Co. mash in the future of Harry’s Pizzeria pizza dough!  All in all a very productive and trip.  Birmingham-based James Beard Award-winning chef Chris Hastings even popped an appearance last night, to the reminiscent delight of team genuine.

“The Royal Caribbean crew has been great to work with,” Tripp reflects.  “We still get excited seeing our beer in new places, getting to see it set sail is going to be amazing. We ware still working out the details on specific BFBC beers on the ship. I hope the story told through this webisode will go a long way in opening that door for our beers along side MGHB on the Quantum of the Seas.”

Cheers to that!

A Day of Foraging

Ella Schwartz joins us this summer for three weeks as brand intern. She’ll be a senior at Ransom Everglades in the fall, rows crew and studies photography. Follow her on Instagram @ellaschwartzz and stay glued to our company handles where she’ll also be contributing during her stay with us.

Last week I joined The Genuine Hospitality Group’s forager Chris Padin of Farm to Kitchen on one of his twice weekly farm runs to Homestead and got to see where all of our local produce comes from.  Summer was in full bloom, ripe for the picking.  See my trip in pictures below, shot with the brand department’s Canon 5D Mark II and fixed 100 mm macro lens, some of which now grace HQ’s homepage rotation at

[RECIPE] Sweet Summer Sundaes Using Perfect Peaches

Ella Schwartz joins us this summer for three weeks as brand intern. She’ll be a senior at Ransom Everglades in the fall, rows crew and studies photography. Follow her on Instagram @ellaschwartzz and stay glued to our company handles where she’ll also be contributing during her stay with us. IMG_8932 Summer is here. The sun is shining and the heat is unbearably hot. But worry no more! You’re not the only one who will roast this season. The Roasted Peach Sundae combines fresh, juicy peaches with creamy yogurt sherbet and crunchy oatmeal pecan streusel, while keeping it light and sweet for these hot summer days. I went behind the scenes at Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink, where this delicious summer sweet is new to our dessert menu, to find out how it’s made. 10:30 | The kitchen was bustling with excitement. I walk to the pastry station where spices are stacked high and the Kitchen Aid is spinning rigorously. “Step into my office,” pastry chef Patty Lopez jokes as she turns off the mixer and brings what looks and smells like a delicious granola to her counter. As she chops pecans to add into the granola looking mixture, which I soon find out is oatmeal pecan streusel, she explains the elements of the sundae: the star of the show — the peaches, the light yet creamy sherbet, and the crunchy, nutty streusel. The key to roasting perfect peaches, I learn, is to make sure they are firm and not yet ripe. This way, they don’t fall apart when you roast them and they retain their freshness. But under-ripe peaches are not the only measure taken to ensure the firmness of the peach. Patty carefully pits the fruit with a melon baller and is cautious to provide minimum bruising. She also warns to only place the peaches into the sugar and spice mixture right before putting them in the oven. If not, the sugars will make the peaches mushy, a word banned from this recipe’s vocabulary. Only a short minute after putting them into the blazing hot wood-burning oven, I start to see the skin char and blacken under the flames. Out of the oven. Flip. Wine to deglaze. Back into the oven. The tops of the peaches bubble uncontrollably as I look into the fire, wide eyed. Out of the oven. The peaches are removed from the pan immediately to stop cooking and then cut into beautifully-charred quarters. I know what you’re thinking. What happens to that beautiful, flavorful peachy wine reduction leftover?! Into the oven once more for a couple minutes, and it becomes a ooey gooey caramel to end this dessert right. The streusel is also baked in the hearth and broken up into just the right sized crumbles to begin the assembly of this highly anticipated sundae. Streusel, then ice cream, peach quarter, ice cream, peach quarter, streusel, caramel, basil to garnish. 11:30 | “It’s all yours,” Patty says. As I take a bite my dreams come true. It’s perfectly perfect. The yogurt sherbet keeps it light, while still adding a creamy aspect, reminding me of peaches and cream. The streusel’s crunch is perfect and the nuts go perfectly with the peaches. The honey adds just enough sweetness while the char on the peach isn’t overwhelming but just right. The peach is still firm yet soft and tender. All I can say is, peach perfection in a bowl.

 Roasted Peach Sundae
serves 8

4 peaches halved and pitted
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ cup sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 tablespoon ground ginger
¾ cup dry white wine
1 quart Yogurt Sherbet (see recipe below)
3 cups Oatmeal Pecan Streusel (see recipe below)

Pre-heat oven to 450° F.

Mix sugars and spices in a half hotel pan or baking dish. Spread along the bottom of the pan evenly and place peaches cut side down in the sugar. Place in oven for 3-4 minutes, or until the skin of the peach starts to lightly char. Pull out and deglaze the sugars with the dry white wine. Flip the peaches and spoon the liquid over the tops, then place back in the oven and allow to roast for another 3-4 minutes, or until the tops are bubbling. The peaches should be soft on the outside, but firm on the inside. Remove from the pan to cool on a platter. Cut each half in half. Assemble sundae alternating two peach quarters, two scoops of yogurt sherbet, and a handful of streusel.

Yogurt Sherbet

yields 1 quart

2 cups greek yogurt
½ cup simple syrup
¼ cup lemon juice
1 ½ cups honey
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon vanilla paste

Whisk all of your ingredients together in a large bowl and churn in an ice cream machine according to manufacturer’s instructions or until the churned product resembles a frozen yogurt. Store in airtight container in the freezer.

Oatmeal Pecan Streusel

yields 3 cups

1 cup oats
½ cup whole-wheat flour
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
2/3 cup brown sugar
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
½ cup chopped pecans
3 ounces cold butter

Preheat oven to 350° F.

In a medium bowl combine oats, flours, sugars, cinnamon, and pecans. Using your hands, work the butter into the dry mix, pinching with your fingers until the mixture is crumbly. Lay out on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet, and bake for 10 minutes, or until golden brown. Crumble finished streusel and store in a cool dry place. Keeps for about a week.

Harry’s Pops Again TOMORROW | Announcing FT33 Pizzeria Menu!

FT33 Pizzeria_Presenter_5.14FT33 Pizzeria_Presenter Menu_FINALPop Up lovers!  Today we are two weeks ONE DAY away from our next pop-up at Harry’s, and we are thrilled to announce 2014 Food & Wine Best New Chef Matt McCallister’s FT33 Pizzeria menu going down Tuesday, July 1 at 7:00 p.m.!

Click here for tickets and in the spirit of getting to know Matt, stay tuned to the @harryspizzeria Instagram for daily reposts of his feed selected by summer intern Ella Schwartz as we countdown the two weeks until go-time beginning today!

gin passionfruit old-fashioned

chicken liver mousse on toast
roasted baby carrot and benne seed
TBD pizza

blistered tomatoes, confit potatoes, beets, kale salsa verde roasted
summer squash, smoked squash veloute, mint pistou

ricotta gnocchi, preserved parsnip, confit ramps, upland cress
chicken, coconut, tomatoes, basil, green papaya

grassfeed beef bavette
whole roasted fish with citrus
grilled okra in togarashi, smoked tallow mayo
roasted chinese long bean, garlic, benne seed

sorguhm glazed, hearth roasted peach with thyme ice cream

Our first Texan to pop, and surely not our last, the executive chef and owner of FT33 in Dallas serves “season-inspired modern cuisine” at his first solo venture, opened on October 13, 2012. Matt is all about the highest-quality products and treats them with respect. His penchant for creating unorthodox pairings of ingredients has garnered rave reviews based purely on his signature progressive technique, and modern farmers’ market-inspired fare.

You know the drill. Seating is first come, first served for this family-style meal at our casual neighborhood joint. Making new friends is encouraged and easy when you’ve got a welcome cocktail in hand with hors d’oeuvres, four courses, free-flowing wines by The Genuine Hospitality Group sommelier and wine director Eric Larkee and our tap beers at your disposal. Take home something special from Matt, too. All that and tax and gratuity are included in the ticket price of $150.


Farm-to-Ship: Cruising into Summer at 150 Central Park

Ah, #shiplife. With Michael’s Genuine® Pub coming online in the fall, we are utilizing this summer menu transition at 150 Central Park aboard Allure and Oasis of the Seas as an opportunity to orient our greater TGHG team to the unique charms of work at sea!  Special Ops Chef Thomas Tennant will cruise the length of menu implementation periods with genuine teammates coming on and off throughout. First up, Allure. Eric disembarked in Port Everglades yesterday, and Michael and Ryan hopped onboard. Rather than feature two menus per week-long sailing that swap half way through, we are introducing one six course menu with choices on course numbers three through six. Oasis will come online in July.   To start, a smattering of tapas including tortilla español with romesco sauce.  Delicioso.  Poulet Rouge chicken from Joyce Farms is back, as is Jim Wood’s Palmetto Creek pork.  Please find Michael’s Summer Menu, including option of Royal Pairing selections by Eric Larkee, below.  Happy sailing, gentlemen!

Menu_150 ParkSpecial OA AL_ Summer_0603AD