Mark Twain Brewing Company is preparing to celebrate their five year anniversary, and General Manager Dave Alley reflected on the journey leading up to celebrations beginning July 4 with the official unveiling of the new "America's Hometown Pilsner" beer.
Alley joined Mark Twain Brewing Company as head brewer in October 2014, a few months after the brewery opened on July 4. He became the general manager in 2017, and he has passed down his brewing experience through an apprenticeship to Brewer Logan Lanier. The new beer — which Alley described as a "thank you to Hannibal" for the years of patronage — incorporated Lanier's brewing expertise and Alley's recipe including locally-sourced barley.
Alley remembered that his love for Mark Twain's literature and the place he called home first drew him from his native Tennessee to America's Hometown.
"The things that attracted me to Hannibal and to this company was the name itself — Mark Twain Brewing Company — when I saw that, that was the best brand that anyone could every possible come up with, it had so much potential," he said. "And not to mention that I'm a big literature fan. Mark Twain is a hero of mine in that regard. It was forces colliding, like the perfect storm."
Alley said he wanted to "reintroduce Mark Twain to people" through different beer varieties like "Huck's Habanero Apricot Wheat," "Sawyer's Blonde" and "Clemens Kolsch." He hopes that "sharing the spirit" of Twain will encourage more people to experience his literature and discover more about the man.
As Alley and Lanier developed the new "America's Hometown Pilsner" beer, they wanted to honor the area breweries that were in the area before the Prohibition era, using "Old World" techniques during the brewing process. They are proud of their newest variety, which is on tap now at the brewery and will be officially offered in bottles beginning on the big celebration day on Thursday, July 4 at 422 N. Main St. A large beer tent will be set up in the parking lot until the conclusion of the Mud Volleyball Tournament on Sunday, July 7, providing shade and a walkway to the playing areas. A hot wing contest will be held from 2-4 p.m., with participants sampling wings of "incremental hotness" to see how much heat they can take. A local band will take the stage at 7:30 p.m. to open for Kansas City's Jewel Carter, known as JC, The New King of Funk. Alley said he looks forward to the diversity of entertainment that Carter will bring to downtown Hannibal amid his national recording contract.
Alley said local favorites and friends of the brewery The Flood Brothers will perform their blend of roots rock and deep blues at 8:30 p.m. Friday, July 5 — the same day the brewery will release their yearly batch of "Passport to Russia Imperial Stout," which is aged in whiskey barrels for one year.
Alley said the five year anniversary festivities will reflect Mark Twain Brewing Company's goal of continuing to honor Twain's legacy and his stories that are still woven into the fabric of Hannibal.
"It's not just about making beer for me," he said. "It's about promoting Mark Twain and the things that he said and his legacy. This town is so centered in that, and it's really a great thing, and I wanted to be a part of making it shine even more."