Cigar City Brewing, Tampa – Craft Beer Scavenger Hunt. See the Cigar City Brewing site for details.
Willard’s Tap House – All Florida Beers $1.00 off. Cigar City, Swamp Head, Saint Somewhere, Dunedin Brewery, and Florida Avenue.
Peg’s Cantina & Brewpub, Gulfport – all Florida Craft Draft week. They will have 3 or more of their own beers on, 3 to 4 Cigar City and 3 Dunedin Brewery. A nice selection and daily specials of $1.00 off one of the taps each day.
Dunedin Brewery, Dunedin – Celebrating American Craft Beer Week with the release of different beers each day. They will be available on their scheduled day when they open at 11am. After the day of its release, the beer will be available till it runs dry. They will also be running beer-infused food specials all week from the kitchen, which will be posted each day at facebook.com/dunedinbrewery
Monday, May 16th
Cigar City Brewing, Tampa – Blind Tasting. Come and try your hand at guessing what you are drinking! Ale, Lager? IPA, Porter, or Stout? We’ll challenge your palate with an array of different beers from our brewery and breweries around the country.
The Ale and the Witch, St. Petersburg – Homebrewers night. Come and try out the local homebrew scene and taste their efforts!
Tuesday, May 17th
Brews with Attitude: Craft Beer Fest at the T.Pepin Hospitality Centre
Cigar City Brewing, Tampa – Florida Tap Takeover with Swamp Head Brewing from Gainesville. Come by the CCB Tasting Room and taste a variety of beers from our friends up in Gator Country, many of them award winning! We’ll change out most to all of the taps and feature the beers from this very special brewery for the day.
Ale and the Witch, St. Petersburg – Featured Pennsylvania Beers from Victory, Erie, and Weyerbacher.
Dunedin Brewery, Dunedin – Dropkick Murphys Erin Red Tapping – Tribute to the Boston Irish punk band is back with its signature dropkick of hops.
Wednesday, May 18th
Ale and the Witch, St. Petersburg – Widmer Brothers are the featured beers, highlighting the Northwest American style.
Cigar City Brewing, Tampa - Beer Movie Night, enjoy a line up of both informative and entertaining movies devoted to our favorite topic, BEER! Closer to the event we will post the schedule of movies we will be showing.
Dunedin Brewery, Dunedin – Flight 2: Into the Dark Release – Take flight in the Nook bar with four 4oz samples of uniquely infused versions of their dark ales (Biere de Cafe; Leonard Croon’s Old Mean Vanilla Bean Stout; Toasted Coconut Smoked Porter; Black Coffee Serrano Rye IPA).
Thursday, May 19th
Ale and the Witch, St. Petersburg – Florida Breweries will be featured. Cigar City, Swamp Head, and more.
Cigar City Brewing, Tampa - Cheese and Chocolate Pairing. Taste the beers from our own brewery and perhaps a few others paired with a selection of cheeses and chocolate all made by artisan producers. The tasting will take place in the tasting room beginning at 5pm and going until 8pm.
Dunedin Brewery, Dunedin – Oak-Aged Wheat Tapping – Come taste the most recent pull from the oak barrel.
Friday, May 20th
Ale and the Witch, St. Petersburg – Highlighting Colorado Breweries.
Cigar City Brewing, Tampa - Brewing with Ben Romano, the pilot brewer. This event is full, but there will be plenty of great beers in the Tasting Room.
Dunedin Brewery, Dunedin – Local Honey Ale Release – The annual release of their big summer seasonal, made with 100% Raw Florida Honey. Florida reggae band, Scholar’s Word (Jacksonville) will start up at 9pm.
Saturday, May 21st
Ale and the Witch, St. Petersburg – California Featured and West Coast Styles.
Cigar City Brewing, Tampa – Nielsbohrium Bottle Release (collaboration brewed with Mikkeller)
Sunday, May 22nd
Ale and the Witch, St. Petersburg – Cigar City Day
There are many other events going on around town, and certainly you should check as many out as you can. Celebrate American Craft Beer Week and the men and women who make our great beer!
What can you do?
*Sign the Beer Drinker’s Declaration of Independence
*Attend an event near you!
Pepin is the distributor for Southern Tier, Blue Point, Victory, Red Hook, Kona, Magic Hat, and Gordon Biersch in the Tampa Bay area, as well as one of the largest AB-InBev distributors. This has given some people pause, and has raised the question even of whether or not attending this festival is “supporting the enemy”. Here is how I see it: not in the slightest. You see, without the support of distributors like Pepin, I would not have regular access to beers like Victory Donnybrook or HopDevil. I would not be able to find Southern Tier Un*Earthly or Creme Brulee. Blue Point Toasted Lager and Rastafa Rye would not be options for me. Distributors have an enormous impact on what becomes available on shelves in different markets, and different states have different laws about distribution. There is certainly room for debate over what is best for the consumer, the breweries, and the distributors, but I cannot argue that having more good beer available to me is a bad thing.
Another discussion that is important to have is that if “gateway” beers that move people from the macro, light American lagers to the craft brewed smaller brews. Your standard Bud Light drinker is not going to jump immediately to something like a Victory Hop Wallop or a Kona Pipeline Porter. But they may very well like a Prima Pils or a Longboard. And it is a much easier step then to a Headwaters Pale Ale or a Fire Rock. Very few people will go back after being introduced – slowly – to craft beer. This is the kind of festival that will attract beer drinkers from all walkes of life, including the Bud drinkers. But if some of them walk away feeling like they know more than they did about what beer can be, its a win for everyone.
Brews with Attitude will be held Tuesday night, May 17th from 6:30 to 10:00 PM. Advance tickets are $20, and if there are any left on the day of the event, they will be sold at the door for $25.]]>
Some of the breweries represented from Florida are:
Other breweries will be represented, too, including:
Both VIP ($50) and General Admission ($30) tickets are available, with the VIP granted some special beer and food pairings along with some additional swag. There are also Designated Driver tickets available for $15. Tickets are available online at the event website.
The fact that there is a beer event in Winter Haven at all is a testament to the rapidly expanding beer awareness in Florida. Far from being a cultural mecca, Winter Haven is only home to a little more than thirty thousand residents, and until recently was best known for being home to the iconic Cypress Gardens, a Florida tourist attraction featuring waterskiing. Closed in 2009, the site is to be the home of the new Legoland, opening later this year. Event organizers Tom Barris and Andrew Rhinehart have gathered several local sponsors to put the event together, and it looks to be a great event.
Winter Haven Brew Fest
April 9th, 2011 – 4pm – 8pm
Recently, I met up with my cousin in Orlando while he was there for a conference. We decided to go to dinner, and I did my usual due diligence. Orlando is a tourist city, and by and large, tourist cities cater to the lowest common denominator. Cheap beer, chain restaurants, and crowds in every known place. There are some high end restaurants, for sure, and a few notable beer standouts like Redlight, Redlight, Tu Tu Tangos, and the Ravenous Pig. On this trip, however, I wanted to find something new as well as relatively inexpensive. Looking at what Ratebeer’s places had to offer, we settled on what turned out to be an amazing find: Spooky’s Black Cat Cafe.
Located in the Milk District (of which I had never heard), Spooky’s is eclectic and inviting from the moment you enter the door. A collection of mismatched (but comfortable) furniture as well as a small bar greet visitors as well as an equally eclectic decor, melding Indian mystic and microbrew artwork, as well as some apparently done by the owner’s wife. The service was friendly and casual, and the atmosphere noticeably relaxed. When we were handed the menus for both beer as food, we knew we had made the right choice. From the fresh recipes and style-crossing food items to the impressive beer and wine list, all were made all the more incredible by the embarrassingly low prices.
Fourteen beers on draft and another hundred or so in bottles, the choices were wonderful. I indulged, and greatly enjoyed my first Terrapin Hoo-Hoo Stout. The menu offerings ranged from Indian to Mediterranean to Southwestern to the Deep South. Not content to stick with one choice, we opened with a meat and cheese sample plate, complete with kalamata olives, mustard, prosciutto and bread. Next to follow was a rich and delicious lobster bisque and a plate of minty grape leaves stuffed with organic rice. Both were incredible. The main course for me was the chipotle tacos, smoked sirloin steak in a savory chipotle sauce, served in home made shells with yellow rise and a side of pineapple salsa. Amazing. I paired them with a Shipyard XXXX IPAthat matched up well to the spice. My cousin enjoyed his jerk chicken quesadilla, made with red onion, roasted red peppers, black beans and a blend of jack and cheddar. He matched that up with a pint of Highland St. Tereses Pale Ale.
There was so much more on the menu that I wanted to try, namely the chorizo sausage and bacon gravy over buttermilk biscuits, and the “Mystic Mediterranean Flatbread”. Everything was fresh and delicious, and worth twice the price. I greatly look forward to returning to Spooky’s on future trips to Orlando.]]>
I have listened to a lot of different podcasts, both beer and non-beer related. Some are excellent, like the TED Talks and Freakonomics. Others are… not so much, and I shall let them remain nameless. This goes for the beer related podcasts as well. As the popularity of craft beer explodes, the number of people who think that just because they love craft beer means they have what it takes to do a show about it has increased as well. Even some of the shows with recognizable names fall flat. What works online and in print does not always work in audio. But rising above them all is The Brewing Network‘s latest addition: The Home Brewed Chef. Hosted by Sean Z. Paxtonand Justin Crossley, this podcast goes way beyond simply talking about beer or food. Paxton is a legend in the beer-pairing world, and is really an icon for the movement. He is passionate about food in a way few chefs are. From knowing where his ingredients are coming from to the proper way to plan, prepare, and the serve his dishes, he leaves no aspect of dining untouched. His knowledge of craft beer and the brewing process is matched only by his ability to pair it with exceptional food choices.
But that is only half of the equation. Having the knowledge and being able to present it in a way that is entertaining, engaging, and accessible are two very different things, but Paxton has the total package. His passion for his work comes through with every word he speaks, but so does his sense of humor and down-to-earth personality. He knows what he is talking about, and does not “dumb it down” for the food or beer neophyte, but he encourages people to step outside their comfort zone and actually learn something new! What a concept. He also avoids (mostly) falling into the sophomoric humor than so many other podcasters seem to revel in. Maybe it is his age (he’s 38) or the fact that he really is just that much more sophisticated. Whatever the reason, it is refreshing.
Justin Crossley, who also hosts on some of the other BN shoes, partners well with Paxton, asking the questions that many listeners would want to know the answers to. Paxton sometimes uses terminology or makes references to cooking techniques that are not as commonly known, and Crossley is quick to ask for clarification. He also manages the questions coming in via the chatroom and email during the live shows.
In addition, each episode has “bonus material” that is posted on the Brewing Network’s site afterwards, including recipes and additional interviews with chefs, brewers, and other experts.
Only eight episodes have been completed so far, but they have just gotten progressively better each time. Paxton and Crossley have become more comfortable and gotten into their groove, and their discussions make for a mouth-watering drive to and from work. From using beer as an ingredient in cooking to the importance of having craft been in fine dining establishments, and of course pairing different styles of beer with different dishes, every episode will leave you hungry and ready to expand your culinary horizons.]]>
At the station I poured from, nothing was more popular than the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter from the Funky Buddha in Boca Raton. We went through two 5-gallon kegs before any other keg blew. For the record, it was delicious. Just the right balance of smoky flavor and a big sweet aroma of maple. On the other end of the spectrum, we also had the chance to pour their So Thank You Music Ginger Wheat, a very crisp and refreshing beer brewed with lemongrass. I really look forward to the day that we can get Funky Buddha’s beers in Tampa Bay on a regular basis. They are definately one to watch.
Other standouts in the Florida beer category were Dunedin Brewery’s new Black Rye IPA, the first in their new series, “IPA Chronicle”. Thsi was an excellent beer and I am hoping it bodes well for the series as well as the future of th brewery. Another amazing offering was from Peg’s Cantina: Bloody Berliner. I swear, it you had a magic spell that could turn a Bloody Mary into a beer, this would be the result. Absolutely delicious, with all the right spices and flavors. Truly remarkable and I would have this with Sunday brunch every weekend.
The other thing that really impressed me was the quality and variety of beers brought in by the several homebrew clubs around Tampa Bay. Special Hoperations, Pinellas Urban Brewers Guild, Dunedin Brewers Guild, and Tampa Bay B.E.E.R.S. all represented well and showed off some serious skill and creativity. I want to give a special nod to Jessica Domigan of the PUB Guild for her Mint Chocolate Stout. It was delicious! It reminded me of mint chocolate ice cream when I was a kid. Well done!
So once again I saw to anyone who thinks Florida has no “beer culture”, you clearly do not know what you are talking about. Craft beer is not only alive and well in Florida, but thriving, growing, and with no end in sight.
In second place was Swamp Head’s Smoke Signal Smoked Porter, an very well balanced representation of the style. Many attendees at the Brewer’s Ball commented on it, praising the fact that the smokiness didn’t everpower everything else.
Other Gold Medal winners from Swamp Head included:
Silver Medal Beers were:
And a Bronze medal was awarded for their 10-10-10 IPA.
Excerpt from the BFBC Website:
The Best Florida Beer Championships is a not for profit organization founded by craft beer lovers, homebrewers, and commercial brewers in the Tampa Bay area. Their stated goal is to promote the celebration and consumption of locally made craft-brewed beer in the state of Florida. They sponsor two competitions, one to find the best commercial beer made and sold in Florida and the other to find the best homebrewer and club in the state. During the year they also host other beer-related events and promotions: Try This! attempts to find the perfect matches of different food flavors with craft beer while the Beer and Cheese event pairs unique cheeses with distinctive craft beers. The events culminate in the spring at the Brewers’ Ball at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa, where all of the gold-medal-winning commercial beers are showcased during an afternoon of live music, awards and probably one of the best raffles in Florida. Trophies are given for the top three commercial beers, the best homebrewed beer and the club with the most points in the homebrew competition.
By encouraging and recognizing outstanding brewers and their beer, BFBC hopes to provide a focal point for advertising and promoting craft brewed beer on all levels in Florida. A portion of the proceeds from the commercial competition are donated directly to the Florida Brewers Guild to show appreciation for their efforts to organize the craft beer brewers of Florida.]]>
This coming weekend brings us two events of note. First, on Saturday, is the Florida Brewer’s Guild Beerfest in Ybor City. This is a HUGE event, and the best part of it is the representation from nearly every Florida brewery and brewpub. Tickets will sell out, so get yours early. Some of the Florida breweries attending are:
As always, there will be plenty of food, music, and fellow beer-nerds in attendence! One exciting note: Cigar City Brewing has created a special brew just for the Florida Brewers Guild to help raise money for the Guild: Papaya IPA. This is an IPA aged on unsweetened dried papaya and will be served at the festival.
Sunday, the Best Florida Brewers Championships hold’s their annual Brewer’s Ball. This is an exclusive event held primarily for brewers and their families. Few tickets are offered outside of the participants, but it has been hailed as one of the best events in Florida. Held at Skipper’s Smokehouse in Tampa, lunch, live music, and beer from around the state are offered to all attendees. Brewers Ball is a celebration of brewing in the state of Florida. The intent is to gather brewers from across the state for the presentation of the Best Florida Beer Championships best of show winners. If you can get your hands on a ticket, this is one not to miss.
In addition, admission includes a commemorative glass and a fine Robusto cigar. Los Blancos Ambassadors will be on-hand to talk tobacco, and will have a fine selection of cigars for purchase at the event. There will be live music by Eddie Kirkland with The Nouveaux Honkies. Limited food will be available, as Dunedin Brewing be smoking sausage out front, with a sandwich for $3 or make it a meal with baked beans for $5.
Tickets will sell out, so it is recommended that you buy in advance (and it is cheaper that way, too). Advance tickets are $25, $30 at the door if there are any left.]]>
Some of the highlights included:
So, if there wer any questions about the growth of craft beer in Florida, they should be put to rest. Florida is quickly becoming a beer destination, and the culture we hold dear is maturing and taking root in the Sunshine State. At the risk of sounding like someone from the tourist board, come visit! We have no snow, some of the finest beaches in the world, and a world-class beer culture in the making.