March 19th, 2016 forever changed the beer landscape in Jupiter, Florida. This was the first of what will be many bottle and/or can releases for one of the newer breweries to grace the South Florida horizon. A woman walking by asked me what the line was for. I proceeded to explain how Civil Society Brewing was having their first bottle release, which in this case was in the form a 32oz crowler. 375 crowlers (3 per person) would, in fact, be released to fans who had come from as far away as Miami.
What is Pulp you ask? Well, it is an American pale wheat ale that comes in at 6.3% abv. Civil takes the wheat beer to a whole new level by lovingly caressing it with Columbus and Mosaic hops, which give it the sweet smell and taste of a myriad of citrus flavors. Pulp pours with just the slightest of yellow haze with a hefty white creamy head that laces the glass as you drink it down. At the time of this posting, Pulp is ranked #11 on Beeradvocate.com’s Florida top 250 list.
I arrived outside of the brewery a couple of minutes after 10 to meet up with a few buddies for a pre-release bottle share. We opened a growler of Tree House Brewing’s Double Shot, a bottle of Hardywood Park Craft Breweries Foolery, and a bottle of Casey Brewing’s East Bank. By the time 11:00am had rolled around the line had reached 67 craft beer loving souls. The doors were opened and ID’s were checked. The whole process ran very smooth. Folks waited in line for a few minutes until reaching the front where they chose a wristband which was color coordinated with the number of crowlers they were purchasing. Once the wristband was received, we were able to purchase something from the tap menu. Other than Pulp the two hits of the morning seemed to be the two treatments of Gary. Gary is Civil’s milk stout, which was treated with Hazelnuts for ‘Gary goes nuts’ and with bananas foster for ‘Gary goes bananas.’ I’m usually not a big fan of hazelnut beers, but ‘Gary goes nuts’ was delicious. ‘Gary goes bananas’ was also very good, but the hazelnut took the win for me. The last crowler of Pulp was sold just before 2:00pm to finish off Civil’s first release with flying colors.
Civil pulled this release off perfectly. It’s all too easy to over complicate a release as I’m sure most of you reading this have experienced. If I had to pull one complaint out, it would be that Pulp had lost its haziness from the first batch to the second. Now it was still a delicious beer but for me personally a beer named Pulp should be hazy to the point of not being able to see through it, like a glass of orange juice. I am pretty sure the next time Pulp is released it will have the haze that we were missing.
Did I miss anything or is there something else you would like to know about the Civil Society Brewing Company and the release of Pulp? If so, please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.
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Cigar City Brewing’s Hunahpu’s Day is a craft beer festival held on the 2nd Saturday of March and built around the once a year release of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout. The beer itself has an 11% abv (alcohol by volume) and is aged on cacao nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans, ancho chiles, pasilla chiles, and cinnamon while enjoying a top rating of 100 on both beeradvocate.com and ratebeer.com. Cigar City upped their game this year allowing for three different ticket options. There was the choice of a four bottle option for $200, an eight bottle option for $300, and strictly for El Catador members, a twelve bottle option for $400. A few weeks before the festival bracelets containing RFID chips were received. Each bracelet bearing the number of bottles that were purchased. The festival pulls in people and breweries from around the world. 3500 festival goers, 166 breweries, and 500+ different beers sound like one hell of a party.
When preparing for a 36 hour round trip to one of Florida’s biggest craft beer events, and definitely biggest bottle release, there are preparations that need to be made. I had to stop at my new favorite brewery, Civil Society, to pick up a few crowlers to share in whatever beer share I ended up at after the festival. God forbid I just pick up the crowlers and leave. That would be silly, so, of course, I had a beer while I waited the 5 minutes it takes to fill the crowlers which turned my time into a half hour. Once home, I ran down my mental list. Do I have the beer and water set aside that I’ll be throwing in the cooler in the morning? Do I have the Hunahpu’s bracelet? Clothes and other essentials?
Starting the trip at 5:15 a.m., Saturday morning, wasn’t so bad. Dunkin Donuts were my first stop because there was no way I was going to make the drive across the state on adrenaline alone. Large hot dark roast with an espresso shot, please! Damn it! I forgot the water that was sitting right next to the beer. So much for my mental list. The drive was uneventful and I pulled up to my buddies at 8:15 a.m. A quick omelet, more coffee, some bullshitting, and we were on our way. It turns out that not only was Tampa hosting Hunahpu’s Day, but they were also hosting the Gasparilla Music Festival so finding a parking spot took some time. Something came up out of nowhere and my buddy had to haul ass. That left me and my GPS a quarter of a mile walk which is nothing when the end point is a beer mecca.
This year, unlike years past, Hunahpu’s Day was held at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park in beautiful Downtown Tampa, Florida instead of the parking lot at the Cigar City Brewery. I wasn’t very surprised to find that a line had already formed even though festival goers were told over and over not to line up until 10:00 am. I found my spot in line next to a few buddies from home. The gates weren’t scheduled to open until 11:00 so there was some time to kill. I took a few pictures and a plan of attack was slowly hatched out. There were four of us and we were close enough to the front of the line that we could knock out a few of the must haves before the lines bulged with the 3,500 attendees. We agreed that two of us would hit Side Project for Derivation Blend #5 and Smooth, one would hit Bottle Logic for Fundamental Observation, and one would hit MAZURT Brewing for their barrel aged coconut stout that is actually served out of a coconut. Yeah I know, badass! Then we would meet in front of the 3 Sons Brewing tent.
After a quick tasting of everyone’s offering, 3 Sons was the next whale producer to slay. It only took five or so minutes before two of our friends disappeared, leaving two of us to plot out the next must-haves. After trying two of 3 Sons offerings, Apple Brandy Kona Summation and Dank Ness Monster, we more or less hit a number of places that didn’t have insanely long lines. I like to target places that you typically won’t see again and there were a number of breweries that fit that bill from outside of the U.S. We had the pleasure of trying Odyssey 005 (a blend of dark beers aged in a combination of scotch whiskey and bourbon barrels) from Siren Craft Brew, a brewery out of the U.K. Vanilj (a vanilla bean sour) and Hallon (a raspberry sour) from Brekeriet, a brewery out of Sweden. Feel the Beat (a Berliner Weisse made with beets) which had an absolutely amazing, almost neon reddish-purple color and a Bourbon Barrel Blueberry White Chocolate Berliner Weiss from Sahtipaja, another brewery out of Sweden. Finally, a brewery from Estonia named Põhjala that brought a black IPA called Pesakond, an imperial Baltic porter called Öö, a sherry barrel aged imperial stout called Pime Öö PX and a cognac barrel aged spiced imperial stout called Taanilinn Cognac BA. There were a number of breweries from the states spread amongst the international group as well, including Against the Grain, Angry Chair, Casa Agria, Fonta Flora, Fullsteam, Oskar Blues, Terrapin, Three Floyds, and Yazoo.
My buddy wanted to check out the Cigar City tent so we made the trek across the park to get into one of the many lines leading to the semi-trailer of CCB taps. We finally ran into our other friends again and were lucky enough to be at the front of the line when Apple Brandy Vanilla Marshal Zhukov went on tap. I proceeded to work my way towards the back of the line and offered up a few tastes to folks that were so far back they would never be able to get even a sniff of it. A couple of the other Hunahpu’s treatments I actually remember having were Rum-soaked Oak Coconut and Cherry. Both of which were outstanding with Coconut being a step above Cherry. By now it had to be pushing 4 pm and I hadn’t eaten since the omelet at 8:30 that morning so I wandered off to use my food tickets which were included in the ticket price. I had a couple of BBQ pork sandwiches, a BBQ chicken sandwich, and two helpings of arroz con pollo (chicken & rice), all of which were fantastic.
After a couple more beers it was time to head over to the Marriott and wait in line to pick up my bottles of Hunahpu’s. The line moved relatively fast and in no time I had picked up my case of Hunahpu’s. Being an El Catador Club member I had the option, which of course I took, to buy twelve bottles instead of the other options of four and eight. Miraculously, my first buddy showed back up and we were on our way to the Arco Iris Restaurant, which specializes in a combination of Cuban and Chinese food. I had the carne asada (roasted beef) which was delicious, especially after a day of drinking. Arco is definitely worth checking out if you’re ever looking for a quick meal at a reasonable price. A few texts back and forth led us to the Westin Hotel where we encountered a beer share already in progress. I opened a 2013 Bourbon BA Gonzo from Flying Dog to jump into the fray. I had the pleasure of trying a number of beers I had never had the opportunity to try such as Casey’s The Cut: Peach, Casey’s East Bank, Goose Island Brewpub’s Nutulhu, La Cumbre’s Project Dank, The Ale Apothecary’s Be Still, Tired Hands Milkshake, Night Shift’s Hogarth, and J Wakefield’s Harbinger amongst others. The share was a great way to end a fantastic day of drinking and meet a bunch of great people.
The next day I headed to the Denny’s down the street from Cigar City Brewing for a quick meal before heading over to get into line and pick up my El Catador bottles at 11. After a short wait in line, I had my bottles and the bottles of the two guys I trustee for. I hung out at CCB for an hour or so with some folks from the home front shooting the shit about the previous day. After a few quick goodbyes, I was on my way back home much more awake than I was on the trip over. Thankfully, it was another uneventful 3-hour trip. I walked in my front door to see my wife and 19 month old son for the first time in 36 hours. To me, there isn’t a better greeting than having my beautiful baby boy say “Dada!” and run over to me for a hug.
Hunahpu’s Day is absolutely a festival that should be put on your craft beer bucket list. Hell if you can swing it, go to Tampa for the entire week. Hunahpu’s Day encompasses the second to last day of Tampa Bay Beer Week, which showcases all of the area’s breweries and is closed out by 7venth Sun Brewing’s Hunahpu’s Hangover Day on Sunday. A number of the breweries release bottles during the week or in the case of Cycle Brewing a bottle named for every day of the five-day work week released on those corresponding days. I’m hoping that next year I’ll be able to spend another day or so in the Tampa area so I can get more of the experience that TBBW provides.
A few side notes. The festival goers had the opportunity to vote for their favorite brewery and favorite beer. The results for top breweries from 1st to 3rd were 3 Sons Brewing Co., J. Wakefield Brewing Co., and MAZURT Brewing Co. The top honors for favorite beer from 1st to 3rd went to 3 Sons Brewing’s Apple Brandy Summation, 3 Sons Brewing’s JBM35, and MAZURT Brewing’s Coconut Apple Brandy. Personally, my favorite brewery of the day was Põhjala from Estonia. Their cognac barrel aged spiced imperial stout called Taanilinn Cognac BA was absolutely fantastic. The sherry barrel aged imperial stout called Pime Öö PX was also delicious, but not quite up there with Taanilinn. It’s always nice to find a brewery I’ve never heard of from a place that I had no clue even had a craft beer scene. Throughout the rest of the day, I sent everyone I could to the Põhjala tent. Unfortunately, they don’t currently distribute to the U.S.
Were you at Hunahpu’s Day too? Did you have as good a time as I did? Did I leave anything out or is there something else you would have liked to hear about the festival? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.
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Known For: Their IPGA which is an IPA with El Dorado hops. It takes its name from PGA Blvd which runs east and west to the north of the brewery. You can find IPGA in most places that serve craft beer around Northern Palm Beach County. Now I love hops, but they do a Watermelon Saison that is the perfect summertime beer. Talk about a thirst quencher!
Current Beer Menu: A Pilsner, pale ale, IPA, English stout, Kolsch, Irish red ale, a Foudre aged red rye, & a couple of saisons. The guest tap is a hard cider from Original Sin who are based out of NYC. Flights are offered and consist of four 4oz selections from the tap list.
Price Range: Twisted likes to keep things simple, so all beers across the board are $5. The only time this may not be true is if something a little bit more expensive to make, like a DIPA or imperial stout, happens to be on the tap list. In that case, you are only looking at another .30 cents or so. I know! They are seriously trying to break the bank. A flight of beer will only run you $4. To top off their great pricing during happy hour they take $1 off all beers. Growlers are offered as well in a quart ($13.50), half a gallon ($19), and gallon ($28). The pricing includes both the container and fill. Now if you’re really thirsty, you can buy a 5.2 ($70 to $90) or 13.2 ($140 to $180) gallon keg. Pricing, of course, varies depending on the beer and for the kegs be prepared to fork over a $35 or $55 deposit.
Wine Menu: Now for those of you dragging along your significant other to yet another beer outing Twisted Trunk not only offers the hard cider, but they also have both a red and white wine list. Pricing for both is $7 to $9 a glass.
Food Menu: Twisted doesn’t offer food, but they do carry menus from the area restaurants. One of which is Carmine’s Crab Shack who offers free delivery. If you are interested in a pizza Big Apple Pizza is definitely worth checking out.
Ambiance: When you walk in the door you are immediately facing their Foudre which is a large wood cask used to age beer. Other than the light pouring in through the windows the taproom is kept relatively dark. The dim lights over the bar produce an almost elegant feeling of romance. The brewery itself is accessible for all to see and tours are offered throughout the day. When the sun goes down the brewery equipment is lit up in a neon green that on its own is worth the price of admission.
Bar Seating: A long bar with seating for 20 or so ends in an open room with 10 high top tables. There are two areas of leather couches and chairs for the arses that prefer the finer things in life.
Staff: Amber greeted me as I sat down at the bar. I was directed to Alex once I started asking questions whose answers were technical in nature. Everyone who I had the pleasure of coming into contact with was very friendly. The staff seemed to be well-trained and ready to accommodate.
Merch: Hats ($20 to $23), t-shirts ($18 to $20), and glasses ($4) are available for purchase.
Membership offered: Every six months or so a raffle is held for the opportunity to purchase a Mug Club membership for $50. The club includes a membership card, t-shirt, 20oz glass to take home, and 20oz pours at the brewery instead of the standard 16oz for a year.
Best days or time of year to go: Twisted Trunk always seems to have a pretty decent crowd so if you’re looking for the best time to be around the least amount of people than during the summer when the snowbirds are back home, is your best option. If you’re just looking for a spot at the bar I would advise arriving before 4:00 pm on weekdays which is when the work crowd begins to show up.
–Twisted Trunk is the sister brewery to Tequesta Brewing Co. Both breweries are co-owned by Fran Andrewlevich and Matt Webster. Fran is the head brewer of Twisted while Matt is the head brewer of Tequesta.
–The bar was created from 100-year-old elm wood.
–They take great care in creating region-specific beers such as their German Kolsch called Chancellor and the Irish Red ale called Finn McCool. The water used in the brewing process is worked too closely resemble the water in Munich in the case of Chancellor and Dublin in the case of Finn McCool.
Overall Rating (1-5): I’m giving Twisted Trunk a 4.50. They do everything well and provide a great atmosphere to enjoy their beers. The only reason I can’t grade them higher is because nothing I have had on tap has been completely mind-blowing.
What was missing: I can’t think of anything so that must mean it’s a great place to have a beer.
In closing, everything from the Twisted staff to the beer makes it an enjoyable stop and this is another brewery that I’m happy to live only a few minutes away from.
Did I leave anything out or is there something else you would like to know about Twisted Trunk Brewery? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.
Location: 1200 Town Center Dr #101, Jupiter, FL 33458
Known For: The brewers are masters of that palate stroking flower the hop. From their IPA’s and DIPA’s to their hoppy pale wheat ale, named Pulp, which by the way is currently ranked #10 on the top 250 beers in Florida list on Beer Advocate, Civil Society is a hopheads dream come true.
Current Beer Menu: Pale ale, IPA’s, DIPA’s, saisons, brown ale, blonde ale, and a milk stout. The guest tap is currently from Copperpoint Brewing Co. out of Boynton Beach, FL. They offer 4oz, 8oz, 12oz (for DIPA’s), and 16oz pours of whatever is available on tap.
Price Range: Anywhere from $2 to $7 depending on the size of your beer. Crowlers are also offered to go and range from $9 to $13.
Wine Menu: Civil also thinks outside the box and provides a little more for the non-beer drinker in the family. They offer wine by the glass and by the bottle. The per glass price ranges from $6 to $13 while the price per bottle ranges from $25 to $50. Most styles are offered.
Food Menu: Food is not offered, but there is a plethora of restaurants within walking distance, such as JJ Mugs, Jumby Bay, and Das Biergarten. Civil also allows you to bring food in and provides menu’s on the bar top.
Ambiance: Relatively large, well-lit, L-shaped space that invites you in. Murals adorn the majority of the walls, which add a bit of an artistic feel next to the unfinished look of the bar and brewing areas. The tap room felt very comfortable to me, maybe because it’s not a space where you can easily feel cramped and standing at 6’8″ I often do feel cramped. The brewing area is wide open for all to see, which in my eyes is a definite plus. On a side note, Civil doesn’t allow children in the tap room, but there is seating outside where children are allowed. Man’s best friend, on the other hand, is welcome with open arms.
Bar Seating: There is room for 20 or so around the bar with 7 tables of varying sizes and a leather couch for those that feel the need to relax in style.
Staff: Kaleb and Maggie were the bartenders the day I paid a visit. Both are very informative about what’s on tap and what the next offerings will be.
Merch: T-shirts of varying colors and styles for guys and gals. Glasses and hats are also available. All pieces are adorned with their kickass logo.
Best days or time of year to go: Midafternoon during the week is definitely the preferred time to go if you want to be able to enjoy your beer while shooting the shit with your buddy or whoever is tending bar. The only time this isn’t true is during Spring Training (the entire month of March) when the crowd empties out of the baseball stadium looking to quench their thirst with something that doesn’t end in the word Lite.
Spring Training Schedule: Tuesday – Thursday: 11:00am – 11:00pm & Friday – Sunday: 11:00am – 11:00pm
–The French bulldog in the logo is named Bella and belongs to Karl, who is the head brewer.
–Civil named their milk stout “Gary” after brewer Evans’ pitbull who’s named Gary Coleman.
–About 10 days before Cigar City Brewing’s fabled Hunahpu’s Day, the boys at Civil Society got the call that they too were invited to share their hoppy wares with the 3,500 festival goers.
–Civil is quickly making a name for itself within the Craft Beer community and the locals couldn’t be happier for them.
Overall Rating (1-5): Absolutely a 5+. These guys are doing everything right!
What’s missing: Not a damn thing!
In closing, if you are coming into town, Civil Society is a must stop, but please be prepared to mule a few crowlers home to your craft beer loving relatives. If you are a South Florida native and haven’t paid Civil Society a visit yet, I don’t know what in the hell you are waiting on. Jump on the hype train now while there’s still room to grab a beer.
Did I leave anything out or is there something else you would like to know about the Civil Society Brewing Company? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.