Florida Craft Brewery: Big Bear Brewing Company
Established: July of 1997
Location: 1800 N University Dr, Coral Springs, FL 33071
Known For: Their pretzel encrusted chicken, burgers, and filets. I have heard through the grapevine that their filets are tastier than Ruth’s Chris.
Current Beer Menu: Big Bear keeps eight house beers on tap. Five of them the Polar Light, Hibernating Pale Ale, Grizzly Red Ale, Brown Bear Ale, and Kodiac Belgian Dubbel are brewed with the average beer drinker in mind. They don’t serve any other brewery on tap so these beers target the folks who usually drink beer from the macro breweries (Miller Lite, Budweiser, etc.). The Kodiac Belgian Dubbel and Hibernating Pale Ale stood out above the Polar Light and Grizzly Red Ale. The remaining three beers are rotating seasonals. “Rye Not” American Amber Ale (Seasonal Brewmasters Choice), Doppel Gun Salute (Seasonal Dark), and Huli Pau Pineapple Cream Ale (Seasonal Fruit) are where brewmaster Jeff Evans allows his creativity to flow. The Kodiac was my favorite offering of the day with cloves and bananas on the nose and the taste of dark fruits such as raisins. I’m a big fan of Rye in a beer and oh boy did “Rye Not’ come through big time. I believe this to be the most rye forward beer I’ve ever had and it was delicious. I’m talking rye on top of rye here folks. The Doppel Gun Salute is brewed with cold brewed coffee and aged on whole coffee beans from the veteran-owned Black Rifle Coffee Company. A portion of the profits benefit Camp Hope, a non-profit veterans charity. This was a very coffee forward beer, as you can imagine, that almost completely overpowered the Doppelbock base. I really enjoyed it. Huli Pau is brewed with pineapple puree, adding a very light fruit backing to this thirst quenching cream ale.
Price Range: Flights are offered in eight 5oz portions for $12.00. Half a flight may also be ordered for $7.00. A 5oz sipper on its own will run you $2.00. Between $5.50 and $6.50 will get you a pint from any of the offerings on the taplist. When beers with a higher abv are on tap, 10oz snifters are offered. Growlers are not available. A number of craft beers from breweries around the country are offered in bottles and range from $5.00 to $9.00.
Wine Menu: Being a restaurant first, the wine list is rather extensive with 15 white wines, 19 red wines, and one Port. The price per glass ranges from $7.00 to $13.00 while bottles run from $24.00 to $90.00.
Food Menu: I had the Bruin Burger, which was topped with jack cheese, Applewood smoked bacon and Bruin Root Beer BBQ sauce. The Bruin Root Beer is brewed in house. Unfortunately, my burger was a little dryer than I would have liked. As mentioned above, I have heard good things about how Big Bear handles a steak and their Beer Muenster Cheese Soup is supposed to be delicious. With a full menu and rave reviews online, Big Bear seems to me it would be a great place to grab lunch or dinner.
Ambiance: To be honest, I wasn’t expecting a full-blown restaurant so I was surprised to see a hostess when I walked in. I took a seat at the fully stocked bar and took a minute to take in my surroundings. It was about 2:00pm on a Friday, so there were still a number of people enjoying an extended lunch. I was happy to have the father and his rowdy kids leave about half way through my visit. He was not happy with his kids throwing food at each other and he didn’t care if you heard how unhappy he was. There was also the cry of what had to be a newborn baby. A cry of which I know very well. The restaurant itself was on the darker side with lighting that acted as if torches with a golden hue were hanging just below the ceiling. The Brewhouse and beer storage areas are both behind glass so you are able to see what, if anything, is going on. As I was leaving at about 4:30 the crowd had started to swell again with the stampede of newly freed employees.
Bar Seating: At full capacity the restaurant can hold 260 patrons inside spread among the many booths. The bar itself holds seating for 23. There is also an area outside that holds 48.
Staff: Jess was my bartender and has held the position for two years. With all she was doing I mistakenly confused her for a manager. She was a great help in answering my questions while also keeping the other patrons at the bar happy. The brewmaster, Jeff Evans, wasn’t available that day but was nice enough to speak to me after the fact via Facebook messenger. Jeff started as an assistant brewer to Matt Cox in 2011. When Matt moved on to open the Copperpoint Brewing Co., in September of 2014, Jeff took over as brewmaster for Big Bear with a couple of big shoes to fill. You see, Matt had won a substantial number of awards for his many creations. At the US Beer Tasting Championship this past year Big Bear took home the top honors for their Hibernating IPA during the summer session and top honors for Drunkin Punkin in the spiced beer category during the winter session in the Mid-Atlantic Southeast region. It’s safe to say Jeff learned a thing or two from Matt.
Merch: Hats are $10.00 while shirts for both men and women are offered for $15.00 and can be seen here.
Membership offered: Once upon a time, Big Bear had a Mug Club, but unfortunately it has been discontinued. There are no plans to resurrect it in the near future.
Best days or time of year to go: Monday and Tuesday are typically Big Bear’s slow days. Any day between 2:00pm and 4:00pm will garner you the most attention either by your server or bartender as these are the slowest points of the day.
Regular Hours: Monday – Thursday: 11:30am – 10:30pm, Friday – Saturday: 11:30am – 11:00pm, and Sunday 11:00am – 10:00pm (Brunch 11:00am – 3:00pm)
Happy Hour: Monday – Friday: 11:30am – 7:00pm. Yes really! $1.00 off beer, two for one on house wines, and two for one single liquor well drinks. The only downside is you have to be sitting at the bar.
-July of 2016 will mark Big Bear’s 20th year operating as a Brewpub which is quite a feat considering how many Brewpubs have come and gone during that time.
-The entire manual brewing system is the original system Big Bear opened their doors with in 1997. An expansion is in the works for the future.
-Not only does Jeff Evans brew beer, but he’s also a fireman.
Overall Rating (1-5): Between the food and the beer I can happily recommend Big Bear as a place to visit when in the area. I am giving them a 4.25.
What was missing: There was not a stout or porter on tap. Yes, I know It’s Florida and yes it’s almost summer, but I’ll drink either all year long. Damn the heat!
In closing, Coral Springs and the surrounding areas have definitely made Big Bear home and I think you should stop in and see why for yourself.
Did I leave anything out or is there something else you would like to know about the Big Bear Brewing Company? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.