I was invited to the 3rd annual PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash on Saturday, August 19th. Technically it’s the 6th annual, but the first three years were a combination of craft beer and burgers. I had the pleasure of attending one of those in the past, so I had an idea of what to expect this time around. The festival started at 1:00pm and continued until 4:00pm at which time festivalgoers were invited to an after-party at the iBar. Live entertainment was provided during the Bash by Sweet Justice and DJ/Electric Violinist Timothee Lovelock of Lovelock Music Group. Both acts played simultaneously in two different areas. Both had completely different vibes, but seemed to be enjoyed by all, myself included. There were a number of vendors hawking all sorts of craft beer related and unrelated swag and of course a number of food vendors as well. Tickets were $39.00 in advance and $49.00 at the door. For those looking to make a weekend out of it, there were room packages available. A single occupancy room, including ticket, started at $149.00 while double occupancy, with two tickets, started at $179.00. That’s certainly something to think about for next year.
A portion of the proceeds from this year’s festival went to Bluewater Babes Fish for a Cure, an all-female fishing tournament. The money raised by Bluewater Babes goes to local breast and ovarian cancer patients in financial need. The tournament is held October 6th and 7th out of Jupiter and boat registrations are still open. Since 2009, they have donated over $465,000 to long-standing local charities such as Cancer Alliance for Help and Hope, H.O.W. – Hearing the Ovarian Cancer Whisper and the Kristin Hoke Breast Health Program at Jupiter Medical Center.
I arrived at the PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash around 12:45pm to find parking to be a little tight. This was no surprise since I had been there before and the event page warned to arrive early, specifically due to parking. Valet was available for $15 if you didn’t want to fight for a spot. After a bit of wandering, I found the entrance to the Bash. A quick check in with my ticket and I was ready to see what the festival had to offer. The 50 or so breweries were split between two large rooms with the seven cideries and one meadery in a smaller room. My game plan was to only try the beer I hadn’t had before. My first stop was the Knee Deep Brewing table to try ‘Tanilla’ a 6.3% abv vanilla porter brewed with Tahitian vanilla beans. It was a pretty average offering with chocolate, vanilla and a slight coffee bite coming through.
Next up was ‘ReDANKulous’ a 9.5% abv imperial red IPA with Chinook, Mosaic and Simcoe hops from Founders Brewing. Typically Founders IPA’s are spot on but this beer was extremely malt forward. Having tried so many IPA’s from Founders I have to chalk this up to the distributor pouring an old bottle. ‘Passion Pit’ from Saltwater Brewery was the first beer poured via tap rather than a bottle. At 3.7% abv, this Golden Ale is perfect for summer with a very enjoyable bite from the passion fruit.
Up next was ‘Lucille’ (The Walking Dead) from the Terrapin Beer Co. Lucille is a 9.4% abv Imperial Stout brewed with Blackstrap molasses and vanilla, then aged on Hickory, Maple, and White Ash wood. It was a little smokier than I care for but the molasses vanilla and maple came out nicely. It’s not a beer I would personally go back to though.
The Tomoka Brewing Co. and their ‘Oceanside White IPA’ were up next. Oceanside has a wheat base which cuts the hops down a touch, but both citrus and pine still came through well. Definitely an easy drinker! I took a break from beer for a few minutes in order to try a couple of things in the cider/mead room. That is where I found the biggest offering of the day. B. Nektar’s ‘Cherry Chipotle’ comes in at a hefty 14% abv with tart cherry up front, followed by honey and finishing off with a nice spicy heat from the chipotle which didn’t overpower the mead at all.
It really played nicely off of the cherries. I chatted with the folks from Accomplice Brewery and Ciderworks for a bit while trying their coffee cider, which was an interesting treat. Back to where the beer was flowing, I tried ‘Fruitlands’ from Modern Times, which is a 4.8% abv Gose brewed with guava and passionfruit. The salty, tart tropical fruit blend was a nice change of pace from everything else I had already tried. Copperpoint Brewing’s ‘Blood Orange Wit’ was another perfect example of a perfect summer beer. The orange came through pleasantly without overpowering the wheat base of the beer. One of the unannounced timed releases was Devour Brewing’s ‘Axman Brown Ale’. It’s 5.5% abv and aged on Bali coffee, Vietnamese cinnamon sticks, and Vermont maple syrup. The coffee and cinnamon come to the forefront with the maple syrup coming through on the back-end. Owner/Headbrewer Chip loves to play with adjuncts and thankfully he really knows what he’s doing.
This was one of the best beers of the day. Finally, my favorite beer of the day came from the LauderAle Brewery. ‘La Niña’ is a 5.2% abv Blonde Ale brewed with what had to be loads of mango and a decent helping of Habanero peppers. Each sip was juicy mango with a really enjoyable Habanero kick. This was the first beer I’ve had from LauderAle. I hope it leads to a great review once I make it down to check out the brewery.
If you ever see Coastal Karma Brewing at an event make sure to stop in for a taste. Homebrewer Charles Chase is doing a number of tasty things in the name of beer. He brought four beers to the festival and my two favorites were his ‘Karma Hoptra IPA’ and ‘Ménage a Trois Saison’. ‘Karma Hoptra’ was an absolutely delicious 7.5% abv IPA with bursts of juicy citrus. The ‘Ménage a Trois Saison’ was an interesting take on the Saison. At 6.7% abv, the Saison is brewed with coriander, ginger, and apricot. Surprisingly or not, they go together splendidly. Coastal Karma Brewing is hoping to eventually call the Northwood Village section of northern West Palm Beach home.
At the end of the festival, the People’s Choice Awards were given out for the best craft brewery and cidery. Festivalgoers placed votes throughout the day. The award for the best cidery went to the Accomplice Brewery and Ciderworks for the 2nd year in a row. The award for the best brewery went to (are you ready for this?) Alltech Lexington Brewing & Distilling. Yep, the brewery that makes the god-awful ‘Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale’ bested every other brewery according to the folks in attendance. I don’t know, maybe I need to revisit it? Who knows maybe, they’ve improved the recipe?
Next, the winners of the PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash Homebrew Competition were announced. The homebrews entered were reviewed by four judges certified by the BJCP (Beer Judge Certification Program). Unfortunately, the homebrews were only available to the judges. The prize for first place was estimated at $1,100 and consisted of a two-night stay at the legendary PGA National Resort & Spa including a golf twosome and dinner for two at Ironwood Steak & Seafood. Last but not least the winner takes home the King of Homebrews Trophy. Second place takes home a glass beer mug engraved trophy plus dinner for two at Ironwood Steak & Seafood. Finally, third place takes home a glass beer mug engraved trophy and a $50 iBar Gift Certificate. First place went to Jorge Quintana for his ‘Coconut Coma’ American Porter which uses all natural toasted coconut added after fermentation. Second place went to Fidel Navarrete for his ‘Citra Hopped Up’ Belgian IPA. Third place also went to Jorge Quintana for his ‘Maui Gold American Pale Ale’. Jorge added pineapple after fermentation to the ‘Maui Gold’. He has been Homebrewing for seven years and hopes to one day open Cayo Hueso Brewing. This wasn’t Coconut Coma’s first time tasting gold. Jorge also took first at the Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery, Homebrew Competition Back in July. Part of that win had him going back to the Lounge in mid-August to brew ‘Coconut Coma’ on their system for release in-house.
The Craft Beer Bash is a great festival to attend if you aren’t looking to tick a bunch of different beers off your Untappd wants list. Grab your drinking buddies, put your drinking caps on, and go to town. The large majority of beers are poured directly from the bottle by distributors or in some cases employees of Total Wine. That was the only real problem I had with this festival. Thankfully though there were a number of local breweries that not only sent kegs but also brewery reps who knew their beer. Part of the fun of a festival is talking to the brewery representatives about the beer and the brewery. If I was to make a suggestion it would be to get away from the bottle pours and focus on kegs or at the very least have people pouring who are familiar with the brewery and beer they are representing. All in all, I had a great time and look forward to attending the PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash next year!