The Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival took place this past Saturday, January 27th from 1:00 – 5:00 pm on the outskirts of Roger Dean Stadium. It’s always a favorite of mine because not only is it local but it’s normally planned out quite well. When I bought my ticket emblazoned across the website, read the words “No strollers, backpacks or dogs allowed.” My initial thought was damn no backpacks? This hadn’t been a problem in years past, so I sent an e-mail over to clarify what they actually meant. I asked since backpacks weren’t allowed would smaller bags like a satchel be allowed? I mentioned the need to carry water and to store any brewery schwag that I would collect throughout the day. The response I received was simply, “no backpacks or bags allowed.” I was a bit bothered by the response but figured I would just bring a bottle of water to rinse my glass and refill in the bathroom when needed. I was surprised when I walked up to the gate to find all water bottles (yes even sealed) weren’t allowed inside. The woman scanning tickets made it clear that water would be available “everywhere” inside. In hearing this I thought ok this sucks but it won’t be a big deal if there are water stations available. I mean, that is what one thinks when you’re told water will be everywhere, right?
While waiting in the stadiums holding area for the clock to strike 1:00, with my brother-in-law, we mapped out a couple of breweries that we wanted to hit first. My brother-in-law is new to craft beer and favors stouts and porters so I tried focusing on breweries that I knew were bringing darker styles while also throwing in a few that I never miss. Once the bell rang, we were off to the races. We headed to the center of the festival layout to see what Cycle Brewing had to offer. We both tried their coffee porter ‘Cream and Sugar, Please’. Think lightly sweetened coffee and you get the idea. It was at this time we took a look at the festival grounds to locate the water stations that were expected to be “everywhere”. Low and behold, there wasn’t a single water station to be seen. I’ll get more into that later. Back to the beer. Next up were the Saint Somewhere Brewing Co. and their Belgian inspired ales. Owner and head brewer, Bob Sylvester, was pouring two beers alongside his lovely wife, Anne. The first up was a Grisette Farmhouse Ale named ‘Oliver’. It was just funky enough with a lemon zest and a clean dry finish.
Next was ‘Caitlin’, a Saison brewed with dried orange slices and hopped with Citra. The sweet/bitterness of the orange came through nicely with lemon, clove and a peppery yeast barnyard funk. Finback Brewery, out of Queens, NY, has attended the festival the last two years, thanks to their association with Civil Society Brewing. They brought a Sour called ‘Red Shift’ which is brewed with cranberries and the Japanese fruit yuzu. It poured a bit thicker than normal and easily receives the award for best color on the day. The tart cranberries come through nicely with undertones of pine and citrus from the yuzu. It’s definitely a sour, but not one that will get the full pucker factor going.
They also brought an IPA called ‘Infinite Probability’ which they brewed in collaboration with the Aeronaut Brewing Company. It was dry hopped with Azacca and Citra and finished with pomegranates. It was a juicy IPA with a very light berry flavor. Proof Brewing brought four beers, none of which was a treatment of their stout ‘Creatures in the Dark’. Typically a stout is one of the beers they bring and the style is what I consider to be their specialty. Of course, they brew a fantastic Berliner Weisse and a pretty darn good IPA as well. So I didn’t pass up on those two offerings. The Berliner Weisse ‘Fruit Punch Evil Kiss’ and ‘Tropical Uprising’ IPA. The Berliner was exactly what you would expect it to be. A tart fruit punch. I have tried a number of their ‘Evil Kiss’ treatments and fruit punch isn’t my favorite but that’s probably because I’m not the biggest fan of fruit punch in general. Now if you love fruit punch you’ll probably love their ‘Evil Kiss’ treatment. ‘Tropical Uprising’ is Proof’s take on the New England style IPA. It’s brewed with oats, wheat, and both Mosaic and Galaxy hops for a hazy tropical juice bomb.
We then hit the Tequesta Brewing/Twisted Trunk Brewing tent and tried the Rushing Stout, which if the name didn’t give it away is a Russian Imperial Stout. I really enjoyed the chewy roastiness. Coming in at just over 11% abv the alcohol was hidden very well. Marker 48 Brewing had one of the most creative lineups of the day with their Raspberry Porter ‘Moose Juice’, Raspberry Pepper Saison ‘Meet the Heat’, and Blackberry Florida Weisse ‘Weeki Weisse’. Out of the three ‘Meet the Heat’ was my favorite. It started out with a slightly tart raspberry followed on the backend by the heat from the cayenne peppers. It was a really enjoyable take on the Saison. ‘Moose Juice’ was easy drinking without the raspberries overpowering the beer. The ‘Weeki Weisse’ was nice, but I found myself wanting a bit more from the blackberries. All in all, I look forward to paying Marker 48 Brewing a visit as I really liked what they had at the festival. The Barrel of Monks Brewing brought along four or five beers all of which I had tried except for ‘Christmas Morning’. I hadn’t read the description yet so I was surprised when I was smacked in the face by the aroma and massive taste of coffee. Being a winter ale you got the hints of spices, but that coffee really won me over.
The Hop Life Brewing Co. is one of the newer breweries on the block so I was interested in trying a few of their concoctions. The ‘Nut House Coffee Porter’ is a roasty nut infested chocolate coffee treat. Hop Life takes their milk porter and blends it with hazelnut, coconut, and southern pecan bourbon coffee which is brewed in-house. I would love for them to brew an imperial version of this beer. The other brew I tried from Hop Life was their ‘Mother Pucker Gose’. It’s aged on pineapple and mango and spends 6 days souring on Lactobacillus. The mango overtook the pineapple a bit and I think it could use a bit more time on the Lacto to gain more of a pucker factor, but overall it was a really enjoyable Gose. The surprise of the day came from the Tampa Bay Brewing Company. They were pouring a Breckenridge rye whiskey barrel aged imperial stout called ‘Dixie Dirt’ that was absolutely fantastic! The big 12 percenter hid the alcohol like nobody’s business. Chocolate and coffee roast backed by the rye barrel went extremely well. This was released back in December so there may still be bottles available somewhere.
From the Sailfish Brewing Company, I tried a Belgian Strong Dark Ale called Johnny Stumbleseed. Think apples, vanilla, cinnamon, and cloves all in a deliciously chewy brew with a bit of heat from the almost 10% abv.
It’s sad to say since I’m only 10 minutes or so from Civil Society Brewing, but Saturday was the first time I tried ‘Every Day I’m Waffle’n’. No, it’s not just a name, it is actually brewed with waffles, maple syrup, and Citra and Centennial hops. I’m guessing the hops have died down a bit from when it was first brewed, but all I could think was that I had a mouthful of syrup covered waffles. It’s one of those beers you don’t think can be pulled off until you actually try it. The other beer I tried from Civil was ‘Barrel Aged King Gary Goes Bananas’. I had this beer on its release day and it’s just as good now as I remember it. It’s basically chocolate covered bananas with a bit of whiskey. Just so damn good! The ‘Tiny Guitar Gose’ from Bangin’ Banjo Brewing was brewed with sea salt, coriander, guava, mango, and passion fruit and absolutely hit it out of the park! The Gose is definitely their specialty! After that, we more or less called it quits and grabbed an Uber home.
Before I get into my spiel about water I just want to say that I’ve always enjoyed the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival because it feels like home. Yes, it’s only ten or so minutes from my house, but it’s also the first beer festival I ever attended and since that first time in 2012 I’ve only missed it once. Odds are if I’m in town next year I’ll attend the festival again. It’s one of the festivals I pencil into my calendar alongside Hunahpu’s Day without a second thought.
However, I have a problem with a festival that not only doesn’t provide water stations for its attendees but also doesn’t allow water to be brought inside. If you don’t want to provide water stations like every other large festival (Hunahpu’s Day or the Florida Tap Invitational) then at least allow water to be brought in. If you decide to go full-on money grab and not allow water to be brought in then at least have the courtesy to announce beforehand that water will not be allowed. You know, throw it right alongside “No strollers, backpacks or dogs allowed.” To top it off only breweries that brought their own supply of water were able to rinse the glasses between each pour. See, it’s not just about staying hydrated it’s also about being able to drink a brewery’s beer as it was meant to be had. By that, I mean not mixed with the prior beers remnants in the glass. Oh and one more thing. No bags should mean no bags. There were plenty of women carrying around purses. In saying all of that the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival has always been a great festival that I have enjoyed from beginning to end. It’s just a shame that a bit of poor planning puts a cloud over a normally fantastic festival. Hell, I imagine I’m in the minority when it comes to this complaint. The overall majority of attendees are there trying everything you put in front of them without giving a second thought to mixing beers. Hopefully, next year’s festival will make the needed adjustments. Ok, I’m stepping off of my soapbox now.
Did you attend the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival? What was your overall experience? I would love to hear from you.