Civil Society’s 2nd Anniversary Block Party

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

Civil Society’s 2nd Anniversary Block Party

The Civil Society Brewing Company jumped into the South Florida craft beer scene running at full speed in November 2015. It’s now two years later and nothing is slowing these boys down. Hell, just this past January, as Civil was beginning year two, they were listed as #5 on the Best New Brewers in the World list by RateBeer. Not to be outdone Thrillist.com listed Civil on The Best New Breweries in America list this past March (2017).

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

So what did Civil Society do to celebrate their first two years of extraordinary success? Well, they threw a party, of course. They invited their friends from near and far, closed down the street, and had a block party. Tickets came in three different variations. General admission was $60.00 and included Civil Society’s 2nd Anniversary badass tasting glass and unlimited samples. General admission + tickets were $80.00 and included the above plus a 4-pack of Civil Society’s ‘2nd Anniversary DIPA’. Finally, for the extra thirsty in the crowd, Civil released 200 VIP tickets for $175.00 a piece. Included in that price were the tasting glass, unlimited pours, and a mixed case of three 4-packs of the ‘2nd Anniversary DIPA’ and three 4-packs of Fresh Pulp. The DIPA was brewed using Summer, Citra, Hallertau Blanc, Mosaic, Lemondrop and Mosaic Lupulin Pellets while ‘Fresh Pulp’ was a mix of both ‘Fresh’ and ‘Pulp’ thrown together in fermentation. What more could you possibly want?

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

The line began to form a bit before 11:00 a.m. for the 12:00 p.m. start of Civil Society’s 2nd Anniversary. After taking a few pics of the line winding down the sidewalk, back up, and down a side street I jumped in line and received my general admission bracelet.

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

Once the line started moving we were filtered in through the brewery, passed all of the merch, to get our ticket scanned and a choice between different color combination glasses.

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

After that, it was time for the fun to start! First up was the absolutely deliciously dank and juicy Double Dry Hopped Mylar Bags DIPA from Other Half Brewing. Not a bad way to start the day! A quick jaunt across the street brought me to the Angry Chair Brewing tent to try ‘Sloth Love Coffee’, which is their ‘Rocky Road Imperial Stout’ with coffee, and the ‘Rum BA Imperial Awakening Imperial Stout’. I’ve never had an Angry Chair Stout I didn’t absolutely love and these were no different. Next up was the Superstition Meadery and their choice between an adjunct heavy mead and a blueberry cider. ‘Devour the Sun’ was a mead made in collaboration with Horus Aged Ales which included Mostra Jamaican Blue Mountain Coffee, cacao nibs, toasted coconut, macadamia nuts, and marshmallow. The chocolate from the cacao nibs came through more than anything else for me. The ‘Blueberry Spaceship Box’ cider is made with Blueberry juice and currently holds the top spot as best cider on both Untappd and Ratebeer. I enjoyed both of Superstitions offerings, but the cider took top billing for me.

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

The Answer Brewpub and their two offerings were next on the list. The ‘Phantom Limb Pain Imperial Stout’ was brewed with almonds, chocolate, coffee, and toasted coconut. They also brought ‘Mind Games’, a DIPA, which is triple dry-hopped with Mosaic, El Dorado, and Galaxy hops. Both beers were quite good, but the imperial stout was a step above for me. Unseen Creatures Brewing and Blending brought ‘DDH in the Clouds’ and ‘Michele’. The ‘DDH in the Clouds’ Pale Ale was brewed with Citra, Simcoe, and Cascade hops and dry-hopped with even more Simcoe and Citra. ‘Michele’ is a mixed fermentation Farmhouse Ale refermented with cherries. Both offerings were good, but I especially enjoyed the tart cherry from ‘Michele’. Unseen Creatures are tentatively scheduled to open their doors in early 2018 in North Miami and specialize in Farmhouse inspired Wild Ales.

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

Southern Grist Brewing was next on the list with one of the most talked about beers of the day. They took their ‘Vanillionaire Imperial Sweet Stout’ and added coconut to it specifically for the anniversary. ‘Coconut Vanillionaire’ was one of the first beers mentioned as a favorite by just about everyone except me. There was something I just didn’t like about it. Maybe an overabundance of vanilla? Who knows? They also brought ‘Evan’s Emergency’ which is their New England IPA with the addition of mango. Interestingly enough Evan from Civil Society is apparently deathly allergic to mangoes hence the name. I’m always a fan of mango in a beer so I really enjoyed ‘Evan’s Emergency’. Bottle Logic was up next with their bourbon barrel aged strong ale ‘Stronger Than Fiction’. It was dangerously smooth for being 13% abv and was one of my favorite beers of the day.

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

Cigar City’s ‘Decoherence’ imperial stout was being poured from the bottle and is drinking absolutely fantastic right now! It’s a combination of a bourbon barrel aged porter and a brandy barrel aged imperial stout, which is then aged on both coffee and coconut. Commence drooling now! The Equilibrium Brewery was one I had never tried before. Their ‘Casey Passionfruit’ Farmhouse Ale was being poured and I was lucky enough to get a taste from the last available bottle. Boy, was I happy I did! It was a funky sour and lightly sweet passion fruit bomb that I could’ve drank all day. Equilibrium also brought a DIPA brewed with Citra and Galaxy hops called ‘dHop 5’. Think creamy tropical fruit bomb.

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

The Finback Brewery has been in town for festivals twice in 2017 and my only complaint is that they don’t come down more often. They brought their ‘High Contrast’ Imperial Coffee Porter and their ‘Neon Prophecy’ IPA, which is a collaboration with the Burlington Beer Company. It’s brewed with honey, bee pollen, and royal jelly and then dry-hopped with Vic Secret, Ahtanum, Citra, and Mosaic hops. In typical Finback style, both beers were tasty as hell!

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

Vermont’s own Foam Brewers brought down two DIPA’s. Experimental Jet Set and Galaxie 500 were both fantastic. Now I see why everyone is trading for their cans. The Cloudwater Brew Co. traveled across the pond from Manchester, England to share their wares. I tried their ‘Black Forest’ Imperial Stout, a collaboration with a brewery in Norway called Lervig Aktiebryggeri, which is brewed with sour cherry juice, sweet cherry juice, and Tonka beans. Interestingly enough Tonka beans are illegal to sell in the United States and have to be smuggled in from South America so the finest eateries in the U.S. can use them in their dishes. They give off aromas of vanilla, cherry, almonds, and a spiciness that resembles cinnamon. The beer itself was very lightly tart cherry with chocolate, cinnamon and a bit of coffee. It was one of the more interesting stouts of the day in my opinion. Cerebral Brewing out of Denver brought bottles of ‘Barrel Aged Work From Home’. It’s a decadent Imperial Breakfast Porter with Vermont maple syrup, Columbian coffee, and aged for 12 months in Woodford Reserve Barrels. Think chocolate, syrup, coffee, and a kick of bourbon.

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

The Charles Towne Fermentory brought ‘La Vida Gose with Apricots and Peaches’. A delicious gose with the perfect meld of tart and salty with a bright, fresh burst of apricot and peaches. Very well done! Oh and thanks for the t-shirt guys! Horus Aged Ales brought a 16.8% monster of a Russian Imperial Stout brewed specifically for Civil Society’s 2nd Anniversary. ‘Civil Predator’ is a collaboration with the Wren House Brewing Company, which used chocolate, honey, and marshmallow in the brew. A beer that big and chewy shouldn’t be able to hide the alcohol so well but hide the alcohol it did. The Kent Falls Brewing Company was my last brewery of the day. They were pouring their ‘Hawaiian Brunch’ Pale Ale and ‘Walking Away in Slow Motion as the Car Explodes Behind You’ Imperial Gose. The ‘Hawaiian Brunch’ was brewed with pineapple, hibiscus, and dry-hopped with Galaxy and Michigan Copper hops. It poured a deliciously creamy pink and had an almost fruit punch taste to it followed quickly by the hibiscus and finished off with bitter pineapple. Definitely an interesting beer. The Gose not only won the prize for the longest name of the day but was also pretty damn tasty! It was brewed with mangoes, lime zest, and dry hopped with Nelson Sauvin hops. The tart lime and sweet mango went together very well. It was a great way to finish off a day of drinking. After some small talk and a few pictures, I made my way home to recoup.

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

Overall Civil Society pulled off another fantastic anniversary party. I only heard two complaints from folks the entire day. The first was that there should be water stations on both sides of the event and not just one in the center that seemed to be empty any time I was nearby. I don’t think it was anyone’s fault. I just think with that many people more than one station is a must. The other complaint which I heard often the day of and the days following was that some of the visiting breweries ran out of beer in the first couple of hours or in J. Wakefield’s case in the first hour. By about the three-hour mark a majority of the brewers were done for the day.

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

Of course, the number one complaint was that if you schedule a festival to run until 5:00 pm then there should be beer flowing until then. Keep in mind Civil continued to pour inside the brewery. I think the main culprit was the glasses that Civil used. Don’t get me wrong, the glasses with their multiple color schemes were great but, they were able to hold eight ounces without a problem. Now there’s a two-ounce indicator on each glass, but a lot of folks (brewers and volunteers alike) disregarded the two-ounce pour. Personally, brewers running out of beer wasn’t a huge deal to me. I tried a whole hell of a lot of amazing beer some of which I probably would have missed if the more widely known breweries hadn’t run out. That’s one of the great things about brewery events like this. Brewers are brought in from all over, a majority of which don’t have a foothold in Florida.

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

In closing, two years in Civil are showing no signs of slowing down. If the boys aren’t in town brewing some kick-ass hoppy concoction for the next Saturday can release, then they are off collaborating with another brewery. Hopefully, that collaboration is with someone new that we will see in town for the 3rd-anniversary block party. Congratulations on two years, Civil! I’m really looking forward to watching the brewery continue to grow right before my eyes.

Civil Society's 2nd Anniversary

The 2017 Beer Advent Calendar

 

The 2017 Beer Advent Calendar

It’s that time of year again. The holidays are upon us and with that the holiday shopping! When I get asked what I want for Christmas the answer is ALWAYS the same. You guessed it. Craft Beer! You can’t go wrong getting craft beer as a gift for a craft beer drinker…or can you? Unless I ask for a specific beer, the possibilities of what I may receive are endless. I can’t imagine it’s easy for the gift giver to search out the beer either. The people who normally buy craft beer for me don’t really know craft beer. I may tell them a certain style to look for (if they ask) or maybe even a specific beer that I’m after, but the purchase really comes down to the clerk who’s working that day. Nothing against the folks that work the craft beer section at your local store, but most of the time they know little about craft beer. So my dear gift givers are left with not a lot of help in selecting a craft beer gift!

I received the 2017 Beer Advent Calendar in exchange for my honest opinion. The links in this post contain affiliate links at no cost to you. I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link.

The 2017 Beer Advent Calendar

Well, now I have found the answer to all of our craft beer problems! The Beer Advent Calendar is coming to the rescue this Holiday season! The Beer Advent Calendar contains 12 individual beers each packaged under a number representing that day of Advent. Each beer has a rating of very good to exceptional on Beeradvocate.com. That’s impressive! I was lucky enough to get an early Christmas present this year and got to try the Beer Advent Calendar myself! The beer styles I received were Hefeweizen, IPA, Brown Ale, Maibock, Stout, and Imperial Stout. It’s definitely a nice range of styles. Some of which the recipient may have had before and some they probably have not. It will all depend on their distribution and location. On top of the beer, the giftee will also receive a bottle opener, a coaster, a koozie, and a personalized gift message. The packaging is perfect for the holidays complete with pictures of Santa, a couple of his reindeer, and Frosty the Snowman. All of which are, of course, holding a beer.

The 2017 Beer Advent Calendar

This festive Beer Advent Calendar can be delivered to your favorite coworker, family member, friend, or even that grouchy neighbor who obviously needs a craft beer or two in his life for $79.99 plus shipping. I think it’s the perfect gift for the craft beer drinker on your holiday gift list! Are you the craft beer drinker? Don’t worry. Go ahead and get this Beer Advent Calendar and treat yo’ self! Santa approves!

The 2017 Beer Advent Calendar

 

 

The Tampa Craft Beer Scene

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post by the Tampa Limousine Company. I have been compensated for this post appearing on my website.

Tampa can certainly be considered a craft beer destination. With time-tested classics as well as new breweries opening periodically, it’s easy to spend a lot of time discovering all of the different choices available to you here. We’re here with some of the newest and most popular places to visit with friends, as well as a suggestion to make your trip run more smoothly.

Tampa Craft Beer

Cigar City Brewing

3924 W Spruce St

Tampa, FL 33607

Tourists and locals love Cigar City Brewing, and for good reason. Not only do they have an impressive selection of beers in their tap room, but they also sell hand-rolled cigars that can be enjoyed outside. For only five dollars you get a pint glass to take home, your choice of beer to fill it, and a tour of the brewery if you so desire. The Jai Alai is a grapefruit IPA that’s sure to get your attention. There isn’t food available here, but there’s often a food truck outside the doors.

Tampa Craft Beer

7venth Sun Brewery

6809 N Nebraska Ave

Tampa, FL 33604

This is 7venth Sun’s second location following the first which is located in Dunedin. This one specifically boasts a large outdoor patio, hip atmosphere, and a range of beers available from fruity to heavy. The Graffiti Orange is a pleasant orange creamsicle wheat brew that has a lot of people talking! There’s potential for great live entertainment here, and they plan on collaborating with other brewers in the area, so this is definitely a business that you’re going to want to watch.

Tampa Craft Beer

Rock Brothers Brewing

1901 N 15th St

Tampa, FL 33605

This brewery, cocktail bar, art, and music venue are a hip hang out in the Ybor City area. Upstairs is where all of the music and improv shows happen, while downstairs offers a delightful assortment of drinks to choose from. There isn’t food offered here, but you can bring your own from one of the local eateries. This is an interesting space that’s sure to host some great memories for yourself and your friends.

Tampa Craft Beer

Enjoying new brews in different Tampa craft beer destinations is a great way to spend a night with friends, but be sure to do it responsibly! Accounting for your transportation as you prepare to go out for a brewery tour in Tampa is the best way to settle all of the inconvenient details like traffic, designated drivers, parking, and finding directions with a simple reservation. The Tampa Party Bus Company is perfect for this type of get together because the space and amenities on board allow you to socialize with friends like you can’t do when you’re in an Uber or taxi.

5th Annual Florida Tap Invitational

As you may know, I’m on a quest to review every brewery in Florida. Unfortunately, a large portion of the Sunshine State isn’t exactly conducive for a day trip to check out a few breweries. Tallahassee, for example, has five breweries but is a five-hour and forty-five-minute drive for me. So when one of my favorite Florida breweries invited me up for the 5th Annual Florida Tap Invitational held in our state capital of Tallahassee, I was ecstatic! The Proof Brewing Company started the craft beer craze in Tallahassee when they opened their doors in 2012. A year later, the husband and wife team of Byron and Angela Burroughs came up with the brilliant idea to have a festival based solely around Florida breweries. Now that’s a great idea, but to push the envelope a bit further, each brewery in attendance is required to bring at least two beers that are either one-offs or don’t go into distribution. Basically, each brewery is bringing only the good stuff. I’m talking 45 breweries, two cideries, and 102 delicious alcoholic beverages.

Florida Tap Invitational

Tickets for this year’s festival, which was held on September 29th and 30th, fell into two levels. General admission tickets were $55 and included a food and beer pairing the night before the festival, entrance into the Florida Tap Invitational at 1:00pm, and unlimited samples at the festival. VIP Tickets were $100 and included everything above plus entrance into the festival an hour earlier, a 750ml bottle of ‘Royal Blood Line’ Imperial Stout (released to VIP ticket holders only), a plate of food at the festival, and a chance to try the ‘Coffee & Vanilla aged Royal Bloodline’. Either way, you look at it, both options are pretty amazing.

Florida Tap Invitational

My trip to Florida’s Panhandle started around 9:45 Thursday morning after dropping my son off at school. Thankfully I didn’t face a single issue and arrived at my hotel in Tallahassee at 3:00pm. After checking in to the hotel I headed over to the GrassLands Brewing Co. They were the first of five brewery reviews I had scheduled while I was in town for the festival. I spent the next three hours trying the beer, touring the facility and talking with Gabe Grass who owns the brewery with his wife Saralynn. Three hours are typically longer than I spend reviewing a brewery, but the folks of Grasslands made for great conversation. I headed back to the hotel grabbing food from Whataburger on the way before calling it a night.

Florida Tap Invitational

Friday morning I hit Denny’s before heading over to the Proof Brewing Company. I arrived at Proof around 12:15 to find a friend from Instagram already sitting at the bar. Lisa and I talked a bit about the upcoming festivities before I got to work on my review. Overall I could not have been more impressed with the beer and the facility. I asked around for Smitty who was my contact at the brewery and who had extended the invitation to me. After a quick hello, he headed back to business. All of the brewers and brewery reps were showing up for a pre-festival get-together and Smitty was running around preparing for the festival.

Florida Tap Invitational

Through the grapevine, I learned that the Ology Brewing Company was having a couple special releases. I wasn’t scheduled to pay them a visit until Sunday, but I mean come on. Special releases! I arrived at Ology around 3:30 to find another Instagram buddy holding down the fort. Bryan was in town for the festival with his brother from Panama City. I also met Matt who was there representing the Tallahassee Beer Society (@TLHBeerSociety on Twitter and Instagram). The TLH Beer Society knows anything and about the Tallahassee beer scene and they took it upon themselves to show me around town. If you’re ever heading to Tally they are absolutely the ones to talk to about what’s happening in town. The first of the special releases was a 5% marshmallow milk stout called ‘Quantum Mallow’. I’m picky when it comes to milk stouts, but I enjoyed Quantum Mallow and its hint of marshmallow. The next special release was a 4% abv Berliner Weisse called ‘Straw-Barb Wall’ that was brewed with strawberries and rhubarb. Like everywhere else in Florida the fruited Berliner Weisse is pretty popular in Tallahassee and the ‘Straw-Barb Wall’ was a good example of one.

Florida Tap Invitational

After a bit more small talk it was time to head over to the Lake Tribe Brewing Company. The brewery taproom is only open six and a half hours a week. That’s it! They focus on distribution more than serving in-house. Lake Tribe was definitely the smallest brewery in Tallahassee, but that doesn’t stop them from producing delicious beer. They brew a fantastic DIPA and seem to have their barrel aged sour game down pat. Lake Tribe is also where I met the founder of the TLH Beer Society, Danny. We had talked a bit about the Tallahassee beer scene before my trip up so it was nice to meet him.

Florida Tap Invitational

From there I followed Danny over to the Madison Social and Township, where the food and beer pairing was being held. On arrival, we were issued our cups and tickets for food and activities. On top of the beer and food pairings, the tickets were also used for the carnival-like beer games. After trying a sample of Proof’s gold-winning ‘Soci-Ale’ it was time for some food.

Florida Tap Invitational

The first pairing was a Chicken Pastor with Peach and Pineapple salsa paired with the Proof Madison ‘Soci-Ale’.

Florida Tap Invitational

Next up were jalapeno blackberry Buffalo wings paired with Proofs ‘Mango Wit’. After the wings came a Pork Belly Slider on a steamed bun with pickled veggies and hoisin glaze paired with Proof‘s ‘EightFive-O Pale Ale’.

Florida Tap Invitational

Last but not least were meatballs paired with Proof’s ‘Lager’. All of the food was delicious and the beers paired with them were spot on. After a few hours, I called it quits and headed back to the hotel for the night.

Florida Tap Invitational

Saturday morning, after another stop at Denny’s, I hopped a ride from Lyft and arrived at Proof at about 11:45 to get in the VIP line. After ID’s and wristbands were exchanged, tickets were scanned, and we were in the gates at noon with mini snifter in hand. My first stop was the Proof tent to try out the ‘Coffee Vanilla Royal Blood Line’ Imperial Stout. Coming in at 12% this bad boy had VIP written all over it. Coffee and vanilla for days!

Florida Tap Invitational

I spent the next 45 minutes or so at the Proof tent trying everything they had to offer. A number of which were absolutely delicious variants of their 4.5% ‘Evil Kiss Berliner Weisse’. The ‘Blood Orange Hibiscus’, ‘Blue Raspberry’, ‘Kiwi Wild Strawberry’ on cask, ‘Black Currant Aronia’, and ‘Key Lime’ were each better than the last.

Florida Tap Invitational

My favorite of the bunch was the Black Currant Aronia of which I had a couple of pours. It was almost chewy and reminded me a bit of a puree. The 6.4% ‘Peach Mango Coconut Tropical Uprising’ N.E. Style IPA was peach forward with a mango backing and just a hint of coconut. The 8% ‘Oaked Creatures in the Dark’ on Cask was a nice addition to the already tasty base version of Creatures.

Florida Tap Invitational

The last beer I tried from the Proof tent was the ‘Red Wine BA Litany of Angels’ aged on Cherries. It was a 9% Belgian Strong Ale with a hint of cherries and a lovely red wine backing. I’m always a sucker for a beer aged in wine barrels. In between just about every beer, I downed a snifter of water. Proof smartly placed kegs of water throughout the festival grounds. I really didn’t see anyone staggering during the fest, so the water certainly seemed to do its job.

Florida Tap Invitational

The Hidden Springs Ale Works table was my next stop for their ‘Brawndo, The Thirst Mutilator’ Gatorade Gose. If water isn’t your thing, this Key Lime Gose brewed with electrolytes will certainly help to hydrate you.

Florida Tap Invitational

JDub’s Brewing Co. was up next and it didn’t matter if I wanted to try their offerings or not because their Sales Rep Jorge is absolutely the most enthusiastic person I’ve ever met. There is no way to not get sucked into what he’s selling. The 11.1% ‘Siesta Key Rum Barrel Aged Imperial Stout’ he was hawking was damn good. A lot of times rum BA stouts taste ‘off’ to me, but this one had everything going right for it. It was like a sweet chocolatey rum ball. A quick slide to the right brought me to the J. Wakefield Brewing table. Alex and company were serving their fruit punch Berliner ‘Haterade’ and a lemon and lime Berliner called ‘Troll So Hard’. I had tried both before and just like in the past, they both hit their flavor profiles on point. I told myself I wouldn’t try anything I had already had before, but it’s hard to pass up a stout or Berliner from Wakefield. Even though I was scheduled to pay the Deep Brewing Company a visit the day after the festival I still wanted to see what they were all about. Owner and Head Brewer Ryan LaPete was manning the table next to a deep water dive helmet which had been turned into a tap beer dispenser.

Florida Tap Invitational

He was pouring his 10.2% Belgian Tripel, ‘Holy Spear It’ and ‘Sea Dragon Dragonfruit Gose’. The Gose was spot on with a delicious sweet tart mix of Passionfruit and Dragon fruit with a salty dry finish. The Tripel, on the other hand, seemed to be missing something for me. It just didn’t have that alcoholic spicy bite that I’ve come to love from the style. In saying that, I did enjoy it more the next day at the brewery, but it was still missing that special character for me. I have a feeling my palate had taken a wrecking from all of the Berliners I had tried to that point because I heard a number of times how much people really enjoyed the beer.

Florida Tap Invitational

Calusa Brewing was up next with their ‘Imperial Barrel Aged Dissonance Breakfast Brown’. Dissonance comes in at a very healthy 11.5% and gives off flavors of bourbon, vanilla, sweet chocolate, cinnamon, and coffee. It’s really a fantastic imperial breakfast brown ale that I need to find a bottle of somewhere. One thing you can always count on when it comes to Angry Chair Brewing is their ‘A’ game. The taps were manned by co-founder Ryan Dowdle, who brought along his 11% ‘Rocky Road Imperial Stout’ and 4% ‘Apricot Berliner Weisse’. Angry Chair, like Wakefield, is another one that stops traffic when it comes to Stouts and Berliners. Rocky Road is a sweet, chewy orgy of marshmallows, vanilla, and chocolate with a nutty finish. I love Apricots and the ‘Apricot Berliner Weisse’ did not let me down. There was an enjoyable amount of apricot with just enough tartness to even everything out.

Florida Tap Invitational

Arkane Aleworks was up next and I believe this was my first time trying anything from them. If their ‘Gimme Swelter Berliner Weisse’ is any indication of what they have to offer, I want more, please. It was slightly tart with juicy mango up front and a slight Habanero bite on the backend. I love when a beer has just the right amount of heat.

Florida Tap Invitational

My sleeper beer of the day came from the Swamp Head Brewery. They brought Peat Dunwoody’s Somoa Cookie Wee Heavy to the festival. The Scotch Ale is a favorite style of mine, so I was excited to see that a brewery actually brought one. This wasn’t just any Scotch Ale either. Swamp Head took their base beer, which is already aged in 20 y/o bourbon barrels, and threw in chocolate and coconut. Oh My God was this beer delicious! It tasted like the cookie, but with the malty bourbon sweetness of the base. From what I understand, this is brewed only in small batches. ‘Pete Dunwoody’s Samoa Cookie’ needs to be bottled and when that happens, I’ll be driving up to Gainesville for the release!

Florida Tap Invitational

The Saltwater Brewery and Head Brewer Dustin Jeffers brought ‘Hazelnut Coffee Mayday’ and ‘Swags Spa Day’. Spa Day was a 3.7% Golden Ale brewed with cucumber and mint. Think of the cucumber water you’ve had at the spa and throw in mint and you get the idea. The cucumber and mint played off each other quite well. ‘Hazelnut Coffee Mayday’ comes in at 9% and is a hazelnut coffee drinkers dream come true. This beer punches you in the face with hazelnut and coffee and yes, that’s a good thing!

Florida Tap Invitational

The Red Cypress Brewery brought a 7% Saison called Wild Ones: Foeder #1. It’s oak aged and fermented with Brettanomyces for a year. You get a nice earth and oaky funk with a slight tart.

Florida Tap Invitational

Oyster City Brewing was up next with their bourbon barrel aged Brown Ale, ‘Midnight at the Oasis’. There’s a smooth bourbon bite with roasty malts, coffee, and vanilla. It was an easy drinker at 11%.

Florida Tap Invitational

Odd Breed Wild Ales co-founders Matt Manthe and Daniel Naumko brought their ‘Prickly Pear Farmhouse Ale’ and ‘Viognier Barrel Aged Wild Gold’. The Prickly Pear is 6% and aged in French oak barrels before being refermented with Prickly Pears. There is some serious barnyard funk with a slight fruity tartness at the end. I wanted a bit more of the fruit to match up with the funk though. The Viognier is aged with their house wild yeast and souring bacteria for 11 months in Viognier wine barrels sourced out of California. The result is easily the sourest beer of the day. Oaky goodness bursting with flavors of tropical fruit and citrus. Odd Breed is scheduled to open later this year in Pompano Beach. They will be exclusively brewing fermented and oak aged ales. Currently, they still have openings in their bottle club. If you’re a fan of sours this is the club for you!

Florida Tap Invitational

One of four founders and Head Brewer, John Denny, was on hand to pour for the First Magnitude Brewing Co. John was pouring a ‘Vanilla Black Rye Ale’ and a ‘Passionfruit Sour Pale Ale’ with Mosaic hops. The ‘Vanilla Black’ was the perfect mix of chocolate, vanilla, roasty malts, and a spicy rye kick. I love what rye does to a beer when it’s used correctly. The ‘Passionfruit Sour’ played well with the fruitiness from the Mosaic hops with just enough of a sour character. I really loved First Magnitude when I reviewed them last year and I certainly enjoyed both of these offerings as well. If you haven’t checked out Gainesville’s craft beer scene, you’re definitely missing out!

Florida Tap Invitational

The Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s ‘Navin’s Sorrow’ was my last beer of the festival. At 12% Navin’s is a bourbon barrel aged split between an Imperial Stout and a Barleywine with raspberries and salted caramel added. Both the raspberries and caramel came through with a chewy roasty dark cocoa. It was a delicious way to end the 5th Annual Florida Tap Invitational.

Florida Tap Invitational

While finishing my last beer, a couple of waters, and a BBQ pork sandwich with mac and cheese (part of VIP ticket) I hung out in Proof’s taproom watching the Seminoles squeak out a win. I was supposed to join Bryan and a few others for a bottle share later that night, but I was still up in the air on whether I was going or not. I was scheduled to review Ology Brewing at noon on Sunday before heading over to Deep Brewing for their review. After the game was over I ordered a Lyft and headed back to the hotel. It didn’t take long to decide that I was going to grab Chick-fil-A for dinner and call it a night.

Florida Tap Invitational

I woke up Sunday morning and checked out of the hotel. I headed over to Denny’s once again for breakfast. What can I say? I’m easy. After eating and catching about an hour of my Miami Dolphins crapping it up in London, I headed over to the Ology Brewing Co. Being that it was noon on a Sunday, there were only a few other people at the brewery, which made knocking out my review pretty easy. It also helped to have the primary owner and Head Brewer, Nick Walker, on hand. I finished up in an hour and a half, which is record time for me to complete a review. Nick asked if I wanted to try the apricot and peach sour that is currently in barrels. That was an offer I could not refuse. Forty pounds of each fruit went into the beer. Forty pounds! It was delicious and luckily for you folks in Tally, Nick says it will be his first bottle release. Do not miss that release! Trust me.

Florida Tap Invitational

I finished up my flight and headed over to the Deep Brewing Company to review my 5th and final brewery on the trip. I knew that Deep was releasing ‘Holy Spear It’ for their first ever bottle release so I wasn’t surprised to see a line along the building when I pulled up. Come to find out the line wasn’t for the bottle release but for the Tally Mac Shack (@TallyMacShack on Instagram and Twitter) food truck grand opening. There were people who had been literally standing in line for two hours to get a taste. Unfortunately for a large portion of them, the Tally Mac Shack ran out of food. They literally went through 60 pounds of cheese!

Florida Tap Invitational

I found a spot at the bar, ordered my first flight and reintroduced myself to Owner and Head Brewer, Ryan LaPete. Oh, and did I mention that Deep was also having a Tap Invitational hangover party as well? Needless to say, the taproom was pretty much packed. After an hour or so, the crowd thinned out enough for Ryan to take some time out, from doing literally everything, to show me around the brewery. Dreading the fact that I had a five-hour drive ahead of me, I took my time sampling Ryan’s wares. For only being open a little over a year his beers were quite enjoyable.

Florida Tap Invitational

Around 6:30 or so I figured it was time to start thinking about heading home. I asked the gentlemen behind the bar (Clayton, Jesse, and Will) for a good place to catch a bite to eat before heading out-of-town and after commiserating for a few minutes they came up with the Grub Burger Bar.

Florida Tap Invitational

I headed over and had a pretty darn good burger and fries. By 8:30 I was on the road heading home. I took my time and hit a couple of thunderstorms on the way so I didn’t arrive till almost 2:30 in the morning. This was the longest I had been away from my wife and son so I was quite happy to be home and in my own bed again.

Florida Tap Invitational

Overall, I really enjoyed the Florida Tap Invitational. One of the great things about it being held in the panhandle of Florida is with no cities in the general vicinity, you don’t get a lot of people who travel to Tallahassee for the festival. With only about 800 people in attendance, I didn’t have to wait in a line longer than two minutes. The festival set up was spread out enough to where the event didn’t feel crowded at all. One of the many things I loved about the festival is that breweries either send brewery representatives, who know what they are talking about or the brewers/owners themselves. Part of the reason for this is Proof not only purchases the first two kegs a brewery brings, but they also purchase the hotel rooms for each breweries hotel stay. You can feel that everyone who is pouring wants to be there as part of the event. The one thing that stuck out above all else for me, regarding the festival, is that Florida has the Berliner (Florida) Weisse game on lock! If I had to dig up one complaint about the festival it would be that 31 of the 102 beers were either IPA’s or Pale Ales. That is quite a hefty chunk. There were plenty of beer styles to go around even if there wasn’t a single Barleywine in the bunch and only three Porters. But I digress. I really have to commend the Proof Brewing Company for putting on an A+ festival!

Florida Tap Invitational

Tallahassee has turned itself into a nice little craft beer town which I just love to see. I can’t wait to experience how the craft atmosphere changes by the time I head back up next year. I’ll see you then!

Cheers!

 

Here are a few crowd shots:

Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational Florida Tap Invitational

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash

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.

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash

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.

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash

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.

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash

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.

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer BashUp 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.

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash

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.

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash

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.

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash
Photography by: Dawn’s Photography

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.

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash
Photography by: Dawn’s Photography

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?

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash

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.

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash

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!

Cheers!

PGA National Resort & Spa Craft Beer Bash

(Pre) PGA National Resort & Spa: Craft Beer Bash

Craft Beer Bash

I’m already looking forward to this weekend and it’s not even Wednesday yet. Saturday, August 19th the PGA National Resort and Spa is hosting their third annual Craft Beer Bash. With 150 different craft beer and ciders available you won’t find a variety like this anywhere else this weekend. Oh, and did I mention it’s an indoor festival? That’s right! The Craft Beer Bash is air-conditioned! I love craft beer, but trying to enjoy a craft beer festival when it’s 95+ degrees outside is damn near exhausting. If the alcohol doesn’t get you, the sun sure will.

Craft Beer Bash

A portion of the proceeds will help benefit Bluewater Babes Fish for a Cure, an all-female fishing tournament. The money raised goes to local breast and ovarian cancer patients in financial need. Boat registrations for the tournament being held October 6th and 7th 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.

Craft Beer Bash

The festival starts at 1:00 pm and continues until 4:00 pm at which time the party will continue at the iBar. Live entertainment will be provided by Sweet Justice and DJ/Electric Violinist Timothee Lovelock of Lovelock Music Group. There will be a number of time release tappings, a cider area, and a vendor village with specialty retail goods and food concessions (for purchase).  Festival attendees will be able to vote for their favorite beers and ciders in a ‘People’s Choice Awards’. There will also be a Homebrewers competition. The winner will receive an estimated $1,200.00 prize package. Tickets are $39.00 in advance and $49.00 at the door. There will only be 200 tickets available the day of. For tickets and homebrew competition info visit Eventbrite. Room packages are also available. A single occupancy room including ticket starts at $149.00 while double occupancy with two tickets starts at $179.00. To reserve your Beer Bash room package, call 855-896-4762.

Craft Beer Bash

I’m looking forward to another weekend built around craft beer. Come join me at this year’s Craft Beer Bash! I hope to see you there, but if you can’t make it look for my review next week!

Craft Beer Bash

*All pictures provided by the PGA National Resort and Spa.

Brewery List

Accomplice Brewery & Ciderworks

Ace Cider

Altech Lexington Brewing

B. Nektar Meadery

Ballast Point Brewing

Barrel of Monks Brewing

Bell’s Brewery

Blue Point Brewing

Boulevard Brewing

Breckenridge Brewery

Broski Ciderworks

Choufe / Duvel Moortgat

Cigar City Brewing

Civil Society Brewing

Clown Shoes

Coastal Karma Brewing

Copperpoint Brewing

DESTIHL Brewery

Devour Brewing

Dogfish Head Craft Brewery

Due South Brewing

Founders Brewing

Funky Buddha Brewery

Goose Island Beer Co.

Green Bench Brewing

Hollywood Beach Brewing

Islamorada Beer Co.

JDubs Brewing

Knee Deep Brewing

Kona Brewing

Krombacher Gruppe

LauderAle

Left Hand Brewing

Magic Hat Brewing

M.I.A. Beer Co.

Naragansett Brewing

The Native Brewing

Oskar Blues Brewery

Pair O’ Dice Brewing

Abro Bryggeri (Cider)

Sailfish Brewing

Saltwater Brewery

Spoetzl Brewery

Original Sin Cider

Southern Tier Brewing

Steiglbrauerei zu Salzburg

Tampa Bay Brewing

Tequesta Brewing

Terrapin Beer Co.

Tomoka Brewing

Twisted Trunk Brewing

Uinta Brewing

Victory Brewing

Wolffer Estate Vineyard

Woodchuck Cidery

Wynwood Brewing

Virginia’s Ocelot Brewing Company

Ocelot Brewing Company

Virginia Craft Brewery: Ocelot Brewing Company

Established: Grand Opening May 23rd, 2015

Location: 23600 Overland Drive #180, Dulles, VA 20166

Known For: The Ocelot Brewing Company is known for their highly rated IPA’s and Stouts. Amongst the crowd of IPA’s one stands out more than the others. The ‘Talking Backwards’ Triple IPA is released once a year in February. It is brewed with CTZ, Simcoe, Mosaic, and Citra hops and comes in at a hefty 10.8% abv. ‘Here Kitty Kitty’, a Russian Imperial Stout, is currently their highest rated stout that isn’t barrel aged. It was first brewed in collaboration with J. Wakefield Brewing, down in Miami, where I originally had a chance to try it. Luckily, Batch 2 was on tap for my visit to Ocelot and it was just as delicious as I had remembered.

Ocelot Brewing Company

Current Beer Menu: I ordered a flight of six beers the first of which was called the ‘Setting Sun’. An IPA coming in at 5.9% abv brewed with Amarillo hops. There was a lot of citrus, especially grapefruit, on the nose. While drinking, the grapefruit came through even more as it warmed. I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed the next IPA even more. ‘Street Lights’ is 6.7% abv and reminded me of an orange Creamsicle. The aroma was fantastic with sweet notes of citrus and peach. The taste was sweet with an almost creamy orange backed by a slight hoppy bitterness. ‘Honey’ Pie is 7.5% abv Saison brewed with honey. The scent brought herbal notes with a bit of sweetness from the honey. As I was drinking the honey came through well, but not enough to overpower the slight funk of the Saison. ‘My Heart’s Delight’, a smoky Red Ale, came in at 5% abv. The fragrance had a light smokiness with a bit of biscuit and citrus. Upon tasting the smoke and a hoppy bitterness play off of each other pleasantly followed by an enjoyable malt background. The smoke came out more as the beer warmed while the smoky bitterness lingered on the tongue. I’m not always the biggest fan of smoke in my beer because it can easily take over, but this one was done very well. ‘Electric Boots’ is a 5.3% abv fruit beer with black currants. The smell was ‘fantastic with berries on top of berries. It’s almost like a black currant and berry puree with a light tart. While I was working on the flight I had ordered a 4oz pour of both ‘Here Kitty Kitty’ and ‘Megaton Maple’. I slowly tasted both as they warmed. ‘Here Kitty Kitty’ is a 12% abv Russian Imperial Stout with notes of coffee, vanilla, and dark chocolate on the nose. The taste was much of the same combined with a sweetness that isn’t typically found in the style. I really enjoyed both the Ocelot and Wakefield brewed batches of this beer. ‘Megaton Maple’ is a 5.2% abv stout brewed with, you guessed it, maple. The aroma had a light smokiness with a bit of biscuit and citrus. The taste was much of the same combined with a sweetness that isn’t typically found in the style. The scent was almost entirely maple with just a bit of coffee coming through. Upon tasting the maple jumps out to the forefront, followed by coffee and brown sugar. Like smoke, maple can take over a beer as well, but once again this beer was done wonderfully and that wasn’t the case. Limited amounts of their IPA’s are bottled and available for purchase. Also, anytime a barrel aged beer is bottled it will also be available in the tasting room.

Ocelot Brewing Company

Price Range: A 4oz pour is $2.00 for everything outside of the big beers. A 4oz pour of ‘Here Kitty Kitty’ for example was $4.00. A 10oz pour will run you between $4.00 and $8.00. A 16oz pour is $6.00 and of course, doesn’t include the heavy hitters. Both 32oz and 64oz glass growlers are available for sale. The fill for a 32oz growler starts at $10.00 while the 64oz starts at $18.00. If you happen to be bringing in your own growler make sure it isn’t of the small neck flip top variety.

Wine Menu: Wine is not available.

Food Menu/Food Trucks: Rotating food trucks are available on site Thursday through Sunday. Outside food can also be brought in. Food can also be delivered using one of the many menus behind the bar.

Ambiance: Like a lot of breweries the Ocelot Brewing Company is tucked away in an industrial park. Walking into the rather large red brick building I found myself taking in multiple pieces of the song lyric inspired mural on the wall. After claiming a seat at the bar and ordering a flight I turned around to see The Barrel Wall. Clever to say the least. The brewery had a nice overall feel to it. The industrial background of the brewing system and masonry of The Barrel Wall paired well against the mural and bar.

Ocelot Brewing Company

Ocelot Brewing Company

Bar Seating: There are ten seats at the bar, three large tables with seating for eight, and numerous smaller settings for small parties. Outside there are two picnic tables on a canopy covered porch.

Ocelot Brewing Company

Staff: Jared was a bevy of information. He was more than happy to answer any and all questions brought to his attention by me or any of the other patrons. If he didn’t know the answer, the bar manager, Jess was quick on the recall. I happened to be visiting on the 4th of July so the bar was hopping, but you wouldn’t know that with how attentive the staff was to everyone. The staff can really make or break a brewery experience and Ocelot seems to only employ the best.

Ocelot Brewing Company

Brewing System: Ocelot brews on a three vessel system made up of a Mash/Lauter Tun combo, a Kettle, and a Whirlpool. The system is 15bbls in size and they currently have seven 30bbl fermenters.

Ocelot Brewing Company Ocelot Brewing Company

Merch: Hats were out of stock on the day I was on site, but they are typically available. T-shirts are $20.00, brewery logo tin tackers are $15.00, glasses range from $6.00 to $7.00, and stickers are a dollar a piece. When purchasing a glass you can have the glass filled for about half of the typical price. Glass growlers are $5.00 for the 32oz and $6.00 for the 64oz.

Ocelot Brewing Company

Membership offered: When asking about a membership/bottle club I received a positive response. It seems to be so secretive that no details could be given. That’s what happens when you don’t know the secret handshake.

Best days or time of year to go: It was a welcomed surprise to learn the brewery is open every day of the week. If you want to miss the hordes, focus on the hours before the rush hour crowd are released from their work related shackles.

Regular Hours: Monday – Friday: 1:00pm – 10:00pm, Saturday: 11:00am – 10:00pm, and Sunday: 11:00am – 6:00pm

Happy Hour: I mean really with prices this low every hour is Happy Hour!

Fun Facts: 

-Being a music intensive brewery it’s no surprise to learn all of Ocelot’s beer names are song lyrics from various artists. The only exception to this would be certain collaborations.

-The names of their favorite frontmen in music grace the brewing tanks.

Ocelot Brewing Company

-Ocelot’s logo is a guitar pick.

-100% of the beers Ocelot produces are gluten reduced.

-The name Ocelot comes not from the wild cat of the same name, but from a song title by the jam band, Phish.

-The wood in both the tables and base of the bar come from a 150 y/o house that was being torn down in Washington D.C. The bar top itself is Pine. It was purchased in Maryland from the Community Forklift. A reclaimed and surplus building materials thrift store.

Ocelot Brewing Company

Overall Rating (1-5): I really enjoyed Ocelot and look forward to visiting again the next time I’m in town to visit my sister. I am rating Ocelot a 4.5 out of 5.

What was missing: The beer available on tap covered a nice range of styles that were all presented quite well. The staff was attentive to not only my needs, but everyone around me and the brewery itself had a very welcoming feel. In saying all of that I can’t put my finger on a particular negative issue.

Ocelot Brewing Company

In closing, Virginia, like my home state of Florida has a very healthy craft beer scene and Ocelot seems to be making a name for themselves. On my next trip, I’ll have to check out a few of their neighbors and see how everyone stacks up.

Is there something else you would like to know about the Ocelot Brewing Company? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.

Cheers!

Ocelot Brewing Company

 

Celebrate National IPA Day with a Rusty Pale

National IPA Day

If you’re looking for a way to celebrate National IPA Day today, I may just have what you seek. Two Southern beverage companies are celebrating National IPA Day with a libation that combines Coppertail Brewing Company’s Free Dive IPA, and Coopers’ Craft Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey. Now I’m not typically one to mix my craft beer with anything but more craft beer so when Punch Media came a callin’ with the ingredient list to the ‘Rusty Pale’, I was a little skeptical. Unlike a lot of my compatriots, I haven’t yet delved into the world of bourbon. To help open that door Punch Media sent a care package containing a bottle of Coopers’ Craft, a glass, and a bottle of Free Dive.

National IPA Day

After figuring out exactly what a ‘part’ and a ‘dash’ signify on the ingredient list (thank you Google), I was ready to make my first craft beer cocktail. I’m sure you can do this in whatever order you choose, but this seemed to be the correct way for me to proceed. A dash (works out to be about a fifth of a teaspoon) of Hell Fire Habanero Shrub or any vinegar based hot sauce. I used Boyd Barrels Ed Humptress Hot Sauce, which includes 3 Floyd’s Brewing’s Dark Lord Russian Imperial Stout on the ingredient list. Not only that, but the hot sauce itself is aged for three months in bourbon barrels. Talk about a match made in craft beer heaven! Next up was a quarter part of lemon juice and a quarter ounce of Demerara Syrup (half a tablespoon of Simple Syrup). Now for the really important ingredients. Two parts Coopers’ Craft Bourbon and five parts Free Dive IPA. In this case, based on the glass used, one part equaled one-quarter of a cup. After everything else was added, there was enough room for the entire IPA. To finish off your craft beer cocktail garnish with a lemon wedge.

Rusty Pale

  • 5 parts Coppertail Brewing Company’s Free Dive IPA
  • 2 parts Coopers’ Craft Kentucky Straight Bourbon Whiskey
  • ¼ part Lemon Juice
  • ¼ oz. Demerara Syrup (I used Simple Syrup)
  • Dash of Hell Fire Habanero Shrub or a Vinegar Based Hot Sauce
  • Garnish with a Lemon Wedge

National IPA Day

The aroma of this new concoction reminds me of a Lemon Drop candy. Sweet, almost-candy, lemon is first with a bit of spice from either the hot sauce or the bourbon and just a bit of the bourbon itself comes through. My first taste was a complete surprise. I was afraid the bourbon would overpower the beer, but that just wasn’t the case. The fresh lemon juice enhanced the citrus notes from the IPA. The bit of hot sauce added to the spicy bite from the bourbon. This is a really well-crafted drink that I compare to a bourbon barrel aged IPA. I’m happy to say I have the ingredients to make myself quite a few more of these bad boys in the near future.

In closing, any craft beer aficionado is sure to love the Rusty Pale. The complexity of this well-crafted cocktail is something to appreciate. I’m genuinely surprised by how much I enjoyed my first craft beer cocktail. Give it a taste and let me know what you think.

Happy National IPA Day!

Cheers!

 

About Coopers’ Craft Bourbon

Coopers’ Craft is a celebration of Brown-Forman’s more than 70 years of expertise raising its own barrels at Brown-Forman Cooperage. Drawing inspiration from the craft of raising barrels and the importance of wood in bourbon-making, Coopers’ Craft uses a unique charcoal finishing process. Coopers’ Craft is a product of Brown-Forman Corporation, a premier producer, and marketer of fine quality beverage alcohol brands, including Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve, Tequila Herradura, Korbel, Finlandia, Chambord and Sonoma-Cutrer. Coopers’ Craft comes in at 41.1% abv and is currently available in Alabama, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee.

About Coppertail Brewing Co.

Coppertail Brewing Co. is an independently owned production brewery and tasting room in the Ybor neighborhood of Tampa, FL. It was founded on the desire to bring more quality, Florida-brewed beer to the thirsty masses. They craft flavorful beer for the Florida lifestyle. Coppertail Brewing Co. believes in time-honored, old-world production techniques. They use natural carbonation, whole leaf hops, and don’t filter the beer. It takes longer to make beer this way, but sometimes amazing things come to those who wait. Florida inspired. Florida brewed.