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

 

J. Wakefield Brewing

Florida Craft Brewery: J. Wakefield Brewing

Established: Grand opening February 28th, 2015

Location: 120 Northwest 24th St, Miami, FL 33127

Known For: J. Wakefield Brewing is best known for theirDFPF’ (Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit) Florida Weisse Sour Ale. It is currently the #2 ranked Berliner Weissbier in the world on beeradvocate.com. First place on that list is held by Wakefield’s own ‘Miami Madness’, which is a Berliner brewed with Guava, Mango, and Passionfruit. On ratebeer.com ‘DFPF’ holds the top spot while Miami Madness is in the second spot.

J. Wakefield Brewing

Current Beer Menu: While I wasn’t lucky enough to attend Wakefield’s 2nd Anniversary party known as Wakefest I did visit the brewery the following week. As luck would have it a few of the festival beers were still available in the taproom. One of those was a Double IPA called ‘Mango Feber’. It was brewed using mango and Mosaic hops and Amarillo hops by the Swedish brewer Brewski. I got a very earthy undertone mixed with hoppy mango. Also from Brewski was a Berliner Weisse called ‘Beet Me With Passion, Honey!’ It was definitely the most interesting beer of the day. You wouldn’t think the combination of passion fruit, honey, and beets would necessarily work together, but surprisingly they did. The beets were there, but they weren’t at all overpowering. It was a really enjoyable beer. Another holdover was Jack’s Abby Craft Lagers ‘Blood Orange Sour Time’. A Wheat Lager aged in white wine barrels with Brettanomyces, lactobacillus, and pediococcus. I really loved how the orange played off of the wine barrel with the added funky sour from the brett, lacto, and pedio. ‘Manatees at the Power Plant’ was next up. It was a collaboration brewed with 3 Stars Brewing Company out of Washington DC. The Berliner Weisse used Jamaican Ugli fruit and guava in the brew. This was the tartest beer of the day with a whole lot of citrus from the Ugli fruit up front and a relatively sweet finish from the guava.

J. Wakefield Brewing

The next collaboration on the board, ‘Brush’, was developed with the Swedish brewery Omnipollo. Together they brewed an Imperial Stout using marshmallows, vanilla beans, cocoa nibs, hazelnut coffee, and ancho chilis. Now I had been drinking really good beer up to this point and ‘Brush’ blew me out of the water with how good it was. I ended up having a second 4oz pour before leaving. It was everything a big stout should be. Rich, dark, and heavy. The different flavors played off of each other so well, I wish I had more of it. Next up was ‘Pi’, a Strong Ale, brewed with key limes, vanilla, and aged in bourbon barrels. This was a collaboration with Bottle Logic Brewing that pretty much came down to key lime pie in a bottle with a shot of bourbon. This was one of those beers that you either love or hate. I happened to be on the side of really loving the beer. The bourbon was a little heavy, but in time that will mellow out. I’m looking forward to seeing what six months of aging will do to the bottle I bought. The ‘UJP’ English Smoked Porter is one of Wakefield’s core beers and one I have always really liked. It’s a chocolatey lightly smoked treat in a glass. The ‘Frank White’ NE Pineapple IPA was the last collaboration on the board and was brewed exclusively for the 18th Street Bottle Shoppe in St Petersburg, FL. I got sweet pineapple up front with a tangy pineapple bite towards the end. My last beer of the day was ‘Midnight Mystery’ Imperial Stout from the Devour Brewing Co. in Boynton Beach, FL. They are a small operation, but really turn out some tasty brews.

J. Wakefield Brewing

Price Range: Flights of the core beers are $8.00 for four 4oz pours while the specialty flights will run you $12.00. 16oz pours of the core beers are $5.00 and 13oz pours of the specialty beers will run you between $7.00 and $10.00. 32oz growlers are available and during my visit ranged between $10.00 and $15.00. You may also luck out and find 4-packs of 16oz cans or 750ml bottles available in the to go fridge. During my visit I purchased a few bottles of ‘Pi’ for $25.00 a pop and a few bottles of ‘Golden Ticket’ an Imperial Stout brewed specifically for Wakefest for $20.00 apiece.

Wine Menu: Wine is not offered, but cider and craft sodas are available.

Food Menu/Food Trucks:  Food trucks are available Friday and Saturday starting at 6:00 pm and all day Sunday.

J. Wakefield Brewing

Ambiance: If you grew up loving Star Wars and comic books (like I did) then this is the brewery for you. Before walking into the taproom there is a mural of Darth Vader’s helmet on the wall. When walking inside you quickly discover that the taproom isn’t very large. I imagine on Friday and Saturday nights it gets pretty packed in there. The wall on one side of the space is covered in graffiti murals of different scenes from the Star Wars Trilogy. The wall running parallel has a floor to ceiling mural of a fire-breathing dragon painted in more of the fashion of the Far East than in the medieval style. Comic book and Star Wars figurines from Jonathan Wakefield’s own collection adorn the tap area of the bar. The room itself is well-lit by a combination of the natural sunlight pouring in through the windows and the chandeliers overhead. Music from the likes of 2Pac, Notorious B.I.G., Snoop Dog and Dr. Dre, and other artists (from when hip-hop was actually worth listening to) played overhead. For what the taproom lacks in size it makes up for in character.

J. Wakefield Brewing

Bar Seating: There are ten seats at the bar, six tables with two chairs apiece, seating along the windows, a large family style table with 12 seats, and seating outside.

Staff: During my visit, I had the pleasure of meeting both Samantha and Andrew. Samantha holds the title of Manager on Duty and has been with Wakefield since day one. Andrew had only been with Wakefield for two months after a stint at the Yard House. Both handled the bar and patrons very well. Even the ones who were just stopping in for bottles on their way to the airport who didn’t quite grasp how things worked. Samantha and Andrew made the Wakefield experience that much better.

J. Wakefield Brewing

Brewing System: J. Wakefield has a 15 barrel Brewhouse consisting of five 15 bbl fermenters, a 30 bbl and 45 bbl fermenter, two 15 bbl brite tanks, and a 45 bbl brite tank.

Merch: T-shirts for $20.00, Polo’s for $30.00, work shirts for $35, and sweatshirts for 45.00. Glasses are also available for $7.00.

Membership offered: No membership is available and there is nothing planned for the future.

Best days or time of year to go: If you’re looking for the smallest crowd possible your safest bet is between 2:00 and 4:00 pm Monday through Thursday.

Regular Hours: Monday: 2:00pm – 8:00pm, Tuesday – Thursday: 2:00pm – 11:00pm, Friday: 12:00pm – 1:00am, Saturday: 12:00pm – 1:00am, and Sunday: 12:00pm – 8:00pm

Happy Hour: Monday through Friday between 5:00 and 7:00 pm receive a dollar off from the majority of the beers.

J. Wakefield Brewing

J. Wakefield Brewing

J. Wakefield Brewing

Fun Facts:

-Every May 4th the brewery celebrates Star Wars Day or as I’ve known it to be called, May the Fourth Be With You. In 2016 The original Trilogy was shown and limited edition t-shirts were available. Patrons were also encouraged to dress the part.

-J. Wakefield Brewing is looking to build a production only brewery in Western Miami-Dade County. The plan is for it to be the largest brewery south of Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing, and twice as large as Oakland Park’s Funky Buddha Brewery. Under the plan, the capacity would be increased to 45,000 – 50,000 barrels a year.

-Jonathan Wakefield raised $112,000, during a crowd-funded campaign, to help raise money to build his brewery.

-Christmas Day of 2005 John’s wife, Natalie, gave him a $50.00 Mr. Beer Homebrew Kit. She unknowingly helped change the future of craft beer in South Florida. We owe it all to her! Thanks, Natalie!

J. Wakefield Brewing

Overall Rating (1-5): This is an easy one. I’m rating J. Wakefield Brewing a 5 out of 5. The brewery, with all of its graffiti and murals, is an interesting place to visit. The staff was about as perfect as they could be when it came to making sure the patrons were taken care of. Last but not least the beer was spot on. After a bump or two, in the beginning, Wakefield has pretty much produced nothing but winners.

J. Wakefield Brewing

What was missing: I guess if I can’t think of anything that’s a good thing right?

In closing, J. Wakefield Brewing is one of those breweries that you have to stop in and experience. I can pretty much guarantee that you won’t be disappointed by your visit.

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

Cheers!

J. Wakefield Brewing

How to Hunahpu’s: A Beginners Guide

A History

Cigar City Brewing’s Hunahpu’s (pronounced Hoon-ah-poos) Day is the biggest craft beer event in Florida. It all started as a celebration of Cigar City’s anniversary and for the once a year release of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout in 2010. The 8th annual event has morphed into a full-blown international craft beer festival with breweries coming from as far away as Sweden. This will be my fourth time attending. My first year was 2014, which was the year counterfeit tickets were sold. Tickets were $50.00 and offered you the chance to buy bottles of Hunahpu’s for $20.00 apiece. The crowds swelled from the ticketed 3,500 to an estimated 6000 – 8,000. The bottles of Hunahpu’s quickly disappeared, leaving a whole lot of people unhappy. I had a great time that year and left with my full allotment before things really got crazy. I was one of the lucky ones. In 2015 the setup was changed to more of a festival feel. Tickets were $200 and guaranteed you as many pours as you could consume and four bottles of Hunahpu’s. The festival went off without a hitch. The location was moved from Cigar City’s parking lot to its current home in Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park in 2016. The area of the park is spread out giving attendees a lot more room to move about. It’s a serious upgrade from Cigar City’s parking lot. Tickets were in three separate tiers. Entry to the festival and four bottles was $200, entry and eight bottles were $300, and for El Catador Club members $400 reserved 12 bottles. There were a few long lines, but overall I had a great time. This year tier prices were the same, but the third tier was available to anyone. I’m expecting another kickass time drinking absolutely incredible beer from the world’s finest breweries.

Beer Mecca

So you’ve finally decided to head to Tampa for Hunahpu’s Day. Well, there are a few things you should know. Last year we were told not to line up before 10:00 am. I showed up on time to a long ass line. I’m not sure why this surprised me. This year they say not to show up before 9:00? Well, you get the idea. The quicker you get inside, the faster you and your compatriots can hit the breweries you have listed as must haves. The last thing you want to do is rush to the 3 Sons Brewing just to find on arrival that everyone else ahead of you had the same plan. Map out your targets and each person in your group grab his or her designated pour of whatever has been deemed worthy. Designate a meeting spot and split up the booty. By that time, the crowd will be large enough that you will be waiting in your first real line.

Where it All Goes Down

Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park

601 Old Water St

Tampa, FL 33602

What Works for Me

Last year after getting the must haves out of the way a buddy and I hit a whole list of breweries with short lines and tried some amazing stuff. If people haven’t heard of a brewery, odds are that brewery’s line will be short or non-existent. For example, last year my favorite beer of the day came from the Põhjala Brewery in Estonia. I had no clue they even existed. Hell, I had no clue Estonia had a craft beer scene. I would have completely missed out if I bypassed them because I had never heard of them. Keep in mind there will be a lot of international breweries. These are the breweries that don’t distribute here and only come to the states for big time festivals so odds are you won’t see them again.

Wristband

By now you should have received your wristband in the mail. DO NOT take it out of the box and tighten it to your wrist. The last thing you want to do is risk damaging the RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification). Please make sure you register the wristband and if you plan on spending a few dollars on t-shirts or other merch connect your credit card to the wristband. Not only will cash not be accepted in the festival but not having to access and swipe your credit card makes the line move faster. Also come prepared with a driver’s license, passport, or military ID. You will not be allowed in without both your ID and corresponding wristband.

Register your wristband here.

Connect a credit card here.

To Drive or Not to Drive

Do not drive to downtown Tampa! I don’t say this because you will be drinking all day, which on its own is a Good enough reason. I say this because downtown Tampa will be absolutely swamped with people. There is a Tampa Bay Lightning game, a Fun Run, St. Patrick’s Day parade, and music festival all within three miles of Hunahpu’s. What I’m saying is there will be no parking available at all whatsoever. Cigar City says there will be a deal worked out with Uber, but those details have yet to be released.

There’s an App for That

Cigar City has released an app specifically for the festival for both Apple and Android. You can use the app to view the breweries, beer, the map of the festival, and vote for your favorite beer and brewery. Before the festival you can peruse the beer list and add your must haves to the apps wish list.

What to and Not to Bring

There are a few things you can and a few things you can’t bring into the festival. The following items can be brought inside. Suntan lotion, plastic or metal refillable water bottles and backpacks/purses are allowed inside the festival. Bags will be subject to search on entry and water filling stations will be available in designated areas. No children, pets, weapons, chairs, tents, coolers, or glass is allowed within the festival grounds. Outside alcohol will not be allowed inside the park and Cigar City strongly suggests against drinking in line or in any other public areas. There will be plenty of beer available inside and at the number of beer shares around town following the festival.

Bottle Pickup

Just down the street from the festival grounds sits the Marriott Waterside Hotel at 700 South Florida Avenue. Bottle pick-up will be held there between 9:00 am and 5:00 pm. Do not enter the hotel through the lobby. The line for bottle pickup will be through the Riverwalk entrance. You will need your wristband for pick-up. You can leave the festival at any time, pick-up and drop your bottles off at your hotel, and return to the festival using your wristband for re-entry.

Beer Share

There are a number of shares going on after the festival throughout the area. Here are a few I’m aware of. The Westin Tampa Waterside, Tampa Marriot Waterside Hotel, and the Howard Johnson’s Hotel on Dale Mabry. Typically the shares will start at the hotel pool until the staff moves everyone inside due to the closure of the pool for the night. Odds are if you’re staying in a hotel listed on the Hunahpu’s site there will be a share in your hotel. If not, you now know where to go. You’re welcome!

I hope you have found the information above useful. If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to ask. Let me know how you enjoyed your weekend in Tampa. I would love to hear about your experience. You can read about last year’s festival here.

Cheers!

Civil Society Brewing

Civil Society Brewing Releases Bottles for the First Time!

When you’re rated #5 out of all the newly opened breweries in the world by ratebeer.com people expect big things from you. Saturday’s (2-25-17) multiple 750 ml bottle and 16oz can release fell easily within those guidelines. This was the first time the Civil Society Brewing Co. released anything other than an extremely hopped up can.

Civil Society Brewing
Beer or bust!
Civil Society Brewing
Arriving at 8:30 rewarded these folks the first spot in line.

I arrived a half hour before the 11:00 am release armed with only my camera and inquisitive thirst. I claimed the 60th spot in line and started making my rounds taking pictures and sampling a few beers that were offered up. I stumbled into pours of 2014 ‘Bourbon County Coffee’, Other Half Brewing’s ‘Double Dry Hopped Broccoli’, and Oskar Blues ‘Rum BA Death by Coconut’. It was certainly not a bad way to start a bottle release. At 11:00 on the dot with about 85 people in line, the doors were opened, ID’S were checked, and folks started to head for the beer. Once acquired, a quick walk around the bar could score you any number of Civil Society’s liquid goodness, including, of course, the four releases.

Civil Society Brewing
Patiently waiting.
Civil Society Brewing
In need of a 2nd bottle? Bring grandma along or as she’s affectionately known, the Grandmule.

My favorite of the day was ‘BA King Gary Goes Bananas’. It’s a 10% abv bourbon barrel aged Imperial Milk Stout reminiscent of bananas foster and coffee. I really enjoyed how the barrel character came through giving a big ol’ hug to King Gary. The other bottle release was ‘Bella’s Revenge’, a 9% abv Imperial Stout brewed with barrel aged Maple Syrup from Single Barrel Cellar based out of Wakefield, Massachusetts, and coffee from Mostra Coffee out of San Diego, California. The first of the two IPA’s released, called ‘Snacktime’, was a 6.5% abv chocolate IPA hopped with Amarillo, Columbus, and Mosaic and brewed in collaboration with the Finback Brewery of Queens, NY. To be honest, I was expecting a bit more chocolate than what appeared on the backend. In saying that, the beer itself was a solid IPA. The second can released, ‘Can’t Touch This’, was 7.2% abv IPA brewed in collaboration with the Southern Grist Brewing Co. out of Nashville, Tennessee.  It was brewed with flaked maize and seriously hopped with Vic Secret, Galaxy, Motueka, and Simcoe Lupulin Powder. The beer was deliciously hazy with citrus and pineapple coming through.

Civil Society Brewing
Now, this is a flight!
Civil Society Brewing
Settling in.

To put it simply Civil Society Brewing has the release game down to an art. I have been to a number of their releases now and have yet seen or heard of anyone complaining about the process. The bottles were gone by about 1:00 and cans of ‘Can’t Touch This’ lasted until Sunday morning. A few cans ‘Snacktime’ are currently still available. With a count of only around 155 bottles of each and Civil’s growing popularity, the bottles that end up on the trade market should do well on returns as these beers are definitely a thirst quenching prize!

Cheers!

Civil Society Brewing
The list!
Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

Florida Craft Brewery: Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

Established: The Biscayne Bay Brewing Company has been brewing on-site since 2012 and distributing to South Florida since 2014. The taproom Biscayne Bay Brewing Companyofficially opened its doors on August 16th, 2016.

Location: 8000 NW 25th Street #500, Miami, FL

Known For: Biscayne Bay Brewing’s most popular offerings are their ‘Biscayne Bay Saison’ and ‘Miami Pale Ale’. The Saison was a nice attempt at the style. Unfortunately, the Pale Ale wasn’t available during my visit.

Current Beer Menu: I drove down to Biscayne Bay Brewing for a couple of reasons. First, when I was checking out their website, I saw that they listed having three barrel aged beers on tap. I thought, man this is going to be a great spot because no one has three BA beers on at once. Those beers were ‘El Roble’, a Scotch Ale aged for four months in Stranahan Whiskey barrels, ‘La Salida’, a blend of the ‘Miami Pale Ale’ and ‘Double Nine Double IPA’ aged in Breckenridge Bourbon barrels for 6 months, and ‘Buenas Noches’, their Imperial Stout aged for three months in Stranahan Whiskey barrels. Needless to say, I was looking forward to arriving and trying two of my favorite styles (Imperial Stout and Scotch Ale) and the added bonus of a barrel aged IPA. Secondly, while googling them, I discovered a Groupon for two flights, which you can find here. What could be better, right? When I sat down at the bar to put in my order I was told that not one, not two, but all three of the BA beers weren’t available. Talk about being completely let down. The lesson learned here is to never trust that whoever is in charge of the brewery website is keeping it up to date. Making a phone call should always be in order. I’ve definitely learned my lesson the hard way.

Biscayne Bay Brewing CompanyNow to what was actually available on the menu. First up, was the ‘Kaptain’s Kölsch’ an easy drinker, which is, of course, typical of the Kölsch style. Next up was the ‘Biscayne Bay Saison’. At 6.9% abv, this was a beer at the higher end of the style spectrum, but the alcohol was well hidden. It was good, but not a beer I would go back for seconds on. The ‘McDaddy Scotch Ale’ was pleasant. It was a tad sweeter than I typically look for in the style, but I enjoyed it all the same. I would have really enjoyed seeing where the Stranahan Whiskey barrels would have taken ‘McDaddy’. From the ‘Double Nine (double) IPA’ you will get grapefruit in both the aroma and on the backend when you finally get the hop bite. It was definitely very malt forward, though which I always find odd when it comes to an IPA or DIPA. Interestingly enough my favorite beer of the day was a Dunkelweizen named ‘Wendyweizen’. It was probably the best Dunkel I have had for some time. ‘La Colada’ was the last beer in my flight. It’s an English style Porter brewed with Cuban coffee. I did get a slight roastiness from the coffee but found the beer to be very light with not much body to it. If you’re going to brew with Cuban coffee the beer should pretty much jump up and bite you. ‘McDaddy’ and ‘La Colada’ were also on Nitro, but I didn’t try either one. The guest tap list, unfortunately, overpowered anything Biscayne Bay brewed in-house. With beers like Dogfish Head ‘Olde School’, Civil Society ‘Fresh’, Lagunitas ‘Brown Shugga’, Lagunitas ‘High West-ified Coffee Imperial Stout’, and M.I.A. Brew Company’s Tourist Trappe Tripel and Ultra Mix DIPA the taproom felt more like a craft beer bar than a brewery. I get the feeling Biscayne is targeting the Miami crowd who are virgins in the craft beer scene, which is why their beers seem to be a bit more on the tame side. In saying that, my opinion might have been a bit different had I been able to try one of their barrel aged offerings.Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

On a side note, they also offer three different craft cocktails. The first was a mix between ‘La Colada’ and Lindemans ‘Framboise’ called Black Forest Cake. The second was ‘La Colada’ mixed with ‘Angry Orchard Apple Cider’ called Black Velvet. Lastly, the Saison Shandy was a mix between the ‘Biscayne Bay Saison’ and ‘Angry Orchard Apple Cider’.

Price Range: When not using the Groupon a flight of four 4oz pours of their core beers will run you $8.00. Biscayne Bay’s beer ranges in price from $5.00 to $8.00 while the guest taps are between $7.00 and $10.00. The craft cocktails range in price between $6.50 and $7.00. Growlers are also available. Prefilled a 32oz and 64oz growler glass will run you $6.00 and $8.00. The fill for the 32oz is $8.00 for the core beers and $13.00 for the DIPA while a 64oz growler costs $13.00 for the core beers and $24.00 for the DIPA.

Wine Menu: Both red and white wines are available in 6oz pours for $8.00.

Food Menu/Food Trucks: Biscayne Bay invites food trucks for special events, but on normal days they offer a limited menu of items like Guacamole and chips, large pretzels, sliders, nachos, and a fancy grilled cheese. Brunch is offered both Saturday and Sunday, between the hours of 12:00 and 3:00.

Biscayne Bay Brewing CompanyAmbiance: When walking into Biscayne Bay Brewing, one of the first things you see is their emblem neatly emblazoned in silver on the wall. The 3,400 sqft taproom is very nicely put together in a nautical theme with tunes from the 90’s playing overhead. The bar is 60 feet long and inviting with the tap list rotating on a screen in front of you. There is a large chalkboard for patrons to inscribe their alcohol infused ramblings or possibly even their ‘Port of Call’. In one corner you will find arcade games while in another a domino table and Giant Jenga. There are also three tv’s for your sporting pleasure. All in all the taproom is a welcoming place to have a beer with friends.

Bar Seating: The bar holds 28 seats, six tables of varying shapes and sizes, and two separate leather seating areas. The tables use barrels as legs, which is certainly a nice touch.Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

Staff: I was greeted by Albert or Tico as he is lovingly referred to by his coworkers. After preparing my flight and after the last of the lunch crowd left Albert took me to the Brewhouse and the temperature controlled barrel room to snap a few pics. He told me a bit about the beer and the brewery and enticed my senses with a whiff of what ‘El Roble’ was releasing from the barrel. Bar Manager and Supervisor, Nick, spent a good hour or so talking about everything craft beer with myself and another patron. Including everything from where he first made his discovery of craft to his beloved Florida cellar. Biscayne Bay Brewing couldn’t ask for a better couple of guys as the face of their taproom.

Biscayne Bay Brewing CompanyBrewing System: Biscayne Bay’s Brewhouse consists of five 30 bbl fermenters (three of which can also be used as brite tanks), one 15 bbl fermenter, and one 30 bbl brite tank.

Merch: Both men’s and women’s shirts and hats are $25.00 apiece.

Membership offered: The Sons of Neptune Growler Society entitles you to a limited edition 64oz steel growler, a taproom only pub glass to use at home, an official Sons of Neptune t-shirt, which looks pretty darn cool, one growler fill per month of any core beer, 10% off all purchases in the taproom, and first access to and reservation of any new limited release beer and bottle release. All of this can be yours for the pretty decent price of $125.00 a year.

Best days or time of year to go: Tuesday and Wednesday Biscayne Bay Brewing Companyafternoon and night would be your best option if you aren’t looking for a crowded venue. Thursday night is busy for karaoke and Friday night by 8:30 is packed. I arrived at 2:00 on Friday and headed home at 4:30. The crowd was minuscule at this time and just starting to arrive as I was leaving. Be forewarned though you do not want to be on Miami’s roads heading out-of-town around 4:30.

Regular Hours: Tuesday – Thursday: 3:00pm – 11:00pm, Friday – Saturday: 12:00pm – 1:00am, & Sunday: 12:00pm – 10:00pm

Happy Hour: Happy hour allows for 50% off all core beers and is available throughout the week from 3:00pm to 7:00pm.

Biscayne Bay Brewing CompanyFun Facts:

The ‘Double Nine DIPA’ is named after the double nine domino chips. It is the biggest and boldest move one can make when playing Dominoes.

Co-owner, Jose Mallea, first found his love for craft beer in Washington D.C. while working in the political arena. He later brought his new-found love for craft beer home to Miami with a dream of opening a brewery.

-The original location was going to be near Biscayne Bay, hence the name, but it did not have the available space needed for the eventual expansion. With the logo already in place, it made more sense to keep the name when the City of Doral became home.

-‘Since MDXIII’ is part of Biscayne Bay Brewing’s logo. The Roman numerals translate to the year 1513, which is when Ponce de Leon discovered Biscayne Bay.

Overall Rating (1-5): The Taproom was immaculate, attractively designed, and quite welcoming. Both Albert and Nick couldn’t have been nicer guys to interact with. Going in I had high hopes. Unfortunately, none of the core offerings really stood out (other than the ‘Wendyweizen’) and a few of them fell flat for me. I’m rating Biscayne Bay Brewing Company a 3.75.Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

What was missing: I really would have liked a chance to try the Imperial Stout since it seems to be the highest rated of their base beers. Not to beat a dead horse, but having the BA beers listed on the website and not having them available on tap also hurt. Each of them had a relatively higher rating than what was offered. Of course, one man’s rating of four is another man’s rating of three.

In closing, if you’re in the Miami area and new to craft beer gather your friends and give the Biscayne Brewing Company a shot. I think they make a great gateway brewery. I will definitely be revisiting them down the line to see how they have moved forward and to finally get my hands on the BA beers I missed out on.

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

Cheers!

Coppertail Brewing Company

The Coppertail Brewing Company

Florida Craft Brewery: Coppertail Brewing Company 

Established: August 20th, 2014Coppertail Brewing Company

Location: 2601 East 2nd Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33605

Known For: The Coppertail Brewing Company tends to brew their beers on the drier side. They brew a lot of, and some of the finer, Berliner Weiss in the state. They also focus on darker beers like porters and stouts more often than other styles. In 2015 they brewed a Dunkel (German style dark lager), which was the official beer for Tamp Bay’s Oktoberfest. It was a great representation of the style!

Current Beer Menu: My first flight consisted of Coppertail’s four core beers, which are all bottled. First up was an American style Trippel called ‘Unholy’. It was easily the hoppiest Trippel I’ve ever tried and I loved it. The ‘Free Dive’ IPA was filled with dank hops giving a lovely pine and citrus aroma. Following the hop parade was ‘Wheat Stroke’, a hoppy wheat ale meant for the hot and humid Florida summer. The 4th core beer was ‘Night Swim’, a porter boasting dark chocolate and roasted coffee. It was a nice way to end the hop fest I had just sampled. The ‘Passion Fruit HRIS’ is a Belgian style rice beer with the addition of passion fruit. This beer was all about the passion fruit for me. It came through marvelously. Hris is an Old English surname that means brushwood, which eventually became Rice over time. ‘Allusion’ was yet another deliciously hopped beer. It’s an unfiltered Pale Ale with both Amarillo and Victoria Secret hops. The only Berliner Weiss on tap was brewed with Kumquats and named ‘Quats Up’. Coppertail Brewing CompanyThe Kumquats came through effectively finishing with a very light tartness. ‘La Chasse’ is a generously hoppy Farmhouse Ale. The hops actually almost overpowered the feel of the Saison, but I was still a big fan of it. ‘Double Barrel Unholy’ takes the base Trippel and ages it separately in both rum and white wine barrels. The two are then blended together to form a blasphemous blessing for your taste buds. The white wine and rum went together surprisingly well. ‘Sometimes You Don’t’ is a Porter brewed with coconut, cacoa nibs, and vanilla. This was a Mounds liquefied into a flight glass. It was my favorite of the day alongside the ‘DB Unholy’. ‘Silver Bar’ is a hoppy Pilsner. Pilsners are definitely not a go-to for me, but this one stepped up its game. I thoroughly enjoyed it! ‘Seasonal Relief’ is a Baltic Porter brewed with both Elderberries and Goji Berries. Both berries are known anti-inflammatories so this beer must be good for you. I enjoyed the hint of berries that came through. ‘Captain Jack’s Stone Crab Stout’ is brewed with three hundred pounds of Key West caught Stone Crab claws, which are added to the brewing process in the last 15 minutes. Those few minutes are just long enough to add a bit of a salty brine to the brew. Coppertail hosts a Stone Crab dinner using part of the day’s catch that didn’t go into the brew. The Shift Manager, Jeff, mentioned the claws were absolutely delicious after being removed from the beer. That’s a beer pairing I would love to have been privy to.

Price Range: Flights are offered in four 4oz glasses. The large majority of offerings are $2.00 per, but a limited release such as the ‘Double Barrel Unholy’ will run you $3.00. A 12oz pour will range between $4.00 and $7.00. A 16oz pour available for the bulk of Coppertail’s offerings will run you $5.00. Growlers in both 32oz and 64oz are available. The growler pre-pour will cost you $4.00 and $6.00 respectably. On my visit, the pour for a 32oz ranged between $7.00 and $8.00 while a 64oz was between $13.00 and $15.00. Six packs of ‘Free Dive’ ($11.00), ‘Unholy’ ($11.00), ‘Night Swim’ ($9.00) and ‘Wheat Stroke’ ($9.00) are available along with 750ml bottles of both ‘Seasonal Relief’ ($12.00) and ‘Captain Jacks’ ($13.00). The rotation on 750ml bottles changes as their seasonal bottle offerings change.Coppertail Brewing Company

Wine Menu: Wine is only offered during private events in the upstairs loft/event space.

Food Menu/Food Trucks: Coppertail allows patrons to bring food from home or food to be delivered. They also have food trucks Tuesday through Friday from 5:00 – 10:00pm as well as Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 – 5:00pm. Coppertail has also partnered with local favorite Stein & Vine to open their second location within a 1,000 sqft space in the brewery to be called S&V Kitchen at Coppertail. The opening is tentatively scheduled for Spring 2017.

Ambiance: When pulling into the parking lot a hulking two-story 34,000 sqft building gazes back at you. There is outdoor seating on both the ground and second floors (private events only) and a mural containing two of their beer labels. Coppertail Brewing CompanyA welcoming feeling washes over you when you walk inside. I’m not sure if it’s the red brick or the natural light that was pouring in through the windows, but the warm feeling is certainly there. I’ve always loved when the time is taken to refurbish a building while still keeping the history intact. There are a number of pieces of art on the walls that were created by the same artist who designs the bottle labels. The old-time style pieces help to bring the building to life. It has certainly become one of my favorite taprooms.

Bar Seating: The bar area held 18 seats while the main floor consisted of 15 tables of various styles and seating as well as a very comfy looking L-shaped leather couch.

Staff: The Shift Manager, Jeff, handled the bartending duties while I was in-house. He has been with Coppertail for two and a half years. He was a pleasure to chat with and definitely knew what he was talking about when it came to the brewery. Bartender/Tour Guide, James, gave me a quick tour of the brewery, which gave me a chance to snap a few pictures.Coppertail Brewing Company

Brewing System: Coppertail brews on a four vessel 50 bbl Brewhouse, which was fabricated by the German company Rolec. It consists of two 50 bbl fermenters, four 100 bbl fermenters, one 50 bbl brite tank, and one 100 bbl brite tank.

Merch: Men’s and women’s t-shirts are available for between $20.00 and $22.00. Hats range between $20.00 and $25.00. They also offer a number of other products from beer soap to beanies. All of which can be seen here.

Membership offered: Nothing is offered at this time.

Coppertail Brewing CompanyBest days or time of year to go: If you’re looking for a quieter experience earlier in the week before the work crowd begins to file in for the evening should be your plan of attack.

Regular Hours: Monday – Thursday: 12:00pm – 11:00pm, Friday – Saturday: 12:00pm – 12:00am, & Sunday: 12:00pm – 7:00pm

Happy Hour: Happy hour is not offered, but for those in the biz, both Sunday and Monday nights will garner you a 20% off discount.

Coppertail Brewing CompanyFun Facts:

-President, Kent Bailey, credits his then five-year-old daughter Sophia for coming up with the Coppertail name. In conversation one evening she had mentioned a Coppertail sea monster that lived in Tampa Bay. The name stuck in his head and the rest is history.

-Head Brewer, Casey Hughes, worked with the now shuttered Key West Brewing on their bottling line while working his way up to a brewing position before the age of 21. He then moved to New Jersey to take the head brewing position at the Flying Fish Brewery where he won a number of Great American Beer Festival (GABF) medals. Eventually, the sunshine and Coppertail’s head brewer position lured him back to the great state of Florida where he belongs.

-Coppertail’s building was once home to Hellman’s Mayonnaise, an olive cannery, and a refrigeration repair shop.

The confessional located in the taproom is a play on ‘Unholy’, a seriously hopped up Trippel that would make a Trappist monk lose sleep. It’s so sacrilegious you’ll need to confess your sins after drinking one.

Coppertail Brewing CompanyOverall Rating (1-5): I have been looking forward to visiting Coppertail for a long time. Everything I tried from them before my visit from a bar or beer festival was spot on and I’m happy to say they did not let me down. The beer, staff, and atmosphere of the taproom were delightful. I’m happily rating them a 4.75.

What was missing: Coppertail had the majority of beer styles on tap with literally something for everyone. If I had to get nitpicky though they didn’t have a Barleywine or a Scotch Ale available, which are two of my favorite styles. Of course in saying that I’m just being greedy. It’s not my fault, though. It’s the ‘Unholy Trippel’!

In closing, with so many breweries to choose from in Tampa and the surrounding areas, the Coppertail Brewing Company certainly stands out. It will be hard not to stop by when I’m in town for another brewery review.

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

Cheers!

Walking Tree Brewery

Walking Tree Brewery, Craft Daddy Blog

Florida Craft Brewery: Walking Tree Brewery

Established: June 23rd, 2016Walking Tree Brewery, Craft Daddy Blog

Location: 3209 Dodger Road, Vero Beach, FL 32960

Known For: Walking Tree Brewery’s most popular offering is a 6.4% abv American Wheat called ‘Sandy Feet’ that has a bit of a hop bite to it. The ‘Babycakes Oatmeal Stout’ is their oldest recipe. Unfortunately, it wasn’t on tap on my visit, but I was able to try it directly from the bright tank. At only 5.4% abv it won’t knock you down, but the roasted barley and chocolate will have you coming back for more.

Walking Tree Brewery, Craft Daddy BlogCurrent Beer Menu: On top of what I mentioned above, there were eleven other brewed in-house beers on tap along with the ‘Original Cider’ from Crispin for the non-beer drinkers. ‘Straw Hat Blonde’ was crisp and clean with a slightly bready undertone. ‘Daily Chores Table Saison’ had a bit of citrus on the nose and was nicely done. The White Walking Tree IPA uses Simcoe, Cascade, and CTZ hops. I enjoyed it, but it wasn’t my favorite IPA. The ‘I Got A Guy Hoppy Pale Ale’ is filled with Mosaic hops and is very easy drinking. It’s one of those beers you can sit back and drink a few of while lounging on the beach. ‘St. Mulway’s Offering’ is an 8% abv scotch ale with a sweet malt backbone served on Nitro that I really enjoyed. The ‘Prop Root English Pale Ale’ had a nice earthy aroma and the typical bready flavor that you would expect from an English style beer, but with an added hoppy bitterness. The ‘Barnacled Manatee English Barleywine’ was sweet with notes of toffee, caramel, and a slight hop bite. I was also able to try a taste of the Barleywine that was being aged in Pinot Noir barrels. Even though it wasn’t quite ready for release the flavors were playing off of each other beautifully. ‘Single Girlfriend’ is Walking Tree’s take on a Radler. The grapefruit was there, but I was hoping for just a bit more. The ‘Brackish Brown Ale’ was good but fell more to the bottom of my list for the day. ‘Candyman’, a Belgian Tripel, was a nicely done sweet treat with a bite of the 9.5% abv coming through. The ‘Breconshire Imperial Porter’ had a roasted almost burnt coffee flavor with a bit of chocolate thrown into the mix. Breconshire was also resting in both bourbon and Pinot Noir barrels. For one of my final beers of the day I was brought a taster of Li Bai, a barrel aged sour with Loquat fruit, which was actually brewed before the brewery opened their doors. It was a great indicator of what is to come from this brewery when it comes to brewing sours.

Price Range: A flight of five 4oz pours will cost you $8.00, but there is a upcharge of $2.00 each if you order a beer of 9% abv or higher. The Walking Tree Brewery, Craft Daddy Blogmajority of their beers cost $5.00 or $6.00, but the higher abv’s will run you $7.00 for the typically smaller pour of 10oz. Growlers are available in both 32oz ($7.00) and 64oz ($9.00) sizes. Filling a 32oz growler will cost between $8.00 and $12.00 and a 64oz will cost between $14.00 and $18.00 depending on the beer.

Wine Menu: Both red and white wine is available for $8.00 per glass.

Food Menu/Food Trucks: Chips and light snacks are available from the bar. You can also have food delivered from the neighborhood eateries. Food trucks are typically available Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and also during special events.

Ambiance: One of the first things you notice walking into the brewery are the beautiful rafters that are exposed throughout the 24,000 sqft open air warehouse style building. A number of large industrial fans whirl overhead, which will certainly help keep the heat at bay during the summer months. Next, you’ll be hard pressed not to want to shimmy up to the 50 foot ‘L’ shaped Laurel Oak bar and plop down in front of the 16 taps that are handsomely encased in four pieces of Rosewood. The space as a whole is quite large and welcoming. The tap room and brewery are only separated by a bar top, which was once in Duke Snider’s (Brooklyn/L.A. Dodgers great) Bar. The happenings at the brewery are there for all to see, which is always nice. For those who would rather not just sit and chat over their beers, there are games such as corn hole, giant Jenga, and darts to keep you busy.Walking Tree Brewery, Craft Daddy Blog

Bar Seating: There are fifteen seats at the bar and eleven tables split between both high tops and picnic tables.

Staff: Tasting Room Manager, Eric, was tending bar when I walked in and sat down. He was deep into conversation with a local patron but quickly tended to my needs. He knew the beers well and seemed genuinely happy to be working at such a fine establishment. Operations Manager and occasional brewer, Danny Rey, joined Eric behind the bar for a bit as the rush hour crowd began to file in. He showed me around the brewery and answered all of my questions in stride. CEO, Alan Dritenbas, who handles both the barrel and sour programs, spent some time talking about their beers and their involvement in Civil Society Brewing’s upcoming 1st Anniversary block party. He also eagerly offered a taste of the aforementioned BA ‘Li Bai’ and the BA ‘Barnacled Manatee’. Unfortunately, President and Head Brewer, Mike Malone, wasn’t onsite during my visit.

Brewing System: Walking Tree brews on a 20 bbl (barrel) system that was fabricated in St. Petersburg, FL by BrewFab, LLC. The system also Walking Tree Brewery, Craft Daddy Blogcontains a 20 bbl mash loader, 40 bbl whirlpool, two 20 bbl bright tanks, two twenty bbl fermenters, and three 40 bbl fermenters.

Merch: Men’s and women’s t-shirts are available for $20.00, fishing shirts for $30.00, and brewers work shirts for $40.00. Glassware is also available and ranges in price from $3.00 to $10.00.

Membership offered: There is currently no membership available, but there is the possibility of a bottle club in the future.

Best days or time of year to go: If you’re looking for the time to experience Walking Tree with the least amount of people possible, both Monday and Tuesday starting at 3:00 pm would be the time to arrive.

Walking Tree Brewery, Craft Daddy BlogRegular Hours: Monday – Thursday: 3:00pm – 10:00pm, Friday: 3:00pm – 12:00 am, Saturday: 12:00pm – 12:00am, & Sunday: 12:00pm – 8:00pm

Happy Hour: Monday – Thursday: 5:00pm – 7:00pm. $1.00 off draft beer and wine.

Fun Facts:

-The building was constructed in 1945 by the U.S. Navy as an aviation supply warehouse during WWII.

-The roof trusses, rafters, beams, and also the benches are all made from Dade County Pine and are a part of the original construction. Dade County Pine is no longer available due to South Florida being overrun by man. The wood is known for its almost concrete like strength. The older the piece of wood, the stronger it becomes due to the resin build up within the wood.

-Walking Tree signed on with J.J. Taylor and is currently distributed to restaurants and bars from Sebastian to Stuart, FL.

-The brewery volunteers its time to the Coastal Conservation Association (CCA) to help lay oyster beds in the Indian River, which in turn helps to Walking Tree Brewery, Craft Daddy Blogenrich habitat and improve water quality.

Overall Rating (1-5): I am rating the Walking Tree Brewery a 4.25. I loved the building and the history behind it. The staff was top-notch. Plus, for only being open five months (at the time of my visit in November), I was impressed with their lineup of beers.

What was missing: Just about every style of beer was on tap, including all of my favorites so I am hard pressed to come up with anything that was missing.

In closing, Walking Tree Brewing is certainly a stop that should be on your list if you’re in the area with the family or just in town on business.

Is there something else you would like to know about the Walking Tree Brewery? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.

Cheers!

Walking Tree Brewery, Craft Daddy Blog

The 2017 Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival

January is one of my favorite times of the year for a few reasons. The holiday madness is over, the Christmas decorations are down (hopefully), and the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival is back once again. The Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival is held at Roger Dean Stadium in Jupiter, FL. Roger Dean is the Spring Training home of both the St. Louis Cardinals and Florida Marlins and the festival is held on the outskirts of the stadium itself. This year there were 85 breweries, cideries, and meaderies on hand to help tickle your taste buds. I arrived around 11:30 and quickly headed over to the cash line because in typical fashion I procrastinated just long enough and missed the chance to buy a ticket online. The festival, which is in its 11th year, releases 1,500 tickets online and 1,200 tickets in person at the gate. As luck would have it, I got a call after waiting for a grueling 5 minutes in line, which was just long enough to have my ID checked and bracelet received. The call was from my buddies who had located a ticket while they waited in the pre-purchase line. For those planning to attend in the future, buy your ticket online. It saves you the hassle of watching everyone else visit tent after tent while you’re still waiting to pay your $35.00 entry fee. After joining my friends in the pre-purchase line and exchanging cash for a ticket, I was handed a cup from my buddy and told to dig into the bottles that were already popped. The first beer, of four, that I sampled in our mini beer share was the 2016 version of Wicked Weed Brewing’s ‘Angel of Darkness’. I always forget how damn good that beer is! The next offering was ‘JDawg Porter’ brewed with pecan and vanilla from Fat Point Brewing in Punta Gorda, FL. It wasn’t a bad beer, but it was overshadowed by the other three we sampled. Next was an Imperial Stout with coffee that was brewed in a collaboration between Trillium and Evil Twin Brewing called ‘Dusk Trill Dawn’. If you can get your hands on this beer, you should! It was fantastic! Funky Buddha Breweries ‘Last Buffalo in the Park’ was the final beer poured just a few minutes before the gates were opened. That was my first opportunity to try the Buffalo and it did not disappoint.

2017 Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival

I always tell my wife I’m a champion in the art of multi-tasking and I proved that by finishing my beer while getting my ticket scanned AND explaining to the volunteer at the gate that we were indeed allowed to bring backpacks into the festival. I guess I was pretty convincing because that’s all it took for her to let us through. I mean, where am I supposed to put all of the festival schwag that I collect throughout the day without a bag? Once through the ticketing portion, we gathered in the stadium concourse like cattle ready to begin our afternoon grazing session. A salivating mass waiting in anticipation of the brews that lay ahead.

2017 Jupiter Craft Beer Festival

A few minutes pass and the countdown to 1:00 pm begins. The gates are opened and it’s Black Friday at the neighborhood box store all over again with people heading in different directions to gain their first taste of the beautiful nectar that we so affectionately call craft beer. My first stop was Proof Brewing. I’m a big fan of pretty much everything I have tried from them, plus the only time they are available in South Florida is at a festival. They brought ‘Tropical Uprising Ipa’, a Belgian Strong Ale called ‘Peach Tea Litany of Angels’, and their ‘Coffee Creatures in the Dark’ Milk Stout. All three were certainly worth the wait in line, but I was a bit disappointed that they didn’t bring one of their Berliner Weisse down this time since it’s one of the samples I look forward to every year.

2017 Jupiter Craft Beer Festival

Next, I hit Copperpoint Brewing for their B. Rabbit Espresso Cream Stout and the Walking Tree Brewery for their ‘Limey Sailor’ Berliner Weisse and ‘Duke Sniders’ Imperial Stout. At that point, one of my buddies got my attention and said I needed to head over to the Finback Brewery tent because they were pouring an amazing black Gose. Finback Brewery is out of Queens, NY and has become friends with Civil Society Brewing so they were not only in town for the festival, but also to brew a chocolate IPA with the Civil boys. Back to the Gose. ‘The Sun is Too Bright Black Gose’ aged in red wine barrels was absolutely mind-blowing. The red wine wasn’t overpowering and everything seemed to meld together so very well. They were also pouring their Double IPA ‘MK Ultra’ which was delicious. I noticed a few cold cans behind the table and asked for a pour. I was delighted to receive a taste of ‘Red Shift’, which is a sour brewed with cranberries and the Japanese fruit Yuzu.

2017 Jupiter Craft Beer Festival
Source: The Japanese Yuzu fruit.

Tampa Bay Brewing had their golden ale named ‘Quat’, which is brewed with Kumquat and is very citrus forward. I stopped at Coppertail Brewing to try their ‘Guava Pastelitos’ Berliner Weisse and was once again blown away by it. Brewzzi was next on the list. Matt Manthe, who will be opening Odd Breed Wild Ales early this year, was representing Brewzzi with a barrel aged sour Porter called ‘Adjunct Fever’. It was brewed with cherry vanilla and cacao nibs. I was already eager for his brewery to open, but this beer just added to that excitement. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with for his new brewery.

2017 Jupiter Craft Beer Festival

I tried a Serrano Pepper Amber Ale called ‘Son of Sea Biscuit’ from Barley Mow Brewing, which was very well done. Just enough heat to keep you interested, but not enough to set your face on fire. I also tried their ‘Maven Chocolate Milk Stout’, which was a nice calming beer to follow the peppers. Devour Brewing brought a Mango Tea IPA and their Blizzard of Darkness Milk Stout aged on toasted coconut and Madagascar vanilla beans amongst others. I had tried both beers before and rated them a tick higher this time than I had the first time. Chip is definitely stepping up his game.

2017 Jupiter Craft Beer Festival

The Native Brewing Company brought a Scotch Ale aged in rye whiskey barrels called ‘Beam Me Up Scotchy’ that was marvelous. The Scotch Ale is a favorite style of mine, so I tend to be a tad picky and this one did not disappoint. The Brooklyn Brewery was only pouring from bottles, but I did stop to try their newest addition, the ‘Bel Air Sour’, which is a nice crisp dry-hopped sour. I happened upon the 26 Degree Brewing tent at the just right moment because they were having a timed release of their ‘Bourbon Barrel aged Scotch Ness Monster’. Talk about the beer gods being on my side! It was what Scotch Ales and bourbon barrel aging were meant to be. I really need to make it down to Pompano Beach to review these guys.

2017 Jupiter Craft Beer Festival

I stopped into the Civil Society Brewing tent for a bit to try their mouth-watering Double IPA, ‘Seventh Wonder’, and hang out for a bit. The craft beer community is filled with some really fantastic people and the folks at Civil run at the top of that list for me. After a bit, I headed to the Orchid Island Brewery tent where head brewer and co-owners Alden and Valerie Bing were pouring ‘Je Ne Sais Quoi Saison’ and a Berliner Weisse called ‘Beachside’. For the Berliner, you had the option to add one of two house-made syrups using either locally farmed Honeybell oranges or locally farmed key limes. All three were absolutely amazing! I shot the breeze with Alden for a while until we were joined by Civil Society’s Evan Miller for a bit of craft beer shenanigans. It was the perfect way to end yet another successful Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival. Once the festival started to shut down at 5:00 pm I visited with a few friends before walking over to Civil Society to close out the day.

2017 Jupiter Craft Beer Festival
Source: Orchid Island Brewery. Evan Taylor (left) of Civil Society & Alden Bing (right) of Orchid Island.

If you haven’t been to this festival yet, I would highly suggest planning for it next year. It makes for a really entertaining day between all the beers and the continuous live music flowing through the crowd. Just make sure to have a plan for getting home after this drinking session as you probably won’t want to drive. If you’re coming from out-of-town there is a hotel within walking distance. If possible, try to get your hands on tickets to the exclusive event the night before, which is called the Field of Beers. Tickets are $100 apiece and there are only 300 available. Fifteen teams of brewers and Palm Beach area chefs are paired up for a beer and food pairing unlike any other. It was named the USA Today Readers’ Choice 4th best craft beer festival in the nation in 2016. Plus in all seriousness, there isn’t a better part of the country to be in during this time of year. It’s hard to beat a sunny 70-degree day in late January while sipping on some of the finest craft brews.

I’m already looking forward to next year.

Cheers