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

 

Palm Beach County’s Damn Good Beer Bus

Damn Good Beer Bus

My buddy’s wife asked me if my wife and I wanted to go on the new local beer bus to celebrate his birthday. My initial thought was a new beer bus? How have I not heard about this? I confirmed that we would be there out of love for my buddy more than anything, honestly. After checking out the website, I saw the name of the bus was the Damn Good Beer Bus (DGBB). What a great name! Here’s how it works. You head over to the website and pick which day (Fri., Sat., or Sun.) works best for you and/or your party. The days also correspond with different areas of the county. The northern trip has stops at three of the following breweries: Civil Society Brewing Co., Twisted Trunk Brewing, Tequesta Brewing Co., Dixie Grill & Brewery, or Accomplice Brewery and Ciderworks. The central trip stops at three of the following: Accomplice Brewery & Ciderworks, Dixie Bar and Brewery, Due South Brewing, Copperpoint Brewing Co., Devour Brewing Co., and NOBO Brewing Co. The southern trip stops at three of the following: Due South Brewing, Copperpoint Brewing Co., Devour Brewing Co., NOBO Brewing Co., Saltwater Brewery, and Barrel of Monks Brewing.

Damn Good Beer Bus

Once you have picked your trip you then make your payment of $68.90 (taxes included) and BOOM you’re done. The central trip includes lunch at the Dixie Bar & Brewery so the price reflects that with an added $14.00. Believe me the food at Dixie is worth it! At first glance, the price may seem a little steep, but it includes a flight of beer at each of the three separate breweries, a brewery tour at each brewery, a tasting between brewery stops provided by the DGBB, water and snacks, and of course transportation. It’s a fun way to check out what Palm Beach County has to offer without worrying about driving from brewery to brewery. Plus it’s a great way to spend four hours with your buddies or make new friends with other craft beer lovers. Private tours are also available and that information can be found here or by calling 561.906.7212. While you aren’t able to bring alcohol from home onto the bus, you are able to buy whatever the brewery has to offer and store it in the cooler located on the back of the bus. 

Damn Good Beer Bus

Our trip was set for the third Friday that the bus had actually been operating. There really wasn’t any indication that they were so new to the scene because everything went extremely smooth. Since our party rented out the entire bus the option was given to be picked up in Jupiter. Otherwise, the meeting spot would have been at the Accomplice Brewery and Ciderworks near downtown West Palm Beach. The bus arrived around 6:30 as we were opening a beer or two to help get the party started.

Damn Good Beer Bus

A quick round of introductions with Jonathan and Ralph, our DGBB guides, were made. Waivers were distributed for us to sign while nametags were filled out for everyone. Once the boring stuff was finished we headed out to the bus for a quick group shot before loading up. The bus had been decorated with a birthday theme, which I thought was a nice touch. After a few words from Jonathan, we were on our way to our first stop, which happened to be the Saltwater Brewery in Delray Beach. It had been quite a while since I had made it down to Saltwater so I was pretty stoked since I am a fan of them. About 10 minutes into the drive, Jonathan handed out cups and brought out a crowler of the Copperpoint Brewing Companies ‘Blood Orange Wit’. It was a nice introduction to the beer that was coming.

Damn Good Beer Bus

We pulled up to Saltwater and headed inside to find an area set aside for us with plenty of seating for our group. That was a huge plus because the tap room was packed. Almost instantly flights of beer were brought out for each rider. The flights are prechosen simply because it would take forever on a busy Friday night to get and receive the orders for twenty people. Each flight consisted of ‘Screamin’ Reels IPA’, ‘Locale Golden Ale’, ‘Sea Cow Milk Stout’, and the ‘Black Current Strong Ale’ which comes in at 11% abv.

Damn Good Beer Bus

I also tried a few other offerings including ‘Imperial Raspberry Reef’, ‘Habanero Screamin’ Reels’, and Coconut Screamin’ Reels’. I am continually impressed every time I get a chance to stop into Saltwater. After a few minutes, those who wanted to were taken back behind the scenes for a tour of the brewery. After about 45 minutes at the brewery, it was time to head to our next stop, which was Barrel of Monks Brewing in Boca Raton. On the drive south Jonathan opened a crowler of Civil Society’s ‘Blondes Make Me Hoppy’. We pulled up into the Barrel of Monks parking lot and quickly headed inside to our designated seating. Flights quickly started coming out and consisted of their Saison, Wit, Amber, and Tripel. I’ve always been a big fan of their Tripel and this time was no different. I also tried their ‘Irish Cream Koffee Tartan Monk’, which is their Scotch Ale infused with Irish Cream coffee. It was an interesting treatment, to say the least. After a bit, we headed into the brewery for our tour.

Damn Good Beer Bus

A rundown of brewing and production was given before moving into the cellar where a bottle of ‘Happy Accident’ was opened for us to try. ‘Happy Accident’ is their ‘Three Fates Tripel’, which picked up wild yeast from the Florida air, giving it a drier funky flavor profile that was definitely a crowd pleaser. The tour lasted about 15 minutes.

Damn Good Beer Bus

After our time was up we piled back onto the bus and headed for Due South Brewing. While on the road Jonathan opened cans of Twisted Trunk Brewing’s ‘IPGA IPA’. We arrived at Due South and gingerly stumbled into the brewery. By no means was anyone smashed, but we were all definitely feeling the beer. Once gathered around our designated area the flights began to appear. They consisted of the ‘Caramel Cream Ale’, ‘Legendairy Milk Stout’, ‘Hopicana Orange Rye IPA’, and ‘Category 5 DIPA’. There wasn’t a tour offered, but we did have access to management who eagerly answered all questions asked. Once back on the bus we were again offered lite snacks and bottles of water for the drive back up to Jupiter.

Damn Good Beer Bus

I can see another bus being added in the future with more breweries set to open before the end of 2017. Since our trip, I’ve been following the pictures posted on DGBB’s Instagram account and they seem to continually have a packed bus. All in all, I think the Damn Good Beer Bus will be a huge success in Palm Beach County.

Damn Good Beer Bus

In closing, if you’re looking for something different to do on the weekend or looking for a safe and reliable way to get to and from the breweries the Damn Good Beer Bus is most certainly your answer. It’s hard not to have a great time when you’re receiving VIP treatment at the breweries, brewery tours, tasting great beers, surrounded by like-minded people, fantastic tour guides, and an overall kick ass experience.

Islamorada Beer Company – South Location

Islamorada Beer Company

Florida Craft Brewery: Islamorada Beer Company – South Location

Established: October 31st, 2014

Location: 82229 Overseas Hwy, Islamorada, Florida 32026

Known For: Located 82 miles north of Key West, the Islamorada Beer Company is known for their easy drinking fun in the sun beers. Whether it’s a day on the water, a day at the beach, or a day doing yard work, their beers are designed with the hot summer days of Florida in mind. Islamorada has taken the flag for session beers and run with it. If the outdoors is your playground, you are their target.

Islamorada Beer Company

Current Beer Menu: My family and I were down in the Keys for a wedding so it was a perfect opportunity to hit one of the two breweries located on Islamorada. Having reviewed the location in Fort Pierce already, I skipped their core beers to focus on what I hadn’t tried yet. Islamorada had eleven of their own beers on tap during my visit. Since I had already tried ‘Sandbar Sunday’, ‘Islamorada Ale’, ‘No Tan Lines’, and ‘Channel Marker’ during my visit to their Fort Pierce production facility and tap room I focused on the remaining seven. My first beer of the day was a coconut key lime Blonde named ‘No Wake Zone’. I got the slightest bit of both coconut and key lime. It certainly has a lot of potential. In talking to the head brewer, Stephanie, I learned that she was in the process of working on the recipe so it could be upscaled at the production facility. The coconut used is roasted in-house.

Islamorada Beer Company

The northern facility has purchased an oven to do the same. Next up was a Cascade dry-hopped mango infused Blonde called the ‘Last Flight Out’. I got a lot of mango on the nose with a just enough mango on the tongue followed by a lite hop bite. ‘Treasure Coast’ is a Vienna Lager that is sweeter than what’s normally typical for the style. That sweetness added a little something extra to a style I don’t normally care for. Their Traditional Lager, Wyland, was next. This is the beer that will act as a gateway to all things craft for the patron who stops in asking for a Budweiser. The Queen Conch Raspberry (Tart) Ale opens up as it warms bringing forth a nice dose of raspberry puree. I only got the slightest hint of tartness from the raspberries. I guess tart is listed on the menu so it doesn’t come as a surprise to someone who may not have a familiarity with all of the different nuances of craft beer. My favorite beer of the day was a vanilla coffee Stout called ‘Buzz on Charters’. I got a lot of coffee on the nose with just the slightest backing of vanilla. The taste was completely vice versa for me. The vanilla took over giving the coffee a backseat. At 6.7% abv it’s one of the bigger beers they brew. My last beer of the day was a Blonde Ale named ‘Go Fish’. It was nice, crisp and quite enjoyable.

Islamorada Beer Company

Price Range: A flight will get you four 4oz beers for $8.00. Each additional pour is $2.00. A pint will run you $6.00 across the board. Growlers in both 32oz and 64oz are offered as well. The 32oz growler glass will run you $8.00 and the fill of the growler will also cost you $8.00. The 64oz glass will run $14 and the fill will also run you $15.00.

Wine Menu: A number of styles are offered by the glass for $6.00, but come on now you aren’t there for the wine.

Food Menu/Food Trucks: Food trucks aren’t a legal form of food distribution in Islamorada just yet. Thankfully though you can have food delivered or try one of their prepackaged items. Fish dip for $7.00, hummus for $3.50, and Boar’s Head meat/cheese for $5.50.

Islamorada Beer Company

Ambiance: The Florida Keys are one of those places I visit just to get away from everything. You can feel the weight of the world slowly fall away as you cross the Miami-Dade-Monroe County line. It’s hard to miss The Islamorada Beer Co. with its brightly colored exterior. You are greeted by an explosion of neon yellow and turquoise as you walk through the front door. Some might think its gaudy, but in the Keys, it fits in perfectly with the tropical feel. Overhead you’ll hear music from bands like Sublime and Dispatch, adding to that relaxing feeling that has already taken a hold of you. Nothing, but good vibes flow through those doors. If chilling at the bar isn’t your thing Giant Jenga, a Foosball table, Giant Connect Four, and a number of board games are available to pass the time.

Islamorada Beer Company Islamorada Beer Company Islamorada Beer Company Islamorada Beer Company

Bar Seating: The bar is split into two sections and holds a total of twelve seats. There are seven tables holding four seats each, a picnic-style table, and additional seating out back.

Staff: Luckily head brewer Stephanie Harper was not only on site during my visit, but also single-handedly running the bar. Stephanie moved down to the Keys from Delaware five years ago to become a scuba instructor. The brewery became her go-to spot and she eventually started bartending while helping to brew on the side. One and a half years ago ownership sat Steph down and asked her to take over the head brewer’s position. With no formal training, she learns on the job and reads everything she can get her hands on regarding the subject. The rest, as they say, is history. Steph was a pleasure to talk to while handling the rest of the patrons. I don’t think she could be more personable if she tried. The Islamorada Beer Co. is lucky to have her. They are currently looking for additional bar help. The only prerequisites are having a bit of experience, the ability to show up on time, and arriving mostly sober. It’s a Keys thing!

Brewing System: Islamorada South brews on a two-barrel system.

Islamorada Beer Company Islamorada Beer Company

Merch: Wow, does Islamorada have merch! They devote a decent sized section in the tap room to all of the merch they offer. They offer everything from koozies, bottle openers, stickers, glasses, tumblers, bar signs, t-shirts, fishing shirts, hats, and even calendars. If you want something they most likely offer it. You can view everything they have to offer here.

Islamorada Beer Company

Membership offered: At this time nothing is offered.

Best days or time of year to go: During the week before the end of the work day is you best time to get a seat at the bar.

Regular Hours: Monday – Saturday: 12:00pm – 9:00pm and Sunday 12:00pm – 6:00pm

Happy Hour: Buy one get one pints are available Monday through Friday from 5:00 to 7:00.

Islamorada Beer Company

Fun Facts:

-Islamorada is the number one top-selling craft beer throughout the Florida Keys.

-Before opening the production brewery in Fort Pierce the Islamorada Beer Co. contract brewed at the Beltway Brewing Co. in Virginia, the Olde Saratoga Brewing Co. in New York, back to the Beltway Brewing Co., and finally to the Thomas Creek Brewery in South Carolina.

-The boat pictured below can be found in the tasting room. It is the first boat part owner Chris Trentine owned.

Islamorada Beer Company

-There were only three beers available during the grand opening. Realizing they needed another offering the partners began mixing the beers only to discover that the ‘Sandbar Sunday Wheat Ale’ and the ‘Islamorada Ale’ go very well together. The wine rep. who was on site at the time suggested calling the concoction ‘No Tan Lines’ and it stuck.

-The ‘Wyland Traditional Lager’ was named after artist Robert Wyland, who is best known as simply, Wyland. He helped brew the inaugural batch. He is a renowned marine life artist known for his Whaling Walls.

Islamorada Beer Company

Overall Rating (1-5): If you’re looking for an easy drinking session brew to take out on your fishing trip Islamorada is the beer for you. Their beers are built around the sun and fun life of the Florida Keys. I am rating the Islamorada Beer Co. a 3.75 out of 5.

What was missing: Being a fan of bigger meatier beers it’s always a letdown when a brewery doesn’t have one available. Of course in saying that the heat and humidity of the Florida Keys aren’t exactly the place you want the high abv beers. As much as I love big stouts, porters, and barleywines they aren’t my go-to styles when I’m sitting on the beach fishing.

Islamorada Beer Company

In closing, going into the review I knew Islamorada primarily focused on session brews with the oddball higher abv thrown in around the holidays. I look forward to the next trip we take down to the Keys knowing there’s a friendly spot to stop, grab a pint, and shoot the shit.

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

Easy DIY Teepee for Toddlers

Easy DIY Teepee for Toddlers

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

When my wife said she wanted to get our son a teepee for his room I thought it was a great idea. I remember as a kid always wanting to build a fort. Couch cushions, chairs, sheets, and any other household item that would give makeshift cover for my imaginary world to open up. Having a space to call my own, even at such a young age, seemed important. He would love it! Yep. I thought a teepee was a great idea until I saw the price tag! Are you kidding me? A hundred dollars for a piece of canvas and some sticks? I think those were my exact words to my wife too. She just rolled her eyes and said she thought it would be great for our son and didn’t know why I was being difficult. I quickly responded well, heck I could make a teepee for a lot less than $100! “Oh yeah?” she said. And that was the moment I realized what I had gotten myself into. Off to the home improvement store we went!

So here it is, my step-by-step guide to making your own no-sew teepee for less than $34.00. That’s right! I actually got it right this time and kind of proved the wife wrong. Or did I prove her, right? I think she got what she wanted either way and I’m a proud Daddy for being able to pull through on this.

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

*This post contains affiliate links at no cost to you.

What you’ll need:

  • Canvas Drop Cloth 5 ft. 9 in. x 8 ft. 9 in. 10 oz.
  • 4 Pieces of 11/16″ Quarter Round Molding – found at any home improvement store
  • Rope or Twine – I used cotton cooking twine we already had
  • Safety Pins

Optional:

This project was relatively easy once I figured out the placement of the quarter round and how I wanted to drape the drop cloth. After cutting down the eight-foot quarter round pieces to about six feet I made a square with the quarter round and figured out the height where I wanted to secure it with the twine.

It helps to have an extra pair of hands for this part. Wrap the twine multiple times around and under the quarter round until secure. Cut the end of the twine and fasten with a knot at the back.

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

Unfold the drop cloth and drape around the teepee frame until you are happy with the placement. Fasten the drop cloth at the top of the teepee with safety pins until secure. I used two heavy-duty safety pins.

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

That’s it! Teepee complete.

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

As an added touch you can decorate the teepee with white lights. I grouped a string of white lights together with twist ties and hung them inside the teepee to look like a chandelier.

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

This also acts as a reading light. I pulled the plug end of the lights through the top of the teepee and down the back side out of view to an outlet.

To make the inside area comfier, we added a new dog bed as a floor pillow and covered it with a blanket.

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

The blanket was actually the comforter to my son’s crib set that we never used. At least now it serves a purpose and it fits in with the rest of his room decor.

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

I also added some throw pillows that my wife found at Target, another blanket and a stuffed octopus he already had.

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

The best part about doing any project is the reveal when you get to see the reaction. It’s even better when it’s your kid! We told my son we were working on a surprise for him while he spent the whole day at his grandma’s. When he came home and we told him to come see what Daddy made for him the look of amazement on his face was priceless! His first words were “Whoah! That’s so cool! Look at my teepee Daddy!”

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

DIY Teepee for Toddlers

Easy DIY Teepee for Toddlers

He loved it! I consider this project a “win”!

If you’re not convinced and would rather buy a teepee, here are some cool options.



 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Have you tried a DIY teepee for your child? Please share below. I’d love to hear from you!

Cheers,

Craft Daddy

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!