Carnival Vista’s RedFrog Brewery Premiers New Beer

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery

If a cruise is in your future and you love craft beer then the Carnival Vista is a great ship to call home for a week. As Carnival’s largest ship to date, it has everything you could possibly want, including a pedal-powered Skyride, the first IMAX Theater on a cruise ship, and its very own brewery. The Vista’s sister ship, the Horizon, is set to sail in 2018 and will also have a brewery on board. The RedFrog Pub & Brewery is the first brewery on a North American-based cruise ship and Master Brewer Colin Presby is the man in charge.

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery

Colin began homebrewing in 2006 before beginning his career in beer with Weyerbacher Brewing as a cellarman. He then took a brewing position at Stoudts Brewing before accepting the head brewer’s job at the Golden Avalanche Brewing Co. He recently hired on Ronald as an assistant brewer from his home state of Pennsylvania.

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery
Ronald and Colin

Colin had five beers on tap during my visit. One of those, the ‘ThirstyFrog Red’, is brewed off the ship by Anheuser-Busch specifically for Carnival. The profile suggestions for the other four were made by the Concrete Beach Brewery while recipe specifics and the implementation were done by Colin.

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery

The ‘ThirstyFrog Caribbean Wheat’ is an unfiltered Hefeweizen with light notes of clove and oranges. The ’ThirstyFrog Port Hoppin’ IPA’ is brewed with Warrior, Citra, and Simcoe hops that impart hints of tropical fruits. The ‘ThirstyFrog American Pale Ale’ is brewed with Centennial and Cascade hops and has a balanced malt and hop profile. The fourth brew is the ‘FriskyFrog Java Stout’ with gentle notes of coffee and chocolate.

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery

Colin refers to his beers as full flavored, but accessible. He brews them with the novice craft drinker in mind. Typically, Colin brews 3 days a week using a 3 bbl (barrel) Joh. Albrecht Brautechnik dual vessel glass Brewhouse. Across the hall sits a room containing eight 6 bbl fermenters as well as the brewery’s cold storage.

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery
Photo used courtesy of the Beer Apostle.

To help celebrate American Craft Beer Week Colin brewed his ‘Miami Guava Wheat’ using 84 pounds of pink guava producing 100 gallons of tropical goodness. Carnival invited South Florida media and beer industry folks to the first ever tapping of the cask. Vista Hotel Director, Pierre Camilleri, had the honors of tapping the cask and did so flawlessly.

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery

Also on hand for the festivities was the ship’s, Captain Andrea Catalani. The beer was an aromatic explosion of guava on the nose and thirst quenching deliciousness. It was easily my favorite beer of the day.

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery

“I was drawing inspiration for this beer from the sort of tastes of Miami. We wanted something that spoke to our homeport. I’ve been really inspired by the Cuban pastries, the pastelitos, and the guava in that,” Colin said.

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery

While on board a pint will run you $5.75, but Carnival has gone a step further and also sells growlers for $34.95. The 64oz stainless steel flip top growler comes from and is appropriately named the SS Growler. Purchasing the growler filled is $48.95 and a refill is $16.95. If you’re in a hurry to get back to the pool there are also self-service stations where you can get a 14oz pour for $4.00.

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery

The pub is designed with Key West in mind and it certainly does have an island feel to it. There is plenty of seating and the folks handling the bar were as customer friendly as humanly possible. If sitting at the bar and listening to live music doesn’t do it for you there are also two foosball tables and two shuffleboard tables. You can also play Cornhole just outside of the brewery.

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery

In closing, I would certainly look at the Carnival Vista for my next cruise. The brewery and the state of the art amenities would make for a wonderful vacation. So the next time the family brings up going on vacation show them everything that the Carnival Vista has to offer. There is literally something for everyone.

Carnival Vista RedFrog Pub and Brewery
Saint Nicholas, the Patron Saint of Brewers.

Miami Brewing Beer Garden Opens at Marlins Park

Miami Brewing Beer Garden

As a Florida craft beer blogger, there really isn’t anything cooler than being recognized for what I do. So when I received a message from Dave over at the Florida Beer Blog about attending the ribbon cutting for Miami Brewing Company’s new Beer Garden at Marlins Park, I was pretty stoked. On top of that, Friday night at the ballpark also happens to be Burger and Beer night. Tickets start at thirty dollars and get you into the game, a burger, and a beer from Miami Brewing. That’s a pretty damn good deal! The thirty dollar ticket puts you in the right field bullpen seating overlooking Giancarlo Stanton. It also happens to be right next to the Miami Brewing Beer Garden (formerly the Bacardi Bar). The sight lines from the beer garden were so good I never actually went to my seat.

Miami Brewing Beer Garden
The view from the Beer Garden.

I arrived at the stadium around 5:30 pm, parked and located the Will Call office. A few minutes later I was upstairs and checking out the Miami Brewing Company’s brand spanking new Beer Garden. One of the first things you’ll notice is a mural on the column in which the bar surrounds. The mural was created in a collaborative effort between Claudia La Bianca (left side) and Aquarela Sabol (right side), two of Miami’s best-known street mural artists whose work can be seen around the Wynwood Arts District.

Miami Brewing Beer Garden

After taking in my surroundings for a few minutes, which included a live band, I ordered my first beer. Being the stout lover that I am the ‘Little Havana Café Con Leche Milk Stout’ was my number one target. A stout isn’t typically what most folks would think of when grabbing a beer at the ballpark. Remember though this is Miami and with a name like that, I imagine it will be a big seller. While drinking, I was thinking that the ‘Little Havana’ actually leaned more towards a shot of Cuban Coffee than a Café Con Leche. The coffee came through strong and that is certainly not a bad thing. You haven’t quite lived until you’ve had a shot of Cuban Coffee.

Miami Brewing Beer Garden

After a bit, it was time to officially open the beer garden. A representative of the Miami Marlins said a few words and presented Miami Brewing owner, Peter Schnebly, with an official Marlins jersey. Peter’s son Kody, Claudia La Bianca, Aquarela Sabol, and of course Billy the Marlin joined him on stage.

Miami Brewing Beer Garden
Ribbon Cutting.

After all of the excitement, I hit the bar again for a ‘Flamingo Ale’. The coconut and mango in the Hefeweizen came through nicely. It was the perfect beer for the Miami’s tropical humidity.

Miami Brewing Beer Garden

I spent a bit of time talking with Anthony Nader, who is a Miami based photographer specializing in food photography on his site 52 Chefs. He was more than eager to answer any and all of my photo taking questions. I learned more about my camera in that half hour than I had in all of the months before.

Miami Brewing Beer Garden

As the game started, I headed to the designated section to cash in my burger and beer voucher. The burger hit the spot and the can of Miami Vice IPA washed it down nicely.

Miami Brewing Beer Garden

Miami Brewing Beer Garden

Peter invited the Miami Brewing crew and I up to a suite during the seventh inning. Talk about watching the rest of the game in style! He had smuggled in a few growlers of both his ‘Lychee’ and ‘Columbian Lemonaide’ meads. I have only just started getting into mead and found both of these to be delicious. I’m definitely looking forward to trying them again when I head down to Homestead to review the brewery.

Miami Brewing Beer Garden

The suite was a great spot to watch the rest of the game and a first time for me. If you’re looking to watch the game like a baller getting a suite is certainly the way to do it.

Miami Brewing Beer Garden
The view from the suite.

Once the game ended, we extended the night a bit by heading downstairs to the Clevelander. After a bit more conversation and a few games of Cornhole it was time for everyone to head their separate ways. I headed home after having a great night and forming a new friendship or two.

Miami Brewing Beer Garden In closing, if you’re looking for a relatively cheap way to check out a Marlins game, Burger and Beer Fridays should be the way you do it. This was the first game I’ve attended at the new ballpark. I’m happy to say I will be making the drive from northern Palm Beach County again. The only thing missing was a win by the hometown team. There’s always next time!

It was a pleasure meeting Peter and the Miami Brewing Company crew.
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.