It's #FloridaBeerFriday. Every Friday, we take a look at a beer brewed in the Sunshine State, giving analysis to the burgeoning craft-beer movement of Florida.
Normally every Friday on this blog, we highlight a single beer that is usually new, seasonal, or a pick of the core selection of a brewery in our fair state. So yes, it's 'a beer' from somewhere nearby.
For this holiday entry, I'd like to share a few recommendations of beers we've most likely already reviewed, but will provide an easy way for you to drink local this long weekend. After all, when there's other food preparations taking up valuable brain space, it's easier to let someone else do the heavy thinking before you crack open a cold one and fire up the grill.
Native Lager, Native Brewing Company - This is a beer that we've seen recently rebrand itself with a new logo and branding. The flavor is mild, with a hint of corn and grain on the back end, but not a lot of bitterness. There's not too much of a malt body to it either, though the carbonation levels are moderate, so what comes out is a crisp and clean alternative to the macro-beers of the big brewers.
Available in 12 ounce bottles.
Jai Alai IPA, Cigar City Brewing - This is my go-to IPA for hwne I can't decide which newly released beer to try. Or on hot days. Or by the pool. It's a great end of summer beer with its depth of flavor and juicy qualities. It has strong grapefruit smells, flowers, leaves, and some bitter orange peel. The taste is a lot sweeter than I was expecting, with a bit of caramel blending in with the citrus notes, very light on the resinous flavors, but still bitter. Closer to bitter citrus. A great example of a Florida-produced IPA. A hop bomb, this is not.
Available in 12 ounce cans.
Lectio Devina, Saint Somewhere Brewery - Labor Day wouldn't be complete without a big beer to
start finish off the day. This large format bottle from Tarpon Springs' Saint Somewhere is a treat for those looking for a big malt forward beer. It has an aroma of fruit roll up, fruit leather, concentrated pectin. There's also a hint of sweet caramel candy, but it's barely noticeable under the blanket of fruit. There's a huge effervescence as well; another cork shooter. Color in the glass is a hazy tannish red, probably around 20-22 SRMs
Flavors on this beer are malt-head's dream. There's an aged grape character, tart apple, and a yeastful mouthfeel with a Champagne-like dryness throughout. It finishes only slightly bitter, but mostly with more of that yeast character.
Available in 750ml bottles.
Big Rod Blonde, Miami Brewing Company - For all of those people who want a pina colada but don't have the time to put one together (for that we ask 'what's wrong with you?'), the Big Rod coconut blonde ale is the choice du jour. The aroma is almost fruity, with a hint of mild hops peeking through. The taste... oh, I'm hoping you enjoy coconut, as this beer is flush with it. At first sip, it's like a pina colada rushing in, with hints of vanilla bean, that's followed by an effervescent mouthfeel and a light malt backbone. The finish is crisp but still flavorful with a bit of coconut.
Available in 12 ounce cans.
Caramel Cream Ale, Due South Brewing Company - What better beer to pair with a meaty barbecue event than this malty cream ale? The aroma reminds me of Werther's candies and vanilla cream soda. This is not a hop-forward beer; instead, the grain is what is in the forefront, with the push to emphasize some bigger dark malt flavors without getting sticky sweet. Carbonation is moderate, and mouthfeel is on point. At 5 percent alcohol by volume, it's approachable and drinkable.
Available in 12 ounce cans
There we have it, some locally produced beer to bring with you on your Labor Day outings. Or just sit home and enjoy, I won't judge.
Follow #FloridaBeerFriday for more reviews of Sunshine State brews.
Get out there and #DrinkLocal.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Instagram.