Friday's here, so it's time for beer.
Every Friday, so long as the creek don't rise, this beer enthusiast will take a look at a Florida beer that, hopefully, should be readily available in a local shop or on tap at your favorite bar.
Beer spilling out from the Tampa Bay area is like Game of Thrones episodes making their way online an hour after they've aired on HBO: inevitable and highly desired.
Unfortunately for us, most of the brews that are created at small breweries and brewpubs remain confined to those places, stuck behind the limitations of capital and space that a canning or bottling line require. Fortunately, though, there are a few brewers who are able to make use of the existing brewhouse infrastructure and make some great contract brews.
The Tampa Bay Brew Bus is a unique and smart business. It conducts tours of various craft beer spots around Florida, and although not affiliated with Cigar City Brewing, picks up busgoers at Cigar City's facility and transports them to beer places around the state, from areas around Tampa Bay to Sarasota, Jacksonville, and Orlando. Knowledgeable beer guides accompany the bus, giving out indispensable facts about the beercentric places being visited while providing good libations to the travelers.
One such beer is Rollin Dirty Red Ale, a beer contract brewed under the Tampa Bay Brew Bus label at Cigar City Brewing. This beer happens to make it off the bus and into South Florida stores, so there's no need to take the tour to sample it (though these tours sound amazing).
Let's get into it a bit, shall we? As a red ale, I'm expecting it to be a little dry and bitter, akin to an Irish red: something that's very basic. Instead, as I pour, I'm greeted with a mild aroma of bread and roasted nuts. The flavor echos the nuttiness and is actually on the sweet malty side, with bread crusts and little caramel. It's also pretty creamy and not too highly carbonated. As it warms, the sweet nut character becomes much more pronounced.
The Brew Bus is a great idea, one that, because of the spread-out nature of Florida, should exist in other areas of the state. I smell a business opportunity!
Even if there's no Brew Bus in South Florida, you can still take a trip out to the Gulf Coast and take a ride. The next event that's not sold out is on August 24.
The Brew Bus and the Ale and the Witch present the Witch Brewery Tour Series on Saturday, August 24.
4 to 8 p.m. The Brew Bus will take 30 people on an unforgettable craft beer experience. We will leave The Ale and the Witch in Downtown St. Petersburg at 4:15pm! Our stops will be Cigar City Brewing, Barley Mow Brewing Co., and Rapp Brewing Co.
At each stop, we will hear from knowledgeable brewers about the complex art of brewing.
Tickets will include: 1 pint of craft beer at each location, a private tour of each brewery, complimentary craft beer on the Brew Bus while we drive from brewery to brewery.
$35 per person... sign up now before this event sells out!
Now that wouldn't be a bad vacation at all!
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