Wine tends to get top billing at New Times Pairings -- in part, because Wine Watch and crew do such a fine job of it -- but the craft-beer department is no slouch either. This year especially is a must for beer geeks and hops nerds.
In addition to familiar faces like Shock Top and Key West Sunset Ale, beer connoisseurs (and casual observers alike) will have an opportunity to dig into less-familiar, harder-to-find, and in some cases new-to-Florida brews this Thursday night.
John Linn, "baron of beer happenings" for Brown Distributing, said the company is teaming with five restaurants for the fifth-annual event and will offer a few unusual picks for the evening.
For instance, one of their restaurant matches, Tap 42, will serve beer cocktails instead of straight-up brews. (Read more about Tap 42's beer cocktails.) In addition to a beer cocktail made with Magic Hat #9, the restaurant will serve a Charlie Brown, made by blending a pumpkin beer with a stout.
"It's really nice; it's a different take on a black and tan," Linn said.
Brown also will showcase Duvel -- a popular label recently added to the company's portfolio -- which Linn calls "very refined and highly carbonated." Also, keep a look out for Breckenridge Agave Wheat at El Jefe Luchador's table, where it will be paired with the restaurant's ever-popular tacos de barbacoa.
But perhaps most intriguing to rare beer hunters will be the Birradamare Birra Roma, an Oktoberfest/Marzen-style imported from Rome, Italy. Thursday will act as something of a South Florida public debut for the beer. Look for it at the Cafe Vico table.
"The beer promotes eating; it's almost mouth-watering in quality," Linn said.
Looking to show some state pride with your beer selections? If so, Thomas Barris of Florida Beer Co. says his crew is teaming up with Tampa-based Lush Confections for a smattering of beer-and-sweet combos. Lush, which sells out of an Etsy shop, is known for its booze-infused treats, Barris said.
For Pairings, expect to find the easy-drinking Key West Sunset Ale to be paired with a white chocolate/red velvet truffle. Meanwhile, heavy hitter Swamp Ape (weighing in at a considerable 10 percent ABV) will be served with either a carrot cake or grapefruit-flavored truffle. Conchtoberfest, a Marzen/Oktoberfest style, will go hand in hand with a pumpkin spice truffle.
Key West Southernmost Wheat -- a Belgian style made with real Key limes -- will pair with a Key lime truffle. Barris also plans to bring a case of extra pale ale that's still "in the experimental" phase for those adventurous types. As a side note, he said a gluten-free truffle may be on offer for those who have to forgo wheat.
Pairings -- which includes plenty of other adult beverages in addition to those mentioned above -- is 7 to 10 p.m. at the Broward County Convention Center. Advance tickets cost $50 for general admission and $90 for VIP.
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