Friday, August 5, 2011 at 12:13 p.m.
Beer. Floridians love it.
We may not be California or Colorado, where craft breweries reign on high. But we do have a growing craft scene, and a population willing to guzzle it all down.
Here, our list of the top Florida brews available in Broward and Palm Beach counties (and where to get them):
A medium-bodied, English-style brown ale, this is one beer that's the perfect balance of not too bitter, not too sweet. Slightly strong at 6% ABV, it's brewed with just the right amount of hops to give it a strong, malty flavor without a bitter bite.
It's also one of several taps that cover everything from an Irish-style red ale to a Belgium Dubbel. There's also a rotating seasonal that changes every few months. Reason enough to swing through and stay for a few.
Get it from Big Bear Brewing in Coral Springs.
If you live in Palm Beach County and like beer, you probably have tried Brewzzi's Boca Blonde, one of the local brewpub/restaurant's most popular. If you like light beer, this one's for you -- perfect for sipping away the lazy dog days of summer. Despite being the lightest on tap, it's surprisingly full of flavor, goes down easy, and pairs well with any of the establishments fare.
This copper-colored amber ale derives its fruity, slightly spicy aroma from authentic Belgian Abbey yeast. The finished product is a nutty, malty-sweet mess that melds perfectly with the organic hops Inlet brewing swears by.
Get it at Longboards
in West Palm Beach (or Inlet Brewing Co.)
At 10% ABV, this Imperial Pale Ale packs in the flavor with a monstrous punch. Brewed with five different types of hops, it is insanely hoppy and bitter. The experience only gets more intense after a few whiffs of the potent alcohol vapors.
Get it at Havana Hideout in Lake Worth
A big, bold American IPA, Jai Alai uses six different hops that go through a dry hopping process, allowing this beer to retain more of its alcohol. Here, it helps to create a smooth, smoky ale that is easy on the palate with the perfect balance of malty-caramel flavor.
With six house-brewed beers on heavy rotation, this brewery came from the back-room of a local establishment to a self-standing brewery packed with beer-guzzlig revelers each night. But it's this German-style Kolsch, one of the lighter ones brewed by owner Matt Webster brews (5.3% ABV), that makes our list. Brewed with German noble hops for a very delicate flavor, it's the perfect crossover beer for people who aren't really into craft beers, but still want something stronger than a Bud Light.
1. The Maple Bacon Porter (or the No Crusts PB&J) from Funky Buddha
Either way you go, these specialty craft beers -- flavorful creations from brewer buddies and owners Ryan Sentz and Kevin Abbott -- have brought quite a buzz from local beer snobs and craft-lovers.
If you want a meal in a glass, go for either one. The taste is incredibly in-synch with the real deal, while the atmosphere of this local, South Florida brewery only makes it that much better. Just make sure you check to see if they have it on tap before you go. Because the brewery uses a smaller, 42-gallon tank, a fresh batch goes quickly.
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