This week, we're taking a look at a beer that's contract-brewed up at the Brew Hub in Lakeland, the Keybilly Island Ale.
Brew Hub is a 51,000-square-foot facility that doles out commercial beer, for a fee, to brewers struggling to keep up with demand. Some of its current clients include Islamorada-based Keybilly Brewery, Cigar City Brewing, Orange Blossom Pilsner of Orlando, the California-based BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse, and Green Man Brewery of Asheville, North Carolina. It's a way for brewers to be flexible with demand without shelling out for expensive expansions or, in the case of Keybilly, to produce a beer without needing a full-fledged brewery space.
Keybilly is a flavored amber ale brewed with Key lime juice and holds the distinction of being the first beer in Brew Hub's Craft Collection, a series of distinct craft beers the company plans to brew.
The beer pours a remarkably bright golden color with reddish orange hues, like that perfect Gulf sunset during the summer, and holds a wispy white head. This is a gorgeous-looking beer.
Aromas are strong with scents of pineapple, lime, and starfruit, with some minor caramel flavors peeking out. The flavor is... like a Key lime pie. An underlying current of honey graham cracker malt base highlights the slightly tart and acidic fruity overtones that come through. It's not an overly sweet flavor but fully gives the impression that this is a pie-flavored beer without losing the "beer" aspects.
According to the Brew Hub, Keybilly is brewed with American two-row barley, white wheat, and Hallertau and Tettanger hops. Brewer Pat Kennedy's recipe also adds just a hint of everyone's favorite Key lime juice to make this beer crisp, clean, and "perfectly suited to island life."
Overall, it is quite the surprisingly balanced and flavorful brew. It's lowish on alcohol at only 5.4 percent and doesn't turn up any off flavors or major flaws. It's an enjoyable lime-centered brew. As a bonus, it comes in cans, so it's easier to keep around for "island life" activities.
Brew Hub is located at 3900 Frontage Road South, Lakeland. Call 863-698-7600, or visit brewhub.com. Keybilly Island Ale is available now at finer craft beer establishments and retailers.
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 Clean Plate's Instagram.