"It's weird that so many people are drinking stout in winter here, but they do," said Jake, the manager at Tap 42, during one of several visits this past month.
It's natural to crave big beers during the cold weather. Yet we're absolved from the cold and still, Florida sees brisk sales of winter brews. Part of the craving is we're slaves to suggestion: It's the growing season here, yet we're eying braised meat and root vegetables since it's seasonal up north.
The more compelling reason we're buying is because now's the time it's fresh and tasty, says former New Times food critic and beer guru John Linn. Among the craft brews Linn recommends right now:
"Ridiculously fresh, resinous hops over a very drinkable yet
roasty black body." Hops from Down Under lend intense citrus and pepper character to this medium-bodied brew.
Victory Yakima Glory
"Malty, rich, full-bodied double IPA in the 8.7 percent
range that tweak's Victory's distinctive whole-leaf hop profile by using
only hops from Yakima Valley in Washington." The brewery describes it as a dark IPA with cherry pit, lemon peel, and super hops.
Big Bear Brewing Co. Espresso Stout
Here's the most local of the bunch that's available only at the restaurant. "The espresso stout is poured
on nitrogen, so it's creamy and thick and is very well-balanced, with a
long, dry finish."
Brooklyn Black Chocolate Stout
"Very potent and fumingly alcoholic
stout with dark, bitter chocolate flavors and an oily mouthfeel." This imperial style with notes of toast and chocolate lends well to aging.
Terrapin Wake 'n' Bake
Imperial oatmeal stout with a tongue-tingling burst of coffee beans
from Jittery Joe's in Atlanta. The depth of this beer shines as it warms
-- cream, coffee, and chocolate give way
to chocolate-covered cherry, ripe plums, and fig. This is a high-alcohol, superdark beer."
Don't forget to get your tickets to South Florida Beer week events January 23 through 29 for a taste of these and a million other beers.