Tucked into the center of deeply residential Fort Lauderdale, Riverside Market has made a name for itself in the past years as the place to go if you're looking for craft beer from around the world and want to enjoy it in the most casual of settings, outside the stereotypical tiki hut.
The eclectic mix of craft beer enthusiasts from all walks of life make coming here feel like it's some secret club you've heard from your friend's friend's cousin; like a speakeasy from the days of Prohibition. It's anything but secret, however, just hard to find.
Wednesday night saw the continuing of a week-long celebration of American Craft Beer Week, with a tap takeover event from Florida Beer Company, a treasure coast based brewery.
With beers such as Swamp Ape (a double IPA with 10% abv that helps to calm down the intense hoppiness with that high alcohol heat), Gaspar's Porter (a decent entry into the porter game) and Devil's Triangle (a newer IPA that shows signs of a west coast IPA, highly drinkable, though without a huge aroma profile), the company is consistently putting out product that people want to buy, especially Swamp Ape, which the beer community has gravitated towards.
We spoke to Corey Brysman, the South Florida rep for Florida Beer Co. and he told us all about the expansion of the facility. "The current brewery is in Melbourne, but we're working on a new 50,000 sq. ft. facility on Cape Canaveral. That'll be five times our current capacity."
But size isn't all that matters.
"We'll be able to put out a better and more precise product with the new equipment."
Beyond the stable of current beers, including the popular Key West Sunset Ale and Swamp Ape, the company is looking to expand into more traditionally beer geek territory. "We're going to be more involved with firkins, doing a line of seasonals, and 22oz bottles." There's also rumors of a grapefruit beer, and more one-off brews.
"Everything we do," he continued, "is iconic to the state of Florida. We want to draw attention to the state. We're hoping it all indirectly helps the other brewers here."
Florida Beer's owner, Jim Massoni, is what many would call the standard model of a current Floridian. Corey explains. "He was born in New York, lived in California for a while, then moved to Florida 20 years ago... it's his home now. He loves the Treasure Coast and is so very involved in the community."
Which explains why Florida Beer might pick somewhere as 'local' as Riverside. This isn't a tap takeover at a place with hundreds of taps and a huge commercial space.
"Riverside is a popular place to go in Fort Lauderdale," Corey said. "The owner, Julian, welcomes us with open arms; it was a no brainer."
Julian is genuinely proud of his establishment. As the beer lovers keep pouring in, filling the place with idle chatter, he walks around talking to the locals, the regulars, and the first timers. Everyone is welcome here, and he makes sure they know it.
It'll be craft beer week here long after May 19th.
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