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Previously known for its bikini contests and incredible feats of drinking, Shooters Waterfront has been moving toward a more casual-chic approach to its decor, food, and drink offerings since its reopening in 2014 under new ownership.
It's one of 2015's top ten waterfront restaurants in the area. Desserts have been updated to include bread pudding flan and Key-lime baked Alaska. The food has become stunning to look at.
In the vein of updating its menus, a couple of weeks ago, the Intracoastal-fronted restaurant began offering a house beer, Shooter's Ale, brewed just over the county line at Miami's Biscayne Bay Brewing Co.
"After six weeks of talking with local breweries, we decided on the beer," Shooters Waterfront's Peter Lopez tells me. "It's approachable with the food we're serving. The amber ale is a little darker... It looks nice. The hops we use give it some floral character without big bitterness. We always wanted to do something crafty, and we didn't want to do a porter."
It's a straight-forward food-complementing beer designed from the ground up to work with every dish on the menu. Budding Cicerones and followers of this blog will know that beer and food pairing is a growing experience across the area, and for good reason. The properties of beer make it an ideal companion to food.
It begins with a base of American 2-Row malt and is built up with an addition of Best Red X, a unique red-hued malt from Germany that offers full-bodied flavor and an "attractive, unique color coupled with easy handling in the brewery," according to BestMalz, creator and supplier of the grain. It's also packed full of a single hop: Cascade.
But enough for the malt geeks and aspiring brewer; how does it fare?
The beer pours a dark amber, clear with a half finger of foam. Aromas are mildly earthy with a straight-forward character. There's a strong singular direction to the hops. Taking a sip, I notice some floral bitterness and mild caramel-like flavors. There's also a bit of toasted nut coming through as well.
I was invited to pair the beer with some of Shooters menu items, including the seared ahi tuna salad and the beef short-rib tacos, accompanied by pickled red onion, cherry pepper relish, and sriracha aioli. With each dish, the beer worked its magic, cutting through the flavors and resetting everything for another go.
At the moment, Shooters Ale is available only by the glass at the restaurant, but that might be changing.
"We'll see what happens," Lopez says, touting that the beer will soon be sold in exclusive 12-ounce bottles from the restaurant. With a water taxi stop on the restaurant's doorstep, perhaps some crafty riders will pick up a couple of bottles on their way out.
Shooters Waterfront is located at 3033 NE 32nd Ave., Fort Lauderdale. Call 954-566-2855, or visit shooterswaterfront.com.
Biscayne Bay Brewing is located at 8000 NW 25 St., Miami. Call 305-444-0344, or visit biscaynebaybrewing.com.
Doug Fairall is a craft-beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers. He is a Certified Beer Server and has been a homebrewer since 2009. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.