When the Funky Buddha's Maple Bacon Coffee Porter was released in March, it became an instant nationwide sensation, garnering an earth-shattering #1 buzz ranking on BeerAdvocate.com (it currently sits as the 31st most popular beer one the site). And that's despite the fact that the small brewpub brewed only 10 gallons of the stuff. Even then, the only way it got out to places like Ohio and North Carolina was via SoFla locals making internet-style beer swaps with their prized pill-bottle-style growlers.
The combination of sweet maple syrup and roasted coffee flavors mingling with chocolate malt had people raving. The most common compliment? That a pint of the stuff tasted just like pancakes on Sunday morning, drizzled with syrup and served with coffee and bacon on the side. That's a pretty amazing flavor profile for Funky Buddha to cram into a single beer. But it's a magic trick the young brewhaus does on a regular basis with beers like its ginger lemongrass wheat, mango pepper ale, and its recent No Crusts, a beer that smells and tastes exactly like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Well, get ready, beer fans: The Maple Bacon Coffee Porter is back, this time in Imperial form. And that's not even the best news. The Funky Buddha is rereleasing its smash-hit beer to commemorate the grand opening of its new homebrew shop this Sunday at 5 p.m. (2 p.m. for Imperial Club members). We talked with co-owner Ryan Sentz and got the skinny on the new shop as well as everyone's favorite breakfast-themed beer.
New Times: How long has this homebrew shop been in the making?
Ryan Sentz: Oh jeez, I'd say we started thinking about it right
when we opened the brewery. We already had a lot of the ingredients on
hand, and of course we're all former homebrewers. So we thought we
could at least provide an informed opinion to other people out there
looking to brew for themselves.
What can people expect to find at the shop?
Everything you need from brewing to bottling. You'll be able to buy all
the ingredients, the kits, any necessary chemicals as far as cleaning
or chemistry goes, bottling tools, capping, all that.
What if you've never homebrewed before?
For me, the beginning when I started out was really intimidating. It
was like, "How am I going to make a beer?" But we want to make that
easier. We're not just going to hire bodies to work the counter. We'll
have people there that are avid homebrewers, people who can walk you
through the process from start to finish. We are also going to have classes. Right
now, it looks like just once per month. But we'll do a weekend class for
$20 where we cover all the basics and brew a batch with people. And
that $20 goes towards your first purchase, so essentially it will be
free. And you'll also be able to taste the beer that was made in class
the month before.
Will you have "starter kits" for people new to homebrewing?
Kits as far as starter equipment kits, yes. Not so much ingredient
kits. If you come in wanting to brew an IPA, we're going to help tailor
recipes for your specific needs so that you're not just making a beer a
thousand people have made before. And you can still do that if you want. We'll have tons of recipes on hand for that purpose.
Any chance on a maple bacon coffee porter homebrew kit?
[laughs] Yeah, absolutely; that will be our main seller! We want everyone
brewing that beer at home. But seriously, we are going to tell people
exactly how we brew, the ingredients we use, and what goes into our
beers. We have no problem sharing that information with the community.
Speaking of, tell us about the reception the first batch of MBCP received?
It was shocking. Simply shocking. It was definitely unexpected. The
beer community took a hold of it and ran with it. It got traded to
Europe and all over the country. We still get requests almost daily
from brewpubs or people from different states asking if we distribute,
and while some of our other beers have gotten big buzz, this beer is what started that.
Did you think about the ten-gallon batch size and think, "Damn we should've made 40!"?
Of course! We were like, "Why are we brewing on a one-barrel system!"
But honestly, we didn't believe the hype. We thought it would die off.
Then all the sudden, it's the tenth-ranked buzz beer on BeerAdvocate,
then the fifth, and then first. It was like, "Maybe this really is
How is the new version different?
Well, it's a bigger beer, going from 6.3 to 10.5 percent alcohol by volume. If
there was a criticism on the first beer, it was the body. People
expected with that kind of flavor that it would be really thick, really
strong. But it was still a 6 percent beer. And we looked at a lot of these
beer ranking lists, and we were the only beer on the top that was a low
ABV. So we upped that. The difference ingredientswise is it's
conceptually the same, but we added a lot of flaked oats to give it
body and a different coffee from a local roaster. We used espresso
Did you make much more this time around?
This time, we only have about 25 gallons.
Have you had it maturing for long?
It's been aging for about three to four months. We kept going back and
trying it and saying, "This is great, this is great." But we've been
trying to pair it with the opening of the homebrew store, and while we
waited, it just kept getting better and better. I'm very critical of our
beers, and this one is something I'm really happy with. It's tasting
What other beers will you have on tap for the opening?
Wow, we're going to have 14 beers on tap for the opening. We're doing a
lot of special beers: Pineapple Hop Gun. Nib Smuggler, which is a
porter aged on Brazilian cocoa nibs and Madagascar vanilla beans.
Nikolai Volkoff, if you remember the wrestler, this is an ode to him; a
Russian imperial stout aged on bourbon oak for two months. That's 10.5
percent too. No Crusts, of course. We have a vanilla espresso, our
Barefoot Buddha Belgian quad, and also Blueberry Cobbler wheat ale,
which is 30 pounds per barrel of fresh blueberries with vanilla and
Sounds amazing. Thanks for your time, Ryan.
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Funky Buddha Homebrew Shop soft opens this Sunday at 5 p.m. Normal business hours are from 10 a.m.
to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday and 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.