This weekend saw the beginning of a new era in beer for Broward County, when the Funky Buddha opened their new state-of-the-art facility in downtown Oakland Park Saturday night.
If there was a theme for the night, it was beer, people, and rain. Coming from Palm Beach County, I was expecting the worst; after all we had gotten so much rain up there the roads were flooding, and on the way down to Oakland Park there were areas where you could barely see 200 feet in front of you. However, the beer gods were placated, and down off 38th street, in the newly christened food district of Oakland Park, the rain slowed to a Seattle-like drizzle.
After the requisite ribbon cutting, and excited cheers of the crowd, the doors to the tap room opened allowing a wave of humanity to funnel into the building.
What a sight. This is probably the largest tap room for a brewery I have ever seen. It's big, spacious, and modern. Digital televisions on the wall behind the bar showcase the beers on tap and the special releases available. I spot a pressurized growler filler, which will make people very happy when they come to fill up on the way home.
Tickets get exchanged for glasses of beer, in scenes similar to the Chicago commodities exchange, or a chilled game of Pit. However, despite the seeming chaos, the staff handles it all with aplomb.
The facility is divided into two main sections; the main tasting room and bar, that features ample table space and room for seemingly hundreds of people, and the more warehouse-y game area that contains a large indoor bocce court and multiple cornhole boards.
Near that games area were the 'secret' taps manned by Sean, a new face to the Funky Buddha team. He was hired as part of the recent expansion and is personally a huge fan of IPAs. However, conversation turned quickly to the Berliner Weiss that was on tap.
"It's an absolutely good berliner," he said. "Especially tonight."
He wasn't wrong. So on that, it's time to delve into the beers.
Style: Berliner Weiss
Buddha's interpretation of the northern German sour beer style is one of the most approachable sour beers found in the area. It has a cloudy yellow and slightly sweet and tart aroma, which gives way to a grainy and lemonade refreshing taste. At 5% abv, it's higher than a traditional Berliner, but that's no matter here; this is a great beer to get accustomed to the sometimes daunting arena of sours.
Style: Specialty Brown Ale
This was a highly sought after beer from regular folk to beer geek alike. It has a pink-red color and an unassuming aroma, very mild. The cobbler spoke through most on this one, with blueberries riding on the grain train. It finished clean without being cloying or excessively sweet. It was enjoyable, but fell to the joy that was had with the...
Nib Smuggler Chocolate Porter
Rich milk chocolate explodes out of this one. It has a lovely light and creamy body that delivers the roasted chocolate and espresso flavors straight in. Sweet, delicious, and decadently good. I wish I could have just continued to have this all night, but alas, there were more releases to be had. Any dark beer fan will have to put this on their 'to-drink' list.
No Crusts PB&J Ale
Style: Specialty Brown Ale
Another coveted beer release by Funky Buddha, the No Crusts ale is consistently highly rated on places like Beer Advocate and RateBeer, but we in South Florida have the chance to make our own opinions on the brew. Fruit jelly hits the nose first, with a hint of what's to come. Fresh made peanut butter, a bit of fruit flavor, and a mildly bitter finish round this one off, and send this peanut butter lover into a joyous spin. Ok, so I may be over exaggerating, but the fact remains that when the Funky Buddha desires to make a beer whose concept may seem off the wall or too experimental, it just seems to work.
Style: Berliner Weiss
Time to change pace again, and pop back into the sours. The Passionfruit Berlinerweiss struck me hard, in a way that I was pleasantly reminded that beer takes on many forms and styles. This one hits with a strong passionfruit nose, like a juice cocktail. It tastes almost completely like fruit juice, highly refreshing, but with a bit of a grain kick at the end to remind you that this is, in fact, a beer. Patrons around me were remarking how well this would do out by the pool, and I'd have to agree.
Doc Brown Ale
Style: Brown Ale
As the night was winding down, it seemed appropriate to clock in one of the core beers that Funky Buddha will be offering in the future. After spotlighting Hop Gun IPA last week, the brown ale on offer seemed like a good choice to take on, especially as a way to wind down the taste buds after a night of the flavor circus. It has a medium body and is roasty enough to have a decent flavor profile. Much better than most commercial browns out right now in bottles.
If you somehow missed the grand opening festivities, get yourself acquainted with the brewery on a less crowded day, and see what the Buddha has to offer you. As always, drink good beer, and #drinklocal.
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