Release nights are always a crowd pleaser at the Funky Buddha Lounge & Brewery, Boca Raton's current flagship brew lounge. Fifty to 60 people, packed three deep at the bar, managed to find enough room for themselves in anticipation of the beers to be tapped. You could feel the excitement in the air, and for good reason.
Tuesday night saw the tapping of a couple of popular and unique beers for the area.
Maple Bacon Coffee Porter returned, as well as the coconut-embodied Last Snow. Black Truffle Gose peeked its soury head out, and the Chocolate Raspberry Imperial Stout made a burley Zangief-like entrance. But you don't want to know which character to pick during your next Super Street Fighter IV party, you want to know which beer to pick up this week at the Buddha.
Maple Bacon Coffee Porter is a complex beer, so stay with me. A nose of sweet syrup begins the journey. Then, a brash, almost cloying sweetness at first drink, which relaxes into the greasy Irish bacon meatiness of the middle and finally calms down into coffee and mild cigar notes. On-the-spot mouthfeel. Superb.
Another release on Tuesday was Last Snow, which follows in the porter and stout footsteps of the MBCP, unleashing an aroma of freshly roasted coconut or even a Mounds bar, followed by dark chocolate and cacao flavors. Perfect carbonation balance.
"It's definitely my favorite," remarked Paige, of Deerfield Beach, about the coconut beer. "That'll be crossed off first."
Now, sour beers are admittedly not my thing... yet. The Black Truffle Gose, truly inspired by the famous sour beers of Belgium and northern Germany. This traditional beer style will feature wild yeasts and produce highly acidic and tart flavors due to the high amount of lactic acid. This one is no exception. The beer itself has a muddled brown appearance that gives no hint to the flavor combo incoming. A highly acidic nose that smells like fresh sauerkraut breaks into a fizzy candy lemon tartness. It hits the style perfectly.
"Every sour beer they've made has been on the mark," said sour-beer fanatic Mike from Boca Raton. He raved about the Gose on tap: "I love it."
John Linn, Funky Buddha's brand manager, loves it too. "What I love the most are the Berliner Weisses and sour beers; I'm a real big fan."
With their tradition of experimental beers, some are better received than others, but no one is a harsher critic than themselves.
Head brewer Ryan Sentz shared what he feels is the beer he's proudest of to date. "I have to say No Crusts, because it took me so long to get that peanut butter flavor, and when we did it with the jelly and nailed it, that was my biggest 'Oh My God' moment. When we smelled it... it was peanut butter and jelly!"
Linn agreed. "Best received has been the Maple Bacon, followed shortly by No Crusts... Brown ale base, with peanuts and fruit. People really love that one."
I'm siding with the crowds on this, when I declare Maple Bacon Coffee Porter to be the finest of the night. It may not be a session beer (though some treat it as such), but it is definitely a monumental brew that demands to be had whenever it is available.
Funky Buddha Lounge is located at 2621 N. Federal Highway in Boca Raton. Call 561-368-4643, or visit thefunkybuddha.com.
-- Doug Fairall