Friday's here, so it's time for beer.
Every Friday, so long as the creek don't rise, this beer enthusiast will take a look at a Florida beer that, hopefully, should be readily available in a local shop or on tap at your favorite bar.
Some beers you drink and savor. They leave a lasting impression long after the bottle's dried up. Those are the beers that are most sought after by beer lovers: that certain combination of hops that make that certain IPA sing across your taste buds, or the first golden drops of a Trappist ale whose journey across the oceans makes it taste just that much better. For fans of artisanal, handcrafted fermented beverages, the brewing company of Saint Somewhere takes the concept of European farmhouse ales and brews them the American way: with an eye to make the best damn product they can.
The relatively small Tarpon Springs brewery, situated just outside the Florida beer haven of Tampa, is headed up by Bob Sylvester, a true beer lover who strives to make farmhouse styled beers using traditional methods such as open fermentation (using red wine fermenters) and the use of noble hops and northern European malts. After a decade of homebrewing, the Gulf Coast native picked a specific beer niche and made it his work to make really good beers.
He's so enthused about the farmhouse style, that he hosts a Belgium and northern France beer cruise, hitting amazing beer-centric locations like Westvleteren, Rodenbach, and Brasserie St. Germain.
This week, I've picked the Pays du Soleil out of the portfolio; a bottle conditioned Belgian style ale with spices. In addition to the Belgian malts, the beer is brewed with palmetto berries and whole hibiscus flowers.
It pours a rich mahogany red, with a lovely whitish head of foam. Aromas of sweet cherries and fruit exude from the nose, and give a tantalizing hint to what lies in store.
Vinegar, cider, and cherries. A bit tart, but definitely not a sour beer. A little bit of alcohol heat that's tamed by the hops and spices. There's only a sliver of something funky going on, which might be a yeasty character, or perhaps a bit of Brettanomyces-like flavor.
This one was a real treat. For around $10 for a 750ml bottle, the Saint Somewhere brand of beers falls into the delectable category: something you don't drink everyday (unless you're Micky Arison), but a beer to go to on those occasions when a slice of heaven is needed in your day.
Bob's brewing philosophy is quite humble, and shows just how proud he is of being a native Floridian. It was during an interview with the Shelton Brothers (embedded below, it's highly insightful), he said, "I try very hard to make everything we do, from the labels, to the brewery, to the ingredients, to really reflect Florida without being ridiculous about it."
You can find bottles of Saint Somewhere beers, and Pays du Soleil in particular, at most major beer stores, including Total Wine. For fans of abbey ales or breweries like Unibroue, it's a must-have.
That's it for this week. As always, drink good beer, and #drinklocal.
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