This weekend was a perfect weekend to walk around an outdoor festival and drink Florida-made beer. And that's just what Clean Plate Charlie did during the first Brewers Guild Festival of South Florida, a sister event to the long-running Florida Brewers Guild Beer Fest held every March in Tampa.
It was perfect because, aside from the weather, it wasn't a hoppy mess; in other words, there was plenty of beer to go around and none of the debauchery that often comes when you mix strong beer with even stronger sun. Instead, the first Brewers Guild Fest was an intimate gathering, more than 15 brewers from across the state each offering unique, well-crafted beers. Best of all, there was plenty of talking, meeting, and greeting among brewers -- techniques discussed, beer styles explored, and favorite ingredients divulged. And that's really what being a part of the guild is all about, after all.
With the first South Florida Brewers Guild Festival under his belt, Due South Brewery owner and Brewers Guild President Mike Halker said he is looking forward to an even bigger, better event next year.
"Things really came together, and we ended up with a great crowd [today]," said Halker, who took over as guild president in March and recommended extending the festival to South Florida at his first meeting. "The Tampa festival has been such a success, and [we] felt it shouldn't be confined to the Tampa area. In addition to this festival in November, we expect to have another festival in Jacksonville sometime this summer, this one in early November, and -- of course -- the original Tampa fest in March."
Clean Plate Charlie got the scoop on everything Florida-beer-related this weekend, from whispers that Tampa's Brew Bus may be gearing up to make a tour line here in Broward and Palm Beach counties to the new Belgium brewery Barrel of Monks set to open in Boca Raton within the next year. We even caught of glimpse of Harpoon Brewery co-owner Dan Kenary, who was roaming the event sampling some new brews.
Located in Miami, Wynwood Brewing was founded by Luis Brignoni and is officially Miami's first craft production brewery. Located in the heart of the Wynwood Art District, the brewery uses a 15-barrel, two-vessel system able to produce 500 gallons of beers with its 15-barrel fermenters and close to 1,000 gallons in its 30-barrel fermenters. The tap room standard lineup includes the La Rubia blond ale, Wynwood IPA, and Pop's porter, in addition to a series of barrel-aged strong ales and a variety of seasonal offerings. Here in Broward and Palm Beach, you can find them at places like Tap 42 and Riverside Market -- even as far north as Leftovers Cafe. Visit the Wynwood Brewing website and Facebook page.
JDub's Brewing Co. & Tap Room
Based in Sarasota, JDub's Brewing Co. isn't open yet -- but founder Jeremy Joerger is excited to bring his brand of "beers with character" to Sarasota County later this year. He and head brewer Tom Harris, the former brewmaster for Long Trail Brewing Co. of Vermont, offered a taste of their collaborative efforts Saturday with a pumpkin stout made with maple-roasted barbecue pumpkin, as well as their specialty Up Top! IPA, a name that lends a secret to getting a free beer at the tap room (sorry, we can't be any more specific). Look for their cans to be on the shelves at your local liquor store in the next few years or taking over taps at your favorite beer bar. Visit the JDub's website or Facebook page.
Three Palms Brewing
Three Palms Brewing out of Tampa is the brainchild of Danelle and Randy Reaver, the owners and founders of the three-barrel brewpub founded in July 2012. Together the couple produce an ever-rotating lineup of specialty brews -- as many as 20 at a time -- available for sampling at their tap room. During the fest, the Reavers offered up two beers, including their Tropic Funk Belgian specialty ale, made with guava and wild flower honey. In Tampa, Three Palms is best-known for its Enjoy the Ride imperial IPA, Ruby Pogo red ale, and Black Durgeon imperial stout. You can sample any of their unique and flavorful recipes at their tap room Wednesday through Friday from 5 to 9 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Visit the Three Palms Brewing website and Facebook page.
Alligator Brewing Company
Out of downtown Gainesville comes Alligator Brewing Company, founded in March 2011 by owner Paul Evans, who calls his nano-brewery located inside Tall Paul's Brew House "old school New England-style." Originally from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, Evans came to Florida and immediately saw a need for more beer. And even though his brewery caters to the college masses, the beer that flows from his taps is anything but ordinary. Instead, you'll find Florida-centric brews made with local ingredients. Each are modern takes on old-world style beers, including their festival lineup which offered head brewer Neal Mackowiak's own take on an Oktoberfest marzen, a coriander, chamomile and kumquat-infused berliner weisse and -- our personal favorite -- a katzenjammer brewed with honey and ginger. Mackowiak likens his style of brewing to American jazz: interpretive riffs off the traditional. "I like to take styles of beer and do something unconventional with them, while still staying true to the tradition of the brewing methods," he told Clean Plate Charlie. For more information on Alligator Brewing Company visit the website and Facebook page.
7venth Sun Brewing Company
Just outside of Tampa in Dunedin, Florida, comes 7venth Sun Brewing, makers of Belgian-style beer, IPAs, spirit barrel-aged brews, and oak-aged sour beers. Owners Devon Kreps and Justin Stange aren't your ordinary beer lovers. Kreps graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Fermentation Science, and later brewed at Anheuser-Busch, leaving to become production manager at Sweetwater Brewing in Atlanta, while Stange brewed at Sweetwater and Cigar City in Tampa. Together, 7venth Sun, founded in January 2012, is their home away from home, where they produce specialty brews including a few they brought along to the festival: the Mangrove DIPA, a Florida-style double IPA; Grievance American porter brewed with cacao nibs and vanilla bean; and Graffiti Orange, a "creamsicle" wheat ale. Visit the 7venth Sun website and Facebook page.
Green Room Brewing
If you're ever in Jacksonville Beach and in the mood for a good beer with an even better view, you owe it to yourself to visit Green Room Brewing, the area's first mircrobrewery. Founded in June 2011, the beach-side brewery located directly off A1A offers 16 beers on tap at all times, including its standard selection of seven year-round brews and as many as nine seasonal creations offered throughout the year. Each beer has been given a surf-centric name and uses Florida-grown ingredients to make them Sunshine State brews. Co-owner and brewer Eric Luman was on-hand Saturday to pour a taste of the brewery's Count Shakula chocolate oatmeal stout and Double Overhead IPA. Visit the Green Room Brewing website and Facebook page.
Engine 15 Brewing Co.
Engine 15 Brewing Co. co-owner and brewer Sean Bielman and brewer David Morenus stand proudly behind Jacksonville Beach's third production brewery, where you can find 12 in-house brews complemented by several rotating seasonal recipes. They're best-known for their hoppy Double Drop IPA. At 65 IBU and 6 percent ABV, it's special because it's dry-hopped two times a day in five intervals over the course of two days for a very bitter, dank brew. Both originally homebrewers, Bielman and Morenus said their craft lineup has come a long way, but a few of their core brands are adaptations from their early days, including their English-style double brown ale known as Nutsack and the malt-forward Old Battleaxe IPA. Looking for them down here? Outside of Duval County, it's hard to find. Of the 900 barrels they produce a year, only 300 make it outside the brewery. Until you make the trip, you can learn more by visiting the Engine 15 website and Facebook page.
Mile Marker Brewing
St. Augustine's 2-year-old brewery, Mile Marker Brewing, is the work of co-owners Vance Joy and Mike Fierro and brewmaster Dennis Grune, who were representing their craft brews named for Florida landmarks Saturday during the event. The city's only full-production commercial facility, Mile Marker offers five core beers available year-round, including Mile Marker Zero, a blond ale; and Mile Marker 1565, an ancient city red ale. At the fest, the brewery had Mile Marker 82, an Islamorada IPA; and Mile Marker 70, a creamy Palm Beach coconut porter. Visit the Mile Marker website and Facebook page.
M.I.A. Brewing Co.
Out of Doral comes M.I.A. Brewing Co., one of Miami's newest production breweries, founded in January 2012. As South Floridians eagerly await their fall grand opening, assistant brewmaster Piero Rodriguez tells Clean Plate Charlie that demolition has been completed and equipment is in-house. Now it's just a waiting game. Visit the M.I.A. Facebook page.
Barrel of Monks Brewing
Coming soon to Boca Raton, and Palm Beach County's third brewery, Barrel of Monks plans on opening its doors this spring. Founded by co-owners Bill McFee, Matt Saady, and Keith DeLoach, the Belgian-style brewery will specialize in Old World-style ales using the finest in modern brewing equipment. Keep an eye out on Clean Plate Charlie for more information, and sign up for news releases on the Barrel of Monks website.
Follow Nicole Danna on Twitter, @SoFloNicole.
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