Beer Beer Beer

New Times Beerfest Taste Test: Round One, Pale Ales

We're days away from the 14th-annual New Times Beerfest on November 12 from 7 to 11 p.m. in Esplanade Park, with a portion of the proceeds to benefit the Humane Society of Broward County. Sister Hazel provides tunes, and a slew of local restaurants, including Riverside Market, Moe's Southwest Grill, and JC Wahoo's, offers eats for the evening.

Every day this week, we'll be sipping suds offered among the 100-plus domestic, international, and craft beers available at the fest.

For today's beers, we sampled pale ales: Magic Hat #9, Florida Beer Swamp Ape, Widmer Brothers, and Alexander Keith's Nova Scotia Style Pale Ale.

After the jump, the unofficial tasting notes.

Most Appropriate Name
When swamp and ape are paired, I think of a fetid blanket of humidity, thick, bowing flora, flying insects that suck your blood, and the rank monkey section of the zoo.

And that's about as pleasant as drinking our least favorite pale ale. "Hmmm. I don't like this," said one tester, his understatement before pouring it down the drain. A floral aroma contrasts with an ale described as "tobacco" and "morning breath." Perhaps Tobacco Morning Breath should be the rename. That said, for those on a quest to sample disturbing flavors in the name of retraining your brain, give it a whirl.

Beer Advocate Rating: C

Tastes Like Fruity Pebbles

I drank this back in the dark ages of craft beer and actually looked for it on tap in New England bars in Northampton, Massachusetts. No guy I knew drank it, and perhaps that's because it "tastes like bubble gum," said one tester. "Or bad Fruity Pebbles."

Beer Advocate Rating: B-/C+

Most Zesty
The Widmer was a split: Two tasters liked it. "I don't love hops, but this I would drink," said one, while another liked the interplay of fruit and hops. "It's awkward," said the defector. "It's a party in my mouth. Very zesty."

Beer Advocate Rating: B-

For the Ball Park
The Alexander Keith Nova Scotia Style Pale Ale presents an initial dilemma: What's the shortened name for this beer? Aside from the name clumsiness, it's a solid beer "for people who don't like pale ale," said a taster. "It's like a Bock." There's "nothing in it that someone wouldn't like," said another. "It's what they'd serve in the VIP section of the ballpark." 

Beer Advocate Rating: C

Today's winning beer seems to be the Widmer. Tune in tomorrow for brews to drink when you're already drunk.

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Food Critic
Contact: Melissa McCart