Over the Weekend: Homebrew Fest at BX Beer Depot

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It was an afternoon filled with beer, beer, and more beer as Lake Worth's BX Beer Depot hosted its first Homebrew Fest, an intimate gathering where members of BX's Lagerhead Brewers Club shared their handcrafted creations with the public. There were nearly a dozen homebrew beers on tap at the tiled-topped bar behind the Depot -- from Belgian Wit to Imperial IPA to Hard Cider -- plus a booth where you could sign up for BX's homebrew classes, email lists, and club dates. And there was good company -- folks who care deeply about what goes into your pint glass and are willing to talk about all facets of the frothy stuff for hours on end. Basically, it was Beer Valhalla.

So how were the beers? Find out, plus get info on upcoming BX events, after the jump.

There were ten handcrafted beers to choose from, each a completely different style from the last, and some extremely unique riffs on popular styles. One of my favorites was an Imperial IPA called the Hopinator -- a furiously bitter, full-bodied pale ale with a strong grapefruit and citrus aroma. It was definitely the "Arnold" of beers present at the fest, aggressive and complex.

Another one I couldn't get enough of was the "White & Witty" Belgian Wit, a beer in the style of wits such as Blue Moon or Hoegaarden. This wit was much more assertive, though, with deep layers of coriander and orange peel -- no added fruit necessary. I kept going back for more of this one, even though wit usually isn't my favorite style.

There were some other very interesting combinations, like the Hop Red IPA, somewhere between an IPA and a Red Ale -- that one was only slightly bitter and highly drinkable. Or the Oxymoron Indian Blonde Belgian Ale, which paired the aggressively hoppy notes of an IPA with the light, slightly tart notes of a Belgian ale. The Down Under Root Beer Stout was a sweet, dark selection that had the tingly caramel notes of root beer -- only none of the sassafras-laced beverage was included in its creation. Rather, the root beer flavor was coaxed out during the brewing process, from a recipe its creator, Mark, had discovered.

As if all that weren't enough to get you loaded, there was also a malt-filled Rhodesian Red; a rich Hefeweizen thick with notes of banana; a smooth, slightly Scottish ale; and a thoroughly delicious hard apple cider. Lastly, BX had a batch of New Times' Brown Ale, crafted originally for our 2008 Beerfest in downtown Fort Lauderdale.

Throughout the day, I talked with a bunch of the homebrewers, most of whom have been brewing for less than a year. Yet each of them was able to craft some really outstanding beer, and for a reasonable price too. Thirty or 40 dollars is all it takes to brew a five-gallon batch of quality, craft-style beer, leagues better than any mass-produced brew you'd find in most stores. And since the beer is going straight from the vat to a keg (provided you have a mini-keg, which BX also sells) and is unpasteurized and unfiltered, you're getting the freshest, most nutrient-rich beer possible.

BX sells all the materials you need to get started, and they offer classes as well. Saturday, March 21, at 10 a.m., BX's own brewmaster, John, will host a brewing basics class perfect for seeing if homebrewing is right for you. John will walk the class through an entire homebrew process in just two hours -- see, it's cheap, easy, and fast. Twenty bucks will get you in the class, and you'll be able to stick around and chat with homebrewers afterward. And, hey, I'll be there too. 

The Lagerheads meet the first Wednesday of every month at 7 p.m. -- the next meeting is April 1. Meetings usually have the members drinking a select brew, then trying their hand at re-creating it themselves. There are also a number of other classes going on at the Depot, including a BJCP Study Group for folks looking to become certified beer judges. Talk about a good gig.

Find BX Beer Depot at 2964 Second Ave. N. in Lake Worth (two blocks north of Lake Worth Road on Congress). Call 561-965-9494 for more info on classes or to register.

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