Every year, the Best Florida Beer Championships are held to both promote the growing craft-beer scene in the Sunshine State and to provide an avenue for the fun-yet-competitive nature that accompanies brewing. That competitiveness is seen from lowly homebrew competitions to the Great American Beer Festival and, for Floridians, in the annual BFBC, which was held this past Sunday, March 6.
This year, South Florida's list of winners has grown to include the newly opened 26 Degree Brewing Co. and Barrel of Monks Brewing, as well as area stalwarts Funky Buddha Brewery, LauderAle, and MIA Beer Co. Eighty-seven brewers from throughout the state submitted 558 beers to be judged.
In total, South Florida breweries took home nine medals. LauderAle was the only brewery in the area to win a gold in its category, with its Black Mamba export stout.
"We’ve been brewing that beer for at least a year," LauderAle brewer and owner Kyle Jones tells me. "We had been tweaking it, adjusting the grain bill, hop bill... I’d still like to adjust it a little bit, but if it's winning gold, then maybe I shouldn't.
"It's my nature, to always make things better."
Black Mamba is currently available at the LauderAle taproom, with "just a little bit left," but there is more on the horizon.
"This is the first competition that we’ve ever entered," Jones says. "It's surreal and amazing. When we entered the beers, we were confident that we’d place somewhere, but Black Mamba wasn't on the top of the list as one of the ones to win a gold medal. It was kind of a shock that it won, but we’re definitely excited to have won it and grateful for all the help that we’ve had at the brewery with our staff."
"We just want to focus on brewing really good beer."
For those coming from a little farther out of town, LauderAle will be pouring as first-timers at Hunahpu’s Day this Saturday.
Other South Florida brewers were equally as excited to place among the top places.
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"It was incredibly humbling to win a silver medal at the Best Florida Beer Championship for Ziko's Rage Imperial Stout," 26 Degree Brewing cofounder and brewer Greg Lieberman said on social media. "This was my first batch brewed as a pro (if I can be considered as such). Big ups to Alex Postelnek for helping brew this back in July 2015!"
Here is the full list of winners:
- LauderAle - Gold - 84: Export Stout Black Mamba
- 26 Degree Brewing Company - Silver - 96: American-Style Imperial Stout Ziko's Rage
- Funky Buddha Brewery Inc - Silver - 10: Chocolate Beer Nib Smuggler
- Funky Buddha Brewery Inc - Silver - 18A: Experimental Beer No Crusts
- Barrel of Monks Brewing - Silver - 61B: Belgian-Style Quadrupel Quadraphonic
- Barrel of Monks Brewing - Bronze - 22A: Pale American-Belgo-Style Ale Dry Hopped Endless Enigma
- Barrel of Monks Brewing - Bronze - 25A: Wood- and Barrel-Aged Pale to Amber Beer Owen
- Mia Beer Co - Silver - 16: Session India Pale Ale El Cuco
- Mia Beer Co - Bronze - 52: South German-Style Hefeweizen Miami Weiss
Doug Fairall is a craft-beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers. He is a Certified Beer Server and has been a homebrewer since 2009. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.