It's December, and that can mean only one thing: end of year list time.
Those who have followed the blog for the last year have seen our attempt at tasting and sampling a Florida produced beer every week - a.k.a. Florida Beer Fridays. That has lead to a vast archive of beer tasting notes in which to cull together a list. This list, in fact.
Some of these beers are one-offs, and very surely will not be seen again. Others are stalwart standards and can be found on any beer store shelf at any time of the year. Yet some again are seasonal favorites that come around for just a few weeks a year. Whatever the case may be, these are ten beers that wowed us, made us excited, and showed that Florida is juggernaut when it comes to craft beer producers.
Let us begin.
Beer Camp Across America was an ambitious project from Sierra Nevada Brewing Company, in which they sought to use their power as the second largest brewer in the country to help spread the love of smaller, more regionalized breweries to the masses. What came out was a twelve-pack that served as a veritable introductory course to American craft beer.
Florida was lucky to be represented, and truly showed where we were as a state in terms of the brewing world. Cigar City Brewing was chosen, and its collaboration beer was a tropical maibock that brought some of their signature fruity hops to play in a malt-forward beer.
The aroma is heavy on tangerine, candied orange peel, mango, and some buttery caramel. I love this aroma. It keeps me smelling again and again.
Flavor-wise, there is some pithy orange and toffee up front, which transitions to a mix of candied malt sweetness and hop bitterness. There is some lingering bitter flavors, definitely in the fruity areas as opposed to piney or resinous. It finishes long, so if you're sipping, you'll get the beer flavor for quite a while in between. Carbonation and body are moderate and fit well in the style.
The milk stout is a famous go-to for beer geeks, and a new (at the time) brewery putting one out with the right amount of balance and body was nice to see in our exploding brewery scene.
This is a moderate 6 percent alcohol-by-volume stout brewed with lactose that leaves the beer with a bigger mouthfeel and residual sweetness than a traditional dry stout. The color is a dark jet brown, and it arrives with a hint of a creamy whitish-tan ring of foam. The aroma is that of Whoppers candies: milk chocolate with a bit of malted milk. The flavors of the beer begin with espresso-like coffee and finish off with dark chocolate and remind me of a box of Sno-Caps. The sweetness and bitterness all play together to counterpoint each other and give this beer a complex character.