When Funky Buddha Brewery cofounder Ryan Sentz first began brewing his maple-, bacon-, and coffee-flavored porter in 2011, the longtime home brewer had no idea it was about to become one Florida's most infamous specialty beers.
The first batch of the brewery's now most popular beer was originally brewed at the Funky Buddha Lounge in Boca Raton, where Sentz released it as a specialty growler fill in a prescription pill-shaped bottle. The food-forward porter — created to, as he says, "taste like breakfast in a glass" — was an instant hit for its combination of smoky, salty, and sweet.
"It was traded across the country," says Funky Buddha brand manager John Linn. "And got rave reviews with beer fans as far away as New York, California — even Denmark."
And just like that, almost overnight, Maple Bacon Coffee Porter (MBCP) became the top rated porter on BeerAdvocate.com, launching Funky Buddha to the #27 brewery in the world in 2013, according to commenters on RateBeer — an impressive feat for a less than one-year-old brewpub.
The rest, as they say, is history.
On January 14, Funky Buddha’s epic Maple Bacon Coffee Porter release party will return for its fourth year running, this time with an all-new beer festival format featuring over 100 beers from Florida breweries, and beyond. The brewery, which sold over 14,000 bottles of MBCP last year, is planning to brew approximately 50 percent more than last year.
This year, Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Day has officially morphed from an open format block party to a ticketed event. And while that might sound less appealing than free access, it's actually good news: Paying attendees are now guaranteed to receive not just one bottle — but up to two cases — of Maple Bacon Coffee Porter bottles during the annual release.
Advance festival tickets went on sale in November, allowing Funky Buddha fans to pre-purchase tickets with the option to guarantee MBCP bottles in quantities of four- or twelve-pack bomber bottles, with the added opportunity of purchasing additional bottles the day of the event.
If you can't make it to the annual release, don't worry: For the first time since Maple Bacon Coffee Porter was brewed and bottled as a specialty release, any bottles of the award-winning brew left unsold the day of the event will be released for sale ($15 per bottle) to the public in the taproom starting Sunday, January 15. In addition, a portion of the remaining Maple Bacon Coffee Porter supply will also be released for statewide distribution at the end of January.
"This year, it's our goal is to make the beer available to anyone in the state who wants to get a bottle of their own, but can't make it to the event," says Linn.
Last, but certainly not least, this year's all-new festival format also means lots of rare and one-off beers, each of them from local and nationally-recognized breweries.
Here, three beers Linn says he's personally stoked to taste come the 2017 MBCP fest on Saturday, January 14:
3. Barrel Aged S'mores Imperial Stout
"This will be an all-new beer for us," said Linn. "We've made S'mores before, but we've never aged it in bourbon barrels. It should be a real treat and I'm really looking forward to trying it." The imperial stout offers hints to smoky, campfire flavor with notes of marshmallow and chocolate.
2. Veruca Snozzberry Gose
Last brewed as a limited release in February 2014, this traditional German-style sour beer blends the subtle tartness of a Berliner weisse with the addition of kettle salts and coriander. Then, it goes one step further with the infusion of snozzberries (OK, not real snozzberries, but you get the idea). "It's a reference to Willy Wonka, a film that's inspired us all in many ways, especially with this beer," said Linn.
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1. Zombie Dust from 3 Floyds Brewing Co.
"There's always a line for Zombie Dust," says Linn. "You just don't get a chance to see it here very often." While most people will be clamoring for Funky Buddha brews on MBCP Day, expect a number of fans for this American Pale Ale brewed by Indiana's 3 Floyds Brewing Company. Formerly known as "Cenotaph," it was originally found only in the brewery's taproom. The beer was renamed in 2014 when 3 Floyds announced it would be bottling the specialty release due to overwhelming popularity. Today, Zombie Dust, known across the country for its use of Citra hops, offers tropical fruit notes people just can't seem to get enough of.
The Maple Bacon Coffee Porter fest will take place from 1 to 5 p.m. on Saturday, January 14. General admission to the event is $55 per person. A $115 ticket will get you access to the event, plus 4-bottles of Maple Bacon Coffee Porter. For $235, event-goers will get access, plus one case (12 bottles), as well as a Maple Bacon Coffee Porter 2017 Teku glass. Visit funkybuddhabrewery.com.
Funky Buddha Brewery. 1201 NE 38th St., Oakland Park; 954-440-0046; funkybuddhabrewery.com.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram