Thursday, October 20, 2016

Bringin' the Naughty Ales to the Public: House Beers on Tap at Wicked Barley Brewing Company, Jax

It's the day that Philip Maple, Tobin Turney, Brett Baker, Bob Maple, Bradley Sueflohn and Fred Thibodeaux have waited for --- for a while. If you follow craft beer in Florida, you know that Wicked Barley Brewing Company opened the doors of its beautiful, brand-spankin'-new brewpub on the banks of Goodby's Creek in Jacksonville in late July. Right around that time, the brewery's federal Brewer's Notice issued, giving the crew the green light to start brewing its own beer for sale. Since opening, the brewpub has served guest beers on its 20 taps (an impressive list, by the way), but that's about to change.

On Saturday, Wicked Barley will takeover its own taps and offer its "Naughty Ales" for sale to the public for the first time. I'm not sure who's waiting more for this -- the Wicked Barley guys or the local Jax craft beer crowd. After tasting a number of the beers at the two preview/free sampling events earlier in the Spring, this writer is anxiously anticipating what promises to be an epic tap takeover (yes, "epic"). 

Not only has Wicked Barley been brewing its beers, ciders, and meads in-house, it also has begun operation of its canning line. So, what do you do once you get to this point?  Well, throw a huge Release Party, of course!

Celebrate with Wicked Barley, starting at 11am on Saturday, October 22, when it taps its house beers, ciders and meads, and releases a new food menu. The brewery's Left Leg Lager and Drink Me Copper Pale Ale will be available in cans to-go. The beer garden grill will be fired up for food specials. Meet the brewers at the beer garden tent (they might even have some energy left, or they'll be running on pure adrenaline). Co-founder/Brewmaster Philip Maple summed it up: "Things are ridiculously busy, but we are excited to finally have our core business out in the open." 

I got a sneak peek at the tap list and the new food menu. The beer list features the Wicked Barley core house beers along with special treatments and pilot batches which are still being tested. So far, it looks like this (subject to change):

Drink Me Copper Pale Ale: 4.5% ABV Session pale ale; dry hopped with over 3 lbs of hops per barrel

Left Leg Lager: 5.1% ABV German Style lager;  crisp, easy to drink

Oktoberfest Lager: 5.1% ABV; malty nose, easy to drink

The Eradicator First Coast IPA:  7.4% ABV; dry hopped over 2 weeks

BrierWood Brown Session Brown Ale: 4.8% ABV; easy to drink, basically an all-day beer with lots of body and aroma

Belgian Pumpkin Ale: 7.4% ABV

Left Leg Lager aged on fresh toasted coconut

Oak Aged Treatments: Eradicator IPA, Belgian Pumpkin Ale, and Drink Me Copper Pale Ale

Raspberry Berliner Weisse:  3.4% ABV

Rootbeer Mead:  6.5% ABV (yes, you read that right; it may be the first one of its kind)

Orange Blossom Mead:  6.4% ABV

Mimosa Mead: 6.4% ABV

Fresh Strawberry Mead:  6.4% ABV

WB House Cider: 7% ABV; brewed with Orange blossom honey, with a nice blend between sweet and dry

WB tart cider test/pilot batch: 7% ABV (still tweaking the recipe)

Firkin tappings of once-only-released beers hourly at the bar

Pilot beers released throughout the day


The food menu also has some updates, and you can still get favorites like the house fries, Wicked Burger and Smash Burger (the burgers are pretty awesome, by the way; I speak from experience). Items new to the menu include: Italian Beef Sandwich, Wake & Bake Bacon-n-Egg Sandwich, Fresh Grilled Shrimp Salad and Smoked Chicken & Apple Salad. 

After the party's over, these guys aren't resting, as the brewery intends to release additional new house beers on tap next week. Growlers aren't available yet, but look for them very soon.

Wicked Barley Brewing Company is located at 4100 Baymeadows Rd, Jacksonville. 

Get ready to house party, Jacksonville! It's OK to be Wicked; in fact, I encourage it!

Congrats to the guys at Wicked Barley Brewing Company! If you haven't been there yet, be sure to put it on your "list."  I'll be there taking a ridiculous number of photos and carrying two battery chargers (that "clear plastic bag" thing really works!). 


Til next time, 


Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®

©2016 BrewNymph, LLC. All rights reserved. BrewNymph; Peace, Love, Pints; Where the Beer Meets the Beach, and Beer is my Trademark are federally-registered trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC; BeerSphere and I'm Fun; Deal With It! are trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Florida Beer Events Are Rockin' This Fall

Here we are mid-October (can you believe it?). Fall Beerfest season is rockin' along with
A visual look at a few events
happening around Florida
Oct. 14-16
Oktoberfest celebrations still oompah-ing their way through the calendar month, right there next to area beerfests and other special beer events. From the "biggest" beerfest in Florida happening in Miami to new brewery openings/Grand Openings to brewery anniversaries to Florida-Georgia weekend to Halloween, the next three weekends will see the suds flow. So far, it's been an "interesting" month, to say the least. Hurricane Matthew decided to take a daytrip along Florida's east coast late last week leaving behind a huge amount of damage, especially here in the North Florida area. Hopefully, most of those affected are on the recovery path (including the return of that taken-for-granted thing called electricity). Even the craft beer world was affected as several beerfests and other events already set in place for months were cancelled and/or rescheduled (take a look at the "Making Headlines" page). This writer's calendar included attending several events and/or other visits during the first weeks of October that didn't happen, but it's good to see the positive efforts toward repair and rebuilding. 

Back to beer! The annual mega-beer-event known as GABF also happened last weekend. I was perched at my laptop early Saturday afternoon watching as the medal winners were announced via live stream, anticipating medals coming back to Florida again this year. If you haven't made the trek to Denver for GABF, I have one word for you: GO! And then maybe two words: GO AGAIN! Take a look at my GABF story and mark your 2017 calendars for October 5-7. Huge Congrats to Coppertail Brewing (Tampa) for its Silver Medal in the Field Beer category for Slam Piece Berliner Weisse, and to Red Cypress Brewery (Orlando) for its Silver Medal for Deep Roots Amber in the German Altbier category! 

If you take a look at the two events pages on this website, BeerSPHERE (beerfests and special events in a text format with links and background info) and TAP THIS (calendar agenda list of beerfests also with smaller individual local nights and pint nights around Jax/North Florida), you'll find plenty of beer events to quench your thirst for all things hops and malt. Below are a few of the Florida beerfest and special events still heading your way in October (in chronological order). Some of my recent planned visits to Florida breweries and fests may have been put on the shelf for a while for various reasons due to weather and other things that even I can't control, but I'll be back on the local Florida beer trail just as quickly as you can say "water, malt, hops and yeast." In the meantime, take a look at what the remainder of October holds, and get yourself to one of these upcoming events! What are you waiting for... Christmas? (Yeah, I had to say that.)

10/14 - 10/16:

AMERICAN GERMAN CLUB OF THE PALM BEACHES 43RD ANNUAL OKTOBERFEST, Lake Worth. Two weekends of family fun with music, German food, dancing, games. Considered to be the second largest Oktoberfest celebration in the US - held on ten acres in a pavilion and under a massive tent. Biergarten, authentic German food and desserts, Original Hofbräu beer, domestic beers, Schnapps booth with over 30 different liquors, Jägerhaus with Jäger specials, vendors, carnival. Fest expects over 35,000 visitors! Fridays, 10/7 & 10/14, 5-11pm; Saturdays, 10/8 & 10/15, 12-11pm; Sundays, 10/9 & 10/16, 12-8pm. 

10/14 - 10/16:

BEACHES OKTOBERFEST, Seawalk Pavilion, Jax Beach. All weekend, with CraftToberfest beer fest on Friday night, 6-10pm, featuring over 50 breweries. German beers, food trucks, live bands. Huge 110 ft. Ferris Wheel, Kinderzone. Tickets available on the Beaches Oktoberfest website. 

10/14 - 10/16:
OKTOBERFEST WEEKEND at CROOKED CAN BREWING, Winter Garden. An entire weekend of music, arts & crafts, food vendors, and...a beer garden! Starts Friday 10/14 at 4pm, til 11pm. Saturday 10/15: 11am-11pm. Sunday 10/16: 12-6pm. 

10/14 - 10/15:

BAYTOWNE WHARF BEER FEST at SANDESTIN. Ninth Annual beer fest; 2-day event. Over 200 beers at main event on Saturday. Friday, 6-8pm: Beer from Around Here at Baytowne Wharf Events Plaza. Saturday, 2-6pm (VIP at 1pm): Beerfest and tasting at Baytowne Wharf Events Plaza. More than 40 breweries. Tickets on sale soon at this LINK. Friday event is free to enter!

GROVETOBERFEST, Miami Marine Stadium, Key Biscayne, 2:30-7pm (VIP and General Admission). Limited to 6500 tickets. Yeah, it's a big one! Billed as the biggest beerfest in Florida. Different ticket options, including early entry. New venue this year. As the fest explains: The new location allows for more room and easier parking. Other aspects of the festival include the VIP Lounge, which will be hosted by Chef M from Latin House Grill.  In addition, it will offer certain perks not available to the general ticket holder such as specialty brews, covered seating area and air-conditioned bathrooms. The Homebrew Pavilion will showcase special brews made by passionate beer drinkers; the Food Row will offer food for purchase and the Kitchen Lab will feature beer/food pairing demonstrations by local chefs such as Ryan Martin from 180° at the DRB, and Zeke Man from 305 Brews. As usual, a Live Music Stage will feature dance-inducing music throughout the entire day. Get tickets in the link above. 

OCTOBERFEST at MARKER 48 BREWING, Brooksville, 12noon - midnight. Featuring German food, food trucks, German beer, wine, pumpkin patch, pumpkin carving station, costume contests.  Dog races benefitting Humane Society starting at 2pm. And, also featuring Wiener Dog Race, at 4pm. DJ and live music all day.

DEADLY SINS BREWING, Grand Opening Celebration, 12pm, Winter Park (Orlando area). They've had equipment delays, but they've been brewing!  Since July, the brewery has been serving guest beers on tap. On October 15, they'll open with their own beer on tap! Food, music, and, well, yeah, BEER!

ZEPHYRHILLS BREWING CO. Grand Opening, 12-10pm. New local nano in Zephyrhills. They'll be brewing a variety of beer styles.  Help 'em celebrate!

OKTOBERFEST at HILTON WEST PALM BEACH, 3-7pm. Unlimited beer tastings from South Florida brewery favorites. A la carte food options. Music, games, food specials. Portionof proceeds benefits American Cancer Society's Making Strides for Breast Cancer. Tickets here


BURGERS & BREWS Gourmet burgers and craft beer pairings at Hemming Park, Jacksonville, 6-8pm. Second annual event where five local restaurants and five area breweries pair sliders and beers. Vote for your favorite pairing and see who will win the "Best Pairing" award. See link for tickets ($40) and pairing partners. Benefits Friends of Hemming Park. SPECIAL OFFER: Use code BREWNYMPH5OFF and get $5 off your ticket.


BOLD CITY BREWERY 8th ANNIVERSARY, Jacksonville, 1pm-11pm. Get ready for another epic anniversary party, featuring music, food, raffles, special beers! Taplist includes: Appleton Estate Rum Barrel Aged Dukes Cold Nose Brown Ale, Highwest Bourbon Barrel Aged Dukes Cold Nose Brown Ale.  Music featuring The Bold City Bandits, Firewater Tent Revival, The Snacks Blues Band, Bay Street Band. Food from La Bodega. Want more? How about$2 pints?  And, free shuttle between Bold City Brewery and European Street Cafe, Riverside (and its Oktoberfest party; see below) between 2-6pm!


HOUSE BEER RELEASE PARTY AT WICKED BARLEY BREWING COMPANY, Jacksonville, 11am-11pm. You've waited for it, Jacksonville, and now here it is: The official release of the house brews at Wicked Barley! They're planning on 10 taps of house beers, AND their own cider and mead, PLUS: firkins during the day, sausage grill, food specials, AND cans of Drink Me Copper Pale Ale and Left Leg Lager available to-go. Check it out! Haven't been to Wicked Barley yet? Take a look at the previous stories and photos right here on this site!

OKTOBERFEST at EUROPEAN STREET CAFE, 11am-9pm, Riverside, Jax.  Be one of the first 50 to by a beer ticket, and get a Warsteiner boot! Oompah band, Oktoberfest beers, pretzels, brats. Wear a dirndl or lederhosen, and they'll buy your first beer! And, free shuttle between E-Street Riverside and Bold City Brewery 2-6pm for Bold City's Anniversary Party (see above). 


"MOST AUTHENTIC OKTOBERFEST IN CENTRAL FLORIDA", German American Society of Central Florida, Casselberry, 2pm-10pm. German bands, German bier, German food, German dancers, all in a Bavarian biergarten! 


BREWFEST! TALLAHASSEE (10th Anniversary), Auto Museum, Tallahassee, 4-8pm (VIP at 4-5pm; general admission at 5pm). Presented by Sunrise Rotary. I've been to this one, too -- It can get pretty wild. Indoor and outdoor, food trucks, music, and lots of beer! No tickets at gate, and it WILL sell out...so get 'em early!

HARBINGER FEST 2016 at BREW HUB, Lakeland, 1-6pm (VIP at 12 noon). Second annual beer fest featuring local breweries, music, food at the spectacular Brew Hub campus along I-4 (you know the one: the huge facility with all the bottle caps on the front!). Over 100 beers. VIP bottle share. Get tickets in link above. If you're not familiar with BrewHub, check out the story from my initial visit here

NEW TIMES BROWARD PALM BEACH "ORIGINAL" BEER FEST, CB Smith Park, Pembroke Pines, 2-6pm. Beer samplings, music, games. New location this year. Different ticket options available (see link). Early Bird Entry at 2pm; General Admission at 3pm. South Florida!

WINDERMERE CRAFT BEER FEST, Downtown Windermere at Main St., 4-8pm. Beer samplings, food vendors, music. VIP tickets include specialty beer tent. Benefits Windermere Police and Florida Brewers Guild. Get tickets in link. 


NATIONAL BEER MILE, 11am.  Four Beers, One Mile. Open bar after-party. Tampa

10/22 & 10/23:
TEAM LEFT HAND: PGA TOUR CYCLE TO THE SHORE RIDE, Ponte Vedra to Daytona. Join TEAM LEFT HAND FLORIDA on this fundraiser bike ride to Daytona along scenic Highway A1A!!! Help to CRUSH MS. SIGN UP BY JULY 27!!!! 

TAPPING OF COLLABORATION BEER "BACKYARD BRAWL" at INTUITION ALE WORKS, Jacksonville, 11am. Swamp Head Brewery (Gainesville) and Terrapin Beer Co. (Athens GA) got together at Intuition to brew up a Berliner Weisse, and it will be tapped at Intuition the week before the UF vs UGA game (see below). Bottle release at 11am; bombers for $12; limit 2. Also, tapping at Swamp Head on 10/24, then at Mellow Mushroom Avondale on 10/27 and at Fionn MacCool's on 10/28. And, see below for info on the ticketed party at Intuition on GameDay!

10/26 - 10/29:
GEORGIA-FLORIDA WEEKEND, Jacksonville. Or is it Florida-Georgia? Always a fun time around North Fla. And, look out for the beer-themed events! there should be some usual suspects, as in past years..... Terrapin and SwampHead were brewing with Intuition recently......

FLORIDA-GEORGIA VIEWING PARTY at INTUITION ALE WORKS, Jacksonville. Ticketed event, includes commemorative mug (4 oz. additional beer on pours!); unlimited bar bites from Black Sheep at Intuition, with bratwurst, burgers, chicken and more. Get tickets here. Otherwise, you can stop by for a beer in the outdoor tailgate party with Manifest Distilling. Live music. 

10/28 - 10/29:
BEER, BASS & BBQ FEST at Hemming Park, downtown Jax, starting at 4pm Friday, 10/28. Featuring old school bass hip hop and EDM music, plus vendors with BBQ and craft beer. Coincides with Florida-Georgia Weekend (or is that Georgia-Florida?). More info tba. 

PHOBIA PHEST at BREWER'S PIZZA and PINGLEHEAD BREWING COMPANY, Orange Park (Jax), 11am-5pm. Sounds frightening. Coincides with Halloween festivities.  Food, music, and, uh...Pinglehead beer. Beware that clown, though. More info tba.

SIP THE SUNSHINE All-Florida Craft Beer Fest, Nathan Benderson Park, Sarasota, 12-4pm (VIP at noon; General Admission at 1pm). Followed by Concert 5-9pm. Benefits Beer/Science course at USF. Tickets in link. 

THREE YEARS OF BEER AND GHOULISH ANNIVERSARY PARTY at PAIR O'DICE BREWING, Clearwater, 1-11pm. It's an anniversary party for Halloween! Special beer releases, along with some re-releases. Costume contest. Pizza. Take a look at the story from my visit here

HAPPY HALLOWEEN!!!!! Let's get witchy and wicked....... Because I can....

If you are a Florida brewery, charity, resort, restaurant or bar that has a special event, let me know about it by email, brewnymph@gmail.com, or through the contact box in the sidebar. Mail by covered wagon won't do, and I respond to emails very quickly. I'll see you at a beer event around Florida soon ... very soon! Be sure to stop and say Hi. I might want a photo, but that's about the worst that can happen to you. 

Thanks for reading.  Cheers!
Til next time, 


Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®

©2016 BrewNymph, LLC. All rights reserved. BrewNymph; Peace, Love, Pints; Where the Beer Meets the Beach, and Beer is my Trademark are federally-registered trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC; BeerSphere and I'm Fun; Deal With It! are trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC

Monday, October 3, 2016

GABF Boot Camp ... A Look Back From a Year Ago....

GABF. Ask any beer enthusiast what those four letters mean, and you'll likely hear words like "epic," "ultimate," "unbelievable." And, those words probably still don't convey the sheer magnitude of the three-day mega beerfest that takes place in downtown Denver each year. On Thursday evening, October 6, the masses will again converge upon the Colorado Convention Center for the first of four tasting and sampling sessions. After the bagpipes strike the opening notes, the 2016 GREAT AMERICAN BEER FESTIVAL will officially begin! 

This year, the mammoth fest features approximately 800 breweries and over 3800 beers from which to choose. Brewers entered their beers in the medal competition a while ago, and, after the judges taste all of the beers, GABF will announce the Gold, Silver and Bronze medalists in 96 beer categories (along with additional sub-categories). 

Last year was my first time attending GABF.  I had a game plan and did some early research.  Whether it's your first or tenth time, you know you can't drink all the beer (trust me), so whether you use the GABF mobile app, the online site, or the printed maps, it's best to have an agenda (at least start out with one).  Make sure your shoes are comfortable, you drink plenty of water, and you eat along the way. Other than that, soak it all in and enjoy! Although I won't be in Denver this weekend, I'll be following the competition results on Saturday, and all of us in Florida will be looking for some Florida beers to bring home the hardware! Two Florida breweries earned medals last year: AARDWOLF BREWING (Jacksonville; Bronze Medal for Belgian Pale Ale) and BREW BUS BREWING (Tampa; Silver Medal for You're My Boy Blue Blueberry Wheat). Based on the GABF website, 21 Florida breweries will be among those 800 breweries sampling beers at this year's fest.

Here's my excerpted recap from last year (Confessions of a GABF Virgin) when I attended the opening night Thursday session and the members Saturday afternoon session:

GABF is the pre-eminent beer festival in the country.  It's one of those "bucket list" or "wish list" things that you hope you get to do one day. Tickets sell out each year, generally within an hour or two.  Whaddaya know -- I scored tickets to the opening night Thursday session and members Saturday afternoon session. And, then the planning started....hotel, flight, rental car. About a week or so before the festival, it started getting real -- yes, I was actually going to GABF for the first time!

The GABF website is full of awesome information, including the festival map and a list of breweries.  There's also a "MyGABF app." Although the breweries were identified for a while, a list of the available beers was released the day before the Festival. Twenty Florida breweries were in attendance. 

If you don't believe how massive this event is, check out these stats: 750 breweries at the festival hall; 3800 different beers served; 60,000 attendees; 3400 volunteers. 

Breweries arranged by geographic location, Brewpub Pavilion,
Homebrew Marketplace, Beer Geek Bookstore, Merchandise, Brewers Guilds

So, how do you prepare for this?  Study the map and get familiar with the festival layout and schedule of events ahead of time. Review the schedule for the book signings at the Beer Geek Bookstore. Make sure that you have something to eat ahead of time, and make sure that you drink plenty of water during the sessions. I had a list of breweries that I wanted to target, and one particular book signing (more on that below). 

Fast Forward to Thursday night -- Yeah, there was a large crowd waiting to enter the festival hall at 5:30pm:

It moved rather smoothly, and you could hear the welcoming bagpipes playing just inside. And, the 2015 GABF was underway!  Once inside, the enormity of the festival was apparent.  I had a printed map in my pocket, and the regions were well-marked by overhead signage. I wanted to start with the Midwest (Indiana/Chicago) since that's where I'm from, but that didn't work. I got there eventually.  Usually my plan is to start with blonde ales, kolsches, helles lagers, and I pretty much stuck to that.....for a while.

So many breweries, so many beers. Overall, for as many people in attendance, the lines were generally very manageable, almost non-existent, and you were able to walk past the tables and read the beer descriptions. Of course, there were a few breweries that always seemed to have lines that spanned across the aisle, including Allagash, Wicked Weed, and one certain South Florida brewery:

Guess they wanted to Get Funky (Last Snow and more).
You would've thought they were giving it away.....
I sampled beers from everywhere during both sessions, and I especially liked talking to the Chicago brewers. My Untappd checkins really added up. There was just so much beer!

These guys took home a few medals....
Awesome setup!
Big crowds here
Randy Mosher, author of "Tasting Beer"

The highlight of my Thursday night, however, was meeting Randy Mosher, author of Tasting Beer, at the Bookstore.  I knew ahead of time (pre-planned!) when he would be there, and I had brought my copy of the book with me.  This book was instrumental in helping me study for -- and pass -- the Certified Cicerone exam this summer, and it's been through the study-wringer:  tabs and marked up.  I showed it to Randy, and he even took a photo of me!  Very cool talking with him.  He autographed my book, and that was pretty cool!  If you're planning on studying for the Certified Cicerone exam, this one's a must-read. Thanks, Randy!

That was pretty much Day 1 at GABF!  

Recognize them?  Florida Brewers Guild
It seemed like there were many more attendees waiting to get in for the Saturday afternoon session, but once the doors opened, it didn't take long to get in the Festival Hall.  The plan for today?  Visit state brewers guilds, and drink more beer!

The Brewers' Guilds were set up along a wall in the "Meet the Brewer Hall."  Not only could you talk to the reps, but they were pouring some beers that were not available in the Main Hall.  And, they did a really cool thing with a Brewers Guild Passport. Check-in to at least six, and you got a koozie!  I talked to a bunch of the Guild reps, and got my passport stamped by nine, including closest (Florida) and farthest (Hawaii).  It was fun talking to the rep from Indiana, and I got another Three Floyds beer there, too!


Wyoming had some interesting animal photos...and captions!

Passport stamps!

And, there probably aren't too many places where you can talk to Brewers Guilds, and then, just steps away, run into a character like the Yeti from Great Divide Brewing:

He's real...... Having a Chocolate Yeti with, well......
And, if you got a little turned around, there were signs to help you find your way. 

Hey, that's a Jax Ale Trail shirt!

And, then, seemingly "just like that," it was last call for the afternoon session. Where did the time go?

GABF is definitely something you need to do.....at least once.  

And, 2017 will be here before you know it, so put this on your calendars: October 5-7, 2017, because that's when GABF happens next year. Tickets will go on sale in early August.

I may not be in Denver this year, but I will be attending a couple of Florida fests. Cheers, everyone!  See you at a beerfest!

Til next time,


© 2013-2016 BrewNymph, LLC. All rights reserved. BrewNymph; Peace, Love, Pints; Where the Beer Meets the Beach, and Beer is my Trademark are federally-registered trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC; BeerSphere and I'm Fun; Deal With It! are trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC