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Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Of Studs and Suds: Don't Miss That Turn to Fort Myers Brewing!

No rainbow, but I did get
some Gold at FBG Fest. 
My introduction to the beers of Fort Myers Brewing came in March at the FBG Fest in Tampa, where I loved the Gateway Gold Honey Blonde Ale (4.1 ABV, with a well-balanced honey sweetness). Not only did I like the beer, but I also had some fun with the crew there. So, when planning last week's trip from North Florida to Tampa to Fort Myers/Sanibel, Fort Myers Brewing was definitely on the list. 

Fort Myers Brewing: a great place to hang out
Fort Myers Brewing is located in the Gateway area of the city at 12811 Commerce Lakes Dr., Suite 28, Fort Myers, FL 33913.  It's not too far from Jet Blue Park. If you're from out of town like me, just follow Google Maps. 

There's a lot to say about this brewery, so let's start with the location. I've read several articles and reviews, and one common theme is that it's a little difficult to find. I didn't really find that to be the case, but you DO need to make sure you don't miss that turn onto Commerce Lakes Drive from Daniels Pkwy. Google Maps had it right, but somehow, the turn proved elusive the first time around, and, well, it was time to backtrack. So, don't miss that turn!

You've heard it before: Florida craft brewery in a warehouse/industrial park. Ditto. Fort Myers Brewing is located at a warehouse/wholesale park. Outside you'll find a food truck (or more), outdoor seating and tables. There's a separate entry to the tap room, and two bay doors for access to additional space where there are a couple of cornhole boards.  There's also "giant" Jenga. 

Inside, there are picnic tables and hi-top tables, with a bar along the wall. A couple of TVs, and music over the speakers. It's a laid-back place, with friendly bartenders and customers.  



One of the other things you'll notice pretty much right away is that the place is under construction (there are even a couple of signs that say that). Check out the Studs!  

There are real Studs here!
I ran into Fred Malone (the brewery "Sales Guy"), and he gave me a tour of the place and filled me in on the construction scoop. The brewery took over the adjacent space which previously housed a cigar shop (it moved a few doors down). Plans call to enlarge the current tap room into this space. The new bar will have 30 taps, 10-15 of which will pour FMB beers. And, as you've probably seen on the FMB Facebook page today (yes, today, I try to keep current on this stuff), a few new pieces of big, bad brewery equipment are now on site. The brewery currently runs on a 10-bbl system, with 20-bbl fermenters and 20-bbl brite tanks. Three new 60-bbl fermenters are being added.  Fort Myers Brewing is already distributing to bars and restaurants in the local area, and it looks like the demand for its brews will keep these guys pretty busy in the future. 

Thanks for the tour, Fred.
And, you're a Stud, too.
He took some time away
from his workout.

The brewers have won some medals, both for homebrewing and commercial brewing. 




Fort Myers Brewing took three Golds (Chocolate Stout, High 5 IPA, OYA [On Your Ass] DIPA), and a Silver (Caloosahatchee Kolsch) at the 2015 Best Florida Beer Championships. OK, that's a mouthful, let's taste some of 'em.

My "taster board" looked like this:

Yeah, I wrote it out myself!
The Gateway Gold is a blonde ale (honey blonde ale). It's a great beer to kick back and relax with. The honey sweetness isn't overpowering, and I thought it was nicely balanced with the hops and malt. A good, lighter style beer that will appeal to those wanting a bit less hop bite. I gave it 4 stars on Untappd. 

The City of Palms Pale Ale comes in at 5.3 ABV.  I had a tough time figuring this one out: it's almost sweet, like molasses, with a bitter aftertaste. It's apparently a new recipe in which more malt is added from before (but, I have nothing to compare that with).  If you like a bit of bite, give this one a try. 



I had heard a lot about the Tamiami Tan, a brown ale (5.6 ABV).  Apparently, it's not on tap all the time.  News Flash, guys, it's a rockin' brown ale...nothing boring about it.  Nutty, toasty, malty, very smooth, and just overall very pleasant (yeah, I know, that sounds  like other brown ales, but my taste buds were pretty happy).  I really liked this one. 

The "Weak A**" Session IPA (that's their name for it, not mine), is a 3.5 ABV session, that has Citra and Amarillo, with citrus. If you're looking for a low ABV beer that still has the hops and citrus that you expect from an IPA, this is a good choice. 

I finished with a pint of the Caloosahatchee Kolsch (4.2 ABV) (it's named after the river).  Nice light gold color, just a hint of sweetness, and a clean, crisp taste that you'd expect from this style. Again, a good beer to just chill out with. That's the one in the picture with me and Fred, above. 

Some of the other brews on the board that night: High 5 IPA (amarillo and citra hops) at 5.9 ABV; Cypress Strong, a 9.3 ABV Strong Ale; and  OYA ("On Your Ass") IPA, a 9.2 ABV double citra hopped DIPA. 

It's a photo of the ceiling. I don't know why. 
Just a shout out to Rob, the head brewer, and KJ, the assistant brewer!

You can find Fort Myers Brewing beers locally, and I had the Kolsch at a local restaurant. The brewery opened in March 2013, so at two years old, it looks like they're well on their way!  The tap room is open every day except Monday, and there's a food truck on site every day.  There's even a Thursday "Food Truck Rally", that features multiple food trucks. 

So, hey, Fort Myers Brewing is a fun place with some very tasty beer. This was my first visit to Southwest Florida (I came here for the beach and the beer). And, yeah, there's beer here!  No doubt about it, I'll get over here again. 

I have more posts on the way from this trip, but for now, Cheers, everyone! See you out and about at a brewery or bar in Florida Somewhere.......