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Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Hey, How Was Your Weekend? Part 2: Race to the Taste and Taste of St. Augustine


Mother Nature was smiling on the St. Augustine Amphitheatre last Saturday, April 25, for the 19th Annual Taste of St. Augustine. Not only is this a gastronomic food fest which featured over 30 local food and beverage vendors, the event kicked off with the Race to the Taste 5kI participated in the 5k, and then proceeded to check out some of the flavorful and beautifully presented food items.  I almost felt like I needed another 5k!  Two live bands rocked the fest attendees during the afternoon, and restaurants vied for awards. All in all, it was a fun day at a fun venue. 

The event, a fundraiser for Epic Behavioral Healthcare, was first held in the downtown Plaza, then moved to Francis Field, and has been held in the Amphitheatre since the venue was renovated about 9 years ago.  According to Theresa Andrews, the Director of Development for Epic, and the coordinator of the event, this year's Taste featured a slightly re-vamped layout, which utilized additional space in the upper level grassy areas and overall provided a more "spread out" scheme to allow attendees to wander around more easily.  I thought the set-up was friendly, and this was no small feat, in view of the Alan Jackson concert the night before. Volunteers began working on tent setup on Thursday, and everything else was done on Saturday morning.  The food vendors began arriving between 8:30-10am, and the event was ready to go!

Race to the Taste 5k
The race started at 10:30am, and at this time parking was pretty easy. Pick up the race packet, and go. If you needed any motivation, all you had to do was see the first participant off the starting line: a wheelchair athlete. A few minutes later, over 250 runners/walkers took off on the course. I liked the course. It worked its way through parts of Anastasia State Park and several residential areas. Very woodsy and picturesque. And, what's this?  The race bib entitled adult runners to a complimentary beer at the Taste. Like I said on social media after the race, there must be something to this run-and-get-a-free-beer-thing, because I even had my personal best 5k, so I was pretty pumped! (And looking forward to that beverage).




Time to Eat (and Drink)
Taste tickets were $1 each, and most of the food/beverage items cost between 2-5 tickets.  Bold City Brewery offered three of its main beers: Killer Whale Cream Ale, Mad Manatee IPA, and Duke's Cold Nose Brown Ale, at the main concession stand; Burkhardt Distributing offered Bud and Bud Light on the mezzanine level inside the amphitheatre; and The Raintree had White Sangria. 

Not one to waste any time, I first headed to the concession area for my refreshing Killer Whale, courtesy of my race bib.

Now, it's time for food! Upon entry to the Taste, guests received a voting Ballot/map of vendors. A pretty impressive list!  Check it out: The Raintree, Barnacle Bills, Coquina Beach Surf Club, Hong Kong Cafe, The Reef Restaurant, Scarlett O'Hara's, Aviles Restaurant, LaCocina International Restaurant, The Falafel Queen, South Beach Grill, Salt Water Cowboys, Creekside Dinery, Hyppo, Bold City Brewery,  San Sebastian Winery, Starbucks Coffee, Papa Johns Pizza, LuLi's Cupcakes, Grower's Alliance Coffee, Black & Blue Grill, Salt Life Food Shack, La Floridita of The Floridian, Toucan Tina/ Alligator Farm, Burkhardt Distributing, Bonez Smokehouse, Redfrog & McToad's, Villagio at The Renaissance World Golf Village Resort, Casa Maria, and Meehan's Irish Pub. Whew!  Where to start?

Stuffed Mushrooms from Black & Blue Grill

Now, I couldn't sample everything that was offered, but all the food looked tantalizing! The Lump Crab Cake from Salt Water Cowboys was delicious! Nice drizzle of sauce: a delight. The Stuffed Mushrooms from Black & Blue Grill had my tastebuds in a frenzy; these were awesome!



Gotta love a Killer Whale

Well, guess what?  What's better than a Bold City Brewery Killer Whale? ... Another one, of course!  

Then, I decided to give the Steak Sandwich with Arugula from Villagio at The Renaissance a try. This looked amazing.  The taste matched the presentation, and it was one of my favorites.


Chef at Villagio definitely got this one right!
I even thought about what beer might be a good pairing for this one. The tanginess of the arugula and the hearty steak might be good with an IPA!  Oh well, I digress. 

Now, while all the food is going on, the first band, The Red River Band, was on the stage performing a variety of country, rockabilly and rock hits. Nice touch with the "fiddles."  Fun music!


The Red River Band entertained the crowd

Alright, back to the food. The line at Bonez Smokehouse, a recent addition to the St. Augustine restaurant scene, was constant.  People love barbecue, and Bonez offered its Pulled Pork and Brisket Sliders.  I opted for the pulled pork, with a smathering of Sweet Sauce.  Oh, yeah!


One thing that I didn't try that I wish I had was the Asian Shrimp Tacos by South Beach Grill. They looked and smelled delicious. There was just so much to choose.  Shout out to all the chefs!
Big Engine on stage with familiar and new music
Around 2pm, the second band, Big Engine, took the stage, and rocked the crowd with blends of original music and classic rock tunes. 

And, if you were looking for dessert, you were covered there, too. I saw quite a few people wandering around with those famous popsicles from The Hyppo.  


The sweet table by LuLi's Cupcakes

And, if cupcakes are your thing (and who doesn't love a cupcake), LuLi's Cupcakes had something sweet for you. 







While all the food kept everyone happy, there were a few event winners. 

People's Choice Award, as voted on the Ballots: Shrimp Tacos by South Beach Grill (see, I knew I should've had those!). 

A panel of culinary judges rated the other categories, and drum roll for the winners:

Upscale Dining Award: Villagio at the Renaissance
Family Dining Award: Black & Blue Grill
Ethnic Taste Award: Cuban Sandwich by Toucan Tina/Alligator Farm
Dessert Award: Hyppo popsicles
Beverage Award: White Sangria by The Raintree


While attendance figures weren't available as of the time of this writing, Theresa Andrews estimated between 1000-2000 people convened in the Amphitheatre for the Taste. From what I observed, everyone was pretty happy and having a good time enjoying the deliciousness of the day. 


The Taste benefits Epic Behavioral Healthcare, and Theresa expressed extreme gratitude to the event's sponsors and attendees. In addition, Epic is very appreciative of the community support which it receives. Epic provides services to families, children and individuals in need of mental health and substance abuse assistance. 

See you next year at The Taste of St. Augustine!  Maybe I'll even be a bit faster in the 5k!


Sunday, April 26, 2015

Hey, How Was Your Weekend? (Part 1): The Brew Bus - Jacksonville

I hear it all the time: "You're always going somewhere." "Where did you go this weekend?" I'm always on the lookout for a new place to visit, and yeah, I like beerfests!  So, here's news for ya:  I stayed put in North Florida this weekend. Hey, there was a lot going on around here (if you read my prior blog posts, you would know that [wink, wink]). I couldn't make all those events, but my weekend was pretty full of activities. So much so, actually, that I'm dividing this into two parts. So, here ya go. 

Part 1: The Brew Bus Jacksonville


The Brew Bus
(photo: The Brew Bus-Jacksonville Facebook page)

OK, you've heard about it, right? The new Brew Bus-Jacksonville made its debut on Friday night. The Brew Bus, which has its origins in Tampa, operates brewery tours and private beer-centric transporation/events in Tampa, South Florida, and NOW Jacksonville. 

Check out the Jacksonville schedule for two types of local tours:  The Sampler Tour and The Full Pour Tour. Currently, The Brew Bus- Jacksonville runs tours on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons. The Bus is also available for private rental.  I "hopped on" the Bus Friday night for the inaugural Sampler Tour.  

You never know who might show up on the Bus. On Friday night, there were locals and visitors alike. Some had never been to some of the local Jax area breweries, while others had mug club memberships at Intuition Ale Works. The Bus met the patrons (is that an accurate description; I mean, really, it sounds kind of boring) at Engine 15 Brewing Company. It quickly became apparent that this group was ready for a good time. Upon check-in with Brew Bus staff, attendees (does that sound better?) had their choice of a full Brew Bus Brewing beer on board.  Don't know if you know this, but Brew Bus Brewing has three core beers of its own: Rolling Dirty Irish Red Ale, Last Stop IPA, and Double Decker English-Style Porter. Plus, there are two more rotating seasonal brews, Are Wheat There Yet wheat ale, and You're My Boy Blue, a blueberry wheat ale. 


I saw an Aardwolf....
First Stop: Aardwolf Brewing. It had been a while since I had been here, but I know that many beer-lovers in Jax love this brewery for its unique brews and willingness to experiment with different styles of beer. On this Sampler Tour, riders (are we getting there yet) enjoyed two complimentary samples: Insert (Hop Pun) IPA and Styrofoam Pony Stout. Two good, solid beers, each of which I happen to like. Other than that, there were growlers and other beers and flights flowing. Yeah, everyone was feeling pretty good right about now. I even got a surprise when one of my Twitter followers who happened to be at the brewery recognized me and wanted a photo...even called me a "celebrity." Yeah, that got tweeted. Ok, watch out, I'm a diva now. 

Who's that?
Time to board the Bus. Following an on-board sample pour of Rolling Dirty Red Ale, the Second Stop is Bold City Brewery. Here, we enjoyed samples of Duke's Brown Ale and 1901 Red Ale. I noticed some additional pints flowing. Some of the brewery customers were playing cornhole, and there was even a dog (a boxer) looking over the activities.  I asked the dog owners if the dog's name was Duke, and, well, guess what, yeah, that was his name. 

Following some pints, time to board the bus for Stop No. 3. But, first, a sample of Brew Bus Double Decker Porter. What, at Intuition Ale Works already? Following sample pours of People's Pale Ale and Belg Noir, there were a few additional pints -- and even the mug club fills by some. This is some party! Woo Hoo! I talked some homebrewing and hops with a couple of the other riders, and there was some Untappd discussion, too. Then, time to board the bus back to Engine 15.  Along the way, a sample of Brew Bus Last Stop IPA. Somehow, the decibel level on the Bus had increased by this time. Go figure. 

If you are considering a trip on the Brew Bus, do it!  Ample time at each brewery stop to enjoy complimentary brews/samples, as well as a full pint or flight of more samples, if you want. Friendly, beer-loving staff, and just a fun time. You might even make a new beer-friend, or two. 

OK, that was Friday night. Next up: Saturday, and Taste of St. Augustine and Race to the Taste 5k. 

Cheers, everyone!







Wednesday, April 22, 2015

It Poured at Hogtown Craft Beer Festival (Beer, that is...)



The forecast for the 4th Annual Hogtown Craft Beer Festival last Saturday, April 18, called for rain and storms.  Little by little, hour by hour, the forecast improved, and it turned out to be a beautiful day for some beer sampling and meeting new and old friends. 

This is my third year attending the Fest, and, since I wasn't setting up a vendor tent this time around, I decided to start the day off with the Hogtown 5k Beer Run, a benefit for Climb for Cancer Foundation




The run was held in the picturesque Haile Plantation area of Gainesville, and the route consisted mainly of trails through the woods. It looked like a good time was had by all. Afterwards, the announcer informed everyone that over $25,000 had been raised for cancer through this run and sponsorships.  Good news!

It said "beer run," right?  Adult runners had their choice of two beers, Wild Night or Stump Knocker, offered by our friends at SwampHead Brewery. And, that's how my day started, before noon, already with a Wild Night!


Hey, I finished in pretty decent time! (Well, for me)


Back to the hotel for a shower, and then out the door to Beerfest!  The Fest was held in a new location this year, on the grounds of the Tioga Town Center.  The setup was the recognizable format of breweries grouped in "pods."  Organized by the Hogtown Brewers (the local homebrew club), the fest featured over 110 breweries and over 300 beers, ciders, meads and wines, including local, Florida, regional, national, and international names. The Enchanted Beer Forest provided shade. I met a number of old friends, and met some new ones, I think. Talked a lot about beer.  And, oh yeah, sampled a few, too.  The fest tickets sold out via online sales, so if you hesitated, you missed out.  Around 1400 beer enthusiasts seemed to have a pretty good time.

I liked the new venue. It was spread out enough so that attendees could move around, and the pods were close enough to maneuver around pretty easily.   Mark your calendars for next Spring, and be sure to put this one on.  It's one that you don't want to miss!





Waiting for check-in.  It moved pretty quickly.







At check-in, pick up the Passport, with all the info you needed ...pods, breweries, beers, etc.









A friendly type pouring some Bold City Brewery Killer Whale, right after entry...

And, speaking of Bold City Brewery.... I met up with Regina and Whit, who were pouring the brews under the tent...















Of course, I sampled a number of beers. Here is Day Trippin Session IPA from SwampHead. Very refreshing.
















Always fun hanging around with the guys from Engine 15 Brewing Company...even if he did photobomb this one!
















Motorworks Brewing's Roll Cage Red.
Nice, balanced red ale, leaning a bit more on the malty side. Some citrus overtones. 6.5ABV.  This was a good one. 







And, how about Motorworks' Cruiser Kolsch...Very fresh, with just a light, subtle fruit flavor.I liked this one a lot. 4.8 ABV.  









Aardwolf Brewing's Pale Ale... a Belgian ale that I thought was quite pleasant and balanced.









And, the afternoon just wouldn't have been complete without some shenanigans with Beer in Florida writer Gerard!

















Draftzilla was its own pod!











Tomoka Brewing Co. was here. Good talking to Peter and Jen again!  This is McCarthy Irish Red, a good solid red ale at 5% ABV. 














I finally got to try Intuition Ale Works' One Spark Kolsch, which was tapped at the One Spark Fest in Jacksonville. Nice lighter ale, which is easy-drinking, anytime.








And, I thought the guys at Proof Brewing knocked it out of the park with Creatures in the Dark, Russian Imperial Stout. This hearty brew comes in at 8% ABV, with chocolate and vanilla. Was a Gold Medal Winner at FL Best Beer Championship in 2014.





And, that's an empty glass at the end of the fest.  

Thanks Hogtown Craft Beer Fest for the hospitality!

See you next year, Gainesville!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

There's Too Much Going On!

OK, so it's Tuesday afternoon, and you're already thinking about the weekend? Well, why not, there are plenty of things going on! Check out some of these events:

Wednesday thru Sunday, April 22-26:

Florida's Birding and Photo Fest 2015
Various Locations, including
GTM Research Reserve and
St. Augustine Alligator Farm and more!

Check out the exhibits, workshops, and tours! Learn about photography, wildlife, nature.  I attended last year, and the workshops are packed with information. There are pages of events and seminars in the brochure, and there's sure to be one (or more) for you!

Then, of course, visit some of the local eating and drinking establishments in our area!





Friday and Saturday, April 24 & 25:


New Brew Bus for Jax!
(photo: Brew Bus Jacksonville Facebook page)
The Brew Bus/Jacksonville
Boarding at 
Engine 15 Brewing Company

You've heard about it, and it's ready to roll!  Brewery bus tours in Jacksonville are back. Brew Bus launches on Friday, April 24, 7pm. Load the bus at Engine 15 Brewing for the inaugural Sampler Tour.  The 3.5 hour tour includes round-trip transportation, stops at Aardwolf Brewing, Bold City Brewery, and Intuition Ale Works, with two 4-oz. beer samples at each brewery. And, there's Brew Bus Brewing beer on board the bus!

Or, jump on the bus on Saturday, April 25, at noon, for the Full Pour Tour. This trip visits Veterans United Craft Brewery, Pinglehead Brewing Co., and Bold City Brewery. This five-hour tour includes round trip transportation, Brew Bus Brewing brews on board, a brewery tour, and a pint at each of the breweries. 

Tours are planned for Fridays and Saturdays, and the Brew Bus is available for private events and parties.   

Wanna get some swag and meet the crew ahead of time?  Sure you do! Head out to World of Beer Jacksonville Southside Wednesday, April 23, or to Engine 15 Brewing, Thursday, April 24, around 6pm, for spotlight events and meet-n-greets!  


Saturday, April 25:




Second Annual Elvis Day at the Brewpub
Tomoka Brewing Company, Port Orange
12pm-???

You've probably heard of Tomoka's Elvis PB Banana Sandwich Brown Ale, a peanut buttery tastebud treat that the brewers release on occasion. (What? If you haven't, take a look at my prior blog post; and yes, I finally was able to taste this delicious brew recently!!)  So, now it gets bigger, and they are taking an entire day to celebrate "Elvis" beer.  But, here's a mouthful: Get ready for tapping of The King Imperial Elvis PB Banana Sandwich Brown Ale, at high noon, and then on tap all day. But, there's more: tapping at 3pm is Vanilla Bean Bourbon Aged The King.  And, what ... a Chocolate Elvis, too?  Elvis is in the house at 4pm, followed by a costume contest at 6pm. So, hey, all you Hound Dogs, get your pelvises and those Blue Suede Shoes over to Tomoka Brewing!



Homebrew and BBQ to Benefit Jeannie's Kidney Fund at Pine Street Pub
Pine Street Pub, Inverness
4-8pm

Several local Crystal River area Florida breweries and local homebrew clubs will be featured at this fundraiser for Jeannie, who is battling renal disease. Over 50 craft beers (including Heady Topper?), BBQ available for purchase, music, raffles. A beery fun time to help out someone in need. Check out the website and FB page for more. 


Tree Fest 2015 Presented by Solar Impact and SwampHead Brewery
SwampHead Brewery, Gainesville
1-9pm

Drink some delicious SwampHead beer (and I do mean delicious!) to raise money to plant some trees!  In this new partnership, our friends at SwampHead have joined forces with Solar Impact to help the environment and do something good around Earth Day!  Money will be raised to plant trees with the Alachua Conservation Trust.  So get this:  you buy ONE SwampHead beer, and that will result in the planting of FIVE trees!  Is that a no-brainer or what?  It's a family-friendly afternoon (from 1-4pm, and then the event continues til 9pm).  Food trucks will be on site, and family-friendly activities are planned. Money raised from the event will go to the planting of the trees (one-year old longleaf pines) at Little Orange Creek Preserve in Hawthorne, FL.  Feeling more generous? Give 'em a $1 for another tree, or buy some food for another tree!  The goal is to plant at least 5,000 trees from the money raised at TreeFest. SwampHead is the first solar-powered brewery in Florida (I can't wait to see it!), and TreeFest seems like a natural fit.  For more info, you can also take a look at treefestfl.com.  


And, if you're in St. Augustine:


Taste of St. Augustine
St. Augustine Amphitheatre, 11-5pm

It's a food festival that features "tastes" of delectable food items from over 20 of St. Augustine's restaurants. Awards will be given for various food categories, so vote for your favorites!  Admission is $5, and the tickets for the food tastes/beverages are $1 each.  Music by Red River Band at 12-2pm, and Big Engine, 2-4pm. There's also a "Race to the Taste" 5k, that starts at 10:30 am at the Amphitheatre. Try not to eat too much! (or, that's what the 5k is for!)

And, a heads up on this party that you won't want to miss on Thursday, April 30:

Bold City Brigade St. Augustine Chapter Draft Day Party 
at Candlelight South, 1 Anastasia Blvd.

I'm including this one, because this is a bunch of Jaguars fans who love to party (that could mean we like to drink some beer).  Are you a Jaguars fan?  Are you looking for a group to hang out with during games?  Do you like beer?  You did read that last question, right?  Come out to this party and get some info on how to join the group. Visit Bold City Brigade's main website, or take a look at the St. Augustine Chapter's Facebook page (Bold City Brigade St. Augustine). Also, this is a very active Twitter group, and we like recording beer in Untappd, too. 

Hope to see you out there at some of these events!  Cheers!


Saturday, April 4, 2015

Now Boarding: Sit Back, Relax and Enjoy Your "FLLight"... at LauderAle Brewery

It's THIS way....
I can't tell you how to get here.  I can only tell you it's in Fort Lauderdale, it's in an industrial-warehouse park, it's close to the airport, it's not too far from US 1, and it's closeby to overhead expressway ramps. So, unless you know the area, just get your Google maps and GPS in gear, and just get here...because ... you're gonna like it. 

Where?  I'm talking about LauderAle Brewery, located at 3305 SE 14th Ave. in Ft. Lauderdale. It's the city's first (and only) nano-brewery. 

I gotta tell you, though, for a 1-barrel system, this place sure brews a lot of beer. On the night I visited, this was the tap list (of their own beers):  Heisenberg Hefe, Lordy Gourdy, Berry Nice, Monkey Red Ale, Mild Child (English Mild), Immigration IPA, Bush Brown, Sizzler Saison, Mr. White's Wit, Port Everglades Porter and SS Stout. 

It looks like a Florida micro-brewery to me.
LauderAle Brewery opened in July 2014, and I had been keeping tabs on it for a while (I do that kind of thing).  Since I was going to be in Lauderdale anyway, this was definitely on my to-visit list. After a couple of wrong turns (there were road/construction barricades), destination found! Yep, typical warehouse-brewery. 


Don't let that guy scare ya.
So, you walk up, there's a food truck on site. Walk in through the front door, and there's a room that looks like an office reception area. Either go through the next door, or go off to the side where there's a bay door, with entry to the brewery and tap room. There's a wraparound bar, along with a ping pong table and a few picnic tables. Oh, yeah, there's a big shark overlooking the tap room, too. 

Looks like a fun place, but we're here for the beer, right?


The menu board and taps
As I'm prone to do, I started talking to the bartender. Turns out, that's Kyle Jones, the co-owner, brewer, bartender, and basically all-around jack-of-all-trades hard-working type doing whatever he has to do to make the beer, work shifts, and keep the people happy. Nice guy, too.  I picked out my four beers for a flight. Now, first of all, notice, how LauderAle spells "flight":  FLLight (cool). Hey, we're right by the FLL airport, you know!


Ready for my FLLight.  There's Kyle in the background, too.
Seriously, he never stopped!

So, I'm on board.  Let's get ready to relax and enjoy this one, from right to left: Monkey Road Red (an Irish Red Ale), Bush Brown Ale, Port Everglades Porter, and SS (Smokestack) Stout.  All of the beers are unfiltered. 

These are all good, solid beers.  My favorite, surprisingly, was the Bush Brown Ale (6.2 ABV). Don't get me wrong, brown ales are good, reliable beers, but I typically don't go out of my way to try them.  But this one proved me wrong, as the roastiness and nuttiness here was quite impressive. 


Bush Brown Ale
The Port Everglades Porter (6.8 ABV) was sweet and roasty, with a very pleasant flavor. Good all-around porter, quite tasty. 

Port Everglades Porter.
Must've got caught up in this one;
drank it before the photo.

The SS Stout was roasty and heavy, coming in at 8.7 ABV, almost an Imperial. This one had some bite and bitterness, and if you're looking for a fuller dark beer, this is one you want. 


The heavyweight: SS Stout. 

I also tried the Mild Child English Mild Ale.  Kyle mentioned that it's really light and easy-drinking, and he's right (ABV 3.5). I really liked it, and if you're looking for a lighter-side beer that isn't a hefeweizen, try this one. You'll still get the hint of bitterness. 

LauderAle looks to be taking flight, because since I visited, I've seen this brewery listed on several "best of" lists. Kyle mentioned that the brewery will focus on its on-site production rather than off-premises distribution (at least for now). If they keep making beers like this, it will be no time before demand will come calling (and... Kyle, you will have to work more). I've noticed the social media posts about even more and different beers that they are brewing here, so the beer menu seems to be expanding, along with additional creativity. 

The next time I find myself in Ft. Lauderdale, you can bet I'll be back here. If you're in the area, set that GPS and get over here. In the meantime, keep up with LauderAle on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. 

And, I leave you with this:


Bathroom humor.
So, that's it for now. See you out there in Florida, somewhere, sometime, with a beer in hand. Til next time, Cheers!





Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What's Hoppening in April

OK, maybe that headline was just another roll-your-eyes attempt at "Hop" and Spring humor, but don't hold that against me: there are some pretty cool events in the Florida beer sphere comin' up this month, including a bunch of cans, Brewmasters on the Space Coast, a Brew at the Zoo, a Hogtown, and Elvis, among others.  I'm even throwing in some local events in St. Augustine (well, because, why not, I'm here). 

Saturday, April 4:


CanDoo Festival
Metropolitan Park, Jacksonville
12pm-7pm

Live music featuring The Corbitt Brothers Band, Tishamingo, and headliner act O.A.R.; food trucks; and beer in cans from the likes of Samuel Adams, New Belgium, Oskar Blues, Miller, Sierra Nevada and Veterans United. And, your ticket price includes a ticket to the season-opener of the Jacksonville Armada. 

How 'bout them cans?








Brewmaster's Invitational Beer Festival
Exploration Tower, Port Canaveral
12pm-4:30pm (VIP early entry)
Open Bar til 8pm

They're calling it the "Big Beer Festival," and take a look at what they've got going on. Food, food pairings, music, art.  And....beer... a lot of it, from some names you know and love from Florida and more.  Three stages of music. I can't make it this year, but this is definitely on my calendar for next year. 



Cajun Cafe on the Bayou
Festival of Florida Beer
Cajun Cafe on the Bayou, Pinellas Park
2-6pm

100+ Florida craft beers, Cajun plate and other food. Featuring Dunedin Doggie Rescue Fundraiser. Sounds like a spicy good time. 






Saturday, April 11:


Brew at the Zoo
Presented by Dixie Grill and Bar
Palm Beach Zoo, West Palm Beach
5:30-9pm (VIP early entry)

Some pretty awesome Florida breweries will be represented along with regional and national favorites. Food vendors on site, live music, premium beers for VIPs. Drink some great beer, have a good time, and support the zoo. 

A wild time, for sure!




Saturday, April 18:






Hogtown Craft Beer Festival
Tioga Town Center, Gainesville
12-5pm


Alright, alright. I've been there the past two years, and I've already got tix for this one. All the beers you'd expect, and more. This is one fun fest. Brewers are grouped in "pods."  The fest is held at a new location this year. Food will be available from local restaurants and caterers. Look out for that drone that flies around, too. Check out the website for videos and drone footage from prior fests.  And, if you look at two years ago, you'll see yours truly in a video (shameless). 

This is a fest that you don't want to miss.  And, if you're coming in from out of town and get there early or want something to do afterward (stay overnight), make sure you visit one of those local breweries there (who knows, you might even have a Wild Night or meet a Siren). You got that, right?




Panama City Beach Beer Festival at Fishale Taphouse and Grill
Fishale Taphouse and Grill,
Panama City Beach
1-4pm

It's the second year for this one (OK to call it "Second Annual"). Another salivating brewery list. Proceeds go to Toys for Kids. Over 200 beers.  VIPs get early access, light hors d'oeuvres, and access to a private beer tasting.  Sounds like a real party at the beach!

Saturday, April 25:




Second Annual Elvis Day at the Brewpub
Tomoka Brewing Company, Port Orange
12pm-???

You've probably heard of Tomoka's Elvis PB Banana Sandwich Brown Ale, a peanut buttery tastebud treat that the brewers release on occasion. (What? If you haven't, take a look at my prior blog post; and yes, I finally was able to taste this delicious brew recently!!)  So, now it gets bigger, and they are taking an entire day to celebrate "Elvis" beer.  But, here's a mouthful: Get ready for tapping of The King Imperial Elvis PB Banana Sandwich Brown Ale, at high noon, and then on tap all day. But, there's more: tapping at 3pm is Vanilla Bean Bourbon Aged The King.  And, what ... a Chocolate Elvis, too?  Elvis is in the house at 4pm, followed by a costume contest at 6pm. So, hey, all you Hound Dogs, get your pelvises and those Blue Suede Shoes over to Tomoka Brewing!



Homebrew and BBQ to Benefit Jeannie's Kidney Fund at Pine Street Pub
Pine Street Pub, Inverness
4-8pm

Several local Crystal River area Florida breweries and local homebrew clubs will be featured at this fundraiser for Jeannie, who is battling renal disease. Over 50 craft beers (including Heady Topper?), BBQ available for purchase, music, raffles. A beery fun time to help out someone in need. Check out the website and FB page for more. 


Tree Fest 2015 Presented by Solar Impact and SwampHead Brewery
SwampHead Brewery, Gainesville
1-9pm

Drink some delicious SwampHead beer (and I do mean delicious!) to raise money to plant some trees!  In this new partnership, our friends at SwampHead have joined forces with Solar Impact to help the environment and do something good around Earth Day!  Money will be raised to plant trees with the Alachua Conservation Trust.  So get this:  you buy ONE SwampHead beer, and that will result in the planting of FIVE trees!  Is that a no-brainer or what?  It's a family-friendly afternoon (from 1-4pm, and then the event continues til 9pm).  Food trucks will be on site, and family-friendly activities are planned. Money raised from the event will go to the planting of the trees (one-year old longleaf pines) at Little Orange Creek Preserve in Hawthorne, FL.  Feeling more generous? Give 'em a $1 for another tree, or buy some food for another tree!  The goal is to plant at least 5,000 trees from the money raised at TreeFest. SwampHead is the first solar-powered brewery in Florida (I can't wait to see it!), and TreeFest seems like a natural fit.  For more info, you can also take a look at treefestfl.com.  


And, mark your calendars for a few local events in St. Augustine:

April 8: Chouffe Gnome Night at Stogies Cigar Bar, 36 Charlotte St., 6-9pm
Not sure if the Gnome will be there, but there will be Chouffe beers on tap for a special night. 

April 15: St. Augustine Home Brewers Club Meeting at BT's Grill and Beer Garden, 223 W. King St., 7:30pm til????  
It's the best Wednesday of the month....the third Wednesday!  It was a lively meeting last month, and there's always entertaining beer talk and more. Whether you're a homebrewer, you're interested in homebrewing, or you just want to hang out and find out more, this is where you want to be on the third Wednesday!  Find out about group brews, competitions, events, and, well, we drink some beer, too.  See ya there! (And, yeah, this just happens to be Tax Day, just sayin....you might need some friendly types and beer). 

April 15: New Belgium Brewing Night at J.P. Henley's (Pub), 10 Marine St., 6:30pm
Check out a selection of New Belgium Brewing beers, plus pint-glass give-aways. 

April 21: New Belgium Brewing Beer Dinner at Barley Republic Irish Pub, 48 Spanish St.  
No further information was available as of this writing, but check out "The Barley's" webpage, http://www.barleyrepublicph.com/index.html and its Facebook page for more info about time and menu.

April 30: Bold City Brigade St. Augustine Chapter Draft Day Party at Candlelight South, 1 Anastasia Blvd.
I'm including this one, because this is a bunch of Jaguars fans who love to party (that could mean we like to drink some beer).  Are you a Jaguars fan?  Are you looking for a group to hang out with during games?  Do you like beer?  You did read that last question, right?  Come out to this party and get some info on how to join the group. Visit Bold City Brigade's main website, or take a look at the St. Augustine Chapter's Facebook page (Bold City Brigade St. Augustine). Also, this is a very active Twitter group, and we like recording beer in Untappd, too. 

OK, I think that's it for now.  And, remember that I'm always looking for info on beer-related events. I go through a number of sources to compile these events, but if you know of or are holding an event, let me know!  Really, it's easy as 1-2-3:  (1) Get at me in person when I'm out and about (I might be crazy, but I'm pretty nice, even a bit funny when I've had a beer or two); (2) Send me an email at brewnymph@comcast. net; or (3) Go to my website, www.brewnymph.com and send me a message from there (you can look at my other posts, too, you know you wanna!)

Cheers, and Hoppy Spring!