Friday, July 31, 2015

Hey, Have You Heard?....Brewz |n| Dawgz Is Now Open in St. Augustine......

Ok, I've known about it for a few months, and I have to admit that I was "stalking" the opening of this place (in a good way).  But, hey, it's a craft beer bar, with some really legit ownership, so, of course, I was waiting...and waiting....

And, then, last Friday, BrewzNDawgz had its "soft opening." WooHoo! Of course, I was there! And, I've been back again since then.  Actually, the place already has its core of "regulars," and there's that "first name" feeling that is so welcoming!

So, what's the big deal?  Let's start with the ownership. You know Roger, the "beertender" extraordinaire from J.P. Henley's in downtown St. Augustine. Yep, this is his place...along with co-owner Samantha (who just happens to be Roger's wife, and from what I hear is quite the foodie).  Also in the mix are managers Cara from Cafe 11 (which, as you know from my social media posts, is one of my favorite Happy Hour places to grab a beer on the Beach), Tony (from No Name Bar, another cool place), and kitchen manager Krystopher (already serving up some great plates). 

Then, there's the beer: 24 taps of all-Florida craft beer. 

I see some favorites, already!  Florida beer. 

And, this is a well-thought-out selection, too, which offers a variety of styles sure to please every taste: cider, lager, weiss, red, IPA, double IPA, stout. I really like the focus on local Florida beer, because there are so many good ones out there! You'll find local from Jacksonville, of course, in addition to quality brews from Gainesville, Tampa and points south. I've been to many of these breweries!

But, that's not all. Sing it now:  "99 bottles of beer on the wall......". 

Actually, they're in the cooler, so take your pick.  Drink all 99 of 'em, and you get your name on the wall. Ask for the 99 Bottles Card. Just a warning-- I've already started my list. The first 50 are already set for you (those are the ones that are required drinking), but you get to be a little creative with the remaining 49!  Who's gonna be the first one on the wall?  Just a little friendly competition!

There's food here, too. BrewzNDawgz strives to use organic and non-GMO food products, free from hormones, antibiotics and nitrites/nitrates, from humane farms.   That said, check out some of the current menu items: organic chips with organic and farm-fresh toppings; cheese sampler plate; and vegetarian chili.  Then, there are the "dawgz":  Cuban Dawg (pork brat on organic bun with organic Swiss cheese, mustard and pickles); Spicy Dragon Dawg (Italian beef sausage, with organic spicy jack cheese, jalapenos and ranch dressing; inspired by the Mammoglams Dragon Boat Racers in support of breast cancer); Slaw Dawg; Vegan Beer Brat (tofurky beer brat marinated in Full Sail Amber Ale, along with organic sauerkraut and mustard); and the Kiddie Pup (for kids). If you want a gluten-free bun, you can get that, too. 

Cuban Dawg... Loaded Chips ... Very tasty!  And, a beer!
I had the Cuban Dawg, and it was quite tasty.  The pressed bun was a nice touch, and the flavor of the dawg was perfect.   The ranch dipping sauce for the chips is delicious. 

More menu items are on the way, including organic fries, and burgers, and who knows what else. They're also doing a "Dawgz for Dogs" special, which will help support local pet rescue. 

Not a beer fan?  (Hey, I don't judge).  There are house wines, and specialty wines along with champagne splits. Soft drinks are also offered, including Sprecher Cream Soda. 

BrewzNDawgz is located at 1974 Highway US 1 South in St. Augustine (southeast corner of US 1 and Hwy 312). Seating is available at the bar and at tables, with a couple of tables outside.  There are a couple of TVs, and some board games, too. They're on Instagram and Twitter...and, they have been posting some very delicious photos of the dawgz, I must say. 

It's open 6 days a week (closed on Mondays), with Happy Hour from 2-6pm, and Hospitality Hour from 10 til close. For the first week, they've been opening at 2pm, but my understanding is that they'll be open for lunch at 11 am with an expanded menu starting next week, so check back. 

As you've probably figured out, you'll be seeing me around here... along with the other "regulars" who have already found this place.

And, lastly, BrewzNDawgz will be celebrating its Grand Opening on August 18, so stay tuned for more info on that... along with some other events and activities in the planning stages for the future. 

But, for the time being.... if you see someone studying the 99 Bottle Card, along with the Untappd list, that could be me.... 

Congratulations to BrewzNDawgz! And, now the dawgz are out of the bag.....

I'll see you out and about in Florida Somewhere!  In the meantime, if there's an event or place that you think I should know about, just let me know via email at, or through the box on the website,  And, be sure to check out the website for reviews of places and events, and the "BeerSphere" tab for upcoming events that you can go to!  


Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Back Again at Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest!

Three-for-three: One of my favorite places in Florida to visit, and one of my favorite beerfests!  The 3rd Annual Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest happened this past weekend (July 25) at the South Florida Fairgrounds and Expo Center in West Palm Beach. And, yes, this was my third year attending! There's a lot to like about this fest, but the big draw is that it's held indoors inside the Expo Center (what heat, what rain?).  The scene was similar to last year's fest: here's my 2014 blog post.

Looking for Lunch in the Right Place:

But, before I get to the fest, I'm going to start this post where I left off last year: with what I somewhat ceremoniously called the "foodgasm."  Last year's after-fest dinner visit became this year's pre-fest lunch visit, and I was looking forward to it while heading South on I-95 from North Florida. Hello again, Burger Bar - Palm Beach Gardens.  

Burger Bar is located at 4650 Donald Ross Rd., in Palm Beach Gardens, just a couple miles east of I-95 and almost across the street from the Abacoa community (Sidebar: I love Abacoa; good golf there, along with a really cool town center; home to another one of my favorite fests, the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival in January, by the way). 

If you check out Burger Bar's menu, you'll see what you'd expect to see: appetizers, wings, salads, sliders, and an impressive selection of burgers.  Scroll your eyes toward the bottom of the menu, and you'll find it:  the Crunchy Mahi Burger. I love a good mahi sandwich, and this one is one of the best. Oh, I don't know, maybe it's the seasoned corn flake panko coating, or the huge portion of mahi, or just that it tastes so good! Well, you be the judge:

Get your hands on one....

Like I said when I posted this on Instagram:
Open up and say MAAHHHI!
I haven't had any of the burgers at Burger Bar, but I suspect they're pretty amazing, too, from the menu descriptions.  I don't know if I can ever be torn away from that mahi, though. Maybe that's what a to-go box is for. Next time.

Burger Bar has outdoor and indoor seating, and two bars. An eclectic setting inside.  I sat outside in the courtyard; there was a nice breeze, and the cloud cover kept the temp comfortable. 

There's a full liquor bar, and a good selection of beers available that will suit all tastes (although I might suggest adding some of the awesome local South Florida beers to the menu). And, if you're looking for something really adventurous, try one of their "adult" shakes (liquors and ice cream --ooooh). My focus on this visit was on the food, because, hey, I'm on my way to a beerfest!

Next time I'm around Palm Beach Gardens/Abacoa, I'll be back here!

Meet N Greet at Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest:

Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest is four hours (1-5pm) of beer sampling, music, and mingling with other fellow beer lovers, all in the comfort of the indoor Expo Center. If you went the VIP route, add on some special beers from Saltwater Brewery, Barrel of Monks, and new local brewery Twisted Trunk Brewing, along with a food buffet and additional swag.

It's set up "expo-style," with beer booths along the perimeter and up and down aisles of the expo hall.  In case you got hungry, local food trucks were set up outside, easily accessible from an expo entrance/exit. Throw in a main stage with live music all afternoon and a silent disco, and there's no shortage of entertainment. Once again, the main stage was sponsored by SaltWater Brewery, from just down the road in Delray Beach (another one of my favorite breweries to visit!).

The fest was configured just a bit differently from last year, starting with a different entry point, and although there were some lines (oh, c'mon, there's always a line to get in these fests), entrance was pretty smooth.  Grab your Fest cup, and let's go!

Local: Tequesta Brewing
Who likes beer?
The first thing I noticed that differed from last year was that the Florida breweries were positioned all around the venue, not all in the same aisle.  That was a huge bottleneck last year, and the new arrangement took a little of the pressure off. But, there were still the huge crowds around local SoFla favorites that you'd expect:  Saltwater Brewery, Due South BrewingFunky Buddha BreweryTequesta Brewing/Twisted Trunk Brewing.

You can check out the brewery list from the Fest website, but the Fest included South Florida, Florida, regional, national and international breweries and beers. Of course, the "usual suspects" were here.  In addition to the Palm Beach area breweries mentioned above, Miami was well-represented, too: Concrete Beach BreweryWynwood BrewingJ. Wakefield Brewing. Local newcomer Devour BrewingFlorida Beer Company, and Cigar City Brewing were here, too. Too many to list!

Biscayne Bay Brewing:
Check out that tap handle!
The Due South tent was packed all day....
Good to see Joe from Holy Waters Brewing again!
Tequesta Brewing with beer ingredients.
That's a TBC "Latest Batch" Schwarzbier: so good!
In between checking out the beers, I ran into some "beer people" I already knew, and met some new beer friends from the social media world, too. 

I had a fun time hanging out with Palm Beach Girls Pint Out!
Great to see Palm Beach GPO, Florida Craft Beer, and Florida Beer Blog! And, I spent some time talking beer and brewery stuff with the guys from brewery-in-planning Brevard Ale Works from Melbourne. 

I won't go through the whole beer list (and, no I didn't blow up Untappd), but there were some creative beers that stood out. Tequesta's Last Batch Schwarzbier, an almond coconut dark lager, with chocolate, coconut, and nuttiness (in the flavor) was quite tasty. Holy Waters' Chocolate Malt IPA combined true IPA bitterness with chocolate, and the result was pretty heavenly. Twisted Trunk's Lucky Langer Lager had a nice bite at the end, and was a good, solid lager. And, J. Wakefield's 24th Street Brown Ale was exceptionally good. 

All in all, another great year at Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest!  But, it had to end sometime.

It even rained, but not on the beer!

Now, I mentioned Twisted Trunk Brewing -- that's the new place in Palm Beach Gardens that just opened in February, a "sister" to Tequesta Brewing, with common ownership, but with its own personality.  And, that's the subject of the next story.......

But before I leave, what does one do the day after a beerfest?  Well, go beer shopping at the local Total Wine in Palm Beach Gardens.... where I was lucky enough to find this:

Due South Brewing's Midnight Marauder Black IPA,
limited release. WooHoo!  Awesome, by the way!
That's a wrap on another Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest, and, I'm looking forward to coming back for No. 4 next year!

Til next time, Cheers!  See you out there at a beerfest, beer event, bar, restaurant, beach, around Florida Somewhere! And, hey, don't be shy: I would love to talk to you!  So, if you see me out there, say Hi. 

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Welcome to Pair O'Dice....

It's been said that we live in Paradise here in Florida.  When husband-and-wife team Ken and Julia Rosenthal took the gamble and left their prior jobs to open a brewery of their own in Clearwater a few years ago, I think they found it.  Welcome to Pair O' Dice.... Pair O'Dice Brewing Company, that is.

Last weekend found me back in Tampa for a concert, and, well, that can only mean one other thing: let's find another brewery or two!  I had heard of Pair O'Dice, but wasn't familiar with any of their beer.  So, this was a new adventure all the way around. And, I really hit the jackpot, because not only did I get to try a lot of the beer, I also spent a while talking with the owners, Ken and Julia, and the brewer, Kyle. Ken's also the Head Brewer. Thanks to all of them for taking time out of their day. (I think they enjoyed relaxing for a little bit with some of their beers, too, while we talked.)

Thanks, Ken!
Pair O'Dice opened in October 2013.  Ken and Julia previously worked for Anheuser, so they had experience in the commercial beer biz already. They returned to Florida from Austin, Texas in 2011, which marked their return to "paradise."  And, they're also electrical engineers, so they obviously know how to figure stuff out. They had developed a love for hoppy, "West-Coast Style" beers, and with that focus, set out to brew beer generally along the hop-forward flavor parameters.  

The brewery operates on a 10-bbl brewhouse, with four 30-bbl fermenters, and one 30-bbl brite tank. It has plenty of space for additional equipment, too. Yep, there's a tasting room, which offers 18 taps.  On the day of my visit, the tap room offered 15 taps of their own beer. Quite a bit of beer to choose! If you like air conditioning, the tap room is climate-controlled.  If you want to be where the brewing action is and can stand a little heat (there are fans), take a seat at one of the picnic tables in the brewery. 

Oh, look at these babies!
Beer here! Good variety.
On one side of the brewhouse stood a couple of wooden barrels. You'll have to wait til March to taste what's in there, though, because they're ageing a barleywine for Tampa Bay Beer Week. 

So, what are we drinkin' today? If you want a flight, you can pick as many as you want. I went full board. I started with the Cascade Amber (4.8 ABV), a light-bodied amber ale that features Cascade hops. It's a hoppy red ale, but I found it to be quite easy-drinking.  

Next up was the Belma Single-Hop IPA (35 IBU, 5 ABV).  Pair O' Dice features a single-hop series on a rotating basis. The brewers change the hops, but keep the IBUs at 35. The showcase is on the hop.  I haven't seen many beers that use Belma hops. There's a citrus, tropical aroma and flavor here, with a good bitterness, while being very drinkable.  This is a good choice if you're looking for something a bit different. I really liked this one. 

The Fowler's Bluff IPA (50 IBU, 6 ABV) is your true West-Coast style IPA: yeah, you know what's in here: Cascade and Centennial, for floral, citrus and pine aroma and flavor. This one's a bit more bitter, but still not over-the-top. There's a dry finish. I must be getting used to these IPAs, because I also really liked this one, too!

Hop Bet Red IPA:
Bet on it
The Hop Bet Red IPA (50 IBU, 6.5 ABV) is one of the brewery's flagship beers. I thought this one had a bit of a bite. While the caramel malts are apparent, I found it to be just a bit more balanced toward the hops, and the citrus/floral notes really come through. This is a good, solid red IPA. 

And, that brings me to one of my favorite styles of beer, the oatmeal stout. Yes, I do love a good stout! The Little Joe Oatmeal Stout (25 IBU, 6.3 ABV) has chocolate and coffee notes, and, I thought, a touch of dark fruit flavor.  Nice and smooth, it's a good choice!

Little Joe Oatmeal Stout...
Yes, please!
This day of my visit was especially exciting for the brewery (and, no, not just because I showed up). Earlier, Ken and Julia had made a pitch to the Winn-Dixie grocery store chain for distribution of two of their flagship beers, the Hop Bet Red IPA and the Clearwater Honey Cream Ale, which they expect to start canning soon, with distribution to hit the stores by end of year 2015. 

So, what about that Clearwater Honey Cream Ale (5.2 ABV)? It's made with local orange blossom honey and orange peel.  It's not a "fruity" beer, though, and I didn't find it to be sweet.  I detected a very slight corn flavor (not unusual in this style).  Very fresh and easy to drink -- yeah, this is a good one. This is going to be one popular beer once it hits retail. Put these in your cooler. I'm looking forward to it already.  

At present, you can find Pair O'Dice beers on draft in bars and restaurants in five Tampa area counties.  And, when you visit the tap room, don't forget your new half-gallon growler!

Last, but not least, the brewery just announced today (July 23) that it is looking to rename its "Let It Rye'd" IPA. We talked briefly about this subject during my visit.  Apparently, another brewery owns rights in the trademark "Let It Ride" and, as is happening more frequently these days with the new breweries and influx of beers hitting the market, an objection issued against use of "Let It Rye'd." Now, I find the trademark aspects affecting breweries quite fascinating given my background in trademark law, but such things are quite expensive, and the brewery can put its resources toward other uses as opposed to contesting the matter. So.....

That's where YOU come in. Check out the blog page on the Pair O'Dice website where they're asking you to help re-name the beer. The flavor profile and ingredients are listed, along with some suggestions for coming up with a new name (don't pick someone else's name, for starters). So, if you think you can come up with a clever name (maybe with a dice or gambling related theme), let 'em know by August 16, 2015.  The winner will be announced on September 1. Great accolades to follow, of course!  See the brewery Facebook page also. 

Pair O'Dice Brewing Company is located in an industrial center at 4400 - 118th Ave. North, Suite 208, in Clearwater, Florida. It's not too tough to find, but I'd suggest running a GPS or online map query. The brewery space is located just off of street view. The tasting room is open Wednesday through Sunday. 

I really liked talking to Ken, Julia and Kyle. And, I thought their approach to the brewery business was refreshing: let's brew quality, consistent beer.

So, roll the dice and make a trip over the bridge to Clearwater.  And, like they say, #GetAPair.  You'll be glad you did.

And, there you have it...another brewery visit!  All of this writing has made me thirsty, so I'll see you around Florida a brewery, bar, or fest.

Til next time!  Cheers!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Fill 'er Up at Obi's Fillin' Station on the Beach

Cue the Beach Boys, Dino the Dinosaur, Happy Days, and Grease.  They say "enter empty, leave full" ... and, trust me, you will.  Get your appetites revved up and cruise on over to Obi's Fillin' Station, now open on A1A Beach Blvd. at St. Augustine Beach.....

I had noticed the renovations taking place over the past few months at the old Island Grill property.  The social media posts started unfolding several weeks ago, and it looked like a cool concept -- burgers and cars.  The St. Augustine Record reported the background of the new business and its owners on Sunday, July 5 (read the story here). Obi's opened for business at 4pm yesterday (July 6). 

Blast from the past gas pumps,
and a real working air pump for your
bikes and inflatable beach toys
If you like burgers, you're gonna love this place. And, if you happen to be an automotive geek, you'll love all the auto memorabilia and auto parts throughout.  

Check this out!

"Sit on it, Potsie"....
Walk in the front door, and you'll see a wall full of hubcaps, right next to the kitchen.   There's a waiting area with part of an old car made into a shelf where you can put your drinks. 

Obi's has a house-branded beer, the Obi's High Octane Red Ale.  And, what's that about "frozen beer"?  More on that...

All of the automotive signs in the dining area make for a fun environment. There's a lot of fun stuff to look at. And, you can look out the front window right onto A1A Beach Blvd. and watch the cars and people. There are tables and counter seating. The staff is very friendly, and I even met one of the owners, Angelo!

The menu, as you might expect, revolves around cars.  The "Jump Starts" appetizer menu includes such things as "Cadillac Chips," "Big Block Piston Rings," and "Dip Sticks."  The burgers are generally half-pound behemoths, each with different toppings, with names like "The Corvette," "The Fire Engine," "The Rolls Royce," and "The Jalopy."  There's even "The Dominator," a 24oz. mega burger with brisket, bacon, cheeses, grilled onions, sweet peppers and sauce on a pretzel bun.  Eat that one in 24 minutes, and you'll get your photo on the Obi's Wall of Fame (not sure what you'll look like after that, but if you're up for that, go for it!) You get the "standard equipment" on the burgers, and you can opt for "performance upgrades" for a slight upcharge.  If you don't want the bun, you can get just the burger, "convertible" style!  But, let's talk about the buns:  they're big enough to hold the burger, but they're just right.  Just get your hands on one, and you'll see what I mean.

That's me with the red ale and The Mustang burger:
half-pound, with onion rings,
bacon, barbeque sauce on Obi's bun.
Get your hands on one.
(Photo from Obi's Facebook page)
That burger was awesome. I like mine well-done (yeah, I know that's crazy), but they cooked it perfectly. And, big, yeah, I even brought part of it back. Also got "The Deuce" to go: two half-pound patties with cheddar on that Obi bun.

And, if burgers aren't your thing (say what), there are other options here, too: bison burger, turkey burger, chicken, ahi tuna steak, and fresh catch sandwiches.  If you're looking for a deli sandwich, they've got that covered, too: grilled cheese, BLT, pastrami, corned beef, ham, and brisket.  Add in a few hot dog/sausages choices. Dessert? There's a fried cheesecake, banana puddin', and cookies, cakes and pies.  They also offer some breakfast items, including Elvis' Pink Cadillac Pancakes with peaut butter and bananas. 

Like I said last night, you might need to go run a 5k after this, but your stomach and taste buds are gonna be happy campers. 

There are seven taps of beer on draft, including a house-branded red ale, the Obi's High Octane Red. It's an all-around easy-drinking red. And, then, there's that frozen beer. Get a shot of frozen margarita or frozen apple cider on top of any beer.  It'll keep the beer cool!  Of course, I tried one:  Stella with margarita. Might give a whole new meaning to "start your engines."
Keep cool, baby... frozen beer

All in all, very cool and fun place here with some amazing burgers. Obi's Fillin' Station is located at 590 A1A Beach Blvd, St. Augustine Beach.  You don't need a "little deuce coupe," and if "Daddy took your T-bird away," your other car will know how to get here.

Well, I have to go do that 5k now....  

Hey, I'm always looking for a new place to visit, but it's gotta be fun! (and usually there's a beer or two around, because let's face it, I need something to do).  Got an event coming up that you think I might like to know about, or food or drink that's really cool?  Get at me, I wanna know!  It's harmless, really:, or through the box on the website. 

Cheers!  Til next time!

Friday, July 3, 2015 Brew Hub

Between Orlando and Tampa, along a frontage road just off of I-4 in Lakeland, Florida sits a large warehouse building. Maybe you've seen it as you've driven by: it's actually a very large, 55,000-square-foot building that houses a brewery, tasting room and bottling/canning/kegging and distribution operation.  

Welcome to Brew Hub.  

Brew Hub has been causing quite a buzz in the brewing world for the past couple of years after the concept was announced. The company was founded in 2012 in St. Louis, Missouri by a group that includes former Anheuser-Busch/ InBev executives.  The concept allows partner breweries to increase their production by brewing their own beer from their recipes at this facility. It's an "incubation center" that brews, packages, distributes and even assists in marketing of the breweries' products.  You're sure to recognize some of these names which have beer brewed here: Cigar City Brewing (Tampa), Orange Blossom Brewing (Orlando), BJ's Restaurant and Brewhouse (California-based with locations nationwide, including 20 in Florida), Golf Beer Brewing Company (the Florida-based brewing company making beers inspired by three professional golfers: Graeme McDowell, Keegan Bradley, and Freddie Jacobson), and The Brew Bus/Brew Bus Brewing (brewery tours in Tampa, Jacksonville and South Florida, which also brews its own beers here), among others. Whether a brewery is unable to meet the demands of its popular products at its location, or whether it just doesn't have enough space or resources to brew large amounts of beer, Brew Hub is there to meet the need.  The Lakeland brewery opened in late 2014, and there are five additional Brew Hub facilities in the works, including the second in Chesterfield, Missouri, just outside of St. Louis, scheduled to open in the Spring of 2016. 

Exit your car, and you know right away, even while still standing in the parking lot, that there is brewing going on here!  It's in the air!  It reminded me of visits to the big macro breweries in Milwaukee. 

Enter through the tasting room door, and you walk in to a large, open tap room, with plenty of tables, which has a rustic feel to it. There's a large bar along one wall, a merchandise area to the side, and a cooler with bottled beer.  There's an outside patio, too.  Food is available from a food truck on site, and the options range from snacks, salads, tacos, to sliders.   Red and white wine are also offered. 

Look straight back, and how about this view through the windows?  There's some major brewing going on back there. 

The tap room features beer brewed right here on site, and as you can imagine, the list changes regularly.  Growlers are available for most of the beers (indicated by a small growler icon on the digital menu board). Brew Hub also has its own line of branded beers that are available. And, yes, you can get flights, too. The bartenders here, i.e., TasteMasters, are all Cicerone Certified Beer Servers, so feel free to talk beer with them!  I really enjoyed talking beer with Dottie!

I was lucky enough to meet Bayé Perry, the general manager of the facility on my visit. Bayé's a great guy who has a pretty impressive background in the hospitality and brewery industry, having worked in various locations around the U.S.

And, do you think I was able to get behind that window for a look behind-the-scenes?  Yeah, what beergeek wouldn't want to do that?  So, here goes, and don't hate me because I got to see it....

First of all, how about some background: This is a 118-bbl brewhouse, folks. Two 118-bbl brewkettles.  The smallest fermenters here are 120-bbl. This is serious brewing. There are 24 fermentation vessels, ranging in size from 120-bbl to 300-bbl.  Yes, three-hundred barrel (they have two of those here). And, there are eight 200-bbl brite tanks. And, according to Bayé, eight more tanks are on the way!  Take a look at these big boys:

Open and say, ahhhhh

Are you excited yet?

There's a lot of beer here... a lot.
I just wanted to hug one
Look up!
There's also a "small" 8.5-bbl system used for test and experimental batches and for tasting room brews. This system has four 8-bbl fermenters and 4 brite tanks. 

The brewing process is completely automated. I even got a peek inside the "control room". And,  yes, there's a real person in there.  It looks like "mission control," and, it really is. The procedures are handled by a software system, including the malt, temperatures and transfers of beer between vessels. Beyond that, there's a science lab for quality control, developed by industry-renowned Dr. Paul Farnsworth, an expert in brewing science, fermentation science and biotechnology.

It doesn't end there, as a large part of the facility is devoted to bottling, canning, and packaging and distribution.  This part of the operation was buzzing with activity. 

And, I don't know how they keep this place so clean!

Brew Hub has around 80 employees, and they are pumping out a pretty good volume of beer, currently around 150,000 barrels annually, with the intention of doing 250,000 barrels per year.

Thanks so much to Bayé for the hospitality! Truly an amazing opportunity to see this place! And, I have to give a shout out to Anthony Derby from The Brew Bus, too, who helped set this up for me. I even saw some cans of Brew Bus Rollin Dirty Red Ale on the line back there. Thanks, guys!

Thanks, Bayé!
Well, after all of that, what would you do?  It's time to drink some beer!  The tap list on this day included several beers each from BJ's Brewhouse, Cigar City Brewing, Golf Beer Brewing, Orange Blossom Brewing, Toppling Goliath Brewing Company (Iowa), and house brands from Brew Hub.

Yeah, my handwriting on it all....
My chosen path (flight) looked like this: Keybilly Island Ale, Inside Joke American IPA, Confidence ESB, and Rover Truck Oatmeal Stout.

Keybilly Island Ale (Brew Hub) (5.4 ABV, light lager) is perfect for warm (hot) days.  I could see this beer poolside or beachside. It's like drinking a liquid key lime pie, right down to the graham cracker crust.  I found it to be well-blended, and not overpowering on the lime. Quite refreshing.  If you like those other lime beers, you'll really like this one. 

Inside Joke IPA (Brew Hub) (6.8 ABV, American IPA) is a citrusy, hoppy IPA (yep, it's an American IPA), made with Citra and Amarillo.  I'm not a huge Amarillo fan, but this IPA is solid, and it will appeal to you hopheads looking for a bite. 

Confidence ESB (Brew Hub) (5.5 ABV, Extra Special Bitter) is a nice amber/copper color, with toasty, caramel, nutty and sweet notes. I really liked this one.  It has just enough bitter, and the flavors come together for a very palatable beer. 

Rover Truck Oatmeal Stout (Toppling Goliath) (5.7 ABV, oatmeal stout) has the smoothness of oatmeal with chocolate.  It's very tasty.  If you like stouts, try this one, as I think it stands up to any other that's out there. I had not had any beers from Toppling Goliath before, but I suspect we may see more of them. Next time I visit Brew Hub, I will try one or more of the others, if on tap. 

There were many other beers from which to choose, and the tap list changes regularly.  That's why there will be a "next time" here!

Water....Stay hydrated, my friends....
And, that's not all. Make sure to grab one (?) of those bottles and/or growlers to go back with you, too!

I tend to get excited about these things...
And, there's a bomber of Sinkhole Imperial Oatmeal Stout (Brew Hub) (10.5 ABV) on the right.  That's one hell of a stout right here: pours thick, with chocolate, coffee, slightly sweet with a hint of smokiness, and a bit of booziness. A pretty big beer; fall into this one, you can handle it.  Another one I really liked. 

So, the "next time" you're on I-4 around Lakeland, take a look at that big building with the big beer bottle caps on the front.  But, don't just look at it, go there!  There's a really good selection of beer and plenty of take-home options, too. The tap room is closed on Monday and Tuesday, so plan ahead.  Not only is the beer good, but you might drool just looking at those brewing vessels.

And, just as I write this, Brew Hub is releasing Keybilly Island Ale and its Diver Down imperial red ale (8.0 ABV) in bombers at Publix on a buy-one-get-one special. Of course, I picked up a couple today!

And, Happy Fourth of July!  

See you around Florida somewhere!  Cheers!