Monday, January 25, 2016

Hello, Florida BeerFest Season 2016!

It's the last week in January.  While that might be equated with the usual two-week cold snap (Florida chill - who else has needed a big ol' blanket recently?), it also means that BeerFest Season is here in Florida!  The new year started off with Key Largo Brew on the Bay and Funky Buddha Brewing's Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Day (see my MBCPDay blog post!). 

Check out my BeerSphere Events page for beerfests and other special events throughout the year (it's constantly updated; I even put links in to make it easy for ya). Include beerfests in your travel plans! (along with golf, scuba, beach bumming, birdwatching, concerts, etc. - but somehow I always find time for the beer!)

So, get ready for a wild beer ride (and warmer temperatures) over the next few months, baby, because we're getting this party going:

SOUTH FLORIDA BEER WEEK.... It's happening NOW.  Started Saturday, Jan. 23.  And, there was an all-out big #TrenchDay party at Due South Brewing in Boynton Beach to celebrate the release of Mariana Trench Imperial Stout (which I've had, and hoping to find).  #SFBW2016 has events taking place all around South Florida: Martin County, Palm Beach County, Broward, Miami-Dade. And, it caps off with Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival, Jan. 30, and, Miami Beer Festival, Jan. 30. Great SoFla weather (I'm optimistic), awesome beer, awesome people!  Hey, that SoFla brewery list has grown with MORE great brews! Be sure to check the SFBW site for calendar of events -- because it's packed!  Beer, beaches, SoFla.  By the way, I'll be shooting some video and taking tons of photos at Jupiter Craft Brewers Fest on Saturday -- if you see me, say hi!  I'll also be around Jupiter on Friday sipping some suds and checking out one of my favorite burger places closeby!

ONLINE TICKETS ARE SOLD OUT! Limited tickets at gate; cash only. JUPITER CRAFT BREWERS FESTIVAL, Roger Dean Stadium, Abacoa at Jupiter, 1-5pm. I've been a vendor at this one a couple of times. One of my favorites!  Over 60 brewers from Florida and elsewhere.  Online tix are sold out (I told ya so), but there will be 1000 tix available at the gate (cash only).  I missed it last year, but I'll be there this time around!  Beertrip to South Florida -- in January -- if you're into that kind of thing.....  Uh, yeah..... See you there! And, by the way, there's a great golf course here at Abacoa, too (lots of birds to watch, but there's a lot of water to watch out for, too)


MIAMI BEER FESTIVAL, Marlins Park, Miami, 5-9pm. It's a kickass beer list: South FL and more!  Sounds like a fun time!

1/29 thru 2/7:

VOLUSIA BEER WEEK, all around Volusia County; includes BREWS & BOWTIES Beer Dinner on 2/4; and DELAND CRAFT BEER FEST on 2/6.  Some really good breweries over in Volusia County! I have been to a few:  See my posts about Tomoka Brewing Co. (read it here) and Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co. (blog post here) #drinkvolusia


DELAND CRAFT BEER FEST, Downtown DeLand, 1-5pm. Part of Volusia Beer Week (see above). Over 100 breweries, over 350 beers; including Florida breweries and homebrew clubs.


UNDERDARK RELEASE DAY at INTUITION ALE WORKS, Jacksonville, BIG Block Party starts at 12 noon. $15 per bottle, limit 2. Food trucks on site. And, they'll have some earlier vintages on tap, too. Special snifter glasses will be available, too. And, I like that chick..... 


WE WANT BREW! FEST, at Brewers Tasting Room, St. Pete, 6-8pm. Benefits USO Central Florida. Sounds like a pretty sweet deal, too: advance tickets only $20, and includes unlimited pours of 20+ homebrews.  Local homebrew clubs and military teams brewing beers in a competition! If you're around Tampa/St. Pete, check it out!  It's your duty to drink beer! Hey, I was just at Brewers Tasting Room last week!  Cool place with outdoor patio area. 


FLORIDA CRAFT BREW & WING FEST, Royal Palm Pointe, Vero Beach, 11:30-4pm. I've been to this one --- it's a blast! Attendance growing each year. Two music stages. Homebrewers competition with cash prizes. And, I'm going to be one of the judges! I might have to practice drinking more beer styles between now and then. Do you like wings?  Do you like beer? OK, then. You'll LOVE this! Proceeds benefit Vero Beach Sunrise Rotary Club. 


RIVERSIDE CRAFT BEER FEST, under the Fuller Warren Bridge at Riverside Arts Market, Jacksonville, 3-7pm. Yeah, I've been to this one, too!  Right along the river in Jax.  Food trucks, lots of beer. Benefits Riverside Rotary Club. Let's hope for better weather this year!  


SPACE COAST CRAFT BEER FESTIVAL, Palm Bay, 2-5pm (1pm VIP entry). I loved this fest last year! Presented by Broken Barrel Tavern (which, by the way, is a kickass place with great food and a killer beer list). Fest is right along the interstate. Tickets are on sale now......

Read the sign>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>


BONITA BREW FEST, Riverside Park, Bonita Springs, 4-7:30pm. This sounds like a cool beerfest in Southwest Florida!  Tickets limited to 900 General Admission and 100 VIP. Benefits Northside Naples Kiwanis. Live reggae music by SowFlo. Unlimited brew samples, food trucks. Local Southwest FL brewers and more! This looks like a pretty good brewery list. Over 100 beers, plus ciders. (By the way, check out my blog posts about Fort Myers Brewing and Point Ybel Brewing from last year!) #bonitabrewfest. I need to get over this way more often. 

NO, THAT'S NOT ALL! (c'mon, really?) THAT'S JUST THE START! .... CHECK OUT THE BEERSPHERE EVENTS PAGE ON THIS BLOG FOR MORE BEER FESTS AND SPECIAL EVENTS - I ALREADY HAVE 'EM ON THERE! (I like to plan these things out, y'know). And, I just started a NEW PAGE: the TAP THIS calendar page, which features local one-liner/one-nighter tappings and such around Jax/North Florida (the current home base). 



Peace, Love, Pints®

Monday, January 11, 2016

We Got Funky: Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Day 2016 at Funky Buddha Brewery

I didn't attend the prior two Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Day festivals hosted by Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park.  Last year (2015), the event fell about a week before an already-scheduled weekend trip for a concert in Fort Lauderdale. I had tracked the release dates of the prized MBCP around Lauderdale, and I was thrilled to find it on tap at American Social.  By the way, if you haven't figured it out yet, not only does this beer have its own Day, it has its own acronym (MBCP; it IS a mouthful). 

Was it really that good for all this hype? Short answer: Yes. I loved it, and knew that there was no question that I simply had to attend MBCP Day 2016.  So, late last year when the brewery announced the date for this year's fest (Jan. 9), I had my fingers on the keyboard as tickets went on sale in November. Tickets??????

For 2016, Funky Buddha changed the format of the fest, making it a ticketed event and limiting the number of tickets to 4000. Three levels of tickets were made available: VIP (early access, rare beer sampling and 4 bottles); General Admission (admission plus 1 bottle), and Full Bottle Access (general admission, plus 4 bottles). Instead of holding the Fest at the brewery, the event moved to the adjacent Jaco Pastorius Park along Dixie Highway.  So, instead of having people wait in long lines at the crack of dawn for fest entry and a chance to get bottles of MBCP, the brewery streamlined things with the intention of having a manageable crowd and guaranteed access to pre-paid bottles. The brewery kept a dedicated website, http://mbcpday.comupdated with the tap list, FAQs and other must-know information, including an event brochure published just before MBCP Day.  Tap list?????

Yeah, OK.... tap list! When I first saw this, I printed it out and tried to "game plan" which ones to get. (I wasn't the only one to do that!)  A number of the beers were on tap all day, with other timed tappings at 4pm and 7pm.  Brown Distributing's "Draftzilla," a refrigerated rolling behemoth semi-trailer with draft taps, housed the kegs, and beer flowed. 

Following my drive from North Florida that morning, I arrived on the grounds of the park before the VIP entry just to check it out: 

The calm before.......

Staff and volunteers were quite busy getting things set up, and all was relatively quiet on a warm and sunny day. I think those guys tossing the cornhole bags around were actually working, too, as they were setting up the boards (hardly working, or working hard?)

The brewery is located just around the corner. If you haven't been to Funky Buddha before, you'll have to come back, because the tap room was closed for the occasion.

So, how'd this all work?

After the VIP entry (3pm), staff scanned general admission attendee tickets.  Individual beers at the fest were by pre-paid ticket ($6 each).  The pours on the various beers were different (6oz, 8oz, 10oz, 14oz), depending on the ABV and type.  Want to purchase additional 4-pack bottles of MBCP to take home ($60 for the four)?  Take care of all that at the next counter (wristbands for bottles, tickets for poured beer), and you're on your way!  Merchandise? A merch tent had shirts, hats, koozies, glasses and more.  But, wait, it's still not 4pm!  So, we waited peacefully behind the gate for the clock to hit 4:


The beers were set up in "sections," and I went right to the back of Draftzilla, to Section 15. Walked right up to get my first beer of the day, the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter:

Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, 2016

MBCP (6.4% ABV, 35 IBU) is a liquid version of a breakfast. It has the aroma of maple and coffee, sweet and roasty at the same time.  It tastes like -- well -- maple, bacon and coffee. It's also sweet-and-salty. There's a lot going on in this beer, and it all combines together for an awesome drinking experience. It's rated 100 on RateBeer, and 98 on Beer Advocate.  One of my all-time favorites. 

The MBCP was offered at several sections at the Fest, so you could find it pretty easily. While most of the beers on tap were Funky Buddha beers (well over 50), there were at least 50 additional beers by other Florida breweries.  A number of these were imperial stouts and barrel-aged beers.  But, there were styles of all types. I enjoyed various new brews at this fest.  There were so many to choose, it was impossible to drink every one that I had noted on my "game plan."

It was fairly easy to move around the park for the first couple of hours, and even when more people started streaming in around 6-6:30, the venue handled it. Lines were forming by 6:15 for the popular 7pm releases.  There was a noticeable difference in the crowd by this time, and each section had a lengthy line. The band even did a countdown to 7pm (and you thought the New Years Eve countdown was a thing):


Once those 7pm lines diminished, it was pretty easy to just walk up to get the beers that survived.  I actually found several very good selections still available at that time! (no, the Hunahpu's® didn't last that long). 

The fest included a music stage with three bands throughout the evening.  Food options included Funky Buddha's new Craft Food Counter & Kitchen, along with food trucks. There were high top tables throughout for standing and table-and-chair set ups (some additonal seating would have been nice, though). Portable restrooms were located at one end of the park (maybe a few more could be used for next year, but that's always gonna happen). 

Last call was at 9:30pm. Upon exiting the fest, attendees turned in their wristbands to claim their corresponding number of bottles.  

Yeah, I think I did OK, with my five bottles. 

So, hey, I thought the fest was well-organized. Sure, there were lines -- but the longest lines were at 7pm, and you could anticipate that.  Having MBCP at various sections was a good idea.  The variety of beers -- both Funky Buddha's and others -- was impressive to say the least.  The list was much more than "core" beers.  For someone from out of town, it was a great chance to have some beers I can't otherwise get.  So, would I make the drive for this fest again?  That's an emphatic Yes! 

I've been to Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park a few times.  The brewery opened this location in June 2013, and my first visit was in September 2013 (check it out here).   The opening of the place was a pretty big deal.  You're likely familiar with some of Funky Buddha's core beers (Hop Gun IPA, Floridian Hefeweizen) and its special releases (for example, Last Snow - -anyone heard of that one?).  Funky Buddha Brewery started out in 2010 as The Funky Buddha Lounge & Brewery, a nano-brewery, located on Federal Hwy. in Boca. I've been there, too. The Lounge is a unique place, and it offers Funky Buddha craft beer as part of its over-100 craft beers list, teas, and hookahs. It's a very chilled-out place, with Buddhas and pillows.  

As the popularity of its beer grew, the brewery saw a need to expand, and, yeah, it did that ..... It set sights on the new location, going full board with a 30-barrel brewhouse and large-scale production capability.  And, if you're looking for that laid-back nano, it's still there, too.  The nano brewery is still used for experimental brews. The production brewery is big -- over 54000 square feet --- and the tap room has a large bar and indoor/outdoor seating area. 

If you ever find yourself in the Fort Lauderdale area, check out both of the Funky locations.  Go ahead, #GetFunky!

Hey, beerfest season in Florida is here!  There have already been a few, and more are on the way. Check out the BeerSphere Events tab on my website, brewnymph.com, for listings.  And, if you have an event you'd like to list with me that I might not know about, just let me know.  I scour and search social media, newsletters and websites all the time for events, but it seems that there are always new events popping up!

Look for me at a beer event, community event, bar, brewery, or restaurant!  I might want a photo, and I'll want to talk some beer .... harmless stuff......  til then..... 

Peace, Love, Pints®

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The Point Is ..... When In South Florida, Make a Visit to Copperpoint Brewing Co.

About a week before the Holidays 2015, I found myself in South Florida for a weekend -- you know, that drive south down I-95 that I like to do (mainly for beer, but there are other things, too).  On Saturday night, I thought I'd stop at Copperpoint Brewing Company in Boynton Beach.  I had heard good things about the place, and it was "on my list."  Before I start rambling, let me just say that the "point" about this is .... you should visit here, too.  That said, here we go......

I knew generally where Copperpoint is located, since I've been to Due South Brewing a few times.  They're just down the street from each other in Boynton Beach. 

Well, I didn't see this sign at night;
went back Sunday to get some more photos
The first thing I noticed when I walked in was that the tap room is very relaxed, almost like an inn, with a large bar opposite the front door.  Behind the bar is a glass window through which the brewhouse is visible. A brick wall on one side, a large menu board behind the bar, a couple of TVs, and a number of wooden tables and seats. A food truck was parked outside, too. 

Yeah, cool place here. Let's check out the beer:

That's a pretty good tap list, with a good variety of beer styles, so the flight was the way to start things off.  My thinking is: try a few, and then get a full pour!

The flight consists of four 5-oz. pours in mini-snifter glasses, presented on a chalkboard tray. Make up your list of beers, and you're good to go.  I typically like pilsners, so my first beer was Das Pils (5.2 ABV).  The beer is a good representative of the style --noticeable spiciness and hoppiness. I found it pleasant and flavorful, and I could do this more often.  OK, we're off to a good start here!

Next up: High Ridge Pale Ale (5.8 ABV, 45 IBU), a "west coast" style ale. The beer is a deep gold color, with an aroma of citrus.  Although the bitterness is evident, I found the flavor to be mostly citrus.  You hophead and citrus purveyors are sure to like this one. 

The third beer on my list was the Copperpoint Lager (5.0 ABV, 18 IBU), an amber lager. Quite smooth, with ample toastiness and maltiness, and a good body. I could have a few of these, no doubt!  Could be my overall favorite. 

Rounding out the flight was the A10 Hop-hog Red IPA (7.0 ABV, 55 IBU). This IPA packs a punch: abundant tropical-fruit mosaic hop flavor (passionfruit, mango).  It can definitely stand up to other fruit-character red IPAs. This one came back in a growler.  So, are you salivating yet?

But, wait, I'm not done. You really don't think I would pass up an espresso oatmeal cream stout?  No, me either. The B. Rabbit Espresso Oatmeal Cream Stout, on nitro (6.3 ABV, 20 IBU), well, is just that. It's made with locally roasted Rabbit coffee from Riviera Beach. There's a dark coffee bitterness, and overall, it's everything you'd think it would be: roasty, creamy, and coffee! Funny, I don't drink coffee -- really (I'm just this way naturally) -- but I love coffee beers!  My taste buds were quite happy as I sipped the pint of this stout. 

B. Rabbit Espresso Oatmeal Cream Stout

And, lastly, I tried a sample of the One Love IPA (7.1 ABV, 60 IBU), an IPA featuring cascade and simcoe hops. For one who isn't a big simcoe fan, I found this IPA very well balanced between the flavors, with neither the citrus nor the pine overwhelming the other.  Maybe that's why it worked for me. Growler No. 2. 

It's difficult to pinpoint a favorite here!  I guess that just means that I'll have to come back .... I think I can  handle that!  By the way, the bartender was friendly and knowledgeable about the beer, and the server was very pleasant!

The man behind the brew at Copperpoint is Matt Cox,  who started brewing in 1999. In 2001, he took over the brewing operations at Big Bear Brewing Co., a brewpub in Coral Springs.  There, he won numerous medals for his beers, including a prestigious Gold at GABF for his Belgian Dubbel.  So, apparently, Matt knows a thing or two.  After about 13 years at Big Bear, he ventured out on his own with ideas to start his own brewery. The intent at Copperpoint is to offer a "diverse" array of beers, along with some not-so-typical ones. 

Fast forward to 2015:  Copperpoint opened in May 2015, and like many breweries, it is located in an industrial park. The tap room is a former office space, and the attached brewhouse is a renovated warehouse.  The brewery is staffed by Matt (co-founder/owner and brewer); two brewers assistants; wife Laura, who handles the office part of things along with events; and nine bartenders. The location was a "good fit," according to Laura, and they wanted to keep things local, since they live in the area. 

As for the "diverse" beers? Matt has that covered with a variety of styles certain to please any palate: pilsner, lager, wit, pale ale, IPA, saison, stout, and more. 

And, what about that tap room?  It's large, with a 125 capacity, with ample seating, and has a comfy/rustic, inn-like sort of feel to it, while also incorporating a touch of eclectric industrialism (those are my words).  The taps are housed along a metal tap line at the bar. During the construction phase, Matt and Laura presented some of their ideas to a local design company, Ed Carey Design, which then came up with the finished product.  The tap room features furnishings made from reclaimed materials.  See that brick wall in the photo at the top?  The frame around it is made with some of the delivery pallets for the brewhouse equipment. 

Copperpoint's brewhouse is visible through the window behind the bar. It's 8000 square feet of space that houses a 20-barrel brewing system, with three 20-bbl and two 40-bbl fermenters.  So, yeah, these guys are set up to get some beer out the door to South Florida. Copperpoint's beer is currently found in about 30 bars and restaurants from Boca to Jupiter.  And, good news for South Florida and beyond: the distribution is anticipated to expand after new fermenters are delivered and put into operation early this year. 

Lastly, what about the name?  The inspiration for the name derives from Laura's "copper" colored hair.  And, hey, I can vouch for that.  As I said, I visited Copperpoint on a Saturday night, and it was dark all around. I had planned to return on Sunday to take some photos in the daylight, but the bartender informed me that the brewery would be closed on that particular Sunday for an employee holiday party.  Glad I made it there Saturday, as my initial plan was to go there just on Sunday!  He suggested that I try to contact the brewery late Sunday morning before the event.  I'm getting to the point -- when I showed up to take outside photos, Laura arrived ahead of the employees, and she let me in to take a few extra photos.  And, yes, she does have copper-colored hair (almost like some beers!).  Thanks, Laura, for that added hospitality!

Copperpoint  Brewing is located at 151 Commerce Rd. in Boynton Beach. It's easy to get there: From I-95, take Exit 59 West (Gateway Blvd.), quick turn north on High Ridge Rd., and just a short drive til you get to Commerce Rd. The tap room is open 7 days a week at noon, and brewery tours are available. 

The brewery's website includes the tagline "Get to the Point."  And, my point is ... you need to get over here!  Apparently, others are taking notice, too: the Palm Beach Post just named Copperpoint its 2015 Brewery of the Year. 

POSTSCRIPT:  After I published this, I received and opened my latest issue of Beer Advocate to find that Copperpoint Brewing had been named as one of the "33 Best New Breweries" to open in 2015. 

See Page 54 of Issue #108,
BeerAdvocate Magazine

The South Florida beer scene is exploding!  There are a number of other breweries (both new ones and ones I've been to before, including the mentioned Due South) "on my list" in the area, and who knows, you just might see me at one (or two) in the near future. I'm usually up for some photos, too, if you like beer and photos, so stop and say Hi!

Happy New Year, everyone, and Cheers to Florida beer!  See you at a brewery, bar or event (or more than one) in 2016 ......

Peace, Love, Pints®