Saturday, December 31, 2016

Happy Brew Year!

January thru December 2016,
and then some!
Happy Brew Year, everyone! Or, you may hear it called "Happy New Year!"  Well, whether you loved it or hated it, 2016 is on its way out. As I was going through my 2016 stories and photos, I realized that I wrote quite a bit this year, and I took more than a few photos. Looking back on it, damn, it was a busy year! 

Sure, there was some beer involved! A few beerfests (really, I don't make this stuff up). A few beertrips. A few concerts and meet 'n greets. A few sporting events. A trip back to Indiana to see family -- and a visit (finally) to Three Floyds! A trip to Chicago for Game 2 of the NLCS to see the Cubs -- and what a World Series it turned out to be, with the Cubs getting it all done in what has to be one of the most thrilling sports events of all time! Did I mention brewery visits? How about a few behind-the-scenes-before-they-opened brewery visits: Hell 'n Blazes in Melbourne,  Bog Brewing in St. Augustine, Wicked Barley in Jax. And, this site was the first to report the soon-to-open Southern Swells in Jax Beach and Old Coast Ales in St. Augustine. 

So, briefly (or not so briefly), here's how the year went down (there's either a story or photos somewhere):

We did it again: With the
Due South guys at Palm Beach
DECEMBER: Stoutageddon at Engine 15 Brewing, Palm Beach Winter Beer Fest, Quetzalcoatl Day at Green Room Brewing, hanging around the Nights of Lights in St. Augustine, Trans-Siberian Orchestra concert in Jax, and... Christmas. And, it hasn't quite happened yet, but ... Happy New Year!

NOVEMBER: Site visit and preview of Old Coast Ales in St. Augustine, visiting with the Surfing Santas at Playalinda Brewing Brix Project in Titusville, Playalinda Brewing Anniversary, Intuition Ale Works Anniversary Week in Jacksonville, visit to the Clydesdales in Jax, ZZ Top Concert with a Meet 'n Greet.

OCTOBER: Hurricane Matthew made a visit; Halloween!; Wicked Barley serves its house beers; Pink Up the Pace 5K in St. Augustine; Engine 15 opens its Biergarten during Oktoberfest; Visit to Chicago for Chicago Cubs NLCS Game 2, and brewery visits to Revolution Brewing, Piece Pizzeria & Brewery, Haymarket Brewing, and Gino's Brewing in Chicago; Oktoberfest at Jax breweries; PHobia PHest at Pinglehead Brewing; Bold City Brewery anniversary. 

SEPTEMBER: Intuition Ale Works opens its new location in downtown Jax; Jax Beer Week; Cheap Trick concert in West Palm Beach with Meet 'n Greet; Orchid Island Brewery anniversary; Aardwolf Brewing Anniversary; Oktoberfest celebrations. 

AUGUST: First Magnitude Brewing Anniversary; AC/DC Concert in Ft. Lauderdale; Jaguars
With John, at First Magnitude Brewing, Gainesville
5k at EverBank Field; Blues, Brews & BBQ at Florida Theatre in Jax; Visit to Ten 10 Brewing, Orlando; Visit to Broken Cauldron Tap Room, Orlando; Guns 'n Roses Concert, Orlando.

JULY: Beer Bloggers Conference, Tampa, with Pre-Excursion visits in Jax; My first TV appearance: live on First Coast Living, Jax; Palm Beach Summer Beer Fest, Wicked Barley opens; Engine 15 Anniversary.

Yes, it's Three Floyds!
JUNE: Hell 'n Blazes opens in Melbourne; Beer Camp Tampa; Green Room Brewing Anniversary; Journey concert in Tampa; Back home in Indiana to visit with family and trips to Three Floyds Brewing and Shoreline Brewery (where I got started on craft beer). 

MAY: Volunteering and week-long visiting at The Players Championship (I met Henrik Stenson!); Donna 5k at The Players; preview of Wicked Barley Brewing; Styx/.38 Special Concert in St. Augustine.

APRIL: Hogtown Beer Fest and 5k, and brewery visits to  First Magnitude and Swamp Head in Gainesville; Preview of Southern Swells Brewing, Jax Beach; Brewmasters Invitational Beer Fest in Cocoa Beach.

MARCH: FBG Fest in Tampa; Duran Duran Concert in St. Augustine; Preview of Hell 'n Blazes Brewing in Melbourne; Bog Brewing opens in St. Augustine; Gastrofest in Jax.

FEBRUARY:  Preview of Bog Brewing, St. Augustine; Florida Craft Brew & Wing Fest in Vero Beach (I was a judge at the homebrew contest!); Riverside Craft Beer Fest in Jacksonville (had a blast pouring for Due South); DeLand Craft Beer Fest in DeLand (what's a little rain?).

and, how did 2016 get started?

At Jupiter Craft Brewers Fest, with a couple of
characters from Intracoastal Brewing
JANUARY: Space Coast Birding & Wildlife Fest in Titusville (and visit to Playalinda Brewing); Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Day at Funky Buddha; Jupiter Craft Brewers Fest in Jupiter.

And, yes, there were more brewery visits along the way!

Which brings us to 2017.  Funny, but I think it's gonna get started the same way all over again ...... Next year ....

HAPPY NEW YEAR, everyone!  

There's still one more day to go in 2016! Stay safe (I kinda want to see you around next year) ....

Til next time,


Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®

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

Thursday, December 29, 2016

Making HEADlines:


Tampa, FL: Cigar City Brewing has announced the line-up of its distribution portfolio for 2017.  The list includes tried-and-true fan favorites, as well as several new offerings. The 2017 calendar kicks-off in January with the Nitro Series release of El Coco Coconut Flan Ale and a Special Series release of White Oak Jai Alai IPA. 

Cigar City beers are currently distributed in six states: Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Virginia, Pennsylvania, and New York.  Additional territories are currently in the works, with a new state to be identified in early 2017.  CCB also exports its beers to Denmark. 

Cigar City will host its annual Hunahpu's Day on Saturday, March 11, 2017, at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park in Tampa, from 11am - 4pm.  Attendance is by advance ticket only consisting of three available options.  All three ticketing tiers are currently on sale. 

Linda Johnson
Certified Cicerone®

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

The End is Near: Engine 15 Brewing to Unleash the Dark Side of "Stoutageddon"

[Ed. Note: 12/26/2016: Engine 15 published the final tap list for this event on 12/26/2016. Get it here.] 

The end is near. 

Coinciding with the end of the year comes a tap takeover that may be a first. 

If names like "Imperial Chupacabra," "Hunahpu's," "Marshal Zhukov," and "Ten Fidy" send your sensory perceptions into a state of euphoria, then this event is certainly one for you. 

Engine 15 Brewing Company will host "Stoutageddon" at its Jacksonville Beach brewpub on December 29, starting at 6pm. As the name implies, the event highlights the "stout" beer style, and all things "stout," from "regular" (is there such a thing?) Stout to Russian Imperial Stout (higher ABV), to barrel-aged Stout (aged in bourbon/ whiskey barrels).  What makes the event unique is that mostly stouts -- and only beers from three breweries -- will flow from the 50 taps in the brewpub bar, giving new meaning to "takeover." 

Those familiar with Engine 15 Brewing Company know that the brewery releases its "Imperial Chupacabra" bourbon barrel-aged imperial stout (9% ABV) only once each year at its anniversary party in June. (For a look at the 2016 anniversary party and brewery background, see story here).  Look for it to make another appearance at the "Stoutageddon."  In addition, Engine 15 will launch a new Imperial Stout with Cocoa Nibs, Vanilla, and Ancho and Guajillo Chiles, says David Morenus, General Manager. 

While Engine 15 has a number of stouts in its brewery arsenal that see rotation on the menu board, tapping many stouts at one time would appear to be a major undertaking.  So, why not partner up with two breweries which produce highly-prized varieties of the darkness?

As David explains, he and Cigar City Brewing brewery rep Kyle Parker were exploring an event devoted to stout, and after Cigar City agreed to provide a keg of "Hunahpu's," the brainstorm flourished into an all-out "armageddon," and, as David says, "in true Engine 15 fashion, we went big!"  Cigar City's partner, Oskar Blues Brewery, kicked in kegs of "Ten Fidy" and "Ten Fidy" barrel-aged stouts, and the list continues to grow. All of Engine 15's taps will feature stouts and additional beers from the three breweries during the special event.  Engine 15 is keeping wraps on the tap list until next week, as it is being finalized, but recently offered a peek at the addition of "Marshal Zhukov's Vanilla Hazelnut Imperial Stout" on social media. 

Many of the beers will be available in sample-sized 4-oz. pours for beer flights, with some exceptions based on price and original pour size. Representatives from Cigar City Brewing and Oskar Blues will be present because, as David pointed out the obvious: "They wouldn't want to miss an event as cool as this one."  No doubt.

After the Christmas festivities are over, turn to the dark side. 

Engine 15 Brewing Company's Jax Beach brewpub is located at 1500 Beach Blvd.

If you follow this website and my posts on social media, you know that I'm partial to stouts, as one of my favorite beer styles. Generally, the stout style features flavors of chocolate, and many add coffee and/or other tastes, such as cherry, raspberry, and one of my favorites, vanilla. Stouts run the ABV range, with Imperial Stouts and the bourbon-barrel aged ones reaching double digits. Don't be afraid of the dark side, because it could be your destiny.

I hope everyone is enjoying the Holiday Season! Happy Holidays and Merry Christmas!

Til next time,


Linda Johnson, Certified Cicerone®

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

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Get On Board: Surfing Santas and Playalinda Brewing Brix Project Get Crafty

Last month, Titusville's Playalinda Brewing Company and Cavalier Distributing announced that they had teamed up to distribute the Playalinda beers across Florida. The beer began to appear in Central and North Florida bars and restaurants in mid-November, coinciding with a series of official launch events that took off in Orlando and Melbourne, before heading north to Jacksonville and St. Augustine. Playalinda Brewing recently celebrated its Two-Year Anniversary at its original downtown Titusville brewery (see story here). The release events are introducing many outside of Space Coast to the brewery's core beers, including the Bottomless Blonde Ale, Robonaut Red Ale, and Pleasure Chest IPA. As the launch events enter the final week, one beer that is splashing its way across the menu boards is Playalinda's special-release "Surfing Santas" Cranberry Blonde Ale. You'll want to get "on board" with it! And, here's why.

Cocoa Beach is known as a surfing town. It's also home to the Surfing Santas of Cocoa Beach. At first glance, it sounds like a bunch of surfer dudes riding some waves in Santa suits. And, that's exactly how it got started. On December 24, 2009, George Trosset hit the waves dressed as Santa, along with two elves (aka his son and daughter). Following a published photo, more locals asked about joining him, and on Christmas Eve 2010, there were 19 "Surfing Santas."  Each year, interest grew, and so did the number of jolly red-suited participants. In 2012, the spectacle caught the attention of local news media, and the group asked the City of Cocoa Beach about moving the event to a downtown spot. Santa participation steadily increased, as did the crowds on hand. Well-known local businesses began to sponsor the annual gathering. On Christmas Eve 2015, over 600 Surfing Santas took to the waves, while 8000+ spectators cheered them on and watched from the shore. 

But, it's not just "a bunch of surfer dudes riding some waves in Santa suits." The Surfing Santas use the event to raise funds for Grind for Life, a local cancer support group whose mission is to help cancer patients with travel expenses for treatment, along with offering support and awareness. The Surfing Santas event also helps to support the Florida Surf Museum in its quest to preserve and explore Florida's surfing history. In addition to donations and sponsorships, the Surfing Santas sell t-shirts and other accessories to raise funds for the organizations that they support. Last year, the group sold over 2000 shirts. 

On Christmas Eve 2016 at 8 a.m., the Surfing Santas will once again convene at 2 Minutemen Causeway in downtown Cocoa Beach and ride the surf to shore. The festivities run til 1 p.m., and also feature hula dancers and ukelele music. This year, the event includes  a costume contest, and the attire can be anything Winter or Holiday related. Apparently, there are no real rules, but keep in mind that it is a family-friendly event. A custom surfboard will be awarded to the costume contest grand prize winner.

Of course, an event of such proportions that highlights Holiday merriment and revelry with a charitable cause deserves an official beer! Playalinda Brewing got on board with the group, and Brewmaster Ron Raike brewed up a beer that blends a dose of Holiday cheer with a thirst-quenching Florida character at the same time: the "Surfing Santas" Cranberry Blonde Ale with Orange Zest. 

But, there's also a backstory. A few weeks ago, the Surfing Santas arrived at Playalinda Brewing's production facility and brewpub, the Brix Project, to celebrate the holiday season with a special tasting of the holiday beer and a tour of the new 16,000 s.f. brewery that opened in late September of this year. After having visited both Playalinda Brewing locations the prior weekend for the anniversary party, this writer grabbed her Santa hat and headed back in her red sleigh to the Space Coast for what was a holiday party like no other.

All decked out: Surfing Santas at Brix Project

Brewmaster Ron Raike with
Surfing Santa Clifford Keuhner
on the brewhouse deck

The group even staged a  "Mannequin Challenge," which was festive in its own right (think Surfing Santas and beer), and I was thrilled to be part of it (video by Visit Space Coast).

"Surfing Santas" Cranberry Blonde Ale with
Orange Zest: Easy to drink, perfect for beach!
Holiday with a bit of tart.

The Brix Project is the new production home to Playalinda's 30-barrel brewhouse. In addition to a bar that offers 20 taps of house beer, guest beers and ciders, the venue features a full kitchen. Menu items range from appetizers, soups and salads, flatbreads, sandwiches and burgers, to entrees such as seafood, steak and pasta. The brewpub is housed in a former lumberyard and manufacturing building, and all of the furniture in the new bar/dining area is made from repurposed wood from the original building. 

The impressive brewhouse is visible through a window behind the bar. And, this is a brewhouse destined to produce a large amount of beer for thirsty Floridians: three 60-barrel fermenters, two 120-barrel fermenters, two 60-barrel brite tanks, and one 120-barrel brite tank -- with space for additional capacity. As Brewmaster Ron Raike explained, the large-scale Brix Project was conceived at the same time as the original small brewery at the downtown Hardware Store location. (That's advance planning at its finest.) One of the beers on tap at the brewpub and in distribution is the "Inaugurale," an Imperial Red Ale (8.4%) that represents the first batch brewed in the new brewhouse. For a look at some of the beers that Playalinda offers, see my earlier stories. The beers are "on point."

The special-release Surfing Santas beer is available at both Playalinda Brewing locations in Titusville, and at establishments along the Space Coast.

Playalinda Brewing's original downtown "Hardware Store" brewery is located at 305 S. Washington St. The Brix Project brewpub and production facility is several miles away, at 5220 S. Washington St., Titusville. Both locations are a short drive off of I-95, near the Kennedy Space Center (which means that if you're in the area for a rocket launch, you can take off to one or both of the Playalinda Brewing locations for beer and food). 

In the meantime, get on board with the Surfing Santas and have Rudolph take you to the Space Coast for what looks to be a wild ride on Christmas Eve! 

I had an awesome time hanging out with the Surfing Santas and getting the behind-the-scenes look at Playalinda Brewing's Brix Project. And, another shout-out to Playalinda Brewing for the invite. I'll be back as I visit Space Coast regularly for brewery visits and other events ... In fact, the Space Coast Birding and Wildlife Fest celebrates its 20th year January 25-30, 2017 in Titusville. I attended the Fest in 2016 (and, yes I stopped at Playalinda Brewing). 

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays, everyone! And, I'll see you around "Florida somewhere" with a beer!   

Til next time,


Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®

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

Monday, December 5, 2016

Making HEADlines: 


Jacksonville Beach, FL: Green Room Brewing is set to release the 2016 version of its Quetzalcoatl Imperial Mayan Red Ale, made with cassava root, poblano and serrano peppers and chocolate. Since 2012, each December, Green Room offers the unique beer on tap and through a limited bottle release in its tap room. The occasion calls for a day-long party, featuring special treatments of the red ale available on draft in the special events "brewery bar." This year, the event will also include newly-tapped Christmas beers. Bottles of the Quetzalcoatl ale - limited to 500 - will go on sale to the general public at noon on Saturday, December 17 only at the brewery.

This past May, the brewers went one further, with a special limited edition of the ale aged in tequila barrels. That release party also included a separate brewery bar taplist featuring the Quetzalcoatl in Horchata, Java, Mango & Cocoa, Datil & Lime, and Lime Salt Brett treatments. If that bottle release is any indication, be forewarned: these bottles go fast. The May bottle release sold out in about an hour and a half. The ale is inspired by Quetzalcoatl, the Aztec god of wind and learning, which translates as "feathered serpent." [source: Wikipedia].

The Just Doggin It food truck will be at the brewery, and Firewater Tent Revival will provide live entertainment in the evening. 

Green Room Brewing, a surfing-themed brewery in the heart of Jax Beach, celebrated its fifth anniversary in June.  Read the anniversary story here.

Green Room Brewing is located at 228  - 3rd St. North in Jax Beach. 

(NOTE: This story also appears on Jacksonville BUZZ at the "Beer Buzzed" tab under the "Nightlife" Section of www.iwantabuzz.com

Certified Cicerone®