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Rocky Water Brew Fest, Melbourne: A Rockin' Time



October 16, 2017: 
It was one rockin' time at the 4th Annual Rocky Water Brew Fest, presented by Eau Gallie Rotary, on Saturday, October 14 at Eau Gallie Square in Melbourne. The rain from Friday night and Saturday morning moved out, and it was smooth sailin' at the all-Florida beerfest in the Harbor City.

The fest highlights the smaller breweries in the state, with many brewers and owners on board to talk beer with the craft beer crowd. Tickets sold out around 2pm on fest day, shortly after the gates opened. Thirty-five breweries, including the local SAAZ homebrew club and a nearby brewery-in-planning (see below), lined both sides of the streets under tents at the corner of Highland Avenue and West Eau Gallie Boulevard. Among the breweries were four 2017 GABF medalists: Big Top Brewing, SixTen Brewing, LauderAle, and Walking Tree Brewery. I attended this fest the first two years, and after last year's sideline (courtesy of Matthew), I was excited to be back. What a way to spend an afternoon! A word of caution: lots of photos ahead!




Before the 1pm opening, brewers were busy with finishing touches at their tables (although some of them appeared to be wandering around taste-testing beer), and the crowd began to gather at the entry. 



In the distance, the bagpipes played. The Pipe and Drum Band made its way to the entrance, and the Fest was underway. Very cool touch.



It seemed appropriate to start off with a beer from fest partner brewery Intracoastal Brewing Company, located a couple of blocks west on Eau Gallie (more on Intra below). It was a warm, sunny day, and the Pink Lemonade Berliner Weisse (see photo at top) was a refreshing way to begin. Lots of beer to go! Brewers brought a wide variety of beer covering just about any style anyone could want. Maybe it's the Florida climate, along with a style that has become quite popular here: there were quite a few Berliners, in a number of flavors, throughout the fest.

One of the more creative beers that I tasted (and, there were a few that were a bit unusual) was the Butterfinger CBGB by SixTen Brewing. First of all, what's that "CBGB" all about? "Cool Beautiful Groovy Beer," of course! But, a Berliner that tastes like the candy bar? "That shouldn't work," said founder and Head Brewer Chris Johnson. My thoughts exactly. But, it did!


With Chris Johnson, of SixTen Brewing (Tampa).
Check out the CBGB artwork, too. Groovy!
Enjoyed the Butterfinger CBGB Berliner: it works. 

In keeping with the Berliner theme as the leadoff, next was a stop at Big Top Brewing. I struck Silver here, as in 2017 GABF Silver Medalist Ringmaster Raspberry Berliner. It was fun chatting with Mike Bisaha, CEO, too! But, that beer ....


Under the Big Top. Raspberry Berliner made with
raspberries and lemon zest. Sweet 'n' sour.
At 3.4 ABV, you could do a few. I can see why
it earned a GABF medal: smooth and balanced.
Situated in a tent in the shade and with a steady breeze flowing was Aardwolf Brewing from Jacksonville (itself a GABF medalist from 2015). I'm no stranger to Aardwolf, and it was pretty cool hanging around with Preben and Lance. 


Check out that Hop Oddity #7 IPA: hazy and hoppy with citra and summit.
Stayed there a while. 
Not only was there some great beer at Rocky Water Brew Fest, but the brewers were friendly and fun. The brewers were approachable - one of the things that this Fest encourages and promotes. Of course, when Intra's John Curtis showed up in that hat, there were a few laughs.



I won't go through the entire beer list, but the focus here is on the people behind the beer, and Fest Chair Rick Nemetz confirmed that aspect in an earlier interview. 

Just one tent over was Walking Tree Brewery, from Vero Beach. Walking Tree, which celebrated its first anniversary over the summer, is having one helluva year, first with its haul of hardware from Best Florida Beer earlier this year, followed by a Bronze Medal at GABF two weeks ago. Look out, because co-owner Mike Malone said, "Wait til next year!" Go get 'em, Mike!


Volksmarsch Oktoberfest in the glass, and a chat with Mike. 
Local area brewery Orchid Island Brewery was a popular place all afternoon, and the Spectrum Triple IPA, released annually for the anniversary, was a hit:




The band played all afternoon in the park:




It's always cool running into all kinds of people at beerfests, too. Like these local guys in the Oktoberfest gear ...



... And, people you meet on social media, and finally get to meet in person, like Gregg, a beer enthusiast and writer from Space Coast:


Hello, Gregg!
It seems that every fest has at least one brewery-in-planning working on construction. I've met a few of them the past few years at this fest. Enter Mash Monkeys Brewing, located on US1 in Sebastian. Co-owners and brewers Derek Gerry and Pat Kirchner are looking to open their two-barrel brewery in 2018 in a former pizza place. These guys have won a few homebrewing medals, including Silver medals for Dimebag Doppelbock at Big Bend Brewoff 2017 and Coconut Cup 2017; Bronze for Apple Pie Amber Ale at Coconut Cup 2017; and Bronze for Honey Amber at Sunshine Challenge 2016. While they'll brew all different styles of beer, they want to enjoy the classic styles and still have some fun with those, said Derek. 


Mash Monkeys Brewing: look for them in 2018

A couple of years ago, Hell 'n Blazes Brewing was one of the new guys on the block here as a brewery-in-planning in downtown Melbourne (see prior articles here). Always good to catch up with this crew!


Andy, Todd, Jimmy from HnB. Great to see Todd back after some health
matters earlier this year. Couldn't go wrong with either the Oktoberfest or
the Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter -- I had both!

New to the fest this year was Dirty Oar Beer Company, which opened in Cocoa earlier this summer. The creative juices were flowing here, with a Milkshake IPA (which I missed), and a Solar Darkness Stout with Habanero and Marshmallow. This is one fun bunch, and congrats to them!


With Chris, Lindsey and Pat. Surprising beer: aroma of peppers, but
balanced on flavor with marshmallow tempering some of that heat.
A visit with Jeff from New Smyrna Beach Brewing, a go-to stop when I head back north on I-95 (and check out their new digs on Canal Street in NSB!):




One more from the you-never-know-what-you-might-see-at-a-beerfest department: Left Shark?




That might be a good segue to the visit to the Sailfish Brewing tent. This brewery moved to its larger location in Ft. Pierce earlier in the year and threw one huge block party for its anniversary (I was there!). That was followed by an Oktoberfest Block Party. Be on the lookout for an epic St. Patrick's Day Party, according to Al, the GM. 


With Al, from Sailfish Brewing.
Cool shirt, that one.
You know those guys from Wops Hops Brewing are always up for a party, too: 




As it usually happens, beerfests wind down at some point, and the sign tells the story: 



Rocky Water Brew Fest is intentionally one of the smaller fests with respect to attendance. Chair Rick Nemetz confirmed that it's part of the appeal and allows attendees a chance to chat with the brewers. If you have any doubt whether to put this one on your calendar for next year, do it!

As the fest ended, and tables and tents were coming down, John Curtis was still moving around. Great work on this fest, John!


With Derek Williams of dRock Creative and the guy in the stickered hat.


Rocky Water Brew Fest rocked it at Eau Gallie Square. By the way, "Eau Gallie" roughly translates as "Rocky Water," in case you were wondering. 

But, there's much more to the fest than drinking beer. Eau Gallie Rotary has generated tens of thousands of dollars over the past few years through this fest, which benefits  charitable organizations locally and around the world. Past Chair David Spector and Rotary teamed up with Intracoastal Brewing when both were looking to host a community event through beer. It's worked out pretty well! 


When next fall comes around, be sure to check out Rocky Water Brew Fest! I don't think there's such a thing as having too much fun here!

Speaking of Intracoastal Brewing, the brewery celebrated its fourth anniversary in September. Although Mother Nature was in a bit of a mood that day (I was there), it was nonetheless a great occasion to drink one of the eleven beers that were on tap. Intra recently opened its new brewhouse, an oversized 15-barrel system with 11 fermenters and brite tanks, and a canning line. The brewery has recently begun to release several beers in cans (I happened to bring back a couple!). The new outdoor beer garden, which sits between the main tap room and the new brewhouse, has a shade cover and is a fun place to grab a beer. 


Intracoastal Brewing new brewhouse: lighting things up.
Intracoastal Brewing outdoor beer garden at night. 


What a day at Rocky Water Brew Fest! And, another visit to Intracoastal Brewing. If you're looking for a beertrip roadtrip, make a stop (or two or three) along Space Coast! 

That's a wrap this time around. See you around Florida Somewhere with a beer! In the meantime, check out the "Tap This" and "BeerSPHERE" pages on brewnymph.com to find your next beer event!

Cheers,
Til next time,




Linda








Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®



© 2017 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