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The Proof is in the Beerfest: Florida Tap Invitational Held at Proof Brewing, Tallahassee

October 4, 2017: 
Tallahassee brewery Proof Brewing Co. hosted its 5th Annual Florida Tap Invitational beerfest, on September 29-30, with a Kickoff Party on Friday night at Madison Social in the city's College Town entertainment district, followed by an all-Florida beerfest at the brewery on Saturday afternoon. 

The unique beerfest featured 47 Florida breweries. The catch? The beers were rare, limited release, or tap room-only brews, with some having been tapped for the first time anywhere at this fest. Brewers highlighted creativity in beers that many have not tasted before, and the craft beer-lovin' crowd sampled beers in many different styles, flavors, and colors. 







Of course, in proper fashion, my weekend festivities began on Friday evening with a visit to Proof Brewing, at Railroad Square. It had been a couple of years since I had visited the "new" Proof Brewing. Co-founders Byron and Angela Burroughs expanded operations in 2014, when the brewery moved from its original location on Tennessee Street to its current 20-barrel brewhouse, production and tap room facility in the Railroad Square arts district. It's a beautiful venue. Tables and chairs, many under cover, line the outdoor beer garden, and an entertainment area offers cornhole, bocce and more activities. You'll feel like you're at a resort while sitting outside under one of the umbrellas. A large tree provides a natural backdrop in the corner.




Munich Lager in the beer garden to start the night

Inside, the open tasting room features 20 taps, with a couple of large bay doors to accommodate weather conditions. 


Decisions, decisions!
View of the brewhouse through the windows.
Seating at the bar or at tables and chairs inside.
On any visit, guests will generally find the tried-and-true Proof house beers, including Mango Wit Belgian Wit, Eight-Five-O Pale Ale, La La Land West Coast Style IPA, and Creatures in the Dark Stout, all of which are on point. (Yes, I've had all of them, as well as a few flavor variations!)  In addition, the tap room offers seasonal or rotating taps. If you're visiting the state capital, Proof Brewing is a must-visit. 

Next stop on the itinerary: Tap Invitational Kickoff at Madison Social in the College Town District. The area represents social interaction at is utmost, with bars and restaurants dotting the street. Nearby Doak Campbell Stadium at Florida State University looms in the background. The Kickoff event offered paired Proof Brewing beer and food sampling stations, intermingled with games and activities up and down the street, with coupons for drinks and food for participants. 


Socializing at the Kickoff event

Proof Brewing tapped its just-for-the-occasion Madison Soc-Ale, a cask pale ale with extra Simcoe on White Oak spirals, poured by the friendly Proof crew.



Games included spin the wheel for prizes, knock down the cans, ring toss, and a stein holding booth, among others.


Not bad for a novice stein-holder!
That stein is thick glass, Heavier than it looks.
I'm ready for the next one, now.

Beer and food pairings included such delights as meatballs in red sauce, chicken wings, Chicken Al Pastor, and Pork Belly Sliders, each complemented with a Proof Brewing beer.


Hungry? Pork belly sliders
And, it's always fun when you run into a couple of local brewery guys.


With Alan from Proof Brewing:
a face every Florida beer geek can love


Always love seeing Gabe from GrassLands Brewing over on Gaines
As mentioned above, the Florida Tap Invitational is a different type of beerfest in that, not only does it feature solely Florida breweries, but the beers are ones that are not generally seen in circulation. Bryan Smith, Sales & Events Director starts planning the fest eight months ahead of time -- meaning that he doesn't have much time before planning starts for the 2018 fest, but we'll let him get through the holidays first! The breweries in attendance are invited by Proof Brewing, after review and consensus by brewery staff. "These breweries have won numerous awards, and play a vital part in shaping the craft beer scene in Florida with amazing beer," explains Bryan. There are only a few all-Florida fests in the state, and Bryan adds that,"The focus of the Florida Tap Invitational is to showcase what Florida beer is about. Each brewery brings [the] best of the best with fun and exciting one-offs, limited-release, seasonal, or tasting room style beers." Breweries are able to showcase their beers in the growing North Florida market. Unfortunately, a few additional breweries were unable to attend this year. 


Under the big tent....



...or in the beer garden

When Proof released the fest tap list last week, it was enough for instant salivation. Most of the breweries served two beers. The final tap list named styles ranging from light to dark, sweet to sour to bitter, and everything else in between. In addition, Proof's tap room served 20 additional house beers.



Two large tents in the front covered the majority of the brewery tables. Florida Brewers Guild Board Member breweries were set up in the beer garden (Proof Brewing, Coppertail Brewing, Cigar City Brewing, Green Bench Brewing, Intuition Ale Works, Sea Drift Brewing, and Wynwood Brewing). 


Follow the map

Not only were there many different styles of beer, but the colors! Almost as many colors of beer as in a box of crayons! Aqua, blue, red, orange, green, gold, black. 


Proof Brewing's Blue Raspberry Evil Kiss Berliner.
It's aqua. Lots of flavor and refreshing, like a blue popsicle!
The fest offered a one-hour early VIP admission between 12-1pm, and Proof Brewing tapped its Coffee & Vanilla Aged Royal Bloodline Imperial Stout (12.5 ABV) especially for the VIP crowd. It was an outstanding brew. 




It's impossible to show every beer that I tasted (some more than once), but photos are required, so here goes. Guess we'll let the photos do the talking for a while: 


Deep Brewing (Tallahassee),
a commercial-diving inspired brewery, with the headwear,
and Sea Dragon Dragonfruit Gose: fruity, tart, puckery,
with a bit of funkiness.... As a scuba diver,

this beer was like an hour of bottom time! (so good)


With John and Ian from First Magnitude Brewing (Gainesville).
Passionfruit Sour Ale with Mosaic: hops worked well with the sour.
Hidden Springs Ale Works (Tampa) didn't have any f**s to give:
Zero F**ks Pale Ale. Zero IBU. Might be my new favorite beer to talk about.
Had been wanting to try the Central 28 Ideia Coffee Porter.
Robust coffee taste


Yes, there were water kegs throughout the fest.
Stay hydrated! Nice touch, by the way.


Screamsicle! With the guys from Bold City Brewery (Jax)
Red beer in hand, and a rare photobomb:
Proof Brewing Blood Orange Evil Kiss Berliner (got all that?)
Vibrant color, amazingly refreshing
It might sound like a country song: Red Cypress Brewery
Pineapple Earlene New England IPA: Fruity good


Gotta love those Red Cypress guys, too!
(That's my second glass of Earlene)
Heaven in a glass: Hazelnut Mayday from Saltwater Brewery.
Great seeing the guys again!
With Jay from SeaDrift Ales & Lagers (also Barley Mow).
A set of solid beers: Mocha Stout this time: chocolate & sweet

And, look around, everyone had an awesome time!





This was my first time attending the Florida Tap Invitational. The layout was guest-friendly, with ample shade cover and a number of picnic tables and seating. This year, the fest was expanded with more space in the street, and an extra 3000 sf of tented/covered space was added, says Bryan. Music played all afternoon in the beer garden as well. 

And, then, the tents started coming down. 


Well done, Proof Brewing!
What do you mean, it's over?
In terms of size, the Florida Tap Invitational is one of the smaller fests, but the attendance of around 800, the high quality of the beers/breweries, and the atmosphere of Proof Brewing's beer garden made for a relatively intimate gathering of appreciative craft beer enthusiasts. It's definitely a fest to put on your list for next year! 


Proof Brewing is located at 644 McDonnell St. in the Railroad Square area of Tallahassee. The tap room is open six days a week, closed on Monday. 

And, Proof Brewing is excited to announce that its Warpath DIPA was just named in Paste Magazine's Best DIPA/Imperial IPA Blind Tasting list, coming in at Number 7. Congratulations to Proof!





It was an awesome weekend at the Florida Tap Invitational, with awesome beer people, and awesome beer! (Yeah, it was awesome!)

Thanks to Proof Brewing for an amazing fest and the hospitality!  If you're looking for a road trip/beertrip or long weekend, be sure to add Proof Brewing to the agenda. Tallahassee has blossomed into a brewery destination, and I think I'll head west on I-10 again. 

That's a wrap this time. 
See you with a beer around Florida Somewhere....

Cheers!

Til next time,



Linda




Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®

(all photos by Linda Johnson)


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