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No Sun? No Rain! No Problem: Florida Brewers Guild Warmed It Up at Barrel-Aged, Sour & Cider Fest, Jax

December 14, 2017:
Holiday music on the radio while travelling north on I-95. Gray skies. A temperature reading of 48° at 1pm at Intuition Ale Works. Non-tropical breezes skirting over the river. Aromas from the coffee manufacturer a block away. Santa could have been lurking in these un-Florida-like holiday conditions. What's that about bourbon, whiskey, and staying warm? The Florida Brewers Guild hosted its third annual Barrel-Aged, Sour & Cider Fest in the backlot at Intuition Ale Works in Jacksonville on Saturday, December 9, under cloudy skies in a climate that could have evoked an image of a St. Bernard with a barrel. 




While there wasn't a dog with a barrel in sight, there were plenty of barrel-aged beers -- bourbon, whiskey, wine, rum, tequila -- and puckering sours, tart Berliners, and smooth meads to keep the hearty crowd coming back for more. Over 35 breweries and a couple of kombucha vendors provided pours in this unique fest. 



FBG Executive Director Sean Nordquist and Intuition Ale Works Assistant Tap Room Manager Sammie Bass were all smiles at the check-in table at the Intuition loading dock entry point, and the VIP ticketholders waited to make their way to the beer tents.



Yes, those are knit hats, flannel shirts, jeans and jackets. Yet, some braved the temperature reading and refused to give in (or, not).


Fashion statements: that's Jessica from Intuition (l), and
Carolyn from Cavalier Distributing (r).


VIP ticketholders getting things warmed up

Brewery and vendor tents dotted the lot in several rows, and attendees enjoyed ample space to move around. Because of the rare nature of the beers here, the printed brewery and tap list was a great resource for pacing oneself (if you were inclined to do so). Generally, this writer opted for Berliner Weisse and Gose styles, with an eye on several barrel-aged pours. These styles lend themselves to unlimited creativity, with the addition of many different varieties of fruits and flavors -- not to mention the colors. Case in point: top photo is Old Coast Ales Watermelon and Hibiscus Gose, a reddish-pink blend of floral and watermelon flavors with a hint of salt. For those not especially familiar with these increasingly popular styles, this fest was a great way to get acclimated (no weather pun intended). 


Looking (and tasting) all tropical: 81 Bay Brewing's
81 Bay Breeze: Cranberry Pineapple Berliner


Sporting the new logo, Cigar City Brewing
with a beach-like Margarita Gose
No better way to enjoy a Proof Brewing Dragonfruit Evil Kiss Berliner
than with these two from Proof; kinda like a Proof sandwich?
Of course, it's always fun and entertaining with this brewery crew.


Bog Brewing co-owner/head brewer Steve with a tart (Berliner Weisse)
at Bog's first beerfest (see preview story).
And, yes, those are ear muffs.
Somewhere along the way, the sun even made a rare appearance, although it went back into hiding. Of course, there's always a positive, and in addition to all of the great beers being served, it wasn't raining!





Local brewery Atlantic Beach Brewing offered one from its Pilot Batch series, and the name pretty much said it all!


Cherry-Lime Berliner Weisse: refreshing even on a chilly day
More sour fruitiness from local brewery Main & Six Brewing: 


Silver St. Sour: a tart cherry sour with honey malt, dark and sweet cherries:
cherry aromas in a very pleasant-drinking brew; not over-the-top sour while
allowing the cherry flavors to do their thing
There were a number of very creative beers, and one of the more intriguing had to be Infinite Ale Works' Coffee Berliner, with honey roasted coffee. The combination of ingredients in this one are at the opposite ends of the taste spectrum, with the tart nature of Berliner coupled with coffee and a bit of honey sweetness: flavors that shouldn't go together on paper, but did in the glass.


Coffee Berliner with honey roasted coffee:
Incredibly unusual; and a perfect pour, too

Of course, milk stouts are a favorite of mine, and the Coqui-to Rum Barrel-Aged Milk Stout from Wynwood Brewing was one that I had had my sights on for later in the afternoon. 


You had me at: Rum? Milk Stout? Smooth flavors:
cinnamon, toasted coconut, vanilla beans, cloves,
with a coconut aroma. Sweet!

Then it was time to break out of the comfort zone, so to speak. And, Santa actually was on the grounds, mostly at the local Wicked Barley Brewing tent. Not only did Wicked Barley bring the barrel-aged beverages, they also brought a portable heater, along with a barrel of rinse water for the tasting glasses. A bourbon barrel-aged Manhattan Mead aged on fresh orange peel and maraschino cherries? Yes, please!


Warming up to -- and with -- a smooth BA Manhattan Mead.
Hey, Santa! (aka Wicked Barley's Fred)

Near the end of the afternoon, FBG's Sean was making the rounds as the peeking sun was getting ready to set. 


All aglow at sunset (or was that the beer?). Great fest.
Mother Nature probably could've used some BA.
And, last but not least, FBG President Kent Bailey of Coppertail Brewing stopped for a beer as the fest ended. 


Cheers to a fun afternoon!
Hats off to Florida Brewers Guild and Intuition Ale Works for great work on this Fest! 


The Florida Brewers Guild is a non-profit trade association committed to preserving the rights of the state's craft brewers. FBG generally holds two major beer festivals during the year, the Barrel-Aged, Sour & Cider Fest, and the larger March fest in Tampa, simply known as "FBG Fest," which coincides with Tampa Bay Beer Week and the Best Florida Beer Championships. Funds raised by the FBG events assist the Guild in its mission to represent the interests of Florida craft brewers. Mark your calendars now for the 2018 FBG Fest, which will take place on Saturday, March 3 at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, Tampa. 

That's a wrap! This was my first time attending the Barrel-Aged, Sour & Cider Fest, and there were great beers. Although one of the smaller fests around the state, it served up some big beers! 

Stay tuned for more beerfests around Florida as we head into the Spring beerfest season, getting started in just a few weeks after the calendar turns to January 2018. See you at a beerfest in Florida Somewhere!

Cheers,
Til next time,




Linda





Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®

(photos by Linda Johnson)

published: 12/14/2017, 2:08pm


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