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West Palm Beach Brewery & Wine Vault: A Winning Recipe

February 18, 2018:  No matter how you mix, blend, brew, slice, dice, or pour it, based on a recent visit, West Palm Beach Brewery and Wine Vault has created a winning recipe!  

The brewery, one of Palm Beach County's newest, opened in mid-December 2017. A Grand Opening and Ribbon Cutting Celebration takes place on February 19 at 5:30pm. 



Situated in downtown West Palm Beach on Evernia Street, the venue is the creation of West Palm Beach attorney John Pankauski. With a passion for wine, along with ownership of a Napa Valley vineyard, and a private label wine collection, Pankauski turned his attention to craft beer and set out to design a place where craft beer and fine wines could harmonize under one roof. With those elements in mind, he brought in Head Brewer Joel Kodner and Chef Andrew Castardi to lead the brewing and kitchen operations, respectively. Add in experienced General Manager Bruce Edel to the mix, and the new craft brewery has the ingredients for a unique neighborhood establishment. 


Housed in a former gym facility, renovations have transformed the space into a beautiful, yet comfortable, craft brewery with a Tuscan-inspired kitchen featuring a wood-fired oven and a separate wine bar. The exterior of the free-standing building includes sliding glass panels which let the South Florida breezes in, and several outdoor tables. 




Once inside the front doors, guests pass an aisle of barrels and then have a number of options: seating at tables, the main 20-tap bar, the corner kitchen counter, the wine bar, or sipping on beverages at the long middle standing bar. The decor has an industrial and loft character complemented with wood, including the wood barrel tables. The walls include a number of TVs and beer-themed artwork, including house brewery brand labels. So, what are we waiting for, let's go in! 












To the right of the entry is the wine bar, which features the private label Pankauski Cellars collection. Different wine varieties are served by the glass or bottle, with no corkage fee. In addition, wines are available in a flight of four, for those of you who want to experience several. Not sure which one is for you? Much like craft beer trial samplings, the wine bar also pours sips of wines for your taste buds to test. 



Behind the main bar, and viewable through the glass window, is the shiny new 10-barrel brewhouse, with four 10-barrel and two 20-barrel fermenters. Head Brewer Joel, with years of commercial brewing experience at Due South Brewing, came on board in late August 2017 and began brewing on the system in November, with ample time to work out technical issues and experiment with beers. There's a grain mill on site, and he mashes by hand with a paddle. 






And, hey, what's a brewery visit without a photo with the head brewer in the brewhouse? 


I've known Joel for a few years.
Thanks for the behind-the-scenes tour, Joel!
The bar staff receives ongoing training about the beer and the wine, explained Joel. Everyone receives a copy of Randy Mosher's "Tasting Beer" book. (By the way, that's an awesome book: it helped me with Certified Cicerone® prep! And, I've even met Randy!). The staff attends a daily pre-shift meeting to review the beers on tap, so they are ready to answer questions. 

During my visit, seven house beers were on tap. Three more were in the tanks, including an American Wheat with orange blossom honey and honey bell oranges featuring one pound of orange peel per barrel. Another was the "Unfashionable" Brown Ale, a collaboration between Joel and Chef Andrew made with pecans and maple bourbon. The name is a reference to a New York Times article which indicated that brown ales aren't, well, very "fashionable." Expect food pairings to complement new beers. With the availability of wine barrels, Joel is looking forward to using some of those in beers in the future, too. 

Speaking of the food ... the "Intracoastal Kitchen" serves up an array of appetizers and specialty pizzas cooked on the wood-fired brick oven. 



The corner kitchen includes its own counter seating, which offers a look at the constant kitchen activity. 


Chef Andrew in motion. No, he doesn't stand still very often.



And, just what is coming out of that kitchen?  Alright, this may cause some hunger pains, so be forewarned, but here goes: Jumbo wood-fired wings, Bavarian pretzel with brewery cheese dip and gourmet mustard dip, meatball sliders (3), fire roasted mac-n-cheese, cheese and meat tray, and roasted vegetables. On the pizza side, there are quite a few varieties, including pepperoni with jalapenos, chicken and mushroom, meatball with sausage and peppers, meat lovers, mushroom, and others. Of course, each has its own Italian name for added flair! The aromas from the kitchen were amazing! 


Arrugala pizza
Jumbo wood-fired Italian Rosemary wings
(or you could get your choice of Italian Hot chili wings).
Naturally, you're thirsty. Order beers at the bar or through tableside service. 



On this visit, seven house beers and thirteen guest taps (including cider) were available. Beers are served in full pours or in 5 oz. flight sizes. And, it was time to fly: 



The first beer that Joel brewed was the Evernia Street Saison, a Belgian-style farmhouse ale (5.6 ABV), which has a distinctive, fruity Belgian character with a slight sweetness, which is true to the style. After a sample pour of that one, I switched to the flight: Palm Beach Porter (6.4 ABV); B4 Blonde Ale (4.9 ABV); 561 Hefeweizen (4.7 ABV); Metermaid IPA (6.5 ABV); 1-Star Dougie Pale Ale (6 ABV); and Dr. K's Double IPA (8.2 ABV). 

At the outset, based on Joel's background, we would expect the house beers to be on point -- no pressure, Joel -- and, they are. The IPA (see top photo) has a pronounced hoppy aroma, with a combination of flavors: citrus, spicy, pine, and fruity, and a pleasant slight lingering bitterness on the finish. I found it to be one of the more "drinkable" IPAs, still with substance, while being friendly to your tastebuds. Gotta say, it's a bit unusual for me to like an IPA this much, but this one's definitely one to try. 

The DIPA has a floral citrus aroma, with a mostly floral flavor, and is quite smooth. Made for a nice photo, too!



The Hefeweizen was also true to style, with its distinct banana clove aroma and taste, with noticeable bubble gum characteristic, a slight sweetness, and a dry finish. Although not one of my favorite styles, Joel pretty much nailed this one, and if you like hefeweizens, you'll love it. 

The Porter is roasty, with a bit of smoke, and a very slight hint of dark fruit. Another good one that ranked high on my list. The Pale Ale, a somewhat bold ale with hoppy, fruity aroma and taste, is named after a less than favorable review of the brewery shortly after it opened. Turning that scenario on its head, the beer was named after the customer -- not recommending that anyone intentionally try to do this, but it's a funny story. (By the way, Dougie, you're off base).  

That brings us to the B4 Blonde Ale, a malty ale with bready notes, that is a sure-fire winner in the blonde/golden ale category. Picture Florida lifestyle: backyard, BBQ, beaches, boats, and you have B4. (Yes, that's a separate full pour of this one!)



These beers are served by friendly staff, and it was a fun time at the bar!


Joe, Joe, and Paige
And, a nice touch with the oyster crackers for refreshing the palate! (Some of you may know that I carry a bag of oyster crackers around with me wherever I go, so I had to laugh a bit at this!)



Yes, this all adds up to a winning recipe. I'm already looking ahead to a return visit!

West Palm Beach Brewery & Wine Vault is located at 332 Evernia Street, downtown West Palm Beach, just north of Okeechobee Blvd. and just east of US 1. A free customer parking lot is adjacent to the brewery, and other parking options are available closeby. 

Expansion of the outdoor sidewalk seating area is in the works for the second quarter of 2018, said Joel. "The neighborhood and community have been terrific," he added. [Ed Note, 3/14/2018: The streetside outdoor patio is now open! Picnic tables and shrubbery have been added at the front of the brewery.]

The tap room is open daily: Monday-Wednesday, 4-10pm; Thursday-Friday, 4pm-midnight; Saturday, 1pm-midnight; and Sunday, 1pm-10pm. 

Congrats to West Palm Beach Brewery & Wine Vault! It's an amazing spot to relax with a glass of wine or beer and enjoy house-made dishes. And, thanks again to Joel for taking the time to show me around!

Here's another brewery to add to your beertrip itinerary when visiting South Florida!

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

Til next time,
Cheers, 





Linda





Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®
www.brewnymph.com



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