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Best Florida Beer Medalists Announced at 2018 Brewer's Ball in Tampa!

March 5, 2018: The top beers in Florida, as determined by Best Florida Beer, were announced at the annual Brewer's Ball beerfest on Sunday, March 4, at Water Works Park in Tampa. 

Judges in the AHA and BJCP-sanctioned professional competition tasted and judged over 815 entries in 38 medal categories over the weekend of February 10-11. Although the finalists were notified, specific placements of Gold, Silver or Bronze medals were not known until names were read during the official ceremony. The Brewer's Ball featured only the medal-winning beers, with signs identifying the brewery, beer and category above each keg. Upon entering the fest, attendees received a booklet, which also listed each brewery and beer. Category announcements of Gold, Silver and Bronze medals were announced first, with Best of Show awards capping off a spectacular day in the park. The official list of winners, along with photos taken by this site during the fest and during the medals ceremony appear below! Congratulations to all!



The Best of Show Awards were all lined up, waiting to be claimed:




Best of Show Awards:

Best Beer in Florida: Lightest Thing Ya Got, Cream Ale, Big Blue Brewing, Cape Coral

Runner Up Best Beer: West Floridian, Belgian-Style Quad, Infinite Ale Works, Ocala

Second Runner Up Best Beer: Guayabera, Pale Ale, Cigar City Brewing, Tampa

Best Small Batch Beer in Florida: Chocolate Stout, Fort Myers Brewing, Fort Myers

Runner Up Small Batch: The Passionate Mango (Sour), Wicked Barley Brewing, Jacksonville

Second Runner Up Small Batch: Yarmouth Scotch Ale, Arkane Aleworks, Largo

Best Large Brewery: Infinite Ale Works, Ocala

Best Small Brewery: Arkane Aleworks, Largo

Best Cider/Mead: Can't You Hear the Thunder, Garagiste Meadery, Tampa

Best Brewpub: Big Blue Brewing, Cape Coral

Category Medalists:

The official list of the individual category Medal Winners can be found hereAlthough Brewnymph.com covers all of Florida, because I'm based in the Jacksonville area, here's a list of local Jax area Medalists in the assigned categories:

Mead: Silver: Wicked Barley Brewing, Jax: Brazilian Mead

Golden Ale/Blonde Ale: Silver: Veterans United Craft Brewery, Jax: Raging Blonde

German Ale (German Style Altbier): Gold: Veterans United Craft Brewery, Jax: Scout Dog 44

English Ale (English Style Brown Ale): Silver: Ancient City Brewing, St. Augustine: Drink it Down Brown - Pecan Nut Brown Ale

American Amber/Red/Brown Ale (American Style Brown): Gold: Main & Six Brewing, Jax: Handsworth Brown Ale

Porter (Robust Porter): Silver: Ancient City Brewing, St. Augustine: Castillo Coconut Porter

Saison (French and Belgian Style Saison): Silver: Veterans United Craft Brewery, Jax: Farmers Little Helper

Traditional Mixed Culture Sour Ale (Fruited American-Style Sour Ale): Gold: Wicked Barley Brewing, Jax: The Passionate Mango (Small Batch)

Wood Barrel/Fruited Mixed Culture Sour Ale (Wood/Barrel Aged Sour Beer): Bronze: Aardwolf Brewing, Jax: Animals and Passions

Smoked Beer (Smoke Porter): Gold: Amelia Island Brewing, Sm'kn M'rtha

New England IPA: Bronze: Southern Swells Brewing, Jax Beach: Imperial Karate in the Garage

Special Award/Small Batch: Wicked Barley Brewing, Jax: The Passionate Mango (Sour)

Brewer's Ball Beerfest!



The Brewer's Ball featured large tents with the beers arranged in rows. Attendees simply walked up and down either side of the kegs and poured their own. Hanging signs identified each beer. 

Have booklet, will drink beer!



Where to start?  Had to wander around first:



Lots of space to move around in between, around and under tents in the middle of the park.



And, this is a great addition to any beerfest: Water! Yes, Water! Water coolers were located at the end of each tent for rinsing and drinking. Great touch, guys! (Beerfest organizers, take note!)




Raffle prizes, with brewery swag, ready to be claimed: 



Last year's Best Florida Beer, Barnacled Manatee by Walking Tree Brewery, Vero Beach, was here again (it almost made it - earned a Silver this time around). 




Announcing of the category Medal Winners began:




Below: Dennis Espinosa of Main & Six Brewing, Jacksonville, receiving the Gold Medal. Main & Six opened in November. 



And, receiving the Silver in the same category: Pair O'Dice Brewing, Clearwater, for Hop Bet Red Ale. Julia receives the medal:



Two medalists from Jacksonville: Dennis of Main & Six, and Preben of Aardwolf Brewing: 



Another new brewery, Mathews Brewing, Lake Worth, took home two medals. Pretty good for only having been open since December! Here are James (Head Brewer) and Dave (Owner) with the hardware. And, if you haven't been there, take a look at my visit from January! 




Veterans United Craft Brewery, Jax, with the haul:



Walking Tree Brewery, Vero Beach, claimed a few medals again, including Gold for its Babycakes Oatmeal Stout. There are a few articles on this site about Walking Tree Brewery, and it's another visit along the I-95 corridor!



You can get a glass of the Sm'kn M'rtha Smoked Porter at Amelia Tavern, Fernandina Beach, just north of Jax. I recently visited there and can attest that it's a good one! Here's Amelia Island Brewing with the Gold!



The Panhandle got into the medals, too. Deep Brewing, Tallahassee, picked up a few:



  As did Proof Brewing, Tallahassee:



Those characters at Red Cypress Brewery, Winter Springs, are always good for interesting photos, to go along with their awesome beers! Yeah, a few more medals for these guys, too! 



Caught up with Preben from Aardwolf Brewing. He's had a few of these medals before!



I couldn't quite recreate that Red Cypress pose, though. Here with Garrett of Red Cypress:



By the way, Garrett had a cool shirt, too (it's a reference to the Carl IPA): 



And, another photo with the guys from Proof Brewing, too: 



What a guy: Ken from Pair O'Dice let Julia pick up the medal.


Dennis from Main & Six Brewing was elated with his Gold Medal! Hey, Dennis, yeah, that really happened! Gotta say, though, when that Handsworth Brown Ale was tapped at Main & Six on Opening Day, I kinda thought it was something special! 



Well, I don't know if he's going to Disney World, but I did get a quick video with Dennis: 



And, how about those guys from Fort Myers Brewing, Fort Myers? The last time I was there, the tap room was under renovation. Sounds like another beertrip to Southwest Florida! That's some heavyweight stuff right there! 



Orlando area brewery Hourglass Brewing, Longwood, took back a couple of Golds: 




Sure, another photo op -- With Deep Brewing, Tallahassee: 




The crowd even sang Happy Birthday to Jason, fest organizer: 




When I poured the Lightest Thing Ya Got Cream Ale from Big Blue Brewing, we didn't know it would be named Best Beer in Florida at the time! Yeah, that's a good one right there! Congrats to Big Blue Brewing!





This was my first time attending Brewer's Ball. In years past, at FBG Fest (that's another recap on the way!), which is held the day before on the first Saturday of March, beer people had told me that Brewer's Ball is one not to miss! And, they're right! The fest is very laid-back, features an open set-up and some of the best beers in the state! The anticipation of the awards ceremony, and the oohs, aahs, and some screams while the winners' names are read, makes for an amazing afternoon celebrating beer around Florida! Not to mention, sipping on all of that beer!



A few kegs were consumed, and the count grew:



And, then, things started to go quiet, except for the rattling of the empties: 



And, we're done!

Congrats to all of the medal winners! 

Hey, Best Florida Beer, great fest! 

That's it this time around, but there are more recaps and brewery visits ahead, so stay tuned!

Thanks for reading!

Til next time, 


Linda 





Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®
www.brewnymph.com

(all photos by Linda Johnson)


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