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6th Annual Florida Tap Invitational All-Florida Beerfest at Proof Brewing, Tallahassee: Circle It for 2019

Yes, a purple beer: Black Currant Aronia Evil Kiss Berliner
from Proof Brewing Co. (photo: Linda Johnson)
November 6, 2018: Just picture it: Blue skies and light breezes, comfortable temperatures hovering around 70°, a glass in your hand, and ... over 40 Florida breweries from all parts of the state assembled in one place for an afternoon of beer of all colors and styles. An island? Beachside? How about Tallahassee! It was an awesome day at the 6th Annual all-Florida beer event Florida Tap Invitational hosted by Proof Brewing Co. on the afternoon of Saturday, November 3. 

With folks at last year's event
trying to beat the late September heat, the 2018 beerfest was moved to November to take advantage of cooler temperatures, said Bryan Smith, Sales & Events Director for Proof Brewing. Scheduling this event also takes the Florida State football schedule into consideration, meaning that only a certain number of weekends are available. As it turned out, the weather was incredible, which made for a perfect beerfest afternoon. 


VIP ticketholders waiting at the entry gate before noon


There are several unique aspects to this beerfest. It's an all-Florida beerfest, and breweries are invited to attend -- many are medal-winning breweries. Here's the catch: the beers are unique, rare, one-offs or only available at brewery tap rooms. What better way for someone from one part of the state to taste beer from a brewery in another part of the state. Also, while the fest venue on the grounds at Proof Brewing has the capacity to hold more attendees, tickets are intentionally kept below 1000, because it's "all about the guest experience," said Proof Brewing owner Byron Burroughs. It's more enjoyable to wander around the beer tables and talk to the brewery reps and sip beer without the shoulder-to-shoulder-I-really-want-to-get-to-know-you-better (or not) routine at some fests.


Let 'em in! 

The fest arrangement, like last year, was easy to maneuver. Two large tents along McDonnell Street housed most of the brewery tables in alphabetical order. In the beer garden, six individual brewery tents - representing the leadership of the Florida Brewers Guild, including Proof Brewing - were set up. A fest map with a list of the breweries -- and the beers -- was provided at entry along with the fest glass. With picnic tables and covered tables and chairs, the fest offered comfortable seating. 


Hmmmmm .... Which beer will be the first?
Getting things started! These two don't need an introduction:
Byron and Angela Burroughs, owners of Proof Brewing.
Glad to catch up with them a few times again!


Beer to the left, beer to the right!


Yes, there were beers of all styles and colors of the rainbow. With a large contingent of Hazy IPAs on the beer list, hopheads were sure to be happy. The brewers didn't forget about those who love the darkside, though, as a number of stouts were also on the list. Barrel-aged? Check. Lighter beers? Check. Reds,  Pale Ales? Check that, too. It was impossible to sample them all! It only seemed appropriate to start this adventure with a Proof Brewing beer: and, one from the popular "Evil Kiss" family of Berliner Weisses at that! Hello, Key Lime Pie Evil Kiss! 


Just like a Key Lime Pie! .. but in a glass,
right down to the graham cracker taste
If one goal of this beerfest is to get unfamiliar Florida beers in the hands of beer geeks, mission accomplished. I had not even heard of a number of these beers! And, lots of creativity here. 

One of the most impressive displays had to be from Tallahassee brewery Deep Brewing (and, I made a first visit there the night before: more on that coming soon!). The commercial diver headgear makes for a pretty cool photo. And, what's that beer? A Berliner with carrot and mango? Like the sign said: one serving of veggies and Vitamin C! 


Alright, let's be honest, what did that really taste like?
Answer: Surprisingly good!
Another creative use of props came from the guys at Invasive Species Brewing, Ft. Lauderdale:


With Malkovich Malkovich Hazy IPA, pretty easy to drink at 7.5ABV
Sometimes you want "just" a lager. The guys at Hourglass Brewing, Longwood, put a twist on theirs:


Sunshine Simulator Lager: floral with hibiscus and citrusy hops
With two tents of brewery tables and plenty of space to mingle and sip, this fest is generally without any noticeable beer lines, except maybe at the 2:30 tapping of Fat Clouds Hazy NE DIPA at the Arkane Ale Works (Largo/Tampa) table:


Even that line moved pretty fast!
But what about those dark beers? Well, I was right there at the Arkane table, so ... Sometimes You Don't, as in Imperial Sweet Stout with Coconut and Cocoa. Oh, yes, sometimes you do! 

Or, how about something Big & Fluffy? This was a taste treat and dessert in a glass:


As in Big and Fluffy Marshmallow Coconut Milk Stout (9.2 ABV)
from Idyll Hounds Brewing, Santa Rosa Beach
(yes, they weathered Hurricane Michael)

The always-fun crew from First Magnitude Brewing, Gainesville, brought a new beer brewed to benefit butterfly recovery efforts and a fundraiser with the Florida Museum. The Atala Pale Ale features blueberries and pomegranate for a tasty combination. 


With Simon on the left, and, who's this? The new guy, Duncan.
Cheers to those butterflies!
Another local Tallahassee brewery still on the "to-do" list is Lake Tribe Brewing. After having met these guys at a few fests, it's time to make that visit! 


Getting "Chopped" Hazy IPA, a pleasant IPA at 6.3
with low bitterness. Here with Jason and Tyler
When you hear chants of "Duuuval," that must mean that Jacksonville is nearby. First-time Tap Invitational brewery vendor Southern Swells Brewing, Jax Beach, seemed to be having a good afternoon pouring two of its locally-popular Hazy IPAs: Karate in the Garage and Riding On Bikes with Really Large Tires. So, what did they think of their first visit? Comments from co-owners Corey Adams and Jay Varney included phrases of "well-run," "the staff is amazing," "well-organized," and "one of the best." Can't argue there! 


All smiles from the Southern Swells crew: Jay, Kate, Corey.
With those Duuuval chants growing louder in this corner, it had to be Wicked Barley Brewing, Jacksonville. The group poured two new beers -- the Morning After Barrel-Aged Coffee Stout and Nightmare on Evergreen Terrace Pumpkin Belgian Quad -- and a couple familiar ones (if you're from Jax). 


No nightmare here with the Wicked Barley staff and owners Tobin and Phil
Two food trucks, Tally Mac Shack and Crave, were positioned on one side of the brewery for those munchies. 



Don't forget the water! This fest does a great job of providing lots of water! 



Meanwhile, back over in the beer garden, the band played on:



There was still time for a couple more! Something colorful:


Haterade Fruit Berliner from J Wakefield:
just like a fruit punch!
Overall, here's a live view of how things looked (YouTube video):





At each fest, there's a final beer: this was a good one to end with:


Proof Brewing's Coffee Vanilla Hazelnut (say it fast)
Bourbon Barrel Aged Glass Emperor Imperial Stout:
Now, THAT'S a mouthful!
Started and ended with a Proof beer!

As the fest came to an end, there was still a party going on inside in the tap room, as some fest attendees and after-fest newcomers watched football with more beer:


A familiar sight at fest's end: there goes the ice!


It's over?
Concur! Thank You, Proof!
Inside the tap room
If you haven't made your way to Proof Brewing at Railroad Square yet, you just might want to check the place out before it moves to its new location in the downtown area, or you'll miss your chance. The brewery expects to move to the new digs in January 2019, according to owner Byron Burroughs. 

The 7th Annual Florida Tap Invitational (2019) will also move to its new home! Circle it for your beerfest plans in 2019.

Proof Brewing Co. is located at 644 McDonnell Street, Tallahassee, in the Railroad Square district. 

Once again, the Florida Tap Invitational delivered a very attendee-friendly fest, with many Florida beers not seen by most. With such a variety of beers, different styles and ingredients, finding one (or more) to please your tastebuds or take you on a new journey was no problem!  

Special thanks to the Proof Brewing crew for another outstanding event and for the hospitality and contributing to this article. 

Cheers!
Til next time,















Linda
Linda Johnson
Certified Cicerone®
www.brewnymph.com


All photos: Linda Johnson, BrewNymph, LLC

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