Showing posts with label craft beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label craft beer. Show all posts

Tuesday, June 6, 2017

making HEADlines:

RATEBEER sells minority stake to AB InBev's ZX Ventures; Dogfish Head Founder Requests Removal from Site

June 5, 2017:

From the nothing-should-surprise-us-anymore world of craft beer and "big beer" relationships comes news that beer information and rating site Rate Beer sold a minority stake in its business to ZX Ventures, part of the AB InBev global conglomerate. Rate Beer Executive Director Joe Tucker made that announcement on Friday, June 2. "The focus of the agreement was on maintaining RateBeer’s value as an unbiased beer authority, retaining our operational independence, informing a whole new group of global consumers and keeping them excited about the beer," said the news release.  

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

What Kind of IPA Are You, Anyway? Say Cheers to IPA Day!

American. West Coast, East Coast, Midwest. English. 

Cascade, Centennial, Citra, Amarillo, Simcoe. 

Citrus, Piney, Floral, Fruity, Tropical. 

Double, Imperial, Session, Black, Red, or just "plain" ol'. 

From Palate Wrecker to Heady Topper to Sculpin. 

Pliny the Elder to Florida Man.

Talk about some of our favorite things. We could be talking about a certain holiday in December, or we could be talking about ... Yeah, you guessed it: we're talkin' IPA!

English IPA from Two Henrys Brewing
As hopheads' thirst for the hoppy flavors produced by the humulus lupulus cones has grown steadily since the 1980's, so has brewers' creativity with respect to ingredients and willingness to push the boundaries of the IBU (International Bitterness Units) scale (what general threshold of 100 IBUs?).  So, a little history here. The IPA (India Pale Ale) actually has its origins in Britain, and it didn't start out with that style name. In the late 1700's and early 1800's, on the heels of the spice and textile trade in India, British exporters sought to send pale ale to nationals and troops there. So that the ale could be preserved and retain its flavor during the lengthy five-to-six-month boat voyage from Britain to India, brewers added extra doses of hops to the ale. In the early 1800's, one of the local British brewers, Hodgson, formulated his beer specifically with this extra-bittering effect in mind after reading reviews and feedback from the India customers. As British subjects then returned from India, Hodgson sold his beer in Britain, and in the 1830's the name "India Pale Ale" was used to describe the style. Although the popularity of the style subsequently declined, the craft beer revolution of the 1980's revived the IPA, and hopheads everywhere have been rejoicing ever since. 

Stylistically, IPAs are distinguished by particular category (see, 2015 BJCP Style Guidelines). Let's start with the English IPAs and American IPAs. The flavor of the English variety tends to be more on the spicy, or even woodsy, side, from the English hops, with IBUs in the range of 40-60 and ABV at 5-7.5%. The American versions tend to take it a step beyond, coming in at around 40-70 IBUs, and 5.5-7.5% ABV, with aromas and flavors decidedly hoppy and bitter - even intense. The American hops generally yield flavors of citrus, floral, pine, spicy, tropical, fruity. And, let's not stop there, because the BJCP Style Guidelines further categorize Specialty IPAs: Belgian IPA, Black IPA, Brown IPA, Red IPA, Rye IPA, and White IPA. Each of these has specific nuances and profiles deriving from the ingredients used during brewing. But, we can take this IPA journey even further, as in Double (Imperial) IPA, the big boys of IPA, weighing in at 60-120 IBUs and 7.5-10% ABV.  If these IPAs are a bit too strong, give a "Session" IPA a try, with an ABV of between 3-5%(designed to drink more than one in a "session").

No matter which style of IPA your taste buds crave, there's no denying that the IPA has soared in popularity. According to the 2015 Great American Beer Festival recap, brewers entered a whopping number of 336 American IPAs in the competition last year, along with 208 DIPAs. (By the way, I attended GABF for the first time last year, and it was amazing!)

By now, you're probably thirsting for one of your favorite IPAs, and, although everyday is a good day for an IPA, Thursday, August 4 is especially significant, because it's National IPA Day! So, release that Hophead in you, and take part in IPA Day 2016 (official hashtag: #IPAday). Whether you're partial to those big, bold West Coast-style IPAs, prefer one a bit less intense, would rather go all-out for one of those Imperials, or zero in on the flavors of the Specialty types, there's one (or more) out there just waiting for you!

One of the most creative uses of beets ever

And, the things you'll find in those IPAs: Grapefruit never thought it would become quite so bitterly fashionable as its popular sister citrus, orange. Spice it up with peppers? How about pineapple or mango? Beets? The list goes on.  (I don't know about you, but I'm getting thirsty here).

And, lastly, this is especially for Florida: Your taste buds might be familiar with these popular Florida beers from around the state, many of which are widely available in distribution. Hey, before you tell me that I missed one, this is not an exhaustive list - far from it! There are many more Florida IPAs to explore from these breweries, and others, including two from small, local Central Florida breweries that I recently visited and will recap in the next few days. So, get your checklist out (not in one day, please). And, yes, I have had every one of these (I've even written about my visits to a number of these breweries):

Cigar City Brewing (Tampa): Jai Alai, Florida Man (DIPA)
Funky Buddha Brewery (Oakland Park): Hop Gun, Hop Stimulator (DIPA)
Coppertail Brewing (Tampa): Free Dive
Saltwater Brewery (Delray Beach): Screamin' Reels
Due South Brewing (Boynton Beach): Category 3, Category 5
Barley Mow Brewing (Largo): Quackalope
Civil Society Brewing (Jupiter): Pulp, Fresh (real hop bombs)
Copperpoint Brewing (Boynton Beach): One Love IPA, A-10 Red IPA
Tampa Bay Brewing Company (Tampa): Old Elephant Foot
Pair O' Dice Brewing (Clearwater): Hop Bet Red IPA
Motorworks Brewing (Bradenton): Indy
Big Storm Brewery (Tampa area): Arcus
Two Henrys Brewing (Plant City): 7 Mile Bridge
Brew Bus Brewing (Tampa): Last Stop
Green Bench Brewing (St. Pete): IPA
3 Daughters Brewing (St. Pete): Bimini Twist
Swamp Head Brewery (Gainesville): Big Nose
First Magnitude Brewing (Gainesville): Ursa
Florida Beer Company (Port Canaveral): Swamp Ape (DIPA)
New Smyrna Beach Brewing (New Smyrna Beach): Shark Attack
Playalinda Brewing (Titusville): Bring It (DIPA)
Tomoka Brewing Company (Port Orange): Oceanside White
Persimmon Hollow Brewing (DeLand): Beach Hippie
Proof Brewing (Tallahassee): LaLa Land
GrassLands Brewing (Tallahassee): Hopline Bling

No, I didn't forget Jacksonville:
Engine 15  Brewing: Old Battle Axe, Double Drop
Intuition Ale Works: I-10
Bold City Brewery: Mad Manatee
Aardwolf Brewing: Nonchalant
Green Room Brewing: Head High
Pinglehead Brewing: Imperial Red
Veterans United Craft Brewery: Hop Banshee
Zeta Brewing: American Garage

Happy hopping, Hopheads! 

One last thing: Into Untappd? August 4, 2016, IPA Day: There'll be a badge for that!

See you out and about somewhere for IPA Day! Til next time, Cheers!


©2016 BrewNymph, LLC. All text and photos. All rights reserved. BrewNymph; Peace, Love, Pints; Where the Beer Meets the Beach are federally-registered trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC; BeerSphere, Beer is my Trademark, and I'm Fun; Deal With It! are trademarks of BrewNymph, LLC

Friday, February 12, 2016

Beer vs. Wine ThrowDown: A Chocolate Pairing at Alewife Bottleshop; Oh, Sweetheart .... Love a Glass of Beer with that Chocolate

Indulgence. Decadence. Cupid. Love. Hearts. Flowers. Sensuality. Chocolates. Wine. Beer.  

Beer?  At first blush, one might not immediately include beer in such a list of provocative elements often reserved at this time of year for Valentine's Day and the extravagance of the holiday of love. It's probably not every day that your taste buds experience the (over)indulgence of delectable and almost sinful flavor combinations. Like chocolates with wine, right?  Hold that thought....

Lovely presentation: Peterbrooke chocolates!

Last night (Thursday), Alewife Craft Beer Bottle Shop and Tasting Room, located in the Five Points area of Jacksonville, hosted the "Beer vs. Wine Throw Down," a friendly (more on that below) competition to determine which libation -- beer or wine -- pairs better with chocolates. What better time of the calendar year to pose that question than a few days before Valentine's Day?  This was a ticketed event, which sold out a few days earlier, capping the attendance at 30. The group included some of the "usual suspects" around the Jax beer scene, and, generally, the attendees were all beer-and/or wine-loving enthusiasts, and maybe some who also wanted a chocolate fix. But, the group also had a job to do: vote on the beer vs. wine pairings, such that either Team Beer or Team Wine would emerge the winner.  

Recognize anyone?

In pairing food with beverages, three main concepts are generally considered: 1) Match Strengths or Intensities (delicate, strong/assertiveness, richness); 2) Find Harmonies or Commonalities (for example, nuttiness, roastiness, fruitiness); and 3) Find Contrasting Elements (sweet-bitter, spiciness-richness, balance-emphasis). The challenge here, then, was to decide which beverage ultimately paired better with the given chocolate.  Each chocolate was a Peterbrooke chocolate. (You're familiar with Peterbrooke; is your mouth watering yet?)

I have to admit at the outset that I'm partial to beer, and I was skeptical of the wine. Nonetheless, I kept an open mind. 

The event consisted of four rounds. And, here's how the Throw Down went down, round by round (no undercard, just the main event):

The Promoters: Representing Team Beer was Carolyn Graham of Brown Distributing Company.  On the other side, John McCarthy, from GOS Wines, repped for Team Wine. As each beverage was presented, Carolyn and John offered descriptions, including taste profiles. 

Friendly competition, remember?
The gloves were off. I think John has a height advantage.
But, I wouldn't dismiss Carolyn's reach.
(Photo from Alewife social media)
Round 1: 
The Contenders: Sunshine City IPA (Green Bench Brewing, Florida) v. Greenstone Point Sauvingnon Blanc (New Zealand). The Chocolate: Key Lime Chocolate (key lime and toasted coconut truffle covered in chocolate lime shell). The action: IPA - citrus, tropical, fruity flavors. Chocolate - quite tart (pucker up!). Wine - grapefruit, lemon lime, tropical, fruity. This was a close call. The wine was delicious (open mind!). Overall impression: the chocolate seemed to make the IPA sweeter; the chocolate dominated the wine, and the wine accentuated the already-tart chocolate. Vote: Beer.

The dark side: Round 2. Espresso beans in chocolate.
Round 2:
The Contenders: Imperial Coffee Milk Stout (Left Hand Brewing, Colorado) v. Boland Cellars Cappuccino Pinotage (South Africa). The Chocolate: Chocolate-covered espresso beans in a chocolate shell. These were intensely awesome ("chocolate fix"). The action: Stout - intense coffee aroma, but pleasant non-overpowering coffee flavor without acidity. Wine - dark fruit aroma and flavor. Overall impression: the chocolate stood out more against the wine; the chocolate blended in with the beer and was very complementary. Nonetheless, I went with the harmony here, as I thought the chocolate accentuated the dark fruit aspect of the wine too much for me. I absolutely loved the beer, but, then again, I tend to have an affinity to the dark side, especially coffee beer. Vote: Beer.

Round 3: Belgian Quad with
turtle truffle. Decadent.

Round 3:
The Contenders: Bourbon Barrel Belgian Quad (Boulevard Brewing, Missouri) v. Kenneth Volk Zinfandel (California). The Chocolate: Pecan Caramel Jag Paws (roasted pecans and caramel dipped in milk chocolate). The action: At 11%, the Quad was smooth and sweet, without an outrageous bourbon character. The wine was extremely sweet. Overall impression: the chocolate brought out the sweetness of the beer and tempered the bourbon somewhat. Vote: Beer.

Round 4: It's tough to go the distance (not)
Round 4:
The Contenders: Rosetta Flanders Oud Bruin (Ommegang, New York) v. St. Evasio Brachetto D'Aqui (Italy). The Chocolate: Dark Chocolate Truffle (chocolate truffle dusted in cacao powder). The action: Beer - low ABV (5.6%) fruit beer aged on cherries. Wine - cherry moscato; sweet; a buttery, sweet creaminess that I enjoyed. The chocolate was a very dark chocolate. Overall impression: the chocolate was a bit too sweet with the wine. Vote: Beer.  

The Decision: Following all four rounds, the participants marked individual ballots, voting for either the beer or the wine in each round. By a 3-1 Decision, Team Beer took the title, coming out on top in each round except Round 3, in very close overall judging. 

I was able to catch up with Kelly Pickard, co-owner of Alewife, after the event. Kelly selected the chocolates with the intention of presenting complicated and non-obvious flavors to the beverage reps. Noticeably absent: chocolate-covered cherry or raspberry. Nice creativity in the chocolate choices! I'm not sure how many chocolates Kelly taste-tested before narrowing the field, but she found a range of compelling flavors. Alewife limited the ticketing to 30, so that attendees could have an enjoyable experience with small numbers of people at each table, while keeping overall attendance and service manageable and personable. 

Guests had lively and thoughtful discussions about the beer, the wine, and the overall pairings. The voting was close, with two ballots choosing beer in all 4 rounds, and only one voting for wine across all rounds. The voting took Kelly for a bit of a surprise, because preliminary indications were that the crowd would mostly be wine enthusiasts. 

It didn't matter whether you considered yourself a beer-drinker or a wine-drinker or had a preference for one over the other coming into this event. I think everyone appreciated both. In fact, I was enlightened! 

Carolyn and John did a great job explaining the features of the beverages, and they sure had their work cut out for them in determining what turned out to be some amazing pairings for the chocolates. 

What a fun evening with a great concept ... Sweet event! So, the next time you might think that beer "won't go with that," give it another thought. With so many beer styles from which to choose, and the evolvement and creativity of beer, it goes with everything!

Taste the love. Who knows, your Sweetheart might even thank you for it...... 

If you're not familiar with Alewife, check the place out. Alewife opened last March in the Five Points area of Jacksonville. It's a retail craft beer shop featuring several hundred beers, and it's also a bar serving up six taps of craft beer selections on draft. You'll find additional seating in the back of the house, along with a couple of cornhole boards. And, if you're with someone who "isn't a beer drinker," Alewife offers wine by the glass and ciders/meads. The shop regularly hosts tappings and beer education events. New beers are continually added to both the tap lists and the retail shelves. Alewife is open six days a week, closed on Mondays. 

Lastly, if you're looking for something to do this weekend, being Valentine's Day after all, Alewife is hosting "Single & Bitter" all weekend. OK to bring your significant other. 

Happy Valentine's Day, everyone! Drink some beer and have some chocolate! (Yes, I did a 5k today).

Be sure to look at the beerfests and special events listed on the BeerSphere Page of this website, and, for those of you in the Jax area, take a look at the "Tap This" Calendar Page for tappings and such!

That'll do it for now..... See ya around a beer somewhere .... Probably soon .... 
Til next time,

Peace, Love, Pints®

Monday, January 11, 2016

We Got Funky: Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Day 2016 at Funky Buddha Brewery

I didn't attend the prior two Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Day festivals hosted by Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park.  Last year (2015), the event fell about a week before an already-scheduled weekend trip for a concert in Fort Lauderdale. I had tracked the release dates of the prized MBCP around Lauderdale, and I was thrilled to find it on tap at American Social.  By the way, if you haven't figured it out yet, not only does this beer have its own Day, it has its own acronym (MBCP; it IS a mouthful). 

Was it really that good for all this hype? Short answer: Yes. I loved it, and knew that there was no question that I simply had to attend MBCP Day 2016.  So, late last year when the brewery announced the date for this year's fest (Jan. 9), I had my fingers on the keyboard as tickets went on sale in November. Tickets??????

For 2016, Funky Buddha changed the format of the fest, making it a ticketed event and limiting the number of tickets to 4000. Three levels of tickets were made available: VIP (early access, rare beer sampling and 4 bottles); General Admission (admission plus 1 bottle), and Full Bottle Access (general admission, plus 4 bottles). Instead of holding the Fest at the brewery, the event moved to the adjacent Jaco Pastorius Park along Dixie Highway.  So, instead of having people wait in long lines at the crack of dawn for fest entry and a chance to get bottles of MBCP, the brewery streamlined things with the intention of having a manageable crowd and guaranteed access to pre-paid bottles. The brewery kept a dedicated website, http://mbcpday.comupdated with the tap list, FAQs and other must-know information, including an event brochure published just before MBCP Day.  Tap list?????

Yeah, OK.... tap list! When I first saw this, I printed it out and tried to "game plan" which ones to get. (I wasn't the only one to do that!)  A number of the beers were on tap all day, with other timed tappings at 4pm and 7pm.  Brown Distributing's "Draftzilla," a refrigerated rolling behemoth semi-trailer with draft taps, housed the kegs, and beer flowed. 

Following my drive from North Florida that morning, I arrived on the grounds of the park before the VIP entry just to check it out: 

The calm before.......

Staff and volunteers were quite busy getting things set up, and all was relatively quiet on a warm and sunny day. I think those guys tossing the cornhole bags around were actually working, too, as they were setting up the boards (hardly working, or working hard?)

The brewery is located just around the corner. If you haven't been to Funky Buddha before, you'll have to come back, because the tap room was closed for the occasion.

So, how'd this all work?

After the VIP entry (3pm), staff scanned general admission attendee tickets.  Individual beers at the fest were by pre-paid ticket ($6 each).  The pours on the various beers were different (6oz, 8oz, 10oz, 14oz), depending on the ABV and type.  Want to purchase additional 4-pack bottles of MBCP to take home ($60 for the four)?  Take care of all that at the next counter (wristbands for bottles, tickets for poured beer), and you're on your way!  Merchandise? A merch tent had shirts, hats, koozies, glasses and more.  But, wait, it's still not 4pm!  So, we waited peacefully behind the gate for the clock to hit 4:


The beers were set up in "sections," and I went right to the back of Draftzilla, to Section 15. Walked right up to get my first beer of the day, the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter:

Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, 2016

MBCP (6.4% ABV, 35 IBU) is a liquid version of a breakfast. It has the aroma of maple and coffee, sweet and roasty at the same time.  It tastes like -- well -- maple, bacon and coffee. It's also sweet-and-salty. There's a lot going on in this beer, and it all combines together for an awesome drinking experience. It's rated 100 on RateBeer, and 98 on Beer Advocate.  One of my all-time favorites. 

The MBCP was offered at several sections at the Fest, so you could find it pretty easily. While most of the beers on tap were Funky Buddha beers (well over 50), there were at least 50 additional beers by other Florida breweries.  A number of these were imperial stouts and barrel-aged beers.  But, there were styles of all types. I enjoyed various new brews at this fest.  There were so many to choose, it was impossible to drink every one that I had noted on my "game plan."

It was fairly easy to move around the park for the first couple of hours, and even when more people started streaming in around 6-6:30, the venue handled it. Lines were forming by 6:15 for the popular 7pm releases.  There was a noticeable difference in the crowd by this time, and each section had a lengthy line. The band even did a countdown to 7pm (and you thought the New Years Eve countdown was a thing):


Once those 7pm lines diminished, it was pretty easy to just walk up to get the beers that survived.  I actually found several very good selections still available at that time! (no, the Hunahpu's® didn't last that long). 

The fest included a music stage with three bands throughout the evening.  Food options included Funky Buddha's new Craft Food Counter & Kitchen, along with food trucks. There were high top tables throughout for standing and table-and-chair set ups (some additonal seating would have been nice, though). Portable restrooms were located at one end of the park (maybe a few more could be used for next year, but that's always gonna happen). 

Last call was at 9:30pm. Upon exiting the fest, attendees turned in their wristbands to claim their corresponding number of bottles.  

Yeah, I think I did OK, with my five bottles. 

So, hey, I thought the fest was well-organized. Sure, there were lines -- but the longest lines were at 7pm, and you could anticipate that.  Having MBCP at various sections was a good idea.  The variety of beers -- both Funky Buddha's and others -- was impressive to say the least.  The list was much more than "core" beers.  For someone from out of town, it was a great chance to have some beers I can't otherwise get.  So, would I make the drive for this fest again?  That's an emphatic Yes! 

I've been to Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park a few times.  The brewery opened this location in June 2013, and my first visit was in September 2013 (check it out here).   The opening of the place was a pretty big deal.  You're likely familiar with some of Funky Buddha's core beers (Hop Gun IPA, Floridian Hefeweizen) and its special releases (for example, Last Snow - -anyone heard of that one?).  Funky Buddha Brewery started out in 2010 as The Funky Buddha Lounge & Brewery, a nano-brewery, located on Federal Hwy. in Boca. I've been there, too. The Lounge is a unique place, and it offers Funky Buddha craft beer as part of its over-100 craft beers list, teas, and hookahs. It's a very chilled-out place, with Buddhas and pillows.  

As the popularity of its beer grew, the brewery saw a need to expand, and, yeah, it did that ..... It set sights on the new location, going full board with a 30-barrel brewhouse and large-scale production capability.  And, if you're looking for that laid-back nano, it's still there, too.  The nano brewery is still used for experimental brews. The production brewery is big -- over 54000 square feet --- and the tap room has a large bar and indoor/outdoor seating area. 

If you ever find yourself in the Fort Lauderdale area, check out both of the Funky locations.  Go ahead, #GetFunky!

Hey, beerfest season in Florida is here!  There have already been a few, and more are on the way. Check out the BeerSphere Events tab on my website,, for listings.  And, if you have an event you'd like to list with me that I might not know about, just let me know.  I scour and search social media, newsletters and websites all the time for events, but it seems that there are always new events popping up!

Look for me at a beer event, community event, bar, brewery, or restaurant!  I might want a photo, and I'll want to talk some beer .... harmless stuff......  til then..... 

Peace, Love, Pints®

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Engine 15 Brewing Company to Introduce Engine 15 Ciders and Meads

The big macro guys aren't the only ones making some news and shaking things up in the brewery world in the latter days of 2015.  

Big, breaking news from ENGINE 15 BREWING COMPANY in Jacksonville Beach hit social media last night in a short statement asking if anyone is ready for something new in 2016, accompanied by a new logo:

According to Kara Scremin, Marketing Manager at Engine 15, the company will begin production of ciders and meads in 2016 at the company's newly acquired production facility, 601 N. Myrtle Ave., downtown Jacksonville. At the outset, E15 will first produce a dry cider, and flavored ciders will follow. After the initial operations are underway, and to allow for aging of product, E15 will begin offering mead. The anticipated timeframe for the mead is about 6-9 months following startup of the new operations. 

Engine 15's spacious production facility in Jacksonville opened in 2015, and houses the company's new 20-barrel brewhouse, along with a separate building for events.  It provides much needed expansion for the brewery's core beers, and will also feature a biergarten when it's all said and done (in other words, permitting).  The venue was the site of the "Tacos for Tatas" charity event for 26.2 With Donna in October (see blog post), and also was the home of the "Mash-In" opening event for Jax Beer Week in November (see blog post). 

Engine 15 Production Facility brewhouse

Under applicable laws, cider and mead require additional licensing, and E15 is awaiting federal approval. Once it receives the go-ahead, E15 will begin cider production, with an anticipated product release in February 2016. The new products will be available on tap and in bottles at the Jax Beach brewpub, along with distribution in kegs around the area through Champion Brands. 

In addition to the production facility, Engine 15 Brewing Company continues to brew beer on its 5-barrel system at the original Jax Beach brewpub.  The brewpub offers a pub-style food menu and 50 taps, which typically feature around 15-20 of E15's own beers on tap, in addition to regional, national and international beer. Pretty much whatever style of beer you're looking for, you'll find it here (trust me, I've been there once or twice, or .....). 

Sounds like Engine 15 will be off to a roaring start in 2016, but I'm not surprised.  The home of Nutsack Double Brown Ale, J'Ville Lager, (904) Weiss Guy, and Old Battle Axe IPA will be getting a little bigger. Hey, Engine 15, what names can we look forward to now?

Cheers!  See you around Florida somewhere, with a beer in hand.......

Peace, Love, Pints®


Wednesday, December 23, 2015

It Was Cookin' at Brewz n Dawgz' First Beer Dinner with Cigar City Brewing

When I first found out a couple of months ago about the first Beer Dinner being planned at Brewz n Dawgz in St. Augustine (December 22), I was intrigued.  After all, how does a menu featuring brats/hot dogs offer the culinary variety and flair usually associated with these pairings?  As I saw the food menu come together, my interest was further piqued (not to mention that it really sounded good). And, then I got the lowdown from owner Roger Lim on the beer menu (exclusive, I might add).  Nothing like a new place hosting its first beer dinner with some creative brews from the most recognizable craft brewery in the state of Florida, Cigar City Brewing.  

If you aren't yet familiar with Brewz n Dawgz, first of all, go back and read my earlier story here. It's a new craft beer bar that opened in July of this year at the southeast corner of US 1 and SR 312.  It features 24 rotating drafts of Florida craft beer, along with a large selection of bottled beers, and you can earn your name on the prestigious "99 Bottles of Beer on the Wall" list if you drink 'em. Moreover, there's a kitchen that serves up organic, non-GMO, humane food items in the nature of brats, hot dogs, fries and chips. It's not a "typical" "hot dog place," however, because this menu offers items such as a Breakfast Dawg, Cuban Dawg (my favorite), Cali Dawg, Spicy Dragon Dawg, Slaw Dawg, and Veggie Dawg options, along with organic chips and fries (with toppings, too) (see their online menu). 

So, how did they do?  With each food and beer pairing, Roger explained the food item, and Kyle, the local Cigar City Brewing rep, provided info on the beer. I hadn't heard of some of these beers before, as they are limited releases or only available in Tampa. Take a look:

Irish Cheddar Cheese Appetizer & Raspberry Wit/White Ale: three types of cheddar (whiskey, stout [smoked], aged white cheddar) with roasted sunflower seeds. Flavorful with a mild sharpness. Sunflower seeds a crunchy contrast. Beer: Florida Cracker Wit with raspberry puree (6%).  I'll be honest: I'm not usually a fan of wit beers, but the raspberry toned down the coriander/citrus of the wit enough for me, and the pink-colored beer was a delicious raspberry beer without too much sweetness. Good pairing, neither overpowering the other. 

3-Bean Organic Chili & Slow as Molasses Old Ale: Corn chips over hearty bean chili. Chili with robust flavor, not overly spicy. Beer: collaboration beer with SwampHead Brewery (Gainesville), poured from the bottle (10.4%). Dark amber color; sweet with a slight warming; alcohol became apparent following warming; no dark fruit flavors; very tasty. Good complementary pairing on strengths of flavors, yet the sweetness of the beer contrasted with the hearty chili.

The dinner was a sold-out event

Roger behind the bar...

Italian Spicy Beef Dog Bites & Hard Cider: Battered nuggets filled with organic pepper jack, jalapenos, and meat. Lots of heat on this one, and if you like spicy, this was for you. Good coating on the bites. Drink: Hard Cider (5.5%) made with apples from Pacific Northwest; sweet and slightly dry. As one who doesn't usually drink ciders, I was pleasantly surprised on the flavor. Good pairing of contrasting flavors: spicy against sweet.

Black Bean Burger & Blueberry Ginger IPA: Black bean patty with hint of datil peppers; the spice from the datils came at the end; a different flavor that meshed well.  Beer: Jai Alai IPA treated with ginger and blueberry (7.5%); slight ginger on the nose; more pine on taste with background of blueberry; different mix of flavors with subtle but noticeable hoppiness. Contrasting pairing of bean and spice in the dish, with cooling of the blueberry and different spice in the ginger.

Cheeze Dawger with chili, fries and cheddar & Lue Gim Gong Pale Ale: Grass-fed organic ground beef with fries, chili and cheese wrapped up in a bun. Comfort food meets upscale; a hearty and palate-pleasing dish. This was a favorite. Beer: Invasion Pale Ale with orange peel aged on white oak and orange peel (5%).  Less hop taste than the base Invasion pale ale, notes of vanilla from the oak; packs a punch of flavor from the orange and oak, very easy-drinking.  Named after Florida horticulturist, circa 1700s, known for working on the growth of the state's orange industry. Heartiness of the dish contrasts with the less-hoppy drinkability of the beer. 

Leftover Turkey Dawg & Peach White Oak IPA: Turkey provolone sausage, organic mashed potato fries, croutons from buns, topped with turkey gravy on a roll, with a side of cranberries. Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner on a bun! Tender turkey with subtle seasonings, and hearty gravy. Savory, wonderful flavor. Beer: Jai Alai IPA treated with peach (7.5%) on white oak; sweetness of peach with vanilla notes with slight bitterness on the back end, good balance with hoppiness; ridiculously good treatment.  Seamless complementary pairing here, as the lighter flavors of the turkey balanced perfectly with the slightly sweet but light peach beer. 

Brewz n Dawgz' first beer dinner sold out last week, and from my observations of everyone there, it was a definite success!  So, that's how you craft artisan dawgz!  Pair that with the creativity that Cigar City Brewing always brings to the keg and bottle, and it was an impressive combination. 

And, of course, there's an obligatory photo with this blogger:

With Kyle (left) and Roger (right), and...
a bottle of Slow as Molasses
Thumbs Up to Brewz n Dawgz and Cigar City Brewing on a fun, tasty, and even educational evening.  You cooked it up right!

Til next time, I'll see you around St. Augustine, Jax, or somewhere in North Florida. And, keep track of the events listed on the BeerSphere page of this site, because 2016 is pretty much here.... 


Peace, Love, Pints®