Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival 2011 -- Matthew Horbund Guest Post

Life was discovered on Jupiter last weekend! Yeah, I was skeptical at first, too. But when one of my friends let me know that he witnessed it, well I knew it had to be true. Local wine expert and TV personality Matthew Horbund was of course attending this year's Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival in Jupiter, Florida. What I think is really the coolest part of this recap is that Matt was stepping a little outside his element and trying a bunch of new craft beers. Here is his take on Saturday afternoon's festival. Hope I can be there with you next year, Matt! Thanks for taking the time to write this.

Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival
Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival
Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival 2011

I'm a wine guy. If I drink a beer, it's usually one of those widely distributed, "Everyman" beers that would turn the stomach of most real beer guys. Of course, I define real beer guys not as the beer gut toting, picking up a six pack at the gas station and guzzling them because frankly, there's not much to taste guy. Instead, I define real beer guys as lovers of craft beer, beer brewed with intent; intent to be savored, sipped, and enjoyed - beer gut optional. I'm new to the world of craft beer, and took what was perhaps the best steps towards exposing myself to that world, participating in the 5th annual Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival.

With over 48 tents, each housing anywhere from one to five beers, I knew there was no way I'd get to try them all. However, I also knew without a plan of attack, I wouldn't get to try any of the highly coveted beers. I called upon my twitter friends Ed Roberts, Brewkkake, Dosbeerigos, and Enzobalc to lead me to the promised land. They're all beer bloggers, beer lovers, and trusty sherpas in the beer world. We decided our first two tents would be some of the Florida brewers, and hit Cigar City Brewing from Tampa and Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery of Boca Raton.

Visiting the Cigar City Brewing Van at JCBF11
Visiting the Cigar City Brewing Van at JCBF11
The first beer of the day (well, at the festival) was the Cigar City Brewery Improvisation. I couldn't really take notes, but it was an oatmeal rye India-style brown ale. A tasty brew, but not one that I can vividly remember. I had several other beers from Cigar City, including the much anticipated Hunahpu Imperial Stout. Some of the beer guys would get in line two or three times just to sip the soon-to-be-released brew. Great flavors of coffee, balanced with some chocolate but still quite a beer. I also enjoyed the Saison, which had lighter, sweet fruit nose and palate that frankly, I enjoyed. I also had the Jai Alai IPA, which I really enjoyed. I typically shy away from IPAs because they're ultra hoppy and I find it a major turnoff. Instead, this was well balanced, great flavor and really fun to drink. I only wrote that as my note, so dont ask me WHAT flavors, just know it was great!




Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery
Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery
Though we had a few beers between, the major stop after Cigar City was Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery. While their banner seemed to be misspelled, their beer was right on point. I first tried their special Ginger Lemongrass beer. The beer was a bit too lemony for me, and it reminded me of the WHEW, Pinesol commercial. However, my beer buds all loved it, because it was a different twist on beer, and they found it unique and refreshing. I tried their Hefeweizen, and enjoyed the lighter, easy drinking flavors of honey and orange blossoms. We also came back for the chocolate porter and the maple bacon porter, the maple bacon offering elicited a chant of BACON BACON before they tapped the keg at 3:30pm. Both were quite enjoyable, and the porter had complex notes of sweet maple and tasty bacon with secondary raisin notes that really wowed many of us.

There were plenty of other beers of note. I enjoyed the Polestar pilsner from Left Hand Brewery, and thought the Monk in the Trunk Monk IPA was outrageous. I mentioned before I'm not an IPA guy, but theirs had a beautiful balance of honey up front and smooth hops on the finish that made it a beer I'll go for again. The Orange Blossom Pilsner was fun, and really did remind me of sweet orange blossoms, and I thought it would be quite refreshing on a hot Florida summer day. The Harpoon White UFO was a nice light citrus offering as well.

Magic Hat Brewery
Magic Hat Brewery
While a fan of the Magic Hat Number 9, I wasn't head over heels for the Circus Boy Hefeweizen. While I did enjoy the light, and lemony taste, it left my mouth a bit soapy. I don't think that took away from the palate, but I'm not sure if it's a function of the keg and conditions at the festival, or the character of the beer. Kona Brewing had three brews, and I tried them all. The Fire Rock Pale Ale I liked, with a orange nose, light body and a nice slight hop finish. The Longboard Lager was light and lemony, and I'd definitely try it again. The Kona Pipeline porter was nice, all kinds of coffee going on. There were a few other beers I had sips of that were interesting, but I've rambled on enough.

The point of my post is, there's a huge world of craft beer to be explored. Do take the time to find a festival like this one, and sample the various offerings that can be had. Don't limit yourself, either. While I'm not a hop fan, and shy away form IPAs, two stand out beers were both IPA in nature, and I'd buy them again. I've learned a lot having A Good Time With Wine, and that's always be open to new and different beverages, you never know what you may like.

3 comments:

Joel said...

Nice post, Matt. Glad to see you stepping outside your comfort zone and exploring the world of craft beer. Going to the beerfests was a huge part of my learning experience. At last year's JCBF, I had only been into craft beer about 6 or 7 months, and I tried as much as I possibly could (probably why I passed out in my parked car afterward). Hopefully we can get you and Rob to more tastings, meetups, etc. Hell, I even need to get to more of them. Did either of you sign up to be on the beer judging panel at Whole Foods (Coral Springs) this Saturday?

Ed Roberts said...

Great job Matt! It was fun to see you trying the different beers and getting your thoughts on them. It's all about trying new things and expanding your pallet. We all need to do that more. Enjoyed spending some time with you. Cheers1

Dos Beer-igos said...

Nice Post! Glad to meet you Saturday, sorry we could not talk more. I get easily distracted!