Sunday, November 30, 2014

Jolly Traveler Winter Shandy

See how I got the foam to make the same eye pattern as on the label?
Today I'm checking out Jolly Traveler Winter Shandy brewed by The Traveler Beer Company in collaboration with the Boston Beer Company. The Burlington, VT brewery sent me a bottle of this new offering which they say goes against the grain of your typical dark, heavy winter seasonal beer. Though called a shandy, this is not a beer/lemonade mixture; rather, it was brewed with lemon, orange, pomegranate and spices.

Along with the beer came a bottle koozie and a fake mustache (and encouragement to put it on, snap a photo and be a fellow #TRVLR--you know I did that!) 4.4% alcohol. Serve "this cool fellow with a WINTRY disposition" at "a temperature that illicits hoots, howls, and horns." "Preferred Beer Glass: A clean one!"

Aroma is full of oranges and pomegranates, very fruity. Flavors begin that way too. Fruity and juicy oranges and lemons, sweet and candy-like. Just when the sweetness seems a little much, it dissipates into a fruitcake type bready finish. Cinnamon, raisins, and lingering wheat. Not bad, nice fruity flavors. A touch on the too sweet side. Definitely leans the shandy way.

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown

4 Hands Brewing out of St. Louis, Missouri recently contacted me about some exciting news at the brewery. In order to meet growing demand, they decided to start canning all of their year-round beers, an action that will quadruple production to 700 cases each day. Seasonals will still be offered in bottles and bombers.

The brewery sent me six different cans to check out. And sure I'm excited to try the beers, but I'm just as excited to check out the can art, one of my favorite things. Each can has the brewery logo, which appears to be 4 hands coming together in a hop cone formation.

The artwork for the first beer I grabbed, Cast Iron Oatmeal Brown, depicts what appears to be some old brewing equipment on some kind of old wagon. But the fun part is that there are actually mechanical arms and hands (4 of them), stirring the pot and doing the work. The detail in the artwork is terrific! Pair with Charcuterie or Hearty Stew. 5.5% alcohol.

Chocolate and creamy sweet aroma meet coffee and some light roast. Flavors are similar, starting off with some big chocolate, though definitely not too sweet. A good dose of roasted coffee comes next, providing the perfect bitter and sweet balance to the beer. Texture is very creamy. More milky, sugary sweetness finds its way in, while there is a decent dose of lingering smoky char at the finish. Very nice and flavorful brown ale! Easy drinker!

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Sweet Potato Casserole -- Florida Beer Blog Guest Post

Dave over at decided to do a review of Funky Buddha Brewery and their Sweet Potato Casserole after checking it out at the brewery...

This is being written as a guest post for, so if you're one of Rob's readers, hello! That's assumption number one. The second assumption is that if you're reading this, you know about Funky Buddha Brewery. If not, well, Funky Buddha Brewery was started in Boca Raton as a lounge. They started brewing at the lounge, then opened a massive brewing facility and tap house in Oakland Park (Ft. Lauderdale).
Brewery Floor at Funky Buddha

Brewery Floor at Funky Buddha
It's pretty massive, and they just expanded to install a bottling line that will be rolling out 6 packs come December.
Behind the bar at Funky Buddha.

Behind the bar at Funky Buddha.
Funky Buddha and their head brewer/co-owner Ryan Sentz have made themselves very well known for beers with insanely huge, culinary, almost dessert-like flavors. And when they do a dessert-y beer, they don't mess around. Don't Tell Reece has a massive amount of peanut butter and chocolate flavors in a creamy smooth brown ale. Last Snow (which will be released in limited edition 4-packs) is a porter with flavors of coconut, white chocolate, and vanilla. Blueberry Cobbler has big, bold flavors of blueberry pie. And their Pina Colada wheat ale is one of the best, most quintessentially Florida beers I've had. And the beer list goes on and on.
Funky Buddha's Tap Room.

Funky Buddha's Tap Room.
With all of these big flavors, you would think Funky Buddha would do a pumpkin ale, right? Nope. They made the intentional decision to go against the grain and not make what has become almost a legal requirement in the brewing industry. Instead, they went with sweet potato. There are a few breweries in Florida that have brewed sweet potato beers (The Mack House in Davie and Wynwood Brewing in Miami come to mind), and they have a reputation for an extreme smoothness.
So that's what Funky Buddha did. But they did it their way, releasing Sweet Potato Casserole (Vegetable Beer, 7.9% ABV, 30 IBU) earlier this month.
Sweet Potato Casserole by Funky Buddha

Sweet Potato Casserole by Funky Buddha
Interestingly enough, it's almost 8% alcohol, so it packs a bit of a punch. But this is a beer with such a smooth, sweet finish that you never really feel it. It has a beautifully rich, deep golden color. The flavor is deep and rich, and the sweet potato does bring a smooth velvetiness to the beer. Funky Buddha, being true to form, rounded the beer out with the addition of a very sweet marshmallow flavor. I still have no idea how they do it, but that addition basically rounds the beer out and makes it close to the flavor and profile of the dish it's named after.

If you didn't get a chance to try this, don't worry. Next year, Funky Buddha will be releasing Sweet Potato Casserole as one of their limited edition bottle releases. In the meantime, I have to go grab another glass...

And if you'd like more information on Florida beers, come visit us at!
Drink Florida Craft,

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Frambozen Raspberry Brown Ale

Remember when you were in Cub Scouts and every year the Den Mother had you making Christmas wreaths? Yeah, me neither. But that's exactly what New Belgium did for the label photo on their bottle of Frambozen Raspberry Brown Ale. The difference is that they used hops plants and raspberries for the red accents!

Frambozen is Flemish for raspberry, and the little blurb on the side of the label sets your expectations on this interesting combination of brown ale and fruit beer. 6.5% alcohol. Enjoy by 12APR15. Oh, and the brewery sent it to me so I'm going to be totally biased.

I poured Frambozen into my recently acquired Biscayne Bay Brewing pint glass to keep a local flair. The aroma wasn't very big. Classic brown ale roast, hint of sweet brown sugar and a very light fruitiness in the background.

Whoa! The aroma left me unsuspecting of the first sip. Tart raspberries grab the sides of your throat on the way down for the first few sips. Not too tart, just a surprise. Very juicy, flavorful, liked that part. There's a malty sweet balance as well, a bit generic, but maybe caramel, brown sugar, bread. Carbonated yet still smooth. A very simple brown ale with a pretty fun twist. I liked the combination!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Love & Wine, Also A BEER EVENT!

This was the best I could get of the Love & Wine projection! Nice heels too!
I went to this pretty cool event last night on the Roof of The Collection Building in Coral Gables! Love & Wine, A Rooftop Wine and Spirits, Gastronomic Affair. I'm going to post a lot of pictures around the internets, but since I'm a beer guy first, I decided to post a few pictures of the only beer to be found... Cervezas Alhambra! Update 11/24/2014: You'll love theses pictures and here's another slideshow!

They had their Reserva 1925, a lager from Spain with an unexpected 6.4% alcohol content. But seriously, after drinking shots of Johnnie Walker and sipping Zacapa Rum, this was a dream beer! Refreshing, crisp, simple but decent. Yeah, the green bottles were scary, but there was no skunk (like that shitty one from Holland).

One chick saw me with a bottle and asked me how the beer was compared to Corona. I almost crapped my pants at the opportunity to diss Corona and Heineken, which I gladly did AND provide a brief explanation why those beers suck so bad. It wasn't two minutes later that they left our conversation, so perhaps I was being a little too technical or annoying (happens). I chalk that up to the cigar vendor and the martini girls from Ketel One!

Anyway, I'll link some other awesome pictures here pretty soon! Thanks, Alhambra chicks!

Selfies happen later!

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Hop Hash Infused Double IPA Gets A Snake Bite

So Freddy at SweetWater named a beer Hop Hash, huh? There's a surprise! But it's not exactly what you think. The Hash here is the hops they scraped from their pelletizers, used to try to make "the dankest double IPA out there." Bottle conditioned, with plenty of floaties to prove it. Whatever, I like them. They are my friends. 7.8% alcohol. Best if enjoyed by 12/29/14.

I decided this was the perfect beer to crack open with my new bottle opener: The Original Snake Bite Forked Church Key and Bottle Opener. This is a Kickstarter project that was funded in only 30 hours. Both the church key opener and the leather sheath (an awesome touch) are made in the USA from domestically-sourced products. I thought it was going to be bigger--not sure why. But the smaller sized and extremely lightweight and durable tool was perfect. Easy to take everywhere!

Beautiful aroma full of citrus, sweet orange and tropical fruits. Sweet tangerine flavor is delicious, first sip and every one that followed. But holy cow, those flavors are followed by a wallop of dank, hoppy goodness and a forest of spicy, bitter pine. Repeat.

Juicy, tropical, fruity, super fresh and just terrific flavors that play off of each other. Carbonation is good, a little prickly. A little alcohol dryness shows through at the finish. Great! I'll be back for the full six pack next time!

Monday, November 17, 2014

HogWild India Pale Ale

I had this can of Aviator Brewing's HogWild India Pale Ale in my fridge. "Had" because I just finished it and now will proceed to tell you about it. The can art is pretty fun, featuring an enormous boar scowling and flexing its biceps. Upon close inspection, you can see he is wearing an Aviator tank top and on a work shift at the brewery. Its nose septum ring and giant chain with dog tags basically say "don't mess with me!" 6.7% alcohol.

Pine, caramel and a hint of tropical fruit in the aroma. The flavors start out weirdly sweet, full of caramel and butterscotch. Some tropical pineapple and orange sweetness follows. Some pine, citrus rind and spicy hops do make an appearance, but this is nowhere near a "veritable fest of hops" as the can suggests.

Some good flavors, but way too sweet and the buttery/butterscotch flavors are definitely undesirable. Total pass is a category that includes hundreds of A+ IPAs.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Sierra Nevada Coffee Stout

The second new beer (after Boomerang IPA) that Sierra Nevada included in their Snow Pack Winter Seasonal box is one simply known as Coffee Stout. As the label suggests, "A cup of joe and a bold beer can thwart the winter cold." Good thing, big brrr tonight here in Miami with 50°F weather in just a few hours. And I have two more of these in the fridge for just such and occasion! Packaged 09/12/14. 6.2% alcohol.

Coffee, cocoa, great roasted malty aroma. HELLO GIANT COFFEE BOMB flavors! Yes, you will taste the cocoa and chocolate and maybe stretch your imagination toward one of those coffee flavors like mocha, but seriously this beer delivers on its name if nothing else! Licorice and nutty nuances exist, big amount of roast with the coffee, even a little sugary though never near sweet.

Bold with the coffee! Solid beer! Check it out for sure. I don't think you can go wrong with this mixed pack either. Great price and with the two new winners paired with Sierra Nevada's Pale Ale and Porter??? No Brainer!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Prairie Artisan Ales Pirate Bomb -- Plain Ole Glenn Guest Post

"Plain Ole Glenn" up in Sarasota was talking about drinking some awesome beers a few days ago, including an imperial stout aged in rum barrels with coffee, cacao nibs, vanilla beans and chillies! And he decided to share his thoughts... 

Prairie Artisan Ales Pirate Bomb

Bottle purchased by my dad up in my hometown of Lexington, Kentucky. 

I haven't had the original Prairie Bomb though do have a bottle headed this way. 

I'm always skeptical of this fad with Peppers/Chillies in Stouts. I have had many variations and many times I find the Pepper overpowers the sweetness of the stout and usually the beer turns into a drain pour because I get tired of the mix. Still, when done well in can be a nice pairing. 

I poured this beer in a boring West Sixth Can shaped Pint Glass because I was too lazy to bust out a more appropriate glass. I'm not fancy. 

The nose on this beer was nice, immediately I got Coffee and Chocolate. 

My first sip or two of the beer were underwhelming with good coffee notes upfront and that Chillies kick at the back. I decided to let the beer sit 10 minutes and went back and found the Chocolate/Vanilla notes had joined the Coffee for a much nicer flavor and the pepper mellowed some to just a nice mellow little kick. The stout itself had a good body with a very nice thickness I like. 

I ended up really liking this beer in the long run, maybe the biggest part of it I missed however was the Rum Barrel Aged claim which I didn't find much of. Maybe if I had the Regular Bomb! I'd notice the difference but the BA didn't really seem noticeable. 

I liked this beer. It's worthy its high ratings.

Monday, November 10, 2014

By The Glass Show: Biscayne Bay Brewing Company

This past Thursday, I stopped by the By The Glass Show to chat with Jose Mallea and Gus Chacon, founders of Biscayne Bay Brewing Company in Doral (Miami), Florida. The brewery is currently brewing around half a dozen beers and is for now sending them out in kegs to the local Miami community. And guess what? They brought five of their beers with them for us to taste!

What do two guys in the Miami Mayor's office that have never brewed beer do? Yep, they follow their dream to open a craft brewery in western Dade County, giving the locals a craft option that has eluded them for a long time. But they were also smart. They "put out a lot of feelers" looking for a professional brewer, and ended up with Aaron Anderson, a professionally educated brewer with experience at Avery, Abita, Breckenridge, and Coors (the technical part of on-the-job training).

So Aaron drives across country, despite having a plane ticket if he wants one. And I think that the team is pretty sure it's because he wanted to bring the prized mermaid that is located in the front of the brewery. She needs a paint job (and a new cap, but that's a different story). I recently had the chance to visit the brewery too, and they have a great location and big space just west of MIA Airport.

The locals that are tired of limited options at TJIFridays and the like keep stopping by the brewery for a beer. But they keep getting turned away since the 3000 sq. ft. tasting room is currently under construction. Fear not--the space should be finished by the end of the year! If you can't wait until Christmas to visit the tasting room, you might find these guys at local tastings or beer dinners (they recently did their first at Anthony's Coal Fired Pizza in South Beach!) I'd follow them on Facebook for that kind of info.

What will they be serving? Well, let me tell you about a few beers we tried. We started with 1513 Golden Ale, a beer named after the year Ponce de Leon discovered Biscayne Bay. And all the brewery's beers are named and created to reflect the attitude and traditions of Miami. 1513 Golden Ale was a dry, rich, lightly spiced ale that had all the crispness of a pilsner. Brett called that! And Jose confirmed that characteristic came due using a hybrid ale/lager yeast!

Miami Pale Ale was next. Smelled like all the awesome aromas of Miami--tropical fruity, mangoes, honey. Fruity, malty flavors, on the sweet end of things but definitely enough pale ale bitterness to balance the beer. That's when Brett started to drop phrases like "residual dextrins."

We then got to try the Biscayne Bay Saison, originally a specialty beer. But as Jose and Gus stated, they are smart enough to listen to the public and positive feedback, and made Saison a regular beer too! Belgian yeast with some spicy cloves comes first, though there is plenty of orange and sweet citrus. And a little alcohol kick! Gus said that this beer is brewed with all French hops!

La Colada Coffee Porter was next. Helluva Aroma! This is a celebration of their Cuban heritage. Gus cold-brewed the coffee and they also added a small amount of lactose to generate some creaminess. Really nice coffee and roasted flavors, bitter enough but NOT astringent at all. Long coffee finish.

We finished the night with Double 9 IPA. If you have no clue what that's referring to, well, it's a dominoes term. Sweet and malty. Maris Otter was the main hop used, though an Australian hop named Ella was used to dry hop the beer, providing a peachy flavor to the beer. This was especially fun since Gus' daughter is named Ella.

Was a fun night. Can't wait to see the new tasting room and new-and-improved mermaid. I'd even paint her myself if I were asked to do so! And if you're in Pembroke Pines, Brass Tap has their beers on tap! I'm personally looking forward to when they start bottling/canning, since I mostly drink alone! Good luck, Biscayne Bay Brewing!

Saturday, November 8, 2014

Love & Wine – A Rooftop Wine & Spirits, Gastronomic Affair

If you are in Miami on Saturday, November 22, 2014, there is an event not to miss. Love & Wine – A Rooftop Wine & Spirits, Gastronomic Affair will take place at The Collection Building in Coral Gables! I'm sure the entertainment and atmosphere are going to be spectacular!

Imagine... Awesome wine and spirits brands like Moet, Johnnie Walker and Ketel One meeting Passion Group Restaurants Lolita, Love is Blind, and Crazy About You while you relax on the rooftop of The Collection Building, checking out an exclusive lineup of 2015 cars provided by The Collection (you've seen the licence plate frames) and listening to live music. Oh, and if you see me, be sure to say hello!

You can get tickets at To quote the famous movie philosopher Ferris Bueller, "It is so choice. If you have the means, I highly recommend picking one up."

Friday, November 7, 2014

New Belgium + Perennial Artisan Ales Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout

New Belgium Brewing was nice enough to send me a bottle of their latest collaboration beer, again under the Lips of Faith series name: New Belgium + Perennial Artisan Ales Salted Belgian Chocolate Stout. As the story goes, "Dessert Is Best Poured," so the two breweries created this beer to be worthy of a cherry on top! The artwork on this 22 ouncer shows a salt shaker being used on an assembly line of Belgian Chocolate. 9% alcohol. Best enjoyed by March 27, 2016.

Nice chocolate aroma with a light noticeable yeast component. Sweet, sugary, and with a good dose of roasted malt on the nose too. Chocolate flavors really pop at the beginning, but the beer is not sweet at all. And the Belgian yeast was very prominent, much more than the aroma let on. You also will not miss the alcohol kick in the front of this beer!

Secondary flavors of coffee and licorice and boozy cherries all take turns. Lots of fun nuances. there is also a good roasted malt backdrop, even a little ashy. Creamy texture. And I just remembered the "salted" part they talked about on the label. I had forgotten, but as I drank half the bottle, the salty profile really started to build.

The finish has a lingering yeasty, tangy kick, enhanced by the alcohol. An all-around enjoyable beer, full of interest and flavor. Check it out.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Boomerang IPA

Last weekend at CrafterNoon Delight Whiskey and Craft Beer Fest, I got to try two new beers brewed by Sierra Nevada Brewing, both part of their Snow Pack Seasonal Package. I decided to check out more than a sample size today. First up is Boomerang IPA, an American IPA brewed with Australian hops, thus the name. A quick introduction on the back sets your expectations. 6.7% alcohol.

I also decided that this was the perfect opportunity to check out my new Govino "Go Anywhere" Beer Glass, a shatterproof, reusable and recyclable "glass" made from a BPA-free polymer. I guess the idea is to use it at the pool or beach or park where broken glass can be a problem. The glass is also ergonomically designed with a notch in the back, a design feature that helps you protect your beer with a good grip. It's a chilly day today, but I'll be using this at the pool regularly!

Floral, piney aroma, spicy and full of dank green hoppy goodness. Bitter floral flavors also at the beginning. The hops are assertive, fresh and very green. Spicy, peppery too! There are hints of tropical fruit as the label suggests, but those are not really more than interesting nuances. Overall, this is an extremely hop-forward beer, very refreshing, enjoyable. Definite winner!

Monday, November 3, 2014

Hop Soda

A few weeks ago, Ed Roberts was going on and on about this new awesome product that he wanted me to try. He had recently checked out the non-alcoholic Hop Soda made for Proper Beverages in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Since I have no idea where the soda aisle exists in Total Wine, Ed even bought me an individual 8.4 oz (250 mL) can, the way this product is packaged.

The tall skinny can prominently shows the name Hop Soda in lime green colors. If you click, the link above, you'll see that changes in their newest Hibiscus soda product. So I am guessing this is a lemon-lime type soda. On the back of the can, a story about hops and how they are not just for IPAs. Oh, and the nutritional information. Wow! Only 60 calories for the can.

I pulled out my Magic Hat "Small Pour" glass for the occasion. Spritzy carbonation bubbles kept exploding in my face as I smelled an aroma of hops, lemon and sugar. Sweet sugar flavors start first along with a little lemon and lime. There are some hops but they are not bitter in the slightest, so the soda remains on the sweet side throughout. The flavor was fine but very faint and boring.

Overall, the sweetness for me needed to be toned down a lot. In addition, I felt this was very much under-carbonated, and I missed that carbonation bite I usually get when drinking a soda. Both of those left me begging for some refreshment. I wanted to love this but am very disappointed.

It's cheap so try it and let me know who was right, Ed or me!