Monday, February 29, 2016

Limbo IPA

Total Wine has a new Brewery Direct set of beers here in South Florida from Vermont's Long Trail Brewing. I decided to check out their Limbo IPA first. Interesting label art shows a skeleton apparently in limbo resting under an huge old red tree. A little story on the neck label lets you know they are going for a flavor bomb using some new cool hops from Australia and the Pacific Northwest. 7.6% alcohol. 80 IBU. Bottled 122915

Orange and spicy peppery aroma. Also spicy flavors to start, peppery, sharp. Loads of pine, dank, resinous, citrus rind. Quite bitter. There is a sweeter hint of orange and fruit underneath, and moreso with some warmth. But the bitterness is dominant and potent. Little nips at the palate complement a long-lingering bitter finish. Good body. An IPA-lovers IPA! Great!

Sunday, February 28, 2016

SOBEWFF Amstel Light Burger Bash 2016

Last Friday night I had the opportunity to attend this year's Amstel Light #BurgerBash on the beach at South Beach's Ritz Carlton. I went to the event with Ed Roberts, and we met up with some representatives from Gold Coast (Amstel's distributor) and Heineken USA (Amstel is their brand).

Before Burger Bash 2015, Ed and I pre-gamed over at J. Wakefield Brewing. This year, a few bigger beers from Green Flash and Duvel over at the local Yard House did the trick before a night of light brews. This year we also arrived a little earlier to do the check in, get our bracelets, and then just BS with the people in line until they opened the gate.

On the way in were two Amstel girls, so of course I asked for a photo op. One of them apparently didn't like that I put my hand on her shoulder, first time I ever got that from a promotional model. Maybe I was just mistaken as I couldn't quite understand her accent. I probably just smelled bad!

Anyway, we made our way up and down the long tents to visit as many burger vendors as we could possibly try, especially the celebrity chefs and local Florida chefs. I know I went home uncomfortably full so I did my best. Besides Amstel Light to drink, you could have also tried Strongbow Cider, wine or some cocktails. I stuck to beer.

Along the way, we took a peek into the VIP area where the judges were voting on the burgers. The headliner this year was Neil Patrick Harris though I heard on a Paul and Young Ron radio interview earlier in the week that Andrew Zimmern was also a judge. I didn't see him though.

Rachael Ray was again the host of this 10th Annual Burger Bash. Other celebrity chefs included Morimoto, Al Roker and Bo Jackson. I'm fairly sure (though sometimes the superstars are there but not accessible at all) that Michael Symon, Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri, Scott Conant, The Sandwich Guy, and a dozen of the others from previous years were MIA (that doesn't stand for Miami here). For me, this year lacked significant star power. I mean, tickets for the thousands of people there were sold for $250 apiece.

That does not take away from the actual burger and electric experience, however. There was once again a great band playing some awesome music, dancing, etc. There were some other photo ops with nicer models and of course I got to meet Morimoto and Al Roker again, both super friendly and awesome. Al's burger was really great this year, and I voted for him.

Bo Jackson should have probably sent one of his restaurant's chefs to the event. He preferred to work the cooking line than to have anything to do with any of the fans that wanted a photo and a hello. Yeah, he smiled in our pic but he was cold. Ed said "it's an honor to meet you!" NO reply. #BoDoesntKnow #BurgerBash

Overall, a really nice experience. Great food, made some new friends, and I hope to return again next year! One more thought, a math observation... It is possible to drink 1000 calories of 95 Calorie Amstel Light in one sitting!

Friday, February 26, 2016

Hazy Sunrise Wheat Ale

Pretty sweet reflection, right?
Today I'm checking out Hazy Sunrise Wheat Ale brewed by Tomoka Brewing in Port Orange, Florida. Nice eye-catching can label, bright orange and yellow, showing the sun rising over a wheat field. A story on the side gets you in the mood to drink it "any time of day (with no judgment)." 5% alcohol. 12 IBU.

Full of orange, wheaty and spicy aroma. Similar flavors. Orange citrus is dominant with some spicy orange zest and coriander to follow. Crackers, wheaty twang and texture. Good body. Not sweet but there is a definite sweet and fruity streak throughout. Very enjoyable.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Pineapple Sculpin

I decided to check out Pineapple Sculpin today. Ballast Point Brewing has been riding the treatment wave of its flagship Sculpin IPA. I've tried and enjoyed Grapefruit Sculpin but had different thoughts on Habanero Sculpin. Pineapples, however, seem to be more up my alley from a conception standpoint. Label is the same, just with a golden yellow hue. 7.0% alcohol.

Big fruity aroma immediately upon opening the bottle. Orange, tangerine, just a simple whiff of pineapple. Flavors are similar starting with lots of orange citrus, flowers and dried fruit. After a few sips, a touch of sweet tropical pineapple seems to inject itself into the picture, just enough to add a subtle twist to an already great beer.

Very juicy, fruity and nice balance between sweet and bitter pine and spicy hops. Alcohol dryness comes at the finish as well. And while pineapple gives just a mere kiss throughout, those flavors linger the most in the aftertaste. Very interesting. I liked it!

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Glutiny Pale Ale

I tried New Belgium's Glutiny Golden Ale not too long ago. Very underwhelmed. I decided to see today if their Glutiny Pale Ale sets the bar any higher for this series "crafted to remove gluten." The labels of both beers are identical with the exception of the beer names. Oh, and the Enjoy By date, 08MAY16 for this particular bottle. 6.0% alcohol. "Join the Glutiny."

Orange citrus aroma, not too strong. Nice initial bitterness with plenty of zesty citrus rind. Lemony with a little solvent/cleaner type feel to it. A light orange sweetness adds a hint of balance. Very dry at the finish. Was OK. And this particular OK crushes Golden Ale.

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Liliko'i Kepolo

Saw a can from Avery with a Tiki on it called Liliko'i Kepolo. Without reading anything, I grabbed it a few days ago. This is a Belgian-Style White Ale brewed with spices and passionfruit. According to the short description, I should expect a lot of passionfruit along with a Tropical & Tart experience. 5.4% alcohol.

Holy Crap is that a lot of sweet passionfruit in the aroma. There is also a muted spicy component. Flavors are very sugary and full of overripe passionfruit to start. There is also a wheaty tang you will not miss. Some tartness refreshes the palate.

Coriander, orange rind, and perhaps some cloves show up, maybe more of a muted background nuance due to the passionfruit monster that is growing. Big body, chewy.

There is probably barely enough tartness to balance the passionfruit. But the passionfruit is surely dominant and not subtle in the slightest. Beer was OK. I did feel like I was on a tropical island, though!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Couch Surfer Oatmeal Stout

Otter Creek's Couch Surfer Oatmeal Stout is the one of the newest Brewery Direct beers to hit the Total Wine shelves recently here in South Florida. The label depicts a dog which is apparently sitting on a person sleeping with a mask on (please explain it to me, I'm not that sharp). "Gone before you know it... seriously!" 5.4% alcohol. 32 IBU.

Chocolate and cocoa aroma with just a touch of coffee. Very creamy, first impression. Chocolaty, burnt sugar, hints of coffee, light char. Very smooth as well. Good flavors, fairly simply yet tasty. Flavors linger long after each sip.

Thursday, February 18, 2016


#EpicTampaBreweryTour and the recaps from each stop are complete! As promised, I have linked to each below along with some maps that should be helpful should you be interested in planning a similar tour. Keep in mind that there are dozens of other breweries in the area, many both north and south of where I spent these two days. If only I had a week!!!

Other resources that were helpful to me besides the beer community on Twitter include:

1. The Brewery Bay

2. This relatively recent article from The Tampa Tribune

3. Tampa Bay Beer: A Heady History by Mark DeNote. I highly recommend this fantastic book with lots of insights, organized well, makes beer suggestions, prepares you with knowledge you'd have a hard time finding otherwise. And lots of pictures! I had it with me for the entire trip. It's cheap on Amazon...

Anyway, these maps are broken down into two days (Google would only let me put 10 locations into one map anyway). I'm sure you are capable of figuring out where to start and stop based on your own circumstances, preferences, etc. Pick your own hotel too! Oh, and finally, DON'T BE A DICK! Driving drunk is for fools!

Day One (Here's the Actual Map Link)

1. Cigar City Brewing

2. Tampa Bay Brewing

3. Coppertail Brewing

4. Dunedin Brewery

5. 7venth Sun Brewing

6. Barley Mow Brewing

7. Rapp Brewing

Day Two (Here's the Actual Map Link)

8. Pair O' Dice Brewing

9. Green Bench Brewing

10. Hidden Springs Ale Works

11. Southern Brewing & Winemaking

12. Angry Chair Brewing

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Angry Chair Brewing

We left Southern Brewing & Winemaking and headed for the 12th and last stop on #EpicTampaBreweryTour: Angry Chair Brewing! We arrived about 10 minutes before the brewery's 4 pm opening and snagged one of the 3 parking spots available in their lot! There are other places to park, but do not park on Fern Street as that fuels a feud with some locals.

Anyway, 4 pm came around and the door was unlocked for us #First (didn't even hold the door for my wife)! What a cool space! Lots of room, nice decor and details everywhere. Big long wooden bar and big long wooden tables, cool bar stools, many "Angry Chairs," lots of light, cool bartender, even Sam from Coppertail showed up about 15 minutes after opening and remembered our names from the day before!

As we decided on what beers to try, I asked a little about the brewery. I wasn't so clear on why "Angry Chair," but it has something to do with the owners' disdain for sitting in traffic and sitting at desks all day in their prior corporate lives. The brewery has only been open for 14 months. I noticed a flyer posted on the wall promoting "Rick Flair Night" on 2-26-16. Apparently that's Rick's birthday. Rick Flair 2015 is still the record-breaking busiest night for the brewery, even a year later. Costumes, special beers, games, prizes! I'd go if I lived nearby!

Flight One: Ascension 2.0 IPA; German Chocolate Cupcake Stout; Riddance Red Ale (with Cocoa, Cinnamon and Vanilla); Vassago Raspberry Berliner

Ascension 2.0, nice IPA with fruity orange flavor and just enough bitter balance; German Chocolate Cupcake Milk Stout, so awesome, seriously like tasting rich chocolate cake, sweet too, so be ready!

Riddance Red Ale started with a great caramel flavor and excellent hoppy balance, full of flavor, spicy with a little cinnamon; Vassago Raspberry Berliner, super duper raspberry flavor, very tart to the point of sour, also very fruity, loved it! But I showed this old dude that was asking about it "the pucker face" when drinking it, and he decided that was not for him, not even a taste.

That's it! #EpicTampaBreweryTour just ended! Soon, I will link to the route and some other resources that may be helpful if you're planning a similar tour. My next tour might be Asheville, NC. Maybe! Follow along with all the shenanigans here and thanks for paying attention!

Monday, February 15, 2016

Southern Brewing & Winemaking

After a short trip from Hidden Springs Ale Works, my wife and I arrived at Southern Brewing & Winemaking,  a combination brewery and home brew supply store. And Stop 11 on #EpicTampaBreweryTour! This was a bonus stop from my original plan after I was urged by a local Twitterite to make sure to include it.

We pulled up to a very cool mural that extended from the front of the building all the way to the back. It was as if you were looking directly into the brewery. We walked around to the front of the building but didn't see an entrance, so went to the back. Yep, that's the way in, through the huge outdoor beer garden space with picnic tables and lounge chairs.

Inside was a home brewer's paradise on one half of the building. Tons of equipment, bags of different grains, refrigerators with hops and yeast samples, etc. On the other half, a long bar, some tables and a nice comfy area with a few couches. We took a few seats at the bar and decided on a flight.

Flight One: Kelly's Belgian Wit; Lip Service IPA; Lost In Limbo EPA; Oliver's Gruel Oatmeal Stout

Kelly's Belgian Wit had a nice tangy wheat flavor, set off by some lemon and orange zest, lightly spicy, with a touch of yeast. Lip Service IPA was fruity, zesty, had some pine, not that bitter.

Lost In Limbo EPA showed a nice bright lemony bitterness. Oliver's Gruel was creamy with a sweet chocolate and bitter roast balance playing off each other.

After a few pictures, we headed outside to relax in the shade, was such a nice day for day drinking! We didn't actually have anywhere we needed to be considering our final planned stop didn't open for another hour. We eventually kicked the flight and headed back inside to pay the tab and look around a little bit more.

But it was finally time to head for our final destination, Angry Chair Brewing!

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Mana Wheat: Where's My Ukulele?!?!

Today I grabbed a can of Maui Brewing's Mana Wheat: Where's My Ukulele?!?!, a Flagship Beer and wheat ale brewed with pineapple juice. The brewery make sure you know it's brewed on Hawaii, as it's "Certified Made on Maui." The side panel gives you a lesson on why cans are the best packaging. Read it if you want below though that lesson has been embraced now for years.

You will also see a little story which introduces this beer. The Can Art shows a person playing the ukulele in front of the gentle waves of the ocean, just relaxing with an island hat. A final panel shows the brewery turtle logo, pretty cool. 5.5% alcohol.

Wheaty twang with a big fruity aroma, not easy to identify as pineapple. Ditto with the flavors. Very fruity but I taste more citrus and tangerines. OK, I'll throw you a pineapple bone but because you insisted. Wheaty, tangy, good flavors. I was expecting more of a pineapple juiciness, but this was definitely enjoyable.