Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Sunshine City India Pale Ale

Today I'm checking out Green Bench Sunshine City India Pale Ale. Sunshine City is the nickname for St. Petersburg, Florida, which holds a Guinness World Record for consecutive days of sunshine, 768 back in the late 60's. Sunshine City IPA is brewed to be "as bright as the warmest summer day." Equal quantities of Mosaic, Citra and Azacca hops were used; just reading that makes me ready to crack this one open. 6.8% alcohol. 68 IBU.

Terrific aroma full of tropical oranges and peaches and mangoes, just a hint of pine in the background. Flavors follow. Super juicy, orange and mango bursting with flavor. Spicy pine follows with a great answer. Sweet start meets a bitter finish. Nice beer!

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

The Brewers Project: Antwerpen Stout

Antwerpen Stout was created by Guinness in 1944 for export from Ireland to Belgium through the Port at Antwerp. Guinness is making this beer available for the first time in the United States as a specialty beer, part of The Brewers Project. 11.2 oz bottle. 8.0% alcohol.

Rich roasty aroma full of chocolate and caramel. Flavors start the same. Rich chocolate and sweet caramel meet a roasty, smokey challenge. Hints of coffee and prunes add some additional complexities.

Super creamy. Excellent lingering bitterness and dark fruity flavors last long on the palate. A light alcohol kick helps enhance some of the nuances as well. Very nice beer! Tasty!

Monday, November 28, 2016

Beer For Breakfast Stout

Dogfish Head recently released Beer For Breakfast Stout, their new winter seasonal for 2016. Don't forget that for the past eight years, Dogfish's seasonal beers also come as part of an art series, this year done by Drew Millward. And as usual, I'm planning a contest to give away some signed labels! Stay tuned!

Beer For Breakfast is a "tricked out stout" that is brewed with scrapple, coffee, maple syrup and spices. Holy shit! That ups the tricked out term altogether. 7.4% alcohol. 30 IBU.

Coffee and chocolate ALL DAY in the nose. Mmmm, sniff again! Chocolate flavors come first but are met with a huge, smoky, bacony savoriness. Very interesting from the get-go! Sweet maple is noticeable and balanced beautifully by an excellent roasted coffee flavor. Smoky cocoa flavors linger on the palate after each sip.

Creamy and smooth texture. A+++ for creativity. This beer has a lot going on and it sounds crazy, but despite the basket ingredients, all of the flavors work together in harmony. Definite winner!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Back Home Gingerbread Stout

Today I'm checking out Golden Road's Back Home Gingerbread Stout. The brewery sent me a pounder can delivered in a gingerbread house with a snifter and palm tree cookie cutter. Nice presentation. The can is also very festive with its colors and pattern of Christmasy items in the background pattern. 8.5% alcohol. 25 IBU.

Nice aroma jumps out of the glass, full of gingerbread, brown sugar, nutmeg, ginger and a light roast. The flavors are the same. Lots of gingerbread and spices. The problem is that while the flavors are pretty nice, the spices are overdone and the sweetness destroys the experience. Smells good but just too much to drink. Nah!

I saved the rest of the can to try the gingerbread recipe they also sent. Problem was that I couldn't find enough ambition to carry through in the next week or two, so that didn't happen. However, I'm willing to bet this beer would have been an excellent baking companion!

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Neon Gypsy Blood Orange IPA

Baltimore's DuClaw Brewing started having their beers distributed in South Florida recently. I've had a few of their beers here and there on vacations up north, but decided to give Neon Gypsy Blood Orange IPA a welcome here.

A story on the side sets your expectations, letting you know that they use 7 hop varieties and blood oranges to create this beer. Oh, and that "It's Bloody Refreshing!" 6.5% alcohol.

Fragrant and fruity with plenty of citrus and orange and a hint of tropical pineapple. Pine and citrus come first, resinous and quite bitter. Juicy, spicy. There is plenty of orange flavor but only a slight nod of any sweetness whatsoever. Neon Gypsy is definitely missing some balance as the bitterness goes to the point of overly harsh and unpleasant. Super dry at the finish. I'd pass.

DuClaw Neon Gypsy Blood Orange IPA

Friday, November 25, 2016

Happy Hermit International Pale Ale

Green Bench's Happy Hermit International Pale Ale is named after Silas Dent, a legendary local during the early to mid 1900's. Apparently Silas didn't trust civilization and lived his life in a simple hut on the beach. Bottom line is that this beer is supposed to be unique, just like Silas. 4.9% alcohol. 55 IBU.

Orange, citrus and a hint of tropical fruit on the nose, very pleasant. Orange citrus flavors also come first, super juicy and fruity. Reminds me of Tang, and in fact this beer has a great tangy character.

Initial sweetness is met with plenty of hoppy bitter citrus and pine. A tad spicy as well. Nice flavors. Great tasty beer.

Monday, November 21, 2016

FIU North Miami Brewfest

Saturday afternoon I attended the North Miami Brewfest being hosted by FIU's Chaplin School of Hospitality & Tourism Management. Yes, of course I was early! You know me better than that. And it's a good thing since I had to straighten out some expectations that went along with media credentials. 

The atmosphere was pretty chill, especially comparing to the bigger events. There were maybe 40 vendors, mostly breweries but also including some meadery, homebrewing and beer awareness groups. Food trucks and some outdoor party games were also set up on the outskirts of the tasting area. It was a beautiful day and when general admission was opened, a great crowd poured in and enjoyed a fun event.

Anyway, right at the noon start I began working my way around to the different brewery tents. First stop, Wynwood Brewing. Missionary of Beer David was in the house and told me all about a food pairing seminar that he was running later in the day with Bulldog Barbecue. As I was sampling a few of their beers, David told me he could use some help with his presentation, which of course I said yes!

All of the breweries at North Miami Brewfest were Florida breweries, and many of them were local. There were also several that are brewing but looking for or finalizing space options while working through the logistics of opening a brewery/tasting room. The event was staffed by FIU Volunteers, and the proceeds benefited the school's brewing science program. 

Some favorite breweries were there: Holy Mackerel, Cigar City, J. Wakefield, Coppertail, 26° Brewing to name a few. And of course with those come some standard favorite beers, your Jai Alai, Unholy Tripel and Special Golden Ale type beers that are always standouts. 

But a few new ones caught my eye. I had J. Wakefield's Campos de Fresas a few weeks ago but it's still a new awesome beer rarely brewed by them. Tampa Bay Brewing killed it with Reef Donkey APA; Lost City's Flan was quite the unexpected treat; and Brew Hub hit a home run brewing Slingback's Perry Ale with Passion Fruit and Pear juices.

A few more... King Fox had a sour beer called The Dry Hoppa Lemon Drop Berliner Weisse that was awesome; Miami Brewing had Imperial Black Jack, a blend of their 2014 Imperial Pumpkin and 2015 Imperial Stout aged in Whiskey Barrels--12% alcohol deliciously hidden! Pair O' Dice's Clearwater Honey Cream is pretty new to our market too, also delicious!

I bumped into Floribrew Mike and Mrs. Floribrew just as my second lap around the joint started. The second time, though, I mostly just chatted with other attendees and the volunteers and BS'ed about beer. Oh, and made a few recommendations from what I learned on the first time through.

After visiting every tent, we decided to check out the food vendors in the VIP area. Oops! While it was OK for us to enter that area, apparently our media passes didn't allow for food tasting. Sorry food vendors, hope the VIP attendees said some nice things about you. 

It was 3 pm anyway, and I was about to do the food pairing seminar with David from Wynwood, so I did get to taste some awesome BBQ alongside Wynwood's beers. And in the company of beer royalty: Native Brewing's Adam Fine and FIU Professor Dr. Barry Gump! Floribrew Mike said something later about a delicious Big Mac on the way home, LOL.

Anyway, that's how I ended my day. David led the group of almost 40 in a beer and food pairing. I was the assistant that just smiled and did whatever he told me to do. On the way out, a few people said, "Thanks, Luis" to me which caught me off guard. Then I read the seminar description again and realized Wynwood Founder Luis Brignoni was supposed to be with David. And that explains why he needed some extra help too. Funny!

Until next time...

Monday, November 14, 2016

PC Pils

At Grovetoberfest a few weeks ago, I was introduced to PC Pils, a new beer from Founders Brewing. Instead of using Noble hops as in a traditional pilsner, American varieties including Cascade, Chinook and Centennial were used to give this beer its unique twist. Available in both six packs and those fun 15 packs of cans. 5.5% alcohol. 45 IBU. Bottled On 09/14/16

Floral and citrus aromas jump out of the glass into your nose with just a touch of grain in the background. Great apple fruity flavors come first, again with a hint of grain afterward. Plenty of citrus, light spice, tangy.

Carbonation is prickly. Refreshing, nicely balanced, leaning just bitter. Very nice beer and for sure "profoundly crushable."

Friday, November 11, 2016

Modus Mandarina India Pale Ale

Total Wine in Florida currently has a handful of Ska Brewing's beers on the shelf as part of their Brewery Direct program. Modus Mandarina India Pale Ale is one that I grabbed a can of to check out today. This is an IPA dry hopped with Mandarina Bavaria hops and brewed with orange peels. Around the rim: CRUSH RECYCLE RETICULATA SMARTEN HALFTIME RECYCLE BEVY FOREST ZEST KYLE RECYCLE. 6.8% alcohol. (Drink) BY FEB 26, 2017.

Big mandarina aroma dominates anything else you might smell. Super juicy flavors, again full of orange flavors. Sweet at the start though that is met with plenty of hoppy goodness alongside some sharp orange rind bitterness. Hints of pine, lightly spicy too, dry at the finish. 

However, to recap, this is orange IPA gone wild! Orange juicy, orange rind, orange hops, orange can, orange color. Very good beer (yes, I love oranges and manadarinas), though I prefer that Stone Tangerine IPA I recently tried!

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Heavy Seas Pounder Pils

A bomber can of Heavy Seas Pounder Pils from Clipper City Brewing in Baltimore caught my eye today at the liquor store. I thought it was a Halloween beer with the skulls, but nope, just the normal pirate stuff this brewery does. A little story on the side explains that "Six Pounders" is both the name of naval cannons and a sixer of these cans! 5.0% alcohol. 38 IBU.

Toasted grain, lemon, floral aroma. Similar flavors, grassy, lemony, tangy, floral. A nice bitterness, light spice, sharp carbonation and just a hint of crackers round out the flavor profile. Crisp, clean, (no caffeine), could easily drink this all day, maybe 12 pounds!

Wednesday, November 9, 2016


Stone Xocoveza was originally brewed as the winner of their annual homebrew competition in 2014. Apparently, Stone got tired of hearing social media calls for a re-brew, and now making this beer is "a yearly tradition too special to skip."

Xocoveza is a mocha stout brewed with cocoa, coffee, peppers, vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg. Yeah, I thought the same thing, going to be an overdone spice mess, though I know Stone isn't in the habit of putting out beers like that, so yeah, here we are. The original idea was a take on a spicy Mexican hot chocolate, so let's see! Bottled 10/02/16. 8.1% alcohol. Contains Lactose. #Xocoveza

Aroma so awesome I want to make out with it! Rich chocolate, awesome coffee, cinnamon, and spice delighting my nose! Chocolate flavor comes first, super creamy coating the palate on every sip. Not sweet at all. A really nice coffee flavor and roast complements that chocolate start.

Spicy peppers don't wait for an invite and shoot through the chocolate, nice combination. But while adding a little heat, this isn't a pepper beer, not overdone, just right. Vanilla and cinnamon add some intriguing complexities.

Finish is spicy with a low-grade lingering heat. So much happening but all in spectacular harmony. A+++

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Reef Donkey APA

Tampa Bay Brewing Company recently started distributing pounder cans of Reef Donkey APA to the Miami market. Reef Donkey is the nickname for the Amberjack game fish found in and around Florida's reefs. The artwork on the can beautifully depicts an underwater scene where these fish are patrolling an old shipwreck.

Reef Donkey won Bronze at the 2014 GABF for an American Style Pale Ale. 5.5% alcohol. Canned on 09/28/16

Very fragrant. Fruity, citrus, tropical with an amazing candied lemon aroma I didn't want to stop sniffing. Flavors follow with lots of lemony bitterness. Yet the beer somehow seems sweet at the same time. Orange citrus, nicely spicy and tangy.

Make no mistake that this is a hoppy pale ale full of bitterness. Prickly carbonation adds some sharp nips at the palate. Very clean. Excellent lingering fruity flavors. Definitely check this out!

Monday, November 7, 2016

Verde and J. Wakefield Brewing Fall Beer Dinner

Last Thursday evening, my wife and I attended a beer dinner at Verde at the PĂ©rez Art Museum Miami. Verde's Chef Kaytlin Dangaran prepared a meal featuring the beers of Wynwood's J. Wakefield Brewing. The restaurant is open during museum hours, which includes Thursday evenings when they try to do some special events like this dinner.

A reception featuring passed canapes took place in the spacious outdoor area adjacent the restaurant with spectacular views of Biscayne Bay and the city. We were handed glasses of Campos de Freses, a dangerously delicious 9.5% alcohol strawberry flavored beer. The grilled oysters with cranberry mignonette and brown butter were so awesome. I had a lot! And the calabaza arrancini with kale pesto was great too.

After chatting over another beer with some of the other guests, we were invited inside the restaurant for the 3 course meal. Chef Kaytlin and Dave from J. Wakefield led us through the pairings and answered a lot of questions from the attendees.

The first course of Roasted heirloom beets with Gorgonzola yogurt, watercress, and spiced pistachios was paired with J. Wakefield's Just Beet It, a variation on their Stush Berliner Weiss brewed with beets! Yeah, I know, crazy! If you've ever had their Stush, it's quite tart, even puckering, but the sweetness from the beets added a really nice balance. AND COLOR! Low alcohol refreshment!

Next up... Porchetta! God I love me so juicy pig with crispy skin. And the roasted potatoes were the perfect match. We drank 24th Street Brown Ale as a match. 

Finally, dessert! Chocolate and graham cracker tart with burnt marshmallow fluff. Wakefield pulled out their Stay Puft Smoked Marshmallow Porter for the occasion, brewed only once before. Decadent food paired with decadent beer!

I posted the full menu below. Nice people and ambiance and of course, the food and beers were terrific! Check out Verde when visiting the museum (or whenever, you don't need a ticket to dine there), and for sure stop by J. Wakefield Brewery to see what they have on tap!

Passed Canapes

Grilled oyster with cranberry mignonette
Chicken liver mousse and seared foie gras crostini with pickled fennel and mustard seeds
Calabaza arrancini with kale pesto

*Beer Pairing: Campos de Fresas - 9.5% abv

First Course

Roasted heirloom beets with Gorgonzola yogurt, watercress, and spiced pistachios 

*Beer Pairing: Just Beet It - 3.5% abv

Second Course

Porchetta with rosemary chimichurri, roasted marble potatoes and mustard greens

*Beer Pairing: 24th Street Brown - 6.8% abv


Chocolate and graham cracker tart with burnt marshmallow fluff

*Beer Pairing: Stay Puft Smoked Marshmallow Porter - 7% abv