is off to a good start. The "Best Day of The Year So far..."
was Jan. 26th in Abacoa Town Center, Jupiter Florida. The Jupiter
BrewFest has come of age. It will be known as the best beer festival
in South Florida. From an expanded vendor list to beer celebrities
it had it all. In March my annual trip to the 12 hours of Sebring
combined with a visit to Orlando Brewing where good beer and good
times are brewed. Reports
below.. New Event! The First Annual Great Orlando Beer Festival
was on May 17,2008; necessitating a trip back to Orlando. The event
was a success; the schedule was similar to the Jupiter event which
seems to work out well. (Saturday afternoon from 2 to 7PM.) Review
a road trip to the Mid Ohio Race course to see the Le Mans cars
race happened. We flew in via Cleveland and explore the good beer
scene in that area. A quick look at Beer Advocate's listings shows
several days of brewpub visits! First up will be the Brew
Kettle, a beer drinkers favorite followed by Great
Lakes Brewing Co. for dinner. This
years "theme" is "More Beer Bars in More Places"
which should be evident on this trip! Reviews
October trip to Western NC should yield many good beers; several
new, I'm sure.
Brewfest - Jupiter, Florida
Saturday January 26, 2008 I attended the second annual
Jupiter Brewfest with two of my good beer drinking
friends. As is now "tradition"we stopped
at the Yard House for lunch. Yard House is a small
chain of restaurants that each have over 100 beers
on tap. Most of their locations are on the west coast;
this is the only one in Florida. There is a Yardhouse
planned for Coral Gables; we look forward to visiting
in October when they open. The fest was only a couple
of exits up I-95 and we arrived there about 2:00.
It is set up around the town center at Abacoa, a development
that has retail and public areas with residential
above or nearby. There was a long line to get in but
the advance sale one moved right along. This years
theme was "The Best Day of The Year So far.."
I agree and it was. When I walked in I went to the
first vendor, Shipyard Brewery of Portland Maine for
my first beer taste. I met some guys from California
with Stone Brewing shirts on. We spoke of how much
we liked that brewery and when I turned around my
two friends had melted into the crowd. This was probably
for the best as it let everyone go at their own pace.
I met many more people and had a great afternoon tasting
beers and talking up the craft brewing industry in
general. I handed out some cards with this website
mentioned and had many positive responses. There were
beers that we hadn't had as well as some familiar
names. Dogfish Head had 60 and 90 minute IPA on. There
was some 120 min there but unmarked. Someone told
me about it and said to go early as it would probably
run out. I did and also had one at the end; it was
one of the only beers left about 7:00. Bells Beer
of Michigan is new to Florida; they had a popular
booth and some great beers. The owner, Larry Bell,
was serving beer himself. Brooklyn Brewing's Brewmaster,
Garrett Oliver was also there and opened a "Local
One", a special Belgian style beer, and served
me one. It was an excellent beer and I was able to
find it locally the next day. One booth had a "home
made" IPA which really tasted good. There was
music in the background all afternoon. At 4:00 there
was a "Best Dressed Monk" contest held by
Monk in the Trunk the local Jupiter brewery. The silent
disco by Oskar Blues was cool. When you walked by
the dance floor there were people dancing with no
music! (It was on their headphones!) I finished my
day at Avery Brewing one of Colorado's best. I had
made a friend behind the booth so it was a good ending
point. I also met up with my two lost friends. I think
I made most of the booths; if not there is always
next year! It was dark and the fest was closing so
we headed back to our hotel and dinner.
Beer Finders Tip: Emporium Wine Beer Spirits store
is a local store for good beer. Located at 11865 US
1 N Palm Beach just south of Jupiter it had several
beers we didn't have at home. Know your beer though
as I saw some dusty bottles. Sierra Nevada Anniversary
ale was in the cooler still good; I wish I had bought
both six packs. Some interesting Belgians too. Traveling
north there is a Publix Store 1049 "Countyline
Plaza Publix" that gets mention because it has
the largest selection of good beer I have ever seen
in a Publix. There was an entire aisle, in this large
store, of both warm and cold good beer. I found the
above mentioned Brooklyn beer as well as Bells. This
was a random find as we tried a liquor store first
and just decided to check the grocery store on a chance.
Good beer found once again! Website: www.jupiterbrewfest.com
Yard House Website: www.yardhouse.com
Brewing Co. - Orlando, FL.
is my custom every March I attend the 12 Hours of Sebring
sports car endurance race followed by a trip to nearby
brewpubs, breweries or beer bars. On Saturday March
15, 2008, after an early start I arrived at Sebring
Raceway, with two good beer drinking friends, just in
time for the start of the race. As is tradition, beers
were popped for the start. This year the "official"
beer was Eel River Organic IPA. I have been having a
hard time finding this beer but Steve the beer guy at
the local Whole Foods Market got it in just two days
before the race. Close call but this beer was enjoyed
by all so it was worth it. Several were given to local
friends who always enjoy what ever "strange"
beer I manage to find. After a full day of racing, walking
around looking at crazies and beer drinking we headed
to Orlando for the night and a visit to Orlando Brewing.
The Brewery is located in downtown Orlando where we
stayed at an Embassy Suites hotel. This hotel is well
hidden among the ever changing one way and closed streets
of the downtown area. We arrived just in time for one
beer at the "Managers Reception". It was a
forgettable wheat beer but better that the big three,
anyway. The brewery doesn't serve food but was having
a St Patrick's day dinner / beer bash. We got a cab
there (good idea) and arrived about 9:00. Orlando Brewing
is just that; not a bar or a brewpub. Their tasting
room has everything they brew and probably ten outside
"guest" beers. The brewery is certified organic;
all their beers are brewed according to the German Purity
Law of 1516. The place probably holds 60 and was half
full on this night. There was a guitarist in one corner,
a bar along one side and tables scattered about the
rest of the place. The Irish food was laid out in a
back room; shepards' pie, corned beef with cabbage and
pudding. There was plenty through out the evening. After
this long day of drinking and walking the unlimited
food was great; when they wanted to close the dinner
table down we were able to fill plates before it was
put away. The brewing takes place in a separate room
just behind the bar area. Tours are available on weekdays.
This is a great place to drink some good beer. The atmosphere
is laid back, the staff and patrons are friendly and
the beer is good. I sampled most of their beer and was
presently surprised with them. There were several IPAs
on including a double that I said was "world class"
I spoke with one of the owners and told him that. These
guys want to become the local beer for Orlando area
and I think they will succeed. We had a great time and
almost closed the place. After midnight we called the
cab back and rode back to the hotel. Before bed we had
a very necessary "nightcap" of Boulder MoJo
Risin' Double IPA. Some of OBs' beer is available, locally,
in 6 packs. The next day we found a few at a local Whole
Foods. Their distributor only distributes for OB so
is only selling their beer. We all like the beer and
think that some need minor tweaking for the regular
folks to enjoy. There is a lot of beer out there and
$12 a six is pricey. We did get several to take back
as we won't see this in Miami.
Beer Finders Tip: Big C Liquors in Winter Park has one
of the best local selection of good beers. We found
the entire line of Bells Ales as well as several other
brands not available in Miami. They have most of the
beers in singles as well as 4 and 6 packs. Located on
University Blvd. in Winter Park. Update 2018: Big C now has a Facebook page.
Orlando Brewing Website: www.orlandobrewing.com
Orlando Beer Festival - Orlando, FL
Saturday May 17, 2008 the first Great Orlando Beer was
held. I attended along with the "usual suspects"
my two good beer loving friends. We left early that
morning, driving in my new car, so we would arrive at
lunchtime. The event was to start at 2:00 and we were
in town at 12:00. We had read about a great pub with
good beers and food; The Ravenous Pig in nearby Winter
Park. The place was great; excellent beers and organic,
natural foods on the menu. I will give a full review
of the restaurant in the beer and food section of this
website at a later date. Suffice it to say I had Bells
Two Hearted Ale with a Smoked Pork Sandwich with chimichurri,
corn and black eyed pea relish, cheddar on grilled sourdough.
A different taste; everything on the menu is made there
at the pub from local sources as much as possible. This
was a great find; I highly recommend it when in Orlando.
That Bells ale isn't in Dade County yet so that alone
was a find; great food made it even better! The 'Pig
was great but we had to get to the festival. The event
was held near the downtown area of Orlando; our hotel
was a mile from the event. We drove to the festival
and found the nearby parking garage as advertised. There
were other festival goers there; we spoke with several
and headed to the event. About one block from the parking
lot we looked for our tickets and they were back at
the car. Our new found friends said they would see us
later inside. As we headed back to get the tickets we
suddenly had company; they also had forgotten their
tickets! We could see that this was going to be a great
time! As we entered they handed everyone a "raffle"
ticket to be drawn later. The festival was set up with
tents on three sides and a group in the middle. The
middle area is right in front of you when yor enter
so it was up first. The Central Florida Home Brewers
had a tent with four beers to taste. All were good;
the "Red" ale was the best they were pouring.
(Not to be confused with the red ales popular several
years ago.) This was a stronger ale with totally different
taste. Right next door was Dogfish Head Brewing; brewing
"Off centered ales for off centered people".
They had their Black and Blue a Belgiany ale made with
blackberries and blueberries. This is a great beer but
outside in the heat I enjoyed the 60 minute IPA more.
Later I met the local distributor and he told me about
a beer Dogfish sent him with a note "Enjoy this
at the festival" on it. It wasn't on the bill or
listed; it was Palo Santo Marron an ale fermented in
wooden tanks! The keg at the festival was the only one
to be here in Florida until they get production up.
The beer will be available here soon but this was a
cool thing for the festival. I returned to the tent
and was able to try the new beer. I look forward to
exploring it more when it is available here in Florida.
It had a complex taste reflecting the wooden tanks it
was fermented in and the brown ale it began as. For
more about the beer visit
Dogfish's website where there is a video about it
and the company. Cool guys! Next door was Orlando Brewing
which I recently visited. (Scroll up this page for the
full review). The Red ale was enjoyed; It is probably
their best seller along with the Pale Ale. This tent
was at the end of the row; the stage and some tables
to sit at were there. I like this idea; so many festivals
don't offer a place to sit and relax for a few miniutes
before continuing on. One group played old Joe Walsh
tunes with some dancing along.The day was warm but cloud
cover really saved the day. The may want to move the
event up a few weeks to get the last of springs cooler
weather. Around the corner was PBR; I skipped that and
cut across to the back row where Bells was. They had
the Two Hearted ale and Oberon both were great. Their
booth is also always good for beer paraphernalia; stickers,
key chains etc. Next door was Brooklyn Brewing and Flying
Dog. Both have many bottled beers; many here at the
fest. Terrapin Beer was nearby. I was able to try Big
Hoppy Monster which wasn't out when I was last in Georgia.
John, the owner, had a few stashed and invited me to
tour the brewery in Athens next time I'm there. Shmaltz
Brewing, maker of the Hebrew line was well represented.
Sackets Harbor Brewing had their original War of 1812
Amber Ale and the newer Thousand Isle ale. I had never
heard of this brewery; some is contracted with Saratoga
Springs Brewing in New York. They are new to the Florida
market; the booth was crowded and I only got a taste.
The back corner was a fun area; a local pub Underground
Bluz - UCF had several beers. They had two Lost Coast
Ales on tap as well as Monk in the Trunk from Jupiter
(Orlando) brewing. They had many interesting bottles;
we were there for the opening of Speedway Stout a most
enjoyable Calif. stout. Next door was the distributor
of Sam Smiths English ales among other things. We then
saw a South Florida local, Adam of Fresh Beer, Inc.
I didn't know that he went this far upstate but the
Fresh Beer line is going statewide. This includes Native
Lager and the Eleven Brown Ale. I mentioned that I first
met him at the old Miami Beach Festival years ago. At
that time he was brewing and distributing locally. What
a difference several years makes! His company has grown
beyond his wildest expectations. I missed a few booths
and I'm sure this went well for a first time event.
There was one really bad beer; a sour ale from Jolly
Pumpkin. I still pucker up just thinking about it. The
event ended strangely; about 15 minutes before closing
a bunch of "cops" started blowing whistles
and announcing "All vendors stop serving now".
These antics continued for around 5 minutes. Most everyone
did stop pouring and people started to go. It was a
great day; this was just a strange way to end it. We
left to go to our hotel with a return to the 'pig for
a late dinner.
Update 2018: This festival was a one off affair. The organizers tried to hold it for the next few years but never were able to make it happen again. There is a new festival "The Orlando Beer Festival" that started in 2015 and still is going. Maybe the November date will bring cooler weather. Website.
Beer finders tip: Knightly Spirits is a good local source for many hard to find beers.
It is a small place but I saw beers I didn't know existed.
Barleywines from Norway, IPA from Denmark, Swedish beers
too. Many European examples of popular micro brew styles.
Also a good selection of "regular" micros.
Some stuff is a bit pricey; $9 for a bottle of IPA or
Barleywine is a bit much but lets see how the beers
are. Bring small he can't carry everything they were
out of the Bells I wanted too. Still a worthwhile visit;
Chris was very helpful and came out to describe and
help find beers while running the counter also.
Update 2018: The location above has closed but Knightly Spirits lives on. The small chain now has 5 stores with the Orange Blossom Trail location the best for craft beer. Website.
over pictures below for another view
Brew Kettle - Strongsville, OH
Brew Kettle was a great start to our 10 day visit to
Ohio. It is a good beer drinkers dream; some of their
own, along with several great regional / national brews
on tap for 24 total. All the good beer backed up by
great food. If that's not enough they also offer brewing
of your own beers also. It's a great combo and a friendly
place. The brewing area has a several month long waiting
list and they were brewing the night we were there.
The 'Kettle isn't big on the outside; it looks like
a small storefront. Once inside it is a long narrow
area with a big brewing area in the back. We were there
on a Thursday afternoon and there was still a good crowd
there; by the time we left there were no seats left
at the bar. We sat at the bar and started with samplers.
They have a handout listing the beers and sample prices.
The standard was five different beers. We all tried
to get different beers so we could try more. They were
in the process of moving the brew house so there were
only three Ringneck beers available. The two I had were
excellent; Founders Red Rye and 4 C's Pale Ale. The
4 C's was the first brew from the new brew house; the
4 C's are hops. (Cascade, Centennial, Columbus and Chinook.)
The 4 C was great; I had a full pint later. The other
samples I had were Bear Republic Racer Five, New Holland
Mad Hatter and Boulder MoJo Risin. All are IPA's; my
favorite style; it was great to have so many at one
place. The 'Kettle has great pub grub as well. The chili
had meat chunks in it with a spicy taste. Later I had
a Bratwurst another local favorite. I can see why the
place is popular; the menu is varied and everything
we had was prepared fresh and with good ingredients.
At five the brew area comes to life and there was a
full group of home brewers brewing. Some were just starting
the brewing process and some had already brewed and
were capping the finished product. The brewing folks
were having fun and friendly to anyone wanting to check
out what they were doing. One group told me that they
brew "all the time" and the recipe they used
was one they had used before with good results. The
capping is more fun as you get to sample your new beer
as you are capping and labeling the new brew. I brewed
at a brew on premises several years ago but this looks
like a lot more fun. Having a full bar and restaurant
right there makes it a complete experience and lots
of fun. We hope for something like this back home but
are still waiting. The 'Kettle was a great start; our
bartender, Paul gave us great service and the entire
staff is friendly and outgoing. We appreciate this as
it is getting hard to find places like this these days.
Lakes Brewing - Cleveland, OH
visit to Great Lakes Brewing Co was for a few brews
and a late dinner. Although it was a Thursday night
and busy we were seated right away across from the
bar. The place has several different areas to eat
and drink; there is also seating outside on a patio.
The pictures to the left are of the bar area. The
building is over 100 years old and has some history
to it. We were late so most of the crowd there was
for drinks. They serve late and we enjoyed the food.
GLBC has many of their beers on tap; six all the time
and a rotating list of seasonals. We had beers fron
the regular menu; there were no seasonal beers available
that night. That was ok; the Commodore Perry IPA and
Edmund Fitzgerald Porter both were good. The menu
has a good variety of items; everyone was able to
find something good. I had the Sirloin Steak with
peppercorn sauce and veggie valley mashed potatoes
with veggies. They are committed to using locally grown and organic
ingredients when ever possible. The late dinner turned
out great; sometimes the late eaters don't get the
best menus. GLBC really came through on that. We would
like to visit again as it was a long day and we didn't
sample the beers as much as we would have liked. Also
I hear that they have brewery tours that are fun as
well as informative. Our visit was on the night that
the AC wasn't working in the bar area. When I went
downstairs I saw another huge dining and bar area.
This downstairs was cool; we wonder why they didn't
let everyone come down there as the upstairs was getting
hot. The heat didn't ruin our visit but it did hasten
our exit. We would like to visit during the day to
see the building better and try more beers. Hopefully
the AC will be working as well! Website: GreatLakesBrewing.com
Fine Wines - Chagrin Falls, OH
is listed as Cleveland but is a bit out in the country.
We were heading south to the races at Mid Ohio Race
Course and wanted to stock up on good beer for the
event and beyond. It is located east of town and the
detour was well worth it. As close as it is to Cleveland
it feels like a very rural place. Chagrin Falls is
right in the center of town along with the Popcorn
Shop an old fashioned candy shop by the falls. Just
down the street in Chuck's. The building is probably
100 years old and has had many uses. There is ample
parking on the side or on the street nearby. As you
enter there are shelves and counters of all sizes
filled with wine. The beer is located beyond the cash
register area to the left. There is a great selection
of American Micros and many imported beers also. The
Belgian selection is one of the best for many miles
around, I'm sure. The staff was helpful; we met Mike
the guardian of the Vault. The vault is in the back
and has many older and rare beers. You need a password
to get into the vault; that's another joke at Chuck's.
(There is none!) Once inside the vault Mike kept pulling
out beer after beer that we had never seen or hadn't
had for years. I like IPAs and one of my friends is
big on Stouts; there was much to please everyone.
There were so many beers that we wanted; we ended
up with more that we could drink in the next week!
A few example breweries from the selection: Stone,
Bells, Great Lakes, Weyerbacher, New Holland, Southern
Tier, Moylans, AleSmith, Pyramid and many more. Some
of the collectable were one of a kind; we got several
that were discontinued or no longer sold in Ohio.
When we were finished they packed all the beer up
in boxes and helped us to the car. Even though we
were running late we went by the falls to see it and
the town area. It would be great to return with more
time as I can see the area has lots to offer; good
beer being just one attraction. One note of caution:
when buying old and "rare" beers be aware
that some don't age well. We bought several that probably
should have been left on the shelf. All things considered
this is still a great beer store and we will return
when in the area. Website: Chucksfinewines.com
J. Mugsy's - Upper Sandusky, OH
trip went west on the Lincoln Highway into a very rural area.
This was a great find; 100 beers in an Italian restaurant
with American fare too. IPA and Stout both found; friendly
service beers on display to choose from. Great food!
Anthony Brewing Company - Auburn, IN
Anthony's has three locations; we visited the taproom in Auburn.
Good rotating selection; pale ale was the best. They also
bottle; we got several to go. Robin, our waitress, one day
will be your host on the Weather Channel!
Creek Brewing Company - Athens, GA
missed this one in 2006; they were closed on the Sunday I
was there. This was a quick stop for lunch and a brew. With
four beers available I sampled each and had a pint of American
ale. All natural food menu available also.
Ales - Asheville, NC
"big" find in a small store! The best selection
in the area; over 700 beers and more! The owner, Jason, was
working and we made his day. Lots of great beers bought; it
truly is "a high gravity world of beers" Green Flash
(CA) brews found!
Brewing - Coral Gables, FL
is my "home" brewpub so there could be some bias.
They have six regular ales and several seasonal's on tap.
Good varied menu; something for everyone. Mug Club members
meet on Wednesdays for happy hour and dinner on the house!
Update 2008: Two seasonal brews so far this year. A Belgian
Triple and First American Pale Ale a very hoppy pale ale.