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2014: Florida Craft Beer Continues it's Rise

In 2014 the Florida craft beer scene will continue it's explosive growth rate. In the last few years many new breweries have opened in all corners of the state. With names like Hourglass, Intuition, Due South, Barley Mow, 7venth Sun, Wynwood, Tequesta and many others they are setting the stage for a great new Florida tradition: Drink Like a Local. Joining the established breweries such as Cigar City, Dunedin, Brewzzi, A1A, Titanic, Swamphead and others they all will be part of a craft beer takeover of Florida. By the end of 2014 most everyone in the state will be able to find truly local beer in their local beer bars, brewpubs and stores. The Florida breweries are growing and improving. I have noticed that the newer guys are improving their beer and brewing many different styles of beer. There are some breweries that aren't even open yet. St Petersburg and Orchid Island are two the will be opening soon. A few of our pioneer breweries didn't make it but this time it looks for real My "goal" for Florida is to have at least one brewery in each of the 67 counties. This would be great as Floridians could take small trips in their home state and see and learn about many different aspects of the state and drink some good local beer at each stop. I'm looking forward to a great year for Florida's craft brewers. I will try to visit some of these new breweries and some old favorites this year. In addition there will be trips somewhere other than Florida; there just aren't any plans yet. I hope to see you out there trying all the new brews; let's raise a pint to local Florida beer.

Cheers, Larry

Drink_Florida_Craft_Beer

Past reviews 2006 - 2013 Click on each year. Enjoy, Larry
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Saltwater Brewery Taps / Building

Saltwater Brewing - Delray Beach, Florida

My first brewery visit of 2014 was to Saltwater Brewing in Delray Beach. Saltwater is one of South Florida's newest production breweries; having opened December 30th. On this day there were 10 brews on tap. This was the end of South Florida beer week and they were several new releases for the occasion. Today's new beer was a Dopplebock; the brewer handed us samples when we came in. I'm not a big German style drinker but this one was good. If fact I later got a growler (made from blue glass) of it to go. Samplers of 4 beers are available; my group got 8 to try. I got the Screamn' Reels IPA, Stinger DIPA, Don't get Confused Belgian Tripel and Flying Scotsman Scotch ale. All were good, my favorite was the IPA. The Scotch ale was very quaffable for a strong ale and the Tripel was enjoyed but didn't really seem like a Belgian. (None of the familiar yeast taste and the color was darker than most I have seen.) Nothing wrong with different interpretations; Saltwater has their own spin on most of the beers. The tap room has a great laid back fun atmosphere and everything is nautically related. There is a very cool mural that uses the ocean depth and distance from shore to explain just where each of the brews is. Deeper on the chart are the darker (higher SRM) colored beers. The further from shore the 'rougher' things get; the stronger beers are further out. My visit was short and I will try to have more time to enjoy the place next time. We had to head on as there were more breweries to visit! Photos on the GBL FB page. Website: Saltwaterbrewery.com

Jupiter_Craft_Brewers_Festival_Logo
Jupiter_Craft_Beer_Festival_2014_Barley_Mow_Brewing / Orchid _Island_Brewing
Jupiter_Craft_Beer_Festival_2014_Wynwood_Brewery / Cigar_City_Brewing

Field of Beers / Craft Brewers Festival - Jupiter, FL

The Field of Beers is a small event where 375 people taste 15 food and beer pairings. It takes place at Roger Dean Stadium around the dugouts and home plate. Each station has a special beer specifically paired with a chefs creation. A few memorable stops: Monkfish and Maple Bacon"Corn Dog" with Cigar City Lemon Grass IPA. La Caga China (Pork) with Big Bear Boss Hogg Double IPA. Smoked Duck Meatballs with Brewzzis Nut Brown Ale. Wagu Slider "Blue Burgers" with Victory Red Thunder. "Bell and Evans" Organic Chicken Chili (No Beans) with Green Rooms Mad Manatee IPA. Dessert was at home plate with Fresh Cider Doughnuts paired with Stone 2008 Biter Chocolate Oatmeal Stout. This is one of my favorite beer events; the sixth annual event didn't disappoint. If you would like to try it next year the tickets go on sale in mid December on the Website. It sells out quickly so keep checking so you don't miss it. See the complete menu HERE.

The Craft brewers Festival takes place on the next day, Saturday. It is an afternoon event and once again the weather cooperated. My old idea of coming a bit late didn't work; many others had the same idea. The line moved quickly and soon we were in. My first beer was at Barley Mow. Jay the brewer was pouring and I let him know that I like his pub and beers. The Barleywine and IPA both were great. Next door Proof Brewing had a good Stout. Sierra Nevada had a Dark IPA that replaces the Estate series as the hops didn't work out like they wanted. The Stout Mustard was good too. Orchid Island of Vero, opening soon had greatly improved beer. (From last year) Greenman Brewery of Asheville, NC had a 'secret' beer. It was an Imperial Red and there was only one keg. This beer gets my vote for Best Beer of the day. Sailfish Brewing had a double IPA and several other good brews. Funky Buddha was nearby with a huge line for beer that was already gone! Wynwood was good; the cinnamon beer could be a holiday beer and the IPA has improved. Pops was there pouring and really interacting with the people. He's good with the folks I saw him the night before too. I walked along this row and tried Roony's, Flying Fish, Aardwolf and Highland. As closing approached I was at New Belgium and met the local ranger, Dave. I got a Ranger IPA to go and finished up at Native Brewing enjoying a Pale Ale and just talking with Adam. This was the end as the vendors were closing and people were leaving. I met my friends and everyone had a great day as always. The Jupiter weekend is still one of South Florida's best.

Rapp_Brewing_Seminole_FL_Tasters / Menu

Rapp Brewing - Seminole, Florida
by Jeff Pearl - Guest Reviewer

I recently visited Rapp Brewing, located on the west coast of the state in Seminole. The brewery and tasting room are situated in a quiet warehouse area. When I arrived, I found the place to be very busy. I first had a taste of one of Greg Rapp's initial brews a year or two ago at a beer festival at the Dunedin Brewery. The lineup of beers appears on a large chalkboard behind the bar. They usually have twenty brews on all of the time. One of them, the peanut butter chocolate stout, has become extremely popular. I tried it and found it to be on the dry side. I kind of expected it to taste like a Reese's Peanut butter cup. I shared a taster of six beers. They were very good. The atmosphere is very conducive to beer tasting, with a capacity of about fifty in the tasting room. There is an adjacent room that you can sit in, which is semi open air in the warehouse. There are growlers for sale. On the wall was a list of 39 breweries/brewpubs in the area. This part of the state has grown immensely in that way. Given another chance to visit, I would. I need more time, as I visited three other beer - related places that day, including the
Stogie and Stout Festival at the previously-mentioned Dunedin Brewery. RappBrewing.com

Cycle_Brewing_Taps / Nikki

Cycle Brewing - St Pete, Florida

In March I usually head to the 12 hours of Sebring sports car races. After the day me and my 2 craft beer buddies go somewhere for the night and a visit to the local brewery. This year was no different; our destination was St. Pete about 2 hours from the track. We had the entire next day free and wanted to see some of the new breweries that have opened in downtown St Pete. It was a great day and we could have walked or biked the entire day. The old downtown area is up and coming and everyone walks, bikes or skateboards around. We found Cycle Brewing about 5 blocks from our hotel. It was early afternoon so it was fairly quiet. The brewery is in an old storefront that was a pharmacy years ago. This entire block has all new stores and businesses in the vintage buildings of the area. Cycle has a big door where windows were and this was open so the front area feels almost outside. We met Nikki the solo bartender who was running the place. She told us that there is only one bartender anytime. That must get crazy on a busy Friday night. We heard that they don't have samplers but Nikki got us sample tastes of nearly all of the 18 beers currently on the menu. I enjoyed several different IPAs, a Rye Red and a double IPA. They are barrel aging here; there were 5 available on this day. There were no bad beers here; the brewer, Doug Dozark, worked at Cigar City Brewing in Tampa. Now, he brews at Peg's Cantina in Gulfport; Cycle is all his brews. We all like the vibe and the beer is great. Next time in St Pete we will be back. Our "brewery crawl" continued with the next stop at Green Bench Brewing. Cycle is on Facebook and has a page on Peg's site. More pics on the GBL FB Page.

Beer Camp 2014 Mills River NC
People around the festival

Beer Camp Across America - Mills River, NC

Beer Camp Across America was a celebration of craft beer held in 7 different locations in July and August. I attended the 7th and final stop at Sierra Nevada's new brewery in Mills River North Carolina on Sunday August 3rd. This event was highly anticipated by many including me. I have been going out to the brewery site since I first heard about in 2012. My first 'review' was basically photos of empty farm land and forests. Eventually, it became a construction site and now the new brewery was opening it's doors to the public for the first time. Since the new brewery couldn't provide parking for 5000 people there were shuttles from several local areas. My group of three parked at the nearby AG center and rode deluxe buses to Beer Camp. This went very smoothly as did everything about the festival. There were plenty of buses both going and coming; kudos to SNB for great event organization. Nearly everyone was inside for the start at 1:00. There were many different breweries to try; I would look for those I haven't tried first. Many NC breweries both new and old were there. The glass for sampling was a small snifter made for the occasion. My first beer was at Burial Brewing a local brewery that I haven't been able to visit. Good start. Just next door was Broom Tail Brewing one of many newer NC breweries form the eastern part of the state. Double Barley Brewing, D 9 Brewing, Deep River Brewing, Dry County Brewing Co. and Mystery Brewing were all newer memorable NC breweries. There were several Florida breweries; Dunedin, (an old favorite) Wynwood Brewing and Persimmon Hollow of Deland, FL. This is just a partial listing; there were over 100 breweries there; something for everyone. There was a fun band playing for most of the afternoon. Nearby, a good group of food trucks provided a variety of foods. I enjoyed myself immensely and met many people. Most breweries had the owner / brewer right there in the booth. There were many SNB employees all around doing everything they could to give everyone a great experience, As the festival came to an end, the buses appeared to take everyone back too the parking lots. A Bigfoot track was spotted; we know it's on the premises somewhere. Overall a great day and total experience. I look forward to more SNB events in the future. My photos and several by photographer Art Pearl are posted on the GBL Facebook page. Event Website is HERE.

Lexington Avenue Brewing Front / Growler Tower

Lexington Avenue Brewery - Asheville, NC

After a tour of the nearby Moog Music Factory (a very cool and informative tour that is well worth doing.) it was time for lunch. In Asheville you are never far from a good brewery with a tasty menu. Lexington Avenue Brewery was only a few blocks away. It was a warm August day but LAB was refreshingly cool even with the street level windows all open. The building is a cool old downtown Asheville classic, pictured to the left. Since it was lunch on a weekday the place was only about half full. This looks like a cool place to hang out, have a few beers and enjoy the scene and music when available. Samplers were ordered from the eight brews on that day. Of note were: The Goat Smoked Saison, Eleanor's Rye Red Ale, Malt and Pepper Saison with black peppercorns and the LAB IPA. The menu has something for everyone and selections that go with the food as well. Service was good we never waited on anything. Once samplers were done everyone got a glass of the beer or their choice. My IPA paired well with the burger with blue cheese. The malt and pepper saison was great with the Korean BBQ ribs. Overall LAB has some good beers and a menu to go with them. It's a good Asheville place and we will return in the future. Our lunch over, we headed on to check out some other Asheville breweries. Website: lexavebrew.com Several photos are posted on the GBL Facebook page.
Innovation Brewing Sylva, NC Outdoor Seating / Inside bar
Innovation Brewing Sylva, NC 17 Brews / Band

Innovation Brewing - Sylva, NC

Western North Carolina is the latest area of tremendous growth in craft breweries. Over the years there have been a few here and there but now it seems like there is one in every town. Sylva, NC is one of those towns. For years there was one small brewery; now there will be three! Number three isn't open yet but the second one is. Innovation Brewing is right on the edge of the old downtown area of Sylva. Situated in the space that was the wine shop (now next door) Innovation has a great laid back and fun atmosphere. The people really make the place. Everyone is enjoying themselves including those behind the bar. The building is right along a small river which can be seen from the outdoor seating area. Most importantly, the beer is great. For a smaller brewery keeping 17 beers on is a lot of work. For them to be great beer is an additional plus. I haven't had all the beers but here are a few highlights. The Nut Brown was really good and this style is not made by many. It was tasty with just a hint of sweetness at the finish. The Nitro Irish Stout was enjoyed by all. It as dry and was smooth and chocolatly like it should be. The Hot Shot IPA and Double IPA both satisfied all who had them. Unfiltered and very drinkable; the hop used had a mellow aftertaste and was commented on by several different folks. Midnight Ryeder Black IPA was good as was the ESB. (Enjoy Sylva Beer) The staff always seems to be having as much fun as the patrons. Meghan and Brian really made the first visit most enjoyable. A local was having a birthday and everyone joined the fun including the band. I made a short video shot that night and it can be seen HERE. I returned several more times in August and will be back. For good times and brews don't miss Innovation. Some pictures are on the GBL FB page. Innovation-Brewing.com is their website; they're just getting started.

Flying Goose Brewpub - New London, NH

In June my family had a family reunion at Lake Sunapee, NH. There were several groups; each had planned drinks / dinner for the entire group My event was a beer tasting. The Flying Goose is nearby and up to the task. There are 10 or more brews on tap; I got 8 growlers of different brews for the tasting. The tasting was a big hit among the different people attending. I made tasting sheets and many enjoyed tasting and recording their opinions of each beer. The responses were varied and fun. The Double IPA was the most popular followed by the Red. A tasting will be a must do at the next reunion. The Goose was a good lunch one day; everything was good. See more on flyingoose.com

Satulah Mountain Brewing - Highlands, NC

I have been hearing that a brewery was opening in Highlands, NC where my family has a home. When I was there in May the brewery wasn't open. By August Satulah Mountain was open. It's a small (1bbl) brewery but making good brews and getting a following. I have met Dale, the owner and has some good brewing ideas that locals and visitors are warming up to. Different IPAs, Stouts and other styles; there is always something good on tap. By October he had a good brewing schedule going and has 6 of his own brews on at any time. The winters can be quiet; it sounds like the brewery is doing fine. Glad to see that and I look forward to returning soon. See their FB page for hours and upcoming events.

First Magnitude Brewing - Gainesville, FL

In late August, I visited Gainesville's newest brewery. Located in a warehouse area near downtown, First Magnitude was only open a week or two. There were 3 house beers and several guests. The English Mild is a rare find and was good. The new brewing equipment is toward the back leaving a big area for people to play games and enjoy the beer. They are getting taps around the area and will have more brews of their own. My photos are on the GBL FB page. See the website for more current details: FirstMagnitude.com

Wrecking Bar Brewpub - Atlanta, GA

In October I was driving through Atlanta and made a great choice for a late lunch. The Wrecking Bar isn't hard to find and really is a great stop. The building is a Victorian era design over 100 years old. The upstairs is a public area with the brewpub entrance in back. It is a cool place like a basement with lighting and quality furnishings. The Brewpub is dedicated to West Coast and Belgian inspired American craft beer. With a locally sourced all natural food menu and great beer it was a good lunch stop. It also would be a cozy spot to be at on a cold day. Noteworthy brew was Steady Topper Double IPA along with BBQ Pork sandwich. I took a few photos, view them HERE. wreckingbarbrewpub.com

Sierra Nevada Brewing - Mills River, NC

In October I had my first 'real' tour of the new brewery. I had a 'Hard Hat" tour in August when the brewery was open but unfinished. It has come a long way; the tour is about 1 and a half hours and covers everything. The tours now have their own area in the lobby and most everything is completed. There was still some finishing work going on but it didn't interfere with anything. At the end of the tour the new tasting room is quite impressive. It is a big open bar in a large open room with views down on the copper brew kettles. This room would be perfect for beer classes and other events that will happen in the future. On the way out the "Hall of History" has display cases with some of the 33 year history of SNB. This area isn't totally set up yet as many artifacts were unmarked. Upon my exit I visited the just opened gift shop and could see the new full restaurant that will open in the spring. Photos on the GBL FB page. Website: SNB.com

Drink More Florida Craft Beer! © 2014 larrygoeser.com