Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

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What do YOU look for in a Craft Beer Festival?

I’m fortunate to live today with all of the craft breweries (and innovative brews) – AND – with the weather here in sunny Florida, we can enjoy it all for 95% of the year.  There is nothing quite like a tropical breeze and sunshine to inspire a solid thirst for good beer – and Tampa/St Petersburg is THE place to be… especially if you enjoy brews that come in  almost every color of the rainbow (visit Arkane Aleworks in Largo, FL if you don’t Frombelieve me!) 

It’s Brewfest Season…

While the most of the world north of here thaws out from a snowy winter, those of us here in Florida are in the midst of a booming Beer Festival Season!  Almost every weekend from February to June sees local breweries scrambling to keep up with the burgeoning brewfest calendar, and patrons scrambling to figure out which brewfests fit their limited discretionary spending.

Every weekend from now to Memorial Day (last Monday in May in the U.S.) you’ll find three or more craft beer festivals in the greater Tampa Bay/Sarasota to Orlando/East Coast area  with each one promising an array of brews, some form of entertainment.  Most have at least some connection to a worthwhile charity.

When you add specialty bottle releases, anniversary parties, fundraisers, and grand openings to the mix, it can get daunting to figure out what’s the best experience you don’t want to miss on a given weekend.

With so many new events and festivals popping up, I hear the same question come up when I talk to brewery owners and craft beer aficionados alike:  “Are there too many local beer festivals?”

How do YOU choose a Beer Festival?
(a comment contest…)

So, I have a question: – With all the choices of local events, how do you choose which beer-related festivals to attend? Is it the specialty brews or hundreds of beer choices?  Does it matter if it’s local or if it’s associated with a charity? Is it about the price, place, friends, Groupon discount or something else?  Do you care if the breweries are local or if you get to meet the brewers?  Does it matter if there are hundreds or thousands of attendees?

I’m curious – will you share your story?    *** Leave me a comment and I’ll select one lucky reader to receive a set of two Tampa Bay area local brewery pint glasses. (U.S. or Canada mailing only.) I choose based on novelty – a good charity, unique location, and local brewery participation, but every experience is different.

Consider VolunBEERing – a New Way to Experience Brewfests

Want to try out a new way to try out new beer festivals without having to pay the entrance fee (and be thanked for attending!) – sign-up as a VolunBEER!  (Check out Carol’s VolunBEERs facebook page where we post local Tampa Bay craft beer event opportunities or visit www.volunbeers.com – this weekend there’s still a few openings to volunteer at the Lakeland Craft Beer and Food Festival  – it’s fun, easy and a great way to be a part of the event! If you can’t make it out, sign-up to be notified of future events.)

 

Up and Coming March and April Beer Festivals in FL!

There are several great (in my opinion) festivals coming up that are worthwhile attending – and the next few weeks offer a few new fests.

Here’s my short list of those I know – (add in the comments section any that you think are also promising!)

Lakeland Craft Beer & Food Festival – Mar 24, 2018 

 

Okay, I’m a bit biased – BUT, if you want to try out a LOT of up-and-coming and established craft breweries that don’t often come out to festivals in FL – this is THE fest for you.  Brass Tap Lakeland has a great relationship with these local breweries who come out every year (and it continues to grow) – click on this link  to get tickets!

 

Mar 30-31, 2018 – Craft Beer and Wine Fest 2018 at the Hilton Daytona Beach

With its east coast waterfront locale, wine (as well as craft beer) and a portion of all proceeds will be donated to the Boys & Girls Club of Volusia County, what more could you ask for?  This is the first ever Craft Beer and Wine Fest by the Hilton Daytona and you have a choice of Friday night (6-9pm) or Saturday day (2-5pm) to choose from.  Tickets are only $45. at the door – I’m aiming to be there Friday night — let me know if you’re going to attend!

 

 

4th Annual Brewmasters Invitational – April 7, 2018 – Cape Canaveral, FL

This one is going to be interesting – and while I haven’t yet been to this one, the event page on Facebook promises a fun event with great beer.  Tickets are reasonable – $25 general admission and $50 VIP for a unique Cape Canaveral experience.

 

 

Thanks for reading – stay warm, refreshed (and please download and use Uber or Lyft to stay safe while you’re enjoying fine FL craft brews!)

Slainte!

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Tampa Bay Beer Week (#TBBW) Mar 7-15, 2015 – Shortcuts, Fun Events and VolunBEER Opps

tbbw 2015

Throughout the U.S., (and increasingly in other countries as well,) full-scale regional BEER WEEKS are becoming the norm.  With over 3000 operational craft breweries, Beer Weeks are definitely becoming TOURIST DESTINATION WEEKS!

Our local Tampa Bay Beer Week (#TBBW) is imminent (Mar 7-15, 2015) will again be a celebration focused on local Tampa Bay (30+) and Florida breweries (close to 100!) with a few notable anchor festivals on the first and second #TBBW weekends:

All told, if 2015 is anything like years before, you’ll be able to select from close to 300 events on both sides of Tampa Bay (and north and south to Bradenton, Sarasota, Tarpon Springs, Lakeland, and beyond) – visit the #TBBW website for up-to-date listings and  links about 2015 events.

VolunBEER (volunteer) Opportunitiessignup genius

If you’re short on cash or simply want to donate your enthusiasm and energy to making local craft beer events run smoothly (volunteer tasks range by event and can include registration help, checking identification, selling tickets, pouring beer, fetching ice, emptying dump buckets, door security and other jobs,)  you may want to join my VolunBEERs database (simply email your name, email and cell number to me:  caroldekkers at gmail dot com!)

 

What’s New for #TBBW in 2015DIPA TBBW 2015

For the first time ever, the Tampa Bay Beer Week board has commissioned a special beer to commemorate craft beer in Tampa Bay.  Brewed this inaugural year by Cigar City Brewing, the Double IPA (DIPA) is already available by the bottle at Cigar City’s Tampa tasting room, and will be available throughout the bay area at local #TBBW sponsors, bars and establishments (distributed by J.J. Taylor.)

Carol’s Event Recommendations for #TBBW:

  • Sat Mar 7, 2015: Florida Brewers Guild Beerfest (see links above) – Tampa
  • Sun Mar 8, 2015: Best Florida Beer presents Brewers Ball (see links above) – Tampa
  • Wed Mar 11, 2015: TBD. Recommendations to come!
  • Fri Mar 13, 2015:  Friday the 13th!  Recommendations to come!
  • Sat Mar 14, 2015: Hunahpu’s Day – Cigar City Brewing Company (see links above) – sold out! – Tampa
  • Sun Mar 15, 2015:  Recommendations to come!

Drink responsibly – designate a driver to get you and your friends home safely!

Cheers,
Carol

Left Coast Bartenders Guild (LCBG) hosts 3rd Annual Repeal Day Party for Charity Dec 2, 2012!

This is an awesome, once a year celebration to benefit several local charities!  Celebrate your right and your privilege to imbibe legally!

Won’t you join us?  Tickets are available at http://repealdayparty.com/the-party/ for $75. each.
Here’ my online blog posting about the event:

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Beer | Yahoo! Health

10 Surprising Health Benefits of Beer | Yahoo! Health.

Total Wine St. Petersburg – 2012 Craft Beer Education Nights

I joined friends from the Tampa Bay BeerMug meetup group last evening at a Belgian Beer education night at Total Wine in St. Petersburg (Park Street Retail Center, 4880 Park Street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33709).

The best part of the evening (at least for me) was not the education, but rather the opportunity to taste and sample over 14 Belgian imported Craft Beers and Domestic Belgian-style offerings for a mere $15.USD! (Each retails at about $6.99-$12.99 USD for a 750 ml bottle.)

Chris was our local Beer Expert from Total Wine who led us through a PowerPoint presentation about the various Belgian beer styles, as we sampled a variety of Craft Brews both imported or domestic – all specifically Belgian in style.  Chris was both knowledgeable and approachable as he led an interactive discussion about our observations as we sampled each brew.

This was my first encounter with the Total Wine’s Beer education nights (the St. Petersburg store seems to feature more classes than other stores!) – and I’ll be back.

It was definitely a worthwhile investment – we had a small group (about 15 people of the maximum 30 class size) and Total Wine provided the beers and a selection of cheeses, breads/crackers, and savory meatballs. These proved to be a good way to begin pairing food and tastes with various beer styles.

I’ve included the St. Petersburg Total Wine education classes calendar excerpt and a link and phone number where you can register for classes at the end of this post.  If you live elsewhere, simply visit www.totalwine.com and you can see what beer classes are offered in your area.

Beers we Sampled…

Here are some photos of a few of the Belgian and Belgian-style domestic beers we tasted during the January 19, 2012 evening class. All of these were available for purchase at Total Wine in 750ml bottles on the evening of the event:

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Additional beers that were sampled (but not pictured) included:

Upcoming St. Petersburg Total Wine beer classes (2012 Jan – April):

  • Sat. Jan 21,2012 (3-5PM) – Belgian Classics
  • Thurs. Feb 16,2012 (6:30-8:30PM) – Lagers and Ales beyond Pilsners and Pales
  • Sat. Feb 18,2012 (3-5PM) – Lagers and Ales beyond Pilsners and Pales
  • Thurs. Mar 22, 2012 (6:30-8:30PM) – Introduction to Beer: Get Your Suds On!
  • Sat. Mar 24, 2012 (3-5PM) – Introduction to Beer: Get Your Suds On!
  • Sat. Apr 21, 2012 (3-5PM) – Great Breweries Great Beers

To register for these upcoming Beer Classes, reserve your place by calling Total Wine St Petersburg, FL at 727-544-6018.  Each session is $15. payable the day/evening of class.

Have a great weekend!

A Girl who Likes Brews

Seasonal (Christmas) beers…

I was amazed today at the proliferation of seasonal and Christmas brews I found today in my local beer and wine outlet, Total Wine.  Florida used to be the domain of Anheuser Busch for many years and it is nice to finally have the “doors wide open” so to speak on craft beers from coast to coast.  My personal favorite is Anchor Steam’s holiday ale (reviewed previously).

In talking to the beer specialist at my local store, sales of higher end (750 ml specialty brews) were up sharply from 2009’s winter season.  Belgium imports such as Delirium and others are selling briskly – in fact the demand was depleting the extra cases they ordered for this year’s entire season.

There’s a lot of Christmas sampling I’m going to be doing in the coming weeks and I’ll include a few reviews as I test the draught varieties I find (sorry, I prefer that variety to the bottled ones.)

Meanwhile, in reverence to my Canadian heritage, I present this link to the Bob and Doug McKenzie 12 days of Christmas (the first day of Christmas presents a “Beer”)

Enjoy & happy holidays!

Until the next pint,
An unOfficial beer goddess.

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Danish Craft Beer sampling – Copenhagen

Tivoli Gardens Christmas Lights, Copenhagen

There’s nothing better that comes to mind on a frosty snowfall-infused evening than relaxing with a robust Christmas beer – and there’s no better place than Denmark to do it.  Or so I thought!  In my short 3 evenings here in Copenhagen, I finally managed to find one worthwhile Christmas beer, but more about that after I share with you my wanderings to a couple of Bryghus (brewhouses) in the area.

While the US boasts over 1600 craft breweries from coast-to-coast, Denmark has literally exploded with over 600 craft breweries within its tiny geographic area!  Can you imagine the recreation and research that would be found if one were to explore and document the findings at this many breweries over the course of several summers?  Possible vacation venues indeed!

Apollo brewhouseMy first stop after Tivoli Gardens (it felt cold to this Florida girl!) was the Apollo brewhouse restaurant where the beer specialties included two seasonal brews (a Chimney Black Pilsner and an authentic German style Alt-bier), a Christmas beer, plus the house pilsner.  I sampled the two seasonals and their Julebryg (Christmas beer):

Apollo house specialty brews

In order from left to right:

1. Christmas beer (Julebryg) – while this local specialty was better than the Tuborg Julebryg I sampled the night before, it too was a disappointment – flat, undistinctive, and an unremarkable texture and flavor.  I was happy that I had another two samples from which to choose.

2. Chimney/Smokehouse Black Pilsner called Skorstenfejer (ABV 5.0%) – I’m not a big fan of dark beers, but this one was so distinctive from the first sniff that I knew it was something special:  rich, smoky charcoal like aroma with a surprisingly smooth taste and finish.  It’s hard to describe the taste as I’ve not tasted any beer like this before.  I anticipated that the smoke might be overpowering but it enhanced the flavor creating memories of other smokey adventures involving grilling in the outdoors.  This Black gold was a perfect pairing for the specialty Roast Duck dinner I ordered (duck accompanied by a light gravy, slivered beets, and baby potatoes), and I was happy to have ordered them both.

Black pilsner and roast duck - yum!

3. German Style Altbier (ABV 5.1%) – there’s no mistaking an authentic altbier made in the German style if you inhale the aroma before you taste it.  I was pleasantly surprised to find that this brew was true to form – and had a rich taste to match.

After dinner, I headed across the street to find the Vesterbro Bryghus which also features local brew specialties.  I haven’t ever seen a brewhouse with wild boar heads on the wall, so I knew that this was not your typical brewpub.

Vesterbro BryghusWhen I asked for a small taste of 3 of their local varieties (Blond, Amber and Julebryg), the server informed me that I would have to have their entire sampler tray which also came with Tuborg’s Christmas and the regular factory beer Carlsberg.  It took a bit of convincing but she finally agreed to give me a finger height sample of each in a small glass, and to my delight, I finally found their Christmas beer reasonable.

Anchor Steam Holiday Ale (36th Year)p.s., Since returning home, I had the good fortune to try the new Anchor Steam Holiday Ale (ABV 5.5%) on draught – the 36th year of the top-secret recipe holiday brew.  And, it was the closest taste to the Norwegian Christmas taste that I’ve been looking to find.  Dark, smooth, Christmas-like aroma (cloves, nutmeg, nutty), and a lingering finish that reminds one of cold nights in front of a hot fire – up north of course!

Until the next pint – enjoy your holiday season!

An unOfficial beer goddess…


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