Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

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TBBW 2014 – part Deux – Highlights of Events (that I attended…)

2014-03-08 11.06.41To continue along the lines of the Olympic references of my last post about Tampa Bay Beer Week 2014 (Mar 1-9, 2014), we had essentially two opening ceremony events spread across the first weekend with the Florida Brewers Guild (FBG) festival on Saturday March 1, and the Brewers Ball festival on March 2, two separate events providing patrons with samples of award-winning brews from Florida and beyond.

From March 1-9, both sides of the Bay and north and south played host to over 300 craft beer related events, culminating in the final weekend with Hunahpu Day on March 8, and the Hunahpu Hangover/Dunedin final days on March 9.

When all was said and done, thousands of kegs were emptied, thousands of happy patrons made it home safely, hundreds of events ended profitably, and no one died (of alcohol poisoning or violence or any other TBBW related calamity!)

Given that parts of the world can barely make it through a full day without calamities, I’d say we live in luxury when we can celebrate the wonders of craft beer in friendships and sunshine with only a few minor mishaps along the way.

Olympic Style Medals…

I’d love to do a Gold, Silver and Bronze award across all  TBBW events, but gosh, But, gosh, I only made it to a dozen events out of the hundreds scheduled during Tampa Bay Beer Week and they ranged from the huge anchor events on both weekends to small gatherings.

However, the week featured a myriad of different craft beer related experiences – and I invite you to comment on your favorites from both sides of the bay, with a challenge…

How about we (you and I) each rate the events we attended during TBBW Mar 1-9, 2014 and award those of merit with an Olympic medal (or not?) Here’s the options:

  • Gold (stellar – I would definitely go back – something happening and not just beer tasting);
  • Silver (not quite gold medal worthy but still worth attending and fun/good value/other – tastings without entertainment);
  • Bronze (worth mentioning but not too much more than a tasting or release);
  • or None (not deserving of any Olympic standing and would need to be overhauled for me to go again.)

I’ll go first.

DSC_0407Carol’s Olympic Medal Round for #TBBW Events (that I attended) – lots of GOLD and SILVER to award…

I attended a variety of events throughout the week (see the Photos, Photos and more Photos page for picture galleries) and I can truly say that none were a disappointment:

(For a full listing of the TBBW 2014 events, visit www.tampabaybeerweek.com)

Pre- TBBW:

  • Thurs Feb 27, 2014- St Petersburg – St Petersburg Preservation presents “From Cafeterias to Craft Beer” at Green Bench Brewing Company – GOLD medal winner – More than 100 members and prospective members sampled barbecue from The Witches’ Barbeque Den and Green Bench, St Pete Brewing Company, 3 Daughters Brewing and Cycle Brewing beers, then listened to an informative lecture and panel featuring brewers from each brewery.  The official event page (Facebook) features photos (see also the photos page on this blog);

TBBW officially (Mar 1-9):

  • Fri Feb 28, 2014 – Tampa – Pour House pre-TBBW party featuring over 10 taps from 7venth Sun Brewing   and other local breweries (see the photos page for pics) – SILVER medal winner – a great place with great atmosphere.  Only missed out on gold because there was really no EVENT aside from all of us meeting each other.
  • Sat Mar 1, 2014 – Tampa – Florida Brewers Guild Festival – Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, Tampa – GOLD medal winner – Highlights included the reading of the Tampa Proclamation and tapping of a commemorative firkin by Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn, and a veritable gourmet assortment of delicious Florida-only brewers (see the photos page for pics) – sizable crowd but not too crowded.  Having the mayor present and so many FL brewers who came from Miami to Pensacola to Jacksonville was a plus.
  • Sun Mar 2, 2014 – Tampa – Best Florida Beer Brewer’s Ball – Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, TampaGOLD medal winner — Highlights included free pour taps of 81 award winning brews from the Best Florida beer competition featuring both pro-brewers and home brewers judged by the BJCP rules (see the photos page for pics);
  • Mon Mar 3, 2014 – Tampa – Pour House – Beer Bloggers Summit – SILVER medal winner – purely based on the size of the turnout.  Quality of presentation (myself, Sean Nordquist, Gerard Walen, Thomas Barris) and Thomas Barris’ organization of the event were top-notch.  Small gathering but great discussion!
  • Tues Mar 4, 2014 – St Petersburg – 3 Daughters Brewing Fat Tuesday Crawfish Boil -GOLD medal winner – for a mere $30. attendees could dine on all-you-can-eat boiled fresh crawfish, potatoes, sausage, corn and free pours of two 3 Daughters Brews (Summer Blond and the IPA) with a live New Orleans style band.20140304_190156
  • Wed Mar 5, 2014 – Clearwater – Brewers Tasting Room – Florida Beer and All About Beer magazine presents Beer 201 – SILVER medal winner – the styles of beer presented and the educational aspect (beyond basic) was appreciated and BTR always has a great assortment of beers you can’t find anywhere else;
  • Wed Mar 5 2014 – Clearwater – Pair O’ Dice Brewing – Brisket and Brews- GOLD medal winner- while I arrived at Pair O’ Dice after the last morsel of brisket was already devoured, all I heard from participants was how incredibly good the food and the pairing was (and it was free!)  I had a great beer, but I had to take the enthusiastic response from everyone I talked to that this was a winning event.
  • Wed Mar 5 2014 – Seminole – Rapp Brewing – Rare Beer Night – GOLD medal winner  – Greg Rapp pulled out the stops to feature not only his wide variety of local brews, but also a few absolutely rare beers for this specialty night. Again, like the Pair O’ Dice event, the tasting room was packed until late.
  • Thurs Mar 6 2014 – Palm Harbor – Lagerhaus – Bacon, Bacon, Bacon GOLD medal winner – along with tapping a special barrel aged brew and the multiple bacon dishes (bacon cheddar soup, bacon pretzels, bacon wrapped dates and figs to name a few) , the tasting room was packed from mid-afternoon until late.  What can be better than Bacon and Beer?
  • Thurs Mar 6 2014 – Tampa – Southern Brewing and Winemaking – Release of the Moonrakers – SILVER medal winner – special Moonrakers releases and a good gathering
  • Thurs Mar 6 2014 – Tampa – Florida Avenue Brewing – Special Hoperations – SILVER medal winner – homebrewed  samples and special tastings (randall)
  • Fri Mar 7 2014 – St Petersburg – Foeder for Thought – Green Bench Brewing CompanyGOLD medal winner-  essentially a neighborhood street market plus releases on tap and special pourings inside the brewery, the place was packed until closing;
  • Fri Mar 7 2014 – Tampa –Southern Brewing and Winemaking – Best Florida Beer Leftovers Party and the Future of Craft Beer in Florida panel GOLD medal winner – featured entertainment, the craft beer futures panel plus a wide array of the pro-brewers and the homebrewed submissions to the Best Florida Beer competition
  • Sat Mar 8 2014 – Tampa – Cigar City Brewing Hunahpu Day – SILVER medal winner -this would be a hands-down GOLD medal winner if the crowds had been manageable, this was a 3 in one event:  Hunahpu release + bottle sharing (complete with a makeshift attendee organized campground) + beer tasting.  Just one event of the three (any one) would be GOLDEN.
  • Sun Mar 9 2014 – St Petersburg – Flying Pig Taphouse Beer Brunch featuring Lagunitas, New Belgium and Cigar City Brewing – GOLD medal winner – 
  • Sun Mar 9 2014 – Dunedin – Hunahpu Hangover Day – featuring 7venth Sun and Dunedin Brewery GOLD medal winner – special releases in the side garden area of 7venth Sun (it was packed) and in Dunedin Brewery – the sun shone, the brews were innovative, and the air was celebratory.  Grand cooperation!

Your turn – what were your medal events?

I can’t wait for the events in planning for the rest of this year (at a minimum our TBBW Halfway There – Rare Beer Fest scheduled for September 6, 2014) – Tampa Bay Beer Week continues to thrive, grow and spillover into multiple weeks of the year.

It is a great community of vibrant, positive, optimistic Floridians.  Long live Tampa Bay Beer Week!

Happy St Patrick’s Day – be safe!

Carol

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New Planet Gluten Free 3R Raspberry Ale

New Planet 3R Raspberry AleNew Planet brewery in Boulder, CO is one of the few North American breweries that feature Gluten Free beers. While there are only two brews currently on their line (22 oz 3R Raspberry and 12 oz Tread Lightly Ale), both are certified Gluten Free and available only in Colorado.  I had the luxury of sampling both brews when New Planet was one of the featured brewers at the Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder a couple of weeks ago.

The 3R Raspberry Ale is a different experience than many of the Raspberry beers I’ve sampled in the past.  It comes in at 5% ABV and is a light ale that is very, very light on the Raspberry flavor.  Here’s my other observations:

  • Nose: If you close your eyes and smell the freshly poured pint, the aroma is faintly fruity but far from the heavy berry of wheat fruit beers.  It reminded me more of a light amber than anything fruit based.
  • Weight and color: A crystal clean light orange-red with a lightweight sensation on the tongue. There was an almost creamy aftertaste that I couldn’t place, but the main flavor was a refreshing, light fruit infused almost pilsner style – but without the tartness of many of that style.
  • Enjoyment factor: Seemed a little flat and unexciting, but more enjoyable than the overpowering syrupy textures of some fruit beers.  I could easily see drinking a few pints or so of this one chilled almost to ice-state on a hot Colorado summer afternoon.
  • Recommendation: Thumbs up!  I’d give it a hearty 7 out of 10 for enjoyment, versatility, and uniqueness based on the Gluten Free status.

I look forward to future offerings from this craft brewer- and to increased distribution (especially for those who need gluten free!)

Until the next pint,

the unOfficial beer goddess.

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Beer 4 Women…

Today was Spirit Day:

On Spirit Day wear purple in remembrance. On October 20th, 2010,we will wear purple in honor of the several young adults who committed suicide in recent weeks/months/years due to homophobic abuse in their homes and at their schools.

I am staunchly opposed to bullying of any form and so I wore purple when I went out for lunch today… but the only purple t-shirt I had to wear was one from The Flying Saucer Draught Emporium in Houston emblazoned with a tactful: Beer4Women.

Talk about stares of disdain and disgust from patrons of a local Panera Bread! I knew from experience at Brewpubs that a lot of people don’t understand that women can appreciate good craft beer, but I wasn’t ready for the looks of disapproval from passersby – it made me wish that I had a beer in my hands at 2 o’clock this afternoon!!!

Then I read a posting referenced on the Beer Bloggers Unite website today on Rabid about Beer’s Blog:  Girlie Beer Anyone? And in reading the responses to the blog posting about women liking fruit infused beer (some by women) – I realized just how judgmental everyone in the world is today!  And that includes opinions about craft beer and women (as expressed by – women!)  While I have no issue with women defending their pride about drinking stout and porters and other hearty brews, what’s the problem if some of us also imbibe on the sweeter side?

What happened in the last several years? – I simply do not recall such polarization and opinionated comments when I started drinking beer.  And, hey, I’m female and I absolutely love a good IPA (such as Harpoon, Drifter and others) at the best of times.  But, if it makes me a wuss or some sort of stereotyped “candy ass” to admit that I also enjoy fruit and flavored beers, so be it.  I’ve been called worse by better!

There is a variety of flavors and styles of craft beers that involve fruit or other flavors ranging from syrups (yuck!) to other infusions.  My personal “fruit beer” tastes run the gamut from Sam Adams‘ Cherry Wheat and Sam Adams’ Blackberry Witbier to Magic Hat #9 (not quite pale ale), Pyramid Brewery‘s Apricot Ale, Dunedin Brewery’s Apricot Peach Ale, and Hurricane Reef’s Raspberry Wheat Ale.

But there are also fruit beers that I do NOT like:  (does this change the judgment?) — I have to cut a Leinenkugel Berry Weiss at least 1/2 and 1/2 with a lager because otherwise it’s just too syrupy sweet.  I also don’t fancy a few of the offbeat varieties such as Kona Brewing’s Wailua Wheat Ale brewed with passion fruit (it just didn’t taste like beer at all and I thought I pulled out a mislabeled Seagrams Wine Cooler by mistake from the cooler!)   And, I can only stomach one 375 ml of Lindeman’s Framboise Lambic on a hot summer day!

What I do like is a 1/2 pint of Lindeman’s Kriek Lambic topped with a 1/2   pint of Young’s Double Chocolate Stout.  Or a Southern Tier Pumking or a Hoegarden pint anytime!

Quite frankly, as is said on one beer shirt I saw recently, beauty is in the eye of the “beer holder” – and I believe that in whatever direction your personal taste for beer lies, that’s okay as long as you and your beer are both consenting!  Just as in art or music or even cooking – variety is the spice of life!

Even if it means – dare I say it – Budweiser or – gasp – Miller Lite!

Have a great beer weekend!

-The unOfficial Beer Goddess.

Summer Brewfests…

One of the reasons to love summer is the number of Brewfests that emerge nation-wide.  Last week it was Philadelphia Brewery Week and I discovered just how many craft brewers are in the vicinity!

Then Saturday night, I was part of The Florida Aquarium’s SudsFest 2010 to raise money for programs and events put on by the not-for-profit Florida Aquarium in Tampa, FL.  Can you believe in the once Anheuser Busch stronghold of Tampa Bay, we now have Pepin Distributors bringing in over 35 craft brews from across the nation?

Here’s a sampling of the “new” beers on the Florida menu (from the SudsFest Beer Menu) which I know are available at both Publix (the larger ones) and also at Total Wine: (note: ABV means Alcohol By Volume and is expressed as a %)

Obviously absent was any appearance by Sam Adam’s Brewing Company or Rogue Breweries (also available in Florida grocery stores!)

It’s so great now that the former lobbyists who were so intent on keeping Florida an Anheuser state are now less powerful and we can finally join the nation in raising a craft brewery toast to the microbrewery industry!

This weekend, I venture to NYC for their annual Brewery Festival on Governor’s Island.

Until next week,

Beer Goddess…

Green Budweiser… no thanks

St. Paddie's DayWith the impending arrival of St. Paddie’s Day on Wed. March 17, 2010, I’ve seen a lot of “Green Beer” promotions all around town.  Interestingly enough, it always seems to feature the self-appointed King of Beers, Budweiser, one of my least favorite concoctions

However, I think a new tradition for those who don’t love the taste of Guinness (the most Irish beer going as far as I’m concerned) could be to ease into Guinness half-heartedly (so to speak) by having a Guinness-blended concoction this shamrock day!

Here’s a few unofficial non-“Irish” self-sanctioned mixes that I’ve tasted (and some that I’ve not) with my assessment of what I think:

The Unofficial Beer Goddess’ Half Guinness List (Guinness always insists on being on top!)

  • Dark Side of the Moon – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Blue Moon (subtle)
  • Dirty Shock – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Shocktop (WAY better than Budweiser and Anheuser Busch still gets some cash)
  • Dirty Hoe – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Hoegarden (My personal favorite blend due to the Hoegarden, and perfect for gardening)
  • Dirty Wifebeater – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Stella Artois (Not yet done this one)
  • Cherry Truffle Yum – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Lindeman’s Kriek Lambic (Chocolate-like and decadent!)
  • Guinness Diet – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Diet Coke (A future taste)
  • Trojan Horse – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Coke or Pepsi (ditto)
  • All Irish Black and Tan – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Smithwick’s Ale (maybe this Wed)
  • Black Ice – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Smirnoff Ice (not yet)
  • Black Velvet – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Champagne (I may save this for New Year’s)
  • Dirty canoe – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Budweiser (I just don’t drink “canoe” beer so haven’t had this one)
  • Snake Bite – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Cider (my 25-year-old daughter’s favorite!)
  • Guinness Magic – 1/2 Guinness and 1/2 Magic Hat #9 (I’ve gotta find a place that has both so I can try this one!)
  • Dirty Guinness – 1/2 Guinness on the floor (LOL) – this is usually an end-of-night drink for some!

Let me know what you think – and hey, luck of the Irish to you all this St. Patrick’s Day!

p.s., With no disrespect intended to my Irish friends, here’s a short joke just in time for St.Patrick’s Day:  “An Irishman left a bar. (Hey, it COULD happen!)”

Bottoms up,

The Unofficial Beer Goddess

============Copyright, the Unofficial Beer Goddess, 2010===============================================

Magic Hat #9 now available in FL

One of the most interesting (IMHO) pale ales I’ve ever tasted is Magic Hat #9 from Magic Hat Brewery (South Burlington, VT) – which is now available on tap and in 16 oz bottles at various specialty beer stores in Florida.  I describe this brew as a lightweight IPA with an almond and apricot aftertaste. Yummy!

Magic Hat #9 pale aleHere’s how the Brewery describes this brew:

#9Not Quite Pale Ale — A beer cloaked in secrecy. An ale whose mysterious and unusual palate will swirl across your tongue and ask more questions than it answers. A sort of dry, crisp, refreshing, not-quite pale ale. #9 is really impossible to describe because there’s never been anything else quite like it.

If you are looking to try something new and refreshing on a soon-to-be-hot FL spring break evening, try Magic Hat #9 on tap or in bottles.

Until the next pint…

The (unofficial) Beer Goddess

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