Don’t miss out on the happenings all over the country for the American Craft Beer Week!
Visit craftbeer.com for more details and be safe!
Saturday March 3’s Florida Brewers Guild BeerFest event was simply hopping-awesome as brewers from as near as 50 feet away (Tampa Bay Brewing Company) and as far away as Chico, CA (Sierra Nevada) poured and tapped and poured some more beer varietals (is that only a wine word, I hope not anymore!) I simply have to get out more because even in my world of frequent beer sampling, I had no idea there were so many local brewers in Florida. For a listing of members (brewing companies) of the Florida Brewers Guild, visit their website at www.floridabrewersguild.org.
Here’s a few of the “local” brewers who served up their freshest and finest at the event (a minute sampling of the many brewers!)
Tampa Bay Beer Week continues until March 10, 2012 with an impressive calendar of free and almost-free events on both sides of Tampa Bay. Join in the fun and expand your tastes into “real craft beer.”
To safe imbibing,
An unOfficial Beer Goddess
This is a great post from CraftBeer.com:
When good beer goes bad
Here’s my comment on their post:
I love that you point out the fact that it is “uncomfortable” to send back anything at a restaurant or bar for fear of retribution from a server or restauranteur. No one likes to create conflict whether it is a problem with a beer, a steak, or an added ingredient that doesn’t belong (I love the Erin’s comment about the bandaid in the new keg!)
Kelly has a great point for both servers and patrons of craft beers (and this is NOT usually done with Bud Light or Miller beers) – ask for a sample taste if you aren’t sure. I don’t know of any brewpub that would refuse to give a sample of any draft beer (obviously you can’t do this with bottles) and I’ve saved many a pint by tasting the brew first. As readers know, one IPA is not the same as another!
Great article! I’m going to include a link to it on my own microbrewsusa.wordpress.com blog if you don’t mind.
Now, I’m going to print out the post for situations when I might need the reference notes!
Here’s hoping your next pint is a Good Craft pour!
An unOfficial Beer Goddess
I love how Chris Fairchild does the beer education nights at Total Wine in St. Petersburg, FL!
Chris Fairchild, Total Wine St Pete
As a new Certified Cicerone, Chris brings both knowledge and first hand tasting experience to the classes, and it is obvious that you don’t have to do too much arm-twisting to get him to enjoy a good pint. (While Chris admits to being a wine lover first, with time and maturity he might gravitate over from the “dark side”. LOL!)
It does make a difference to take a class from someone who actually enjoys the beverage and is committed to craft beer (as opposed to someone who either doesn’t drink or simply slings beer at a local bar no matter what’s on tap.) That’s why I came back for class #2 last Thursday night: “Beyond Pilsners and Pales.” (See prior post from Belgian beer education night.)
Once again it was well worth the meagre $15. (cover) charge for the class.
A group of about 15 local craft beer newbies was treated to a full expanse of 13 (yes a baker’s dozen!) craft brew samples that ranged from the rare “Ola Dubh” by Harviestoun in Scotland (an 8% ABV whiskey cask conditioned ale that retails at $11.99 for a 12 oz bottle!) to the Weybacher “Blithering Idiot” Barley Wine (11.1% ABV) to the Lagunitas “Hop Stoodpid” Double IPA (8% ABV). A geographic and palate pleasing 2 hour tour, complete with gourmet cheeses and Guiness-marinated pork ribs (yum!)
Here’s the highlights, my tasting notes, and a slide show of what we imbibed:
- Duvel Belgian Golden Ale, Bottle Conditioned Belgian Stong Pale Ale, by Duvel
750 ml bottle
Pale Straw color, fizzy (more carbonated than any of the others we tried)
Perfumy, sparkling, I tasted Chamomile (like the tea)
Reminded me of a Perfume-like Hoegarden beer
Chris remarked that this one would be well paired with the Lobster Cream Spread (I agree that worked well!)
- “Bam Biere” Bottle Conditioned Farmhouse Saison Ale, by Jolly Pumpkin(4.5% ABV)
750 ml bottle
Copper color, cloudy – SMELLS sour – reminded me of a “wet puppy”!
Tasted flat and I had a hard time getting over the smell (it was the talk of our side of the class!)
Chris suggested that this would be good to pair with goat cheese and apples… but I just did not like this beer (second from last in my books!)
- “Muffin Top” Belgian Style Tripel IPA by Clown Shoes
750 ml bottle
Gold and cloudy, nice hoppy IPA smell
Tasted perfumy and floral with caramel notes, but not my favorite IPA of the night (it came in 4th favorite and after all it was an IPA)
Loved the label image!
- “Maibock” Bottle conditioned Maibock, Smuttynose
(somewhere around 7% ABV… site doesn’t even show this!)
750 ml bottle
Gold and clear with bubbles (carbonated)
Not really memorable (I didn’t even take notes on this one!)
- “Arrogant Bastard” American Strong Ale, Stone Brewing
San Diego, CA
750 ml bottle
Amber colored with a pine-like aroma
More head than the previous beers, molasses flavoring
My 3rd favorite of the night (behind Hop Stoopid and Bells Hopslam!) – every Stone beer has a distinctive smell (at least to me) that you “know” is from Stone brewing
I agreed with Chris that this paired well with the aged white cheddar they provided.
- “Ola Dubh” Whisky Cask Conditioned Old Ale by Harviestoun
11.2 oz bottle
Color of root beer (darker brown) and creamy consistency (legs!)
Distinctive scotch aroma with a nutty, woodsy, toasted taste
I’m not a scotch drinker so I wasn’t smitten with this one – but the scotch drinkers in the group LOVED IT!
Chris suggested it would be a luxury dessert to pour this one over vanilla ice cream (at $11.99 for this small bottle, I would prefer other indulgences!)
- “Trois Pistoles” Belgian Strong Dark Ale by Unibroue
Chambly, PQ (Province de Quebec) Canada
750 ml bottle
Dark caramel to brown color with “legs”
Definitely a Belgian influence to this one – and it smells distinctively like a Unibroue (which is a good thing! Has a similar essence to other Unibroue’s like Blanche de Chambly!)
Perfumy and floral – I liked this but I was in an IPA mood so it ranked #5 of the night (only because it wasn’t an IPA…) Has a rich taste that lingers – Yum!
Pair with dark chocolate (high cocoa content – I’d splurge for the 75% or above dark!) or brownies…
- “Guiness Foreign Extra” Export Stout – not the draft one – Guiness Brewing
11.2 oz bottle
Dark brown to black coloring with a different aroma (more sweet) than regular Guiness – reminded me of a British pub smell
I am not a great Guiness fan – but I could definitely enjoy a pint of this one! It reminded me of an expresso-lite (maybe an “Americano”) coffee with an aftertaste that reminded me of London Pride beer. Definitely “meaty” and would go well with boiled pot roast or boiled steak!
- “Blithering Idiot” Barley Wine, Weyerbacher
12 oz bottle
Honey/Caramel/ hint of pink-orange color
Fruity with a sour tart aroma
Aftertaste that reminded me of a ripe banana, and definitely had wine essence
Hibiscus color with a distinctive, sweet taste (I cannot recall it, but I’ve tasted it before) but not like the lambics or fruit beers
I would order a 6 oz pour rather than a pint of this because it was “just too sweet” for me!
- “Hop Stoopid” Imperial Double IPA , Lagunitas
750 ml bottle
Pale straw coloration, clear
Cleaner smelling than other IPA’s but with a IPA nose and good head to it
Nice IPA aftertaste! My favorite of the night!
Paired nicely with the sharp English cheddar cheese!
- “Dogzilla” Black IPA, Laughing Dog
750 ml bottle
Black in color with a large “head”
Thank goodness it tasted better than it smelled – which didn’t take much! OMG – I could barely get this past my nose and it was definitely a conversation starter – we argued whether it smelled more like baby oil or band aids being ripped off skin or wet dog or a combination. We finally labelled it “girl repellant”!
I had purchased a bottle last week but it is now a gift for my son. I wouldn’t buy it again even with the IPA label.
- Bells “Hopslam”, Bells Brewing
12 oz bottle
Golden color, with Fresh citrus notes and definitely hopped!
My second favorite of the night – I’d definitely buy a 6 pack of this one. Nice to end on a “high note”
For upcoming education nights – visit Total Wine (www.totalwine.com) and click on their calendar. Enjoy the slide show below and hope your next pint is a good one!
An unOfficial Beer Goddess.
One of Tampa‘s newest craft breweries, Cigar City Brewing, is under siege to keep its Tasting Room open. Less than 2 years old, the brewery has won awards from Draft magazine and continues to garner fans across the country who carry bottles countrywide since the brewery now ships only to a few eastern states.
The Tasting Room has an interesting current (November 2010) tasting menu – at the top is their award-winning Jai Alai IPA (7.5% ABV) and their cedar aged version of the same beer their Humidor IPA (also 7.5% ABV).
One of my favorites on their current menu is the Tocobaga Red (7.2% ABV) – it is as smooth as my other favorite amber beer on tap – Alaskan Amber.
An interesting limited edition brew set (2 different brews) is the “Either” and “Or” brews (11.2% ABV). According to the Tasting Room’s Travis, Either and Or is the result of a collaborative project of 3 breweries: the same recipe was used for both brews. Cigar City Brewing made the one batch, while a partnership of a Vermont brewery and a Copenhagen brewery made the second. The water and recipe are identical (both were brewed onsite in Tampa) but the hops are different. While both Either and Or are 11.2% ABV, my taste buds gave a totally different experience from each:
- “Either” tasted to me like a deep Chocolatey Stout style ale (is that the proper way to describe it?), and
- “Or” reminded me of Norwegian Christmas beers (which would be great with gingerbread).
I was amazed (but not surprised) at the difference that the hops brought to the same recipe beers. Either and Or are available in limited release for the next couple of weeks for $7.50 for a 12 oz bottle from the Tasting Room.
The next collaborative project will result in a New Year brew set called “Neither” and “Nor”. Watch for it in early 2011!
Please vote to keep the Cigar City Tasting Room open – even if you don’t live in Tampa!
Until the next pint,
UnOfficial beer goddess.
I visited the 3 Brasseurs brewpub last week in downtown Montreal (there are five locations in the Montreal area) and asked my waitress if she could tell me when the brew master would be in, and whether I could interview him about his brewing choices (in hopes of publishing his responses on the Know Your Brewer – KYB blog). Her response totally caught me off guard and illustrated a little known fact about businesses in French Canada. She told me that the brewer would be in the next morning – early – but that he wouldn’t be able to give me any insights because the choice of what to brew is made by restaurant owners – IN FRANCE! She added that he might be willing to talk to me about what he brews as a home brewer (they have choices at home) – just not for the brewpub. (I realized then that the “early morning hours” were likely to accommodate his bosses’ hours in France.)
WOW! I couldn’t believe that brewing choices came down from – France – for a Canadian set of restaurants – in the 21st Century? I ignorantly thought that these practices went out with Canadian confederation in 1867, but I realize that many multinational companies headquartered in France (with divisions in the U.S.) function in the same way.
I enjoyed a nice pint of their local IPA with my meal, but I never returned to interview the brewer. It just didn’t make sense when he simply followed the rules as set by his superiors in France. Perhaps in a future visit to France I can arrange a visit to 3 Brasseurs headquarters if such one exists.
Meanwhile, it’s a brewpub worth visiting if you are in Montreal – they feature a good choice of local microbrews brewed on site as well as French wines and a good menu featuring a specialty dish like pizza. Bon appetit!
Have a good (tasting) weekend!
The (un)official beer goddess.
One of my favorite haunts in NYC is Heartland Brewery (multiple locations) in the summertime for their Apricot Ale! I went there with my son and daughter during a Manhattan visit yesterday and discovered a wider variety of summer seasonals than in several years.
Here’s the list of new brews for the summertime:
- Buffalo Bock: Delicately kilned specialty malts lend a mellow sweetness and a touch of toasted caramel to this smooth, mahogany colored lager. 5.9% alc/vol.
- NY State Wildflower Wheat: This light, crisp golden ale is made with New York clover honey, lavender, and a selection of NY malts and hops. Served with a lemon wedge for a bright floral nose and a light, crisp finish. 4.9% alc/vol.
- Summertime Apricot Ale: A succulent summer wheat ale with a light, fruity sweetness and a pleasant bouquet of fresh apricots. 5.5% alc/vol.
- Empire Premium: Pale golden with a crisp, dry finish, this traditional Czech lager will quench your thirst and invigorate your senses.
A couple of other pale ales were also on tap but not listed on the website (my photos of the list didn’t do the names justice!)
The grand surprise of the afternoon surpassed my traditional Apricot Ale favorite: The smooth and almost hefeweisen unpasteurized taste of the NY State Wildflower Ale. If you like hefeweisen’s and blondish wheat beers (not quite Belgian!) be sure to try this new seasonal. But hurry in because when the supply runs out in a couple of months, it’s gone for the season.
To better pints and more tastings!
Until next time… I remain the unofficial beer goddess.
Let me know what you think – have you been to Heartland Breweries lately?
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,
This weekend’s Gasparilla International Film Festival (GIFF) in Tampa, FL features some great media events, including the Friday evening screening of the film “You” featuring actress Melora Hardin with a pre-screening party at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company in Ybor City (on the east side of Tampa). Tampa Bay Brewing Company has been a longtime favorite of mine and is one of the best craft breweries in FL. I’ve never seen draft beers from Tampa Bay Brewing Company at any other bars in the area so I can only surmise that they keep their microbrews (about 10-15 at any given time) for patrons at their on-site restaurant.
I had the opportunity to sample a few of the brews recently along with their two seasonal brews – one a double red head amber (more like a bitter in many ways) the other a heavy IPA – and settled on their Warthog Heifeweisen which the menu truthfully cast as having a slight after-taste of banana and cloves. Cloudy and definitely wheaty (no surprise here) and the banana was almost indecipherable unless you already knew about it.
If you happen to be down in FL this weekend (Mar 19-21, 2010) be sure to check out the Gasparilla International Film Festival and the Tampa Bay Brewing Company. I’m counting on the weather to be balmy and (hopefully) back to the seasonal warmth that we’ve sorely missed this winter!
Say hello if you happen to be in the area!
The “unofficial” beer goddess
—————————Copyright 2010, the Unofficial Beer Goddess ——————————————————————-
With 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!)”
The Unofficial Beer Goddess
============Copyright, the Unofficial Beer Goddess, 2010===============================================
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!
Here’s how the Brewery describes this brew:
#9 — Not 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