Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

Posts tagged ‘seasonal brews’

There’s nothing like Speed Dating with Breweries (I think I’m in Love)

One of the most popular sessions at the annual Beer Bloggers and Writers Conference   is called Live Beer Blogging, (this year #BBC16 was the 7th conference,) during which attendees sample tastes of a dozen brews in rapid succession over the course of an hour.  Described affectionately as ‘speed dating with breweries’ (without the obnoxious nature of regular speed dating,) we sample a variety of beers introduced and poured by local brewers/brewery reps in 5 minute increments.

Live Beer Blogging creates memories that stick.  I remember my first meeting with Night Shift at BBC13 in Boston – it was a love at first taste experience!  Now, when someone brings a Night Shift brew to a bottle share, I’m taken back to that night in Boston 3 years ago.

This year’s conference just finished two days ago here in my home city of Tampa, FL, with JJ Taylor Distributing hosting the Live Beer Blogging.  10 regional and national brews waltzed across our table hoping to find favor with bloggers and writers alike.  (This year it was interesting that my table was entirely women, save for one brave male…)

Want to experience Live Beer Blogging vicariously (albeit second-hand?)  Using newly released Facebook Live (with apologies to professional videographers) – I present to you, the #BBC16 Live Beer Blogging experience:

  • First up:  Local Brewery St Pete Brewing with Casey Cothran introducing The McCracken (a Scottish Ale named in honor of head brewer Jon McCracken)
  • Next up is Safety Harbor’s Crooked Thumb Brewery (on the NW side of Tampa Bay) with owner Travis Kruger pouring their Florida Gose. (Apologies for my random cameos. I’ve since learned that the zoom button is different from the “swap camera” button!)
  • Local favorite, Cigar City Brewing brought limited edition bottles of Decoherence, which was released solely as part of the (private club) Catador series.
  • This was followed by California (and North Carolina) brewery, Sierra Nevada, featuring their new  Otra Voz, a Gose Style Ale brewed with Grapefruit and Cactus.
  • Sarasota brewery J Dubs made a splash entry by having brewery owner Jeremy (the J in J Dubs) in a bovine costume pouring his Bell Cow Milk Chocolate Porter.
  • New Belgium Brewing of Colorado (and North Carolina) poured samples of their Citradelic IPA.
  • Cape Canaveral located Florida Beer Company featured representative Seth Kapp pouring their Florida Lager (sidenote: notice how crowded the table is started to get?)
  • Up next was California based Lagunitas Brewing Company whose principals brought with them their signature brew, Lagunitas IPA.
  • Miami based Saltwater Brewing (who gained recent global attention with their biodegradable six-pack can holders) was up next with their Screaming Reels IPA.

Rounding out the 10 featured breweries was Georgia based Terrapin Brewing whose representative poured their refreshing Watermelon Ale.   On request of the representative, I have not included the video in this post.  Nonetheless, the beer was refreshing and tasty on the hot summer day!

That’s it for 2016 – and with the 2017 conference in Milwaukee, WI, I’m looking forward to another great adventure in Live Beer Blogging.  Whew… 10 brewing samples in less than an hour!  A feverish pace, lots of tasting (and discarding!) but thankfully, I’m blessed to be one of the someone’s who simply… has to do it.

Slainte!

Carol

 

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“The Festival” 2015 Florida – Thank you to all VolunBEERs!

Having just returned from the European Beer Bloggers Conference (#EBBC15) in Belgium at the end of August, 2015, I was excited to be coordinating volunteers for “The Festival” presented by the Shelton Brothers in St Petersburg, FL.

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Now in its 4th year, The Festival brings in specialty craft brews coveted by beer geeks everywhere with a personal presence by some of the world’s finest brewers and brewery representatives for brands imported by the Shelton Brothers. Two of my favorite Belgian breweries,  Brouwerij 3 Fonteinen and Brouwerij Cantillonwere well represented, along with an entire St Petersburg Coliseum full of famous notables from the international, U.S., and local brewing scene.

Sidenote:  If you are purely interested in the array of brews, the brewers, and the breweries involved in the festival (or photos thereof), please visit www.sheltonbrothers.com to see coverage of The 2015 Festival. From my perspective it is  suffice to say that it was one of the most diverse, well-organized, and friendly festivals I’ve ever seen, thanks to the people involved.

After three well-attended sessions this past weekend, I’d like to shout out and give my thanks to a few people who made The Festival so incredible this year.

This post is a tribute…

20151017_231227-1To the thousands of hours invested by Shelton Brothers staff, international brewery reps, and local beer ambassadors whose passion to high quality craft beer made this a once-in-a-lifetime, international event a reality for us in St Petersburg, FL.

Among the locals who stand out are Bob Sylvester, owner and head brewer at St Somewhere Brewing Company in Tarpon Springs, FL and JB Ellis, owner of Mr. Dunderbak’s Craft Biergarten in Tampa whose love of Tampa Bay culminated in The Festival being in St Petersburg this year.  Thank you Bob and JB.

20151017_191436-1Thank you also to Joel and Dan (Shelton Brothers), Jordan DeFrank  and everyone else at Shelton Brothers importers whose efforts brought European, Canadian, Australian, NZ, Japanese and other brewers to The Festival and graced our shores with heaven-sent beverages (or at least they tasted that way!)

Thank you also to my team leads:  Tim Bennett of Armon Events, Robert and Lisa Bandl, and Mike Thompson, head brewer at Brewer’s Tasting Room. I couldn’t have done it without your energy, advice and support.

And, finally, THANK YOU! to my army of close to 300 VolunBEERs, whose enthusiasm, flexibility, courtesy and boundless energy went above and beyond to make this year’s festival the best ever.  Hopefully, this is the start of many Shelton Brothers festivals and other notable brewing events in our area!

Sidenote: VolunBEERs are needed to several more upcoming events – please check out our Facebook Page for Carol’s VolunBEERs or our master sign-up page for opportunities to help out!  (Yes, even if you fly in to VolunBEER, we want you!)

Hopefully, this gallery of photos helps to convey a bit of the spirit, friendliness, personality, diversity and vibrancy of our VolunBEER community.  THANK YOU all for your service!

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p.s., This weekend (Oct 24, 2015) in St Petersburg is Keep St Petersburg Local week with a family-friendly Saturday afternoon event called “In The Dip” – I still need Localicious_IN_THE_DIP_FB_CoverVolunBEERs to pour beer!

 

 

Come out and have fun with us!

An Open Letter to FL Senate President Don Gaetz about the Florida Craft Brewing Industry: “I’m Confused”

Here’s what I’d like to send to Florida Senate President Don Gaetz, but… we’re not friends

Dear FL Senate President Don Gaetz and the Florida Senate:

I’ve read and re-read the recent Miami Herald article posted Sunday March 16, 2014:  Beer distributors, brewers fight over growlers where you are stated as saying you are a “free-market, pro-business legislator,” and I cannot seem to reconcile what definition of free market you are using.  I looked up the definition of free-market and every source emphasizes freedom from government regulations:

Merriam-Webster definition: free market:  noun    an economic market or system in which prices are based on competition among private businesses and not controlled by a government

www.investorwords.com/2086/free_market.html  Definition of free market: Business governed by the laws of supply and demand, not restrained by government

dictionary.reference.com/browse/free+market      free market —n: a. an economic system that allows supply and demand to regulate prices, wages, etc, rather than government policy : b. (as modifier): a free-market …

Yet Mr. Gaetz, you are quoted as saying:

“I’m with the beer distributors in my district. That’s a very important issue because one of my very best friends is an Anheuser-Busch distributor and he never talks to me about his business. It’s always about what are we going to do for disabled children, what are we going to do for the arts, what are we going to do for economic development. But this time he’s talking about growlers.”

How does the law of supply and demand fit in with your position, and why is it that Florida consumers can purchase 64-oz growlers legally in 47 other states, but cannot when they are at home?

I am also struggling to understand why Anheuser-Busch, which is now under Belgium InBev ownership, can garner Senate support for proposed craft brewery restrictions that would limit collaboration brewing and sales of brews from Florida-based and owned craft brewery locations.

Why is it that Florida continues to break ranks with the rest of the union by restricting growler size?  Do Floridians really support allowing big business interests to trump and curtail the growth of an industry that other states fully support?

Do Floridians really know about The House Bill 1329, “Big Beer Bill”, AKA the “Craft Beer Killer Bill” to further curtail and restrict craft breweries statewide? Why would we want to turn our backs on an emerging market that is providing employment, income, tourist opportunities and vibrancy in our state?

Is there a new set of definitions for your free-market, pro-business stance that includes government regulation to protect a best friend’s business interests over and above those of small craft brewers, and of Florida consumers who freely choose to buy craft beer instead of your friend’s products?

As a Florida taxpayer, consumer, and confused voter, I’m hoping that there is a reasonable explanation that doesn’t include reference to political contributions or lobbyist influences.

Respectfully and truly yours…

——————-

As I consider whether to forward this on, I’m betting that the rest of the nation reads about us and remarks “Only in Florida…”

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

Brick-toberfest

I was invited to preview and report on Miami’s latest take on an Octoberfest-style sampling event called “Brick-toberfest” in the Brickell district on Sept 28, 2013.  It is always interesting to be a part of an inaugural annual festival because it sets the stage for years to come, and the Brick-toberfest promises to be an “epic event.”

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What makes this event different from the typical beer fest is the inclusion of wine and spirits (Jagermeister and Jameson’s at a minimum) plus ciders; together with an innovative schedule tailored to suit various audiences.  The pre-party for VIPs features some unique sampling brews and permits ticket holders to an extra hour of sampling plus other goodies beginning at 1 pm;while an unlimited sampling pass provides unlimited sampling starting at 2pm; and a street style post-fest party commencing at  6pm (until 11pm); and a later after party to follow at Fado Irish Pub from 11pm to 4am.

The Brick-toberfest website boasts that there will be “over 75 beers, bands, DJ’s and more!”.  It also featured a beerpage depicting significant breweries from around the nation – each featuring up to 6 beers each; several ciders; and several spirit companies.  Throughout the day will be alternating live entertainment and DJ’s offering a variety of music from 1pm to 11pm.

While ticket sales have been brisk (over 2000 sold to date), the event is spread across 10th Street which will hopefully facilitate a free-flowing and short set of tasting queues, and prevent the site from becoming too crowded.  The event runs rain or shine and tickets are available at http://bricktoberfest.com/

More information about the event can be found at http://bricktoberfest.com/ or on the Facebook Page https://www.facebook.com/bricktoberfest

Will I meet you at Brick-toberfest in Miami on Sept 28?

Cheers,
Carol

Halfway There Delivered and then Some…

The first organized event since Tampa Bay Beer Week (TBBW) formally incorporated as a not-for-profit was held September 7, 2013 at the Cuban Club in Ybor City:  Halfway There – A Rare Beer Festival.  Over 500 attendees tasted and over 40 breweries, homebrew clubs, distributors and others poured tastings of truly rare beer:  beers that were “one-off” kegs (specially brewed for the event), brews unavailable in Florida, and award-winning home-brew club offerings.  Taps turned on for VIPs promptly at 5pm, with wind down/last pour at 9pm.  In between the beer and conversations flowed, and new friendships were formed over what I call “liquid art.”

Here’s a gallery of photos from the event: (Photos credit Tom Scherberger)

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And… if the initial feedback and social media postings are any indication, we (the TBBW board) hit the ball out of the park. With brews and brewer tents spread throughout the indoor cantina area and the outdoor patio, festival goers could easily mingle and mix with the brewers themselves and heartily sampled brews that will never come together in the same place again, including specialty collaboration beers between brewers at the event.  From stouts to porters to Berliner Weiss’s to IPAs to strong ales – the Halfway There (halfway to Tampa Bay Beer week in March 2014!) – catered to every palate and a myriad of beer styles.

With an upswing of 15+ production breweries in the Tampa Bay area alone with several poised to come on stream in the coming weeks, Tampa Bay is quickly becoming a craft beer destination to be reckoned with, and the variety of offerings is impressive.  When you take a look at the awards amassed by the veterans (Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Dunedin Brewing, and others) along with the newcomers (Rapp Brewing, Barley Mow Brewing Co., St. Somewhere and others) – it is not hard to see why Tampa Bay is emerging as a craft brewing leader in Florida.

With this inaugural event, Halfway There proved that the TBBW board can bring great festivals and new events to the Tampa Bay area, and if you listen to festival attendees, they are ready to drink up more of the same.  If you missed this one, stick around and watch for more of TBBW offerings in the months ahead, culminating in the week long Tampa Bay Beer Week March 1-9, 2014.

p.s., After posting this original post,  the Halfway There Rare Beer Festival was voted the Best Inaugural Beer Fest by Tampa Bay’s Creative Loafing press and Tampa Bay Beer Week 2013 was voted the Best Beer Geek Invasion.

p.p.s. Carol Dekkers is a director on the Tampa Bay Beer Week board of Directors and the Chapter Chair of the new Barley’s Angels chapter:  Tampa Bay Growler Girls (see Facebook.)  Imbibe safely!

 

It’s American Craft Beer Week May 14-20, 2012 (inclusive!)

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!

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