Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Beer Events This Week

Yet again another big week for beer events in South Florida. All the events are great so it is going to be hard to pick and choose which ones to attend so you should just try to go to them all.

Abraxas, South Beach- Tonight at Abraxas they will be hosting a Pub Trivia Quiz. I'm not sure if that means you will have to know info about pubs or just random trivia but sounds like a good time to me either way. You'll have a chance to win free drinks with the first place prize being a $50 bar tab and second place prize being a $25 bar tab. Play starts at 8:00pm and ends at 10:00pm and is free to play.

Town Kitchen & Bar, South Miami- If you are in the South Miami area tonight and are looking for something to do head on over to Town Kitchen & Bar. Chris from Fresh Beer will be having a beer tasting of various Fall seasonal including Left Hand's Oktoberfest, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Stone 13th Anniversary Ale, Dogfish Head Theobroma and lots of other great surprises. Chris never dissapoints with his surprises either so make sure you check it out tonight. The fun is from 7:00pm-8:30pm and will run you $20.


Mayfair Hotel, Coconut Grove- If you won't be able to make it over to Town tonight Chris will be doing another Fall beer tasting at the Mayfair Hotel on Thursday. Here is what Chris has to say about the event.

"Welcome back to Miami's premier bi-weekly beer tasting. This week we'll be doing a Fall Season Preview with Shipyard Pumpkinhead, Dogfish Punkin, Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale, Left Hand Oktoberfest, Ayinger Oktoberfest, and Dogfish Head Theobroma. Not to mention my rotating cast of regular goodies...

I'll be there sampling over 30 different craft brewed beers (maybe over 40!) along with their choice of appetizers (typically chicken wings) from 7:00-9:00. This is an unlimited sampling meaning you can eat & drink to your heart's content. I know everyone's on a tight budget these days, but at $20 you really can't beat this. After tax and tip you'd end up paying $20 for a plate of wings and two beers anywhere else, but here not only will you get more than two beers, you'll be able to try over 20 different beers so that next time you're in the store you won't have to wonder whether to spend the money on that $12 six pack. Fun and educational, can't beat that! Hope to see you there.

Please make sure to say that you were referred by Chris!"


The Lodge Beer & Grill, Boca Raton- The Lodge will be hosting the Newcastle Beer Girls this Friday night. they will be giving out free samples, draft specials, prizes, promo items and you'll even get a free pint of Newcastle just for coming down. It starts at 8:00pm so get there early to enjoy all the fun and prizes.

Abraxas, South Beach- If you came out to the Dogfish Head weekend that Abraxas hosted a few weeks ago you know what a great time it was. Once again Abraxas will be doing another weekend of special brews, this time from Stone Brewing. They will be featuring Ruination and Subliminally Self Righteous Ale on tap for the weekend as well as having specials on other great Stone beers like Arrogant Bastard Ale, Imperial Russian Stout, Levitation, IPA, Pale Ale, and of course the 13th Anniversary Ale. These are some of the highest rated beers in the world so you won't want to miss out.

BX Beer Depot, Lake Worth- The BX Beer Depot will be hosting another great tasting with Amy from Shipyard for their Pumpkin Head beer. They will also be giving away glasses and tasting some great beer so be sure to swing by between 4:30pm and 6:00pm.

Cook's, Abacoa- Cook's will be doing a second round of their Beer vs. Wine Dinner on Saturday. There will be two seatings, one at 6:00pm and the other at 9:00pm. Ticket's are $58/ea. with $10 going to the Autism Project of Palm Beach County. Four Courses will be paired with wine and beer. The featured beers for the evening will be Avery Sixteenth Anniversary Ale, Brewzzi Bohemian Pils, Oskar Blues Old Chub and Rogue Shakespeare Stout. You can call Cooks at (561)429-8020 to make reservations.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Weekend Events

If you are going to be in the Broward/Palm Beach area this weekend there are a few events that you won't want to miss.


BX Beer Depot- The weekly Friday beer tasting at the BX Beer Depot's Tiki Hut always has something new and exciting. From 6:00PM to 10:00PM they will be tasting Stone's Subliminally Self Righteous along with a bunch of other great beers. This will be one of the first places you will be able to try what is sure to be another great release from Stone. Don't miss out.

BX Beer Depot
2964 Second Ave North
Lake Worth, FL 33461

The Lodge Beer & Grill- This Friday night at 8 p.m. Shipyard Brewing Company will be debuting it's Pumpkinhead Ale. Pumpkinhead Ale is a crisp and refreshing wheat ale with delightful aromatics and subtle spiced flavor. Hints of cinnamon and nutmeg make this fall brew a flavor sensation. Enjoy a free Shipyard Pint Glass with your first Pumpkinhead of the season. Shipyard Brewing Company will be at the Lodge with free beer samples, free keychain bottle openers and free t-shirts.

The Lodge Beer & Grill
200 South Federal Highway
Boca Raton, FL 33432


Brewzzi/Boca Beer Lovers Meetup
- The Boca Beer Lovers Meetup is holding a special meet up on Saturday at Brewzzi in Boca Raton. Fran Andrewlevich, the brewer, will be giving a tour of their facility and talking about the brewing process. You will have unlimited samplings of their house beers. As a special treat Fran will taste with us the special beers he has brewed for the Great American Beer Festival. Fran is a gold medal winner at this prestigious event. For more info on the meetup and all future meetups you can get all the info here.

2222 Glades Rd
Boca Raton, FL 33431


Burger and Beer Joint- South Beach, Miami

Over the last few weeks I had been talking with my compatriot, The Burger Beast, about trying to do something together with our blogs. The perfect opportunity came up when we heard about the opening of the Burger and Beer Joint, where our two worlds meld into one. The Burger and Beer Joint is located in the less touristy area of South Beach, west of Alton Road, by the Venetian Causeway. It is located next to a cluster of restaurants (Sardinia, Joe Allen's, etc.) that have had some staying power, considering the area. The Burger and Beer Joint is actually three different venues in one. You have the Burger and Beer Joint which is the restaurant portion and right now, the only section you can actually order the burgers in. You then have the B&B Sports Bar which is attached to the Burger and Beer Joint and can be accessed by going through an internal hallway or by using the Sports Bar's private entrance. Located upstairs is the B&B Lounge. It is only open Thursday-Saturday from 9:00PM-5:00AM. The lounge will feature jazz and more loungy music until about midnight and will then change over to DJs. The whole Joint also has a happy hour Monday-Thursday from 5:00PM-7:00PM and then again from 12:00AM-2:00AM which offers half off all drinks. And for you foodies, looking for a midnight snack, they have plans to keep the kitchen open until 2:00AM on the weekends as well.

My wife and I got to the Burger and Beer Joint a little early, so we decided to checkout the Sports Bar first. It has a very different feel than the restaurant because well, the Sports Bar felt very much like a sports bar; numerous TVs playing different games all over the room, a pool table towards the back, and drunken musings all over the wall. The walls are made of chalkboard so that people can leave their mark with drawings, messages, and graffiti. The bartender was very friendly as were the other patrons at the bar. I was handed a pretty extensive beer list and immediately, it seemed to be missing some major staples for a bar that was claiming to have 99 bottles of beer(they also have a few on draft as well) to choose from. I would later find out that they were waiting for an order from a distributor that happens to carry lots of my favorite beers, which was great to hear. I attempted to order a few different beers before I was able to find a beer they actually had in stock. Since it was their first week I didn't see this as a flaw but was instead glad to see that people had been ordering good beers. I finally settled on a Full Sail Ltd #2 Pale Lager. My wife wasn't drinking that night and wanted a non-alcoholic beer but they unfortunately didn't have any. Perhaps, they'll offer some in the future. After I got my beer, we headed back over to the restaurant to wait for the Burger Beast to arrive. Since the Miami New Times had mentioned that the Burger Beast and I were going to be checking out the restaurant, a crowd of Burger Beast followers had already begun to gather. Carlos Miller from NBCMiami and Jim Winters from Nikon Miami were also there to document the visit.

When Burger Beast arrived, we sat down at a table to try out the burger portion of this operation. We decided to get crazy and ordered the biggest burger I have ever seen in my life. The patty weighed in at TEN POUNDS. That's right, a ten pound patty along with a four-pound bun, topped with cheese, two toppings, a sauce and accompanied by two sides. I will say that we didn't even come close to remotely finishing this monstrosity. It was quite the experience but to read more about the burger and other things we ordered, you should check out the Burger Beast's blog.

When it came time to ordering a beer with our meal, the Burger Beast gave me the task of picking a beer for him. Since he enjoys Killian's Red and wanted to try something new I ordered him the closest thing they had on the menu, Murphy's Irish Red, but it turns out they were also out of that. I decided we were both just going to stick with a Full Sail Ltd #2 Pale Lager and thankfully, the Burger Beast liked it. Again, I'm not going to fault the place for being low on inventory the first week. It's good to see a place like this doing so well on its first week out and I love the enthusiasm behind wanting 99 bottles of beer on the wall. Although the location has never held the same business very long I think the Burger and Beer Joint, sports bar and lounge will do really well. I was also told that they're already talking about doing some beer events there in the near future. I'm looking forward to checking back shortly to see how things are going. If you are in the area you should stop by for a burger and a beer. You won't be disappointed.

Burger and Beer Joint
Burger and Beer Joint Facebook Page
1766 Bay Road, Miami Beach, FL


Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Review: Oak Creek Brewing's Amber Ale and Hefeweizen

My parent's recently were out in Sedona, AZ for vacation and instead of getting me a shirt they know I probably will never wear they made a better decision, they brought me back beer. They were staying by the Oak Creek Brewery and dropped in to pick me up a couple of beers to check out. They picked up an amber ale and a hefeweizin to check out. I usually try to only review only beers that are available in South Florida but I made an exception for a present from my parent.

I started out with the amber ale. It pours a nice shiny amber. The head starts out at about an inch and then dissipates to just a ring. The gives off some aromas of citrus and bread. The taste is very similar with the bread coming a little more forward. Not very much carbonation. Slightly watery. It finishes with a hit of the hops at the back of your mouth as the last drops leave your mouth. I feel like it leaves my mouth a bit dry. Might be one of the tricks built into the beer to get me to drink more of it. Overall not a bad beer. Not something I would go searching out but if it was around I definitely wouldn't turn it away.

The hefeweizen was up next. It pour a very orange/brown color. If I didn't know what it was I would think from the looks of it that it was apple cider. It has a few bits of sediment in it and is very hazy in appearance. No visible head. Very strong aroma of banana. The banana is also there in the taste as well. Clove and citrus notes are there as well. The mouth feel on this beer is much thicker than the amber ale. I could see myself enjoying a bunch of these on a hot day in Sedona. Very enjoyable wheat beer.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Interview: Adam Fine of Fresh Beer Inc.

Dogfish Head. Rogue. Avery. Shipyard. If you've had a beer by anyone of these breweries in South Florida you have one man to thank, Adam Fine, of Fresh Beer Inc. Fresh Beer Inc. brought craft beer to South Florida before anybody else. What started off as a way for Adam to get his own beers into stores, has turned into one of the most respected craft beer distribution companies in the country. Fresh Beer has come a long away as a company and in helping the craft beer community in South Florida. I decided to ask Adam a few questions to see where this all started and where we can expect it going in the future. If you ever see Adam out you should buy the man a beer. Take a minute to thank him for bringing you all the beers that you love.

photo courtesy of the Sun Sentinel

South Florida Beer Blog- What is your position at Fresh Beer and what does that involve?
Adam Fine- President and General Manager. I oversee all the operations. I work with our sales manager and sales team to keep everything moving forward on the sales side. On the operations side, I work with coordinating everything that has to do with the beer getting ordered, shipped, and delivered to your favorite accounts. I am also constantly working with our vendors on new product releases as well as looking for new products to bring into the market.

SFBB- When and why did Fresh Beer start?
AF- I started Fresh Beer in 1999 as a way to get my beer to the market. We wanted to start a microbrewery down here in South Florida and we quickly realized that we had no distribution channels to work with because the big distributors weren't interested in working with small brands and local breweries. I literally started the business delivering kegs out of the back of my pickup truck and developing a clientele of interested customers. After sometime, we started meeting more people who were running craft breweries that faced the same challenge getting into the Florida market. Having a distibution license, I was able to begin distibuting their beers alongside my own.

SFBB- Had you worked in the beer industry before Fresh Beer? Do you think it prepared you for what you are doing now?
AF- I had not worked in the beer industry before. While I was developing my business plan I was brewing professionally at Hops but that was the extent of my experience. That only helped me on the beer brewing side. I had no previous sales or business experience. Safe to say...I have learned a lot along the way!

SFBB- What do you think of the beer scene in South Florida?
AF- I think the South Florida beer scene has improved dramatically in the past 5-7 years however we are still many years behind most of the country. That being said... it continues to grow and surprise me.

SFBB- What do you think is lacking in the beer scene here and what do you think we can do to improve it?
AF- I think the biggest thing lacking in the industry is knowledge within the industry at almost every level. It has improved dramatically as well but again we are still dealing with owners/managers who really don't understand these products. I think the biggest thing that we as a group can do to improve it is to continue to ask for quality craft brewed beers where ever you might be eating, drinking and purchasing beer. What the consumer/customer wants will dictate what the proprietors will bring in to satisfy the demand. We have seen a lot of success over the last few years for our accounts that cater to the craft beer consumer... in fact throughout this recession many of our accounts have shown a tremedous amount of resilency and have continued to stay busy which says a lot for their customers and the products that they enjoy.

SFBB- I’ve heard that Fresh Beer was recently purchased by Brown Distributing. Can you talk a little about how this is going to help Fresh Beer and how things have gone so far with the transition?
AF- Yes, recently Fresh Beer was purchased by Brown Distributing. With any small business it is a struggle to compete against bigger more established companies. Brown brought a lot to the table that made this deal ultimately a very positive thing. First off, they kept Fresh Beer whole and are allowing us to continue providing the great service our customers are used to. We have a strong team and have been successful in this market but have always been limited to expand by money. Brown recognized this and they are providing the necessary components to help us get to the next level. The combination of our passion and sales with their knowledge of distribution, access to their network and personnel makes the future look very exciting.

SFBB- Will you be distributing any new beer companies and if so when we can expect to see them?
AF-We have a lot of brands that we are going to be working with but I don't want to let these out of the bag just yet! Let's just say there are several very exciting companies that will be headed to Florida in the next 6 months. There are a few others that we are also in talks with right now. One thing that I can talk about though is Shelton Bros. Import company. Shelton Bros. have a great lineup of some really interesting beers from all over the world. We have just started a special order program with some of our more specialty intensive clients and in about one month you should start seeing beers from Mikeller, Nogne-O, Achel, and Jolly Pumpkin as well as Canitillon and Ridgeway. Really great stuff! (ed. you can find all the great beers Shelton Bros. carries here. If you see one you like be sure to ask at your local store to order it from Fresh Beer.)

SFBB- Do any of the companies you distribute to now have any new releases coming out that people should be looking out for?
AF- Well, Fall is here so it is Pumpkin and Oktoberfest season! We just received our first shipment of Shipyard Pumpkinhead and Oktoberfest beers from Penn and Left Hand should be hitting our dock within a week or two. Dogfish Punkin is just around the corner as well. Don't forget about Avery Kaiser Imperial Oktoberfest which is absolutely fantastic and there is a new beer from Shipyard under the Pugsley Signature Series...Smashed Pumpkin.

SFBB- Do you remember what your first beer was?
AF- I think my first sip was probably a Bud... but I was drinking Heineken and Miller Genuine draft in well you know I was a bit young at that time. We had no craft here in Florida back in those days! My first craft beer was when I lived in Texas...I was drinking Shiner Bock, St. Arnolds and Celis which was available everywhere there..not to mention Sierra and Anchor Liberty. That is when I learned about the craft movement and really saw it developing.

SFBB- What is your beer of choice these days?
AF- Of course, I'm always gonna drink an Eleven but I'm all over the place. I love variety and my choice depends on what kind of mood I'm in.

SFBB- If you were trying to introduce someone to craft beers what beer, that you carry, would be a good place for them to start?
AF- I always try and figure out what beer they have been exposed to and go from there. Typically, most people are turned off by very hoppy beers and very dark roasted beers so something like a belgian wit or a brown or amber ale is a good place to start. Sometimes though you meet someone who doesn't drink beer but they love coffee so starting with a rich roasted stout is actually a good place to start. I also like to figure out what food they like because if someone has a very diverse pallet you can take more risks when choosing for them.

SFBB- If you weren’t working at Fresh Beer, what would you be doing?
AF- I'd probably be brewing beer somewhere or working for a biotech company or both!

Michy's Beer Dinner

The higher end culinary world is starting to see more and more pairing of food with beer and Michelle Bernstein from Michy's in Miami is the next to embrace the trend. The James Beard award winning chef will be hosting a five course food and beer pairing dinner on Tuesday, August 18th at 7:30pm. Michy's will be pairing five Latin-inspired dishes with five different Samuel Adams beers. The dinner will run you $60 per person. You can call Michy's and make a reservation for what I'm sure will be a great dinner.


Shrimp Cocktail "Vuelve a la Vida," Cilantro, and Chile Serrano

Samuel Adams Light

Crispy Chicken Chicharrones, Peanuts, and Watermelon

Samuel Adams Hefeweizen

Chupe de Pescado, Tomatoes, Hominy, and Lime

Samuel Adams Summer Ale

Sheperd's Pie, Braised Oxtail, Boniato, Toasted Garlic

Samuel Adams Boston Lager

Churros with Spicy Chocolate

Samuel Adams Cream Stout

Tuesday, the 18h of August 2009

7:30pm promptly

For reservations call 305.759.2001


6927 Biscayne Blvd.

Miami, FL 33138

Thursday, August 6, 2009

New Dogfish Head Beers Available Now!!!

After a bit of a wait South Florida will finally be getting three new beers from Dogfish Head today. These should be available at Total Wines, Sunset Corners, Whole Foods, Stop n Shop and Abraxas. If you don't see them at your local store ask for them to get it.

Sah'tea is a brand new beer that Dogfish Head just started brewing this year. As with most Dogfish Head beers this one is also very unique. This beer is based on a 9th century Finnish beer recipe. It is brewed with rye and uses white hot rocks dropped into the wort to make it boil. Then juniper berries and a tea of black tea, cardamom, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and black pepper are added. I have yet to try this beer but if it is like most other Dogfish Head beers it won't be disappointing. You can read more and see a few videos on the making of the beer here.

Theobroma was first brewed last year and is another of the very limited beers that Dogfish Head brews. It is based on recipe found in ancient clay jars that were found in Honduras. It is the first known alcoholic chocolate drink from 1200 B.C. You can read more about it here.

Shelter Pale Ale is actually one of the first beers that Dogfish Head ever brewed. It is not pasteurized so they hadn't shipped it out of the Mid Atlantic area until now. If you had found other Dogfish Head beers to be a bit wild for your taste this is a more subtle beer with a lower alcohol content than other DFH beers. You can read more about it here.

Interview with Matt Webster, Corner Cafe and Brewery

I don't know about you but every once in a while when I'm traveling I come across a place that just plain makes me mad. I get mad that the owners didn't decide to open their amazing establishment next to my house. I guess I could be mad at myself too for not knowing I should be living in Tequesta to enjoy the Corner Cafe and Brewery everyday.

A few weeks ago I decided to head up to the northern reaches of South Florida to try out the fine wares of the Corner Cafe and Brewery in Tequesta (Jupiter area). I had heard many positive things about head brewer Matt Websters' fine beers. I had been in touch with Matt before I headed up and told him I had heard great things about his Double IPA. Unfortunately, he had run out of it on tap. Since Matt knew I was traveling a bit of my way to come up, he pulled some of the Double IPA out of storage for me to try. I must say I was very happy that he did. It was one of the finest Double IPA's I have had in a while. And for sure the best from any local brewpub in South Florida.
I had a sampler of all of the great beers Matt had on tap that day. He had all of the usual beers he has year round: The Kaiser, Julio's 'Jefe' Weizen, Gnarly Barley, and Terminally Ale. He also had an Apricot beer available at the time. Along with those, I got a sneak peek of a German Alt beer that he was about to put on tap. This beer and the Double IPA were some of the most consistently good beers I've ever had from a brewpub. Usually, there is one or two of the beers that are lacking something but not at the Corner Cafe and Brewery. There is a nice range of different beers for any occasion.

If the beer isn't selling it for you, the food is equally amazing. They have great gourmet food at a very affordable price. I had a delicious roast beer sandwich with horseradish sauce and cranberry preserves. One of my friends had the turkey burger and said it was the best turkey burger they ever had.

The Corner Cafe and Brewery's actual brewing area is much smaller than other local brewpubs. With only a 1.5 barrel capacity it is much smaller than the likes of Big Bear and Brewzzi. Though Corner Cafe and Brewery may be small, you can tell these beers are made by someone who truly loves beer and loves to make it.

I sent Matt an interview a few weeks ago after I visited but he has been super busy getting his submissions ready to send off to Denver for the Great American Beer Festival to be judged. In March, Matt took home 1 Gold, 1 Silver and 3 Bronze at the Best Florida Beer competition. He is hoping to add a few more medals to his already growing collection. Check out the interview below.

South Florida Beer Blog- What is your name and what do you do?

MW- Matt Webster, Brewmaster at the Corner Cafe and Brewery.

SFLBB- How long have you been brewing beer?

MW- I have been brewing beer for 16 years.

SFLBB- How did you get started in brewing?

MW- My brother was doing a bit of homebrewing and I was intrigued by it. I purchased a Mr. Beer kit and it all went from there.

SFLBB- Did you work in the beer industry before you started brewing and if so, how did it help you in the position you are in now?

MW- No, I was in the Mortgage industry, when times were good, prior to becoming a professional brewer.

SFLBB- Do you remember the first beer you brewed? Was it any good?

MW- The first beer I brewed was an American Pale Ale and it was horrible. We had to go out to bars, get drunk and then come home and drink it...truly sad.

SFLBB- Do you have a favorite beer you have brewed?

MW- I have a lot of favorites but I like the American Brown Ale I have on tap now.

SFLBB- What is the process for deciding on new beer recipes?

MW- Sometimes I get ideas from drinking other beers (it’s a rough job). Sometimes I hear of an ingredient that I think would mix well with a certain type of beer.

SFLBB- What new beers are you brewing that we should look forward to?

MW- Right now I have a Scotch Wee Heavy sitting in American whiskey barrels. It will be tapped on November 4th, our anniversary.

SFLBB- Do you ever plan on bottling any of your beer? And why haven’t you bottled it yet?

MW- Currently the Florida laws won’t allow Brewpubs to sell any beers that will leave the premises so we have no plans for bottling the beer.

SFLBB- What sets your beers apart from others?

MW- I wouldn’t say my beer can be set apart from other “good” beers. There are tons of good beers out there and tons of bad ones. My whole goal is to remain on the good beer side.

SFLBB- Any plans on expanding with more locations?

MW- No plans for more locations right now...one is all I can handle. We are thinking of expanding our restaurant and brewhouse in the current location.

SFLBB- What are some of your favorite beers besides your own?

MW- I love most of the Stone beers and the Avery beers as well. Right now my top three are Russian River Blind Pig as well as their Pliny the Elder and also Bear Republics Racer 5.

SFLBB- Can we look for you at any beer fests that are coming up?

MW- I will have beers at the Jupiter Beer Festival in January 2010.

SFLBB- What do you think of the South Florida Beer scene?

MW- I moved here from Denver, CO so the Florida beer scene is like a newborn baby to me. The baby is growing, expanding and changing its taste as time goes by. I love being a part of the growing craft beer movement in Florida.

SFLBB- Who are some people that are working to improve the beer scene in South Florida?

MW- All of the Florida East Coast brewers are some of the best guys I have ever met. They all want everybody to succeed. They get the fact that the more breweries in Florida the more people will open their eyes to good quality beer. If you need anything they are there to help the cause.

SFLBB- If someone wanted to be a brewer one day what advice would you give them?

MW- I would tell them to make sure they love being involved in the beer business. The chance of making a lot of money is very slim so you better love it. Other than knowledge and experience is king.

Check out this video for a little more info on Corner Cafe and Brewery from Dan Oliver's Watering Holes.