On a recent trip to South Florida I had the good fortune of meeting up with some stellar beer folks at Coffee District in Delray Beach; just north of Ft. Lauderdale. On previous trips to that area I had struck out from a beer experience perspective so I was thrilled with the prospect of finally getting to experience the craft beer available there. The beers I sampled are too numerous to mention so I will highlight just a few…
I arrived at Coffee District armed with a box full of California Beers to share but my mission was to experience beer available in Florida. I was greeted by the friendly group of regulars assembled for the Monday night bottle-share. My eyes were instantly drawn to Southern Tier & Terrapin selections available from the bottle list of approximately 100 beers. I was in the right place!
My first pick was the “Maduro Brown Ale” from the elusive Cigar City Brewing. Deep Brown with a tan head, this 5.5% ABV Beer was full of roasted malt flavors, the bitterness of dark chocolate and a subtle coffee note on the finish.
Next up was a special treat from US Marine Corp Sergeant, Anthony Kirkish, a former San Diego resident now stationed in Florida. Tony brought a bottle of Dogfish Head “My Antonia” which was named after a book written by one of my all-time favorite authors, Willa Cather. This continually-hopped Imperial Pilsner was originally brewed by Sam Calagione at Birra del Borgo in Italy with brewer Leonardo DiVencenzo in October of 2008. In was then brewed in the US for release in 2010. Floral hops, citrus and honey on the nose. Medium mouth-feel and creamy with hints of citrus and hops, this 7.5% ABV beer was the most unique Pilsner I have ever tasted. I really liked it and would definitely love to try this beer again.
The Cigar City “Sea Bass Farmhouse Ale” was a pleasant surprise. It pours a dark, reddish-brown and is sour on the nose. It reminded me of a Wild Ale and was not honestly, a beer I expected from Cigar City. This one-off beer has a full mouth feel, plum & cherry sour on the front with just the right amount of funk. It mellows to a slight sweetness on the finish. I was surprised to find that the ABV was 8% which is rather strong for this style of beer, but I really liked it. It would be a big hit with San Diego sour lovers…
The most surprising and amazing experience of the evening was my introduction to Funky Buddha Brewing. They opened in September of 2010 and they bring a new dimension to Florida Craft Brewing. Already famous for their Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, I had the pleasure of sampling “Last Snow” which is a Milk/Coffee Porter. This 6.3% ABV beer was like an Almond Joy explosion in my mouth. It was made with white coffee which frankly, I had never heard of but I am certainly glad that I have now. The beer is well-balanced; from the nose to the finish. I must confess that I refilled my glass several times because I could just not get enough of the amazing flavors. It was the perfect pairing with the delicious Coffee District Carrot Cake. I kid you not; this brewery is off the hook and I would swim to Florida to try more of their fabulous beers.
The people I met at Coffee District were delightful and filled with passion about the beer they shared. The laws in Florida make it very difficult for craft brewers and distribution into the state is also challenging but the maverick spirit of craft beer lovers clearly prevails. This San Diego girl left with a new perspective on Florida beer and memories of great people, willing to share what they are proud of. I can assure you, Florida is not a Craft Beer Wasteland!
Special thanks to Ed Roberts from Total Wine and Rob from Daily Beer Review for hooking me up with the bottle share at Coffee Grind. Next time you visit South Florida; be sure to reach out to them.
325 NE 2nd Avenue Suite 104
Delray Beach, FL
The Funky Buddha Brewing Company
Cigar City Brewing