Tag Archives: Cigar City

Florida: No Longer a Backwater for Craft Beer

7-feature_florida-beers_cycle-brewing_400x600Photo: Michael Donk/Cycle Brewing

For my newest Saveur story, I tackle the thorny question: Why has the Florida beer scene been so bad for so long? While the Sunshine State has long been known for its beaches and amusement parks, beer was always an afterthought, save for the Coronas crammed in coolers. But now the craft beer wave is sweeping across the state, which currently counts some of the country’s most exciting breweries.

In Gainesville, Swamp Head uses local ingredients like Tupelo honey to make balanced beers suited for a humid climate, while Boca Raton’s Funky Buddha knocks out novelties such as No Crusts, a peanut butter and jelly­–flavored brown ale. Tampa’s Cigar City turns out terrific barrel-aged beers, and Dunedin’s 7venth Sun is earning plaudits for its tart, German-style Berliner weisses flavored with local tropical fruit, a style that’s swiftly becoming a state favorite.

Curious about the rise of Florida beer? Check out my story over at Saveur.

Cream Ales Are on the Rise

IM43_Feature-creamales

In the May/June issue of Imbibe, I investigate the rebirth of that misunderstood American original, the cream ale—a style that, contrary to its name, contains no dairy.

The style gained popularity in the late 19th and early 20th centuries as ale breweries in the Northeast and mid-Atlantic region looked to compete with ascendant lager breweries. By fermenting ales at cooler temperatures, brewers created crisper, cleaner, less fruity beers that were more in line with pale lagers. The hybridized specialty soldiered on after Prohibition before largely falling out of favor by the 1970s and ’80s.

After decades of disinterest, cream ales are once again rising as American brewers have begun embracing the style. In Rhode Island, Narragansett Beer recently revived its iconic Cream Ale, and North Carolina’s Fullsteam uses local barley and grits in its El Toro cream ale. Oregon’s Pelican Brewery found a flagship in its floral Kiwanda Cream Ale, and New Glarus’ Spotted Cow is one of Wisconsin’s top-selling draft beers. For other brewers, the cream ale is a springboard to innovation. Wisconsin’s Furthermore mixes apple cider and cream ale to create Fallen Apple, while last year Florida’s Cigar City released El Murciélago, a double cream ale spiced with cumin and lime peel and aged in tequila barrels.

Care to read the rest of my story? Check it online in Imbibe.

 

Great American Beer Festival Recap

Sadly, my hat will never get me drunk. Photo: Jason E. Kaplan

Not since that misguided night in college when I decided to double-fist 40-ouncers of Phat Boy, a thankfully discontinued malt liquor made with ginseng, has my liver felt so swollen and abused.

I’ve just returned from four days at Denver’s 30th annual Great American Beer Festival, a massive celebration of fermentation that attracts brew fans as fervid as religious devotees flocking to Mecca. And for good reason. Each year, hundreds of breweries from all corners of the country descend upon the Mile High City en masse, toting thousands of different beers. Some are good. Some are bad. But with each brew served by the one-ounce pour, you have ample opportunity to try any and every beer.

Consider it drunkenness by a thousand tiny cups.

Of course, sampling every beer is foolhardy, especially this year. Scattered across the floor of the sprawling Colorado Convention Center were more than 460 breweries, which doled out some 2,400 dark stouts, sour ales, bitter IPAs and carbonated oddities so curious, so strange, I wasn’t sure whether to dump them out or greedily ask for another glass. Freetail Brewing, I’m looking at you and your green and cloudy Spirulina Wit.

As far as trends to spot, brewers are still riding high on IPAs, with a swell of black-tinted takes on the style — I particularly liked the Blacktop IPA, from New Glarus Brewing, as well as Bear Republic’s Black Racer. Barrel aging continues to sweep the industry (I swooned over Foothills Brewing’s Bourbon Barrel Sexual Chocolate Imperial Stout and the wood-flavored treats from Florida’s Cigar City), but what’s got me most excited is the surge of sour ales.

Increasing ranks of brewers are deploying wild yeasts and bacteria with a dedication that would impress a microbiologist. Breweries to keep an eye on include Captain Lawrence, Cambridge Brewing, Upland, Brugge Brasserie and Illinois’ Desthil brewpub, which wowed the crowd with its wild creations.

Though it’s impossible to highlight all my favorite ales and lagers—and my many, many skull-blasting hangovers—a few ales and lagers stood out from the sudsy, crowded field.

Which ones did I like best? Check out my full story at Food Republic.

Cigar City Brewing’s Warmer Winter Winter Warmer

I’m beer!

Oh, my chickadees, the days have left me behind. I’ve fallen into the black hole of Mardi Gras in New Orleans. This town can drink. Yes, yes it can. Anyway, in between consuming bloody Marys and lakes of Sazeracs, I found some time to pen this week’s beer, Cigar City Brewing’s Warmer Winter Winter Warmer. It’s a fabulous for warming stomachs and cockles, with notes of caramel and toffee and ripe fruits—and a serious blast of booze. Interested? Drink it up!