Tampa Bay Beer Safari Weekend February 18th – 20th 2011
Our 2nd Annual Tampa Bay Beer Safari Weekend Beer Tour was quite a success! We visited 2 brew pubs, 2 breweries, had two great beer paired dinners and 2 after dinner beer tastings.
We started out our 1st night with a get to know each other Happy Hour. We had the opportunity to sample:
Anchor Christmas Ale – Winter Warmer – 5.5% abv – Anchor Brewing Company
Trappist Achel 8 Briun – Dubbel – 8.0% abv – Brouwerij der St. Benedictusabdij de Achelse
Twin Sisters – Double IPA – 9.0%abv – Left Hand Brewing Co
Left Hand Imperial Stout – Russian Imperial Stout – 10.4% abv – Left Hand Brewing Co
Kalamazoo Stout – American Stout – 6.0% abv – Bells Brewery
Orange Blossom Pilsner – Fruit beer – 6.5% abv – Orange Blossom Pilsner LLC
…Plus 2 extra special growlers fresh from the Funky Buddha Lounge & Brewery in Boca Raton!
So Thank You Music – Ginger Lemongrass Wheat – unknown abv
Last Snow – Coffee Porter – also an unknown abv
So Thank You Music was the “Hit” of the Happy Hour with its amazing nose of fresh ginger and lemongrass, as well as its wonderful taste which matched the nose. A close second was Last Snow, which is an interesting name as Boca Raton never even gets a 1st snow… actually it’s a celebration ale for those in South Florida to toast with as the “Last Snow(bird)” leaves the region.
After the happy hour we took a short walk to Bernini, a fabulous Italian Restaurant in the heart of Ybor City for our first beer paired dinner.
To honor Sierra Nevada Brewing Co’s 30 years of great brewing I paired 3 of their outstanding brews with this evening’s dinner.
For the 1st Course we had Bruschetta and Calmari paired with:
Kellerweis – Hefeweizen – 4.80% abv. In my opinion this is one of the better examples of a true German Hefeweizen made in America.
For the 2nd Course we had a choice between the Classic Caesar Salad (I had mine with extra anchovies) or the House Mista Salad paired with:
Pale Ale – American Pale Ale – 5.6% abv. This is Sierra Nevada’s “Flagship” beer and the one beer you can count on finding in most pubs or restaurants which haven’t figured out the craft beer movement yet.
For our Main Course our choices were either Angel Hair pasta tossed with Grilled Chicken Breast; Shrimp Orecchiette; Margherita Pizza or the New Yorker Pizza with roasted peppers, onions, mushrooms, pepperoni, Italian sausage & mozzarella. (the pizzas as well as the meal servings were HUGE!) These were paired with:
Torpedo Extra IPA – IPA – 7.2% abv. This is their Pale Ale on steroids!
We also had the opportunity to try the Torpedo Extra IPA side by side with Cigar City Brewing’s Jai Alai IPA – IPA – 7.5% abv.
Maybe I’m being a “homeboy” but I felt the Jai Alai had a tad better nose and taste, I have to say, it was it really close.
Here is a very entertaining short video of an impromptu after dinner discussion of the tour by Ruth & Mike:
After the dinner & the “show” we walked around the corner to see what was brewing at the Tampa Bay Brewing Company.
Tampa Bay Brewing Company was founded in 1996 and is a family business, with mother and son serving as general manager and brewmaster respectively. Their on-site brewery is equipped to produce up to twelve tap beers and several cask-conditioned ales on a 10bbl step-infusion brewing system. As a matter of fact, 12 of their 16 serving tanks used to hold the beer at the famous Bass Ale Brewery in England.
Here we tried the Wild Warthog Weizen – 5.2% abv; Jack the Quaffer London Porter – 5.7%; Iron Rat Stout – 8.0% abv and the MooseKiller Barleywine- 10.0% abv as well as a taste of their fabulous Root Beer, which is made on site.
After we left Tampa Bay Brewing Co, our plan was to do some beer hunting at New World Brewing Co. At New World Brewing you will find the best selection of craft beer in Ybor City with 26 taps and at least 100 bottled beers. You can also enjoy entertainment in their outside courtyard. However tonight the courtyard was packed, so instead we opted to return to the hotel and do some beer tasting in a more relaxed atmosphere.
Back at the hotel, in additional to revisiting some of our “Happy Hour Beers”, we shared:
McChouffe – Belgium Strong Dark Ale – 8.0% abv – Brasserie d’Achouffe
Gouden Carolus Noël – Belgium Strong Dark Ale – 10.5% abv – Brouwerij Het Anker
2 Turtle Doves – Belgium Strong Dark Ale – 12.0% abv – The Bruery
& a fresh growler of
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum – Double IPA – 10.4% abv – Sierra Nevada Brewing Co
On Saturday morning our 1st stop was Tarpon Springs. Tarpon Springs is known as the Sponge Capital of the World, so we visited the Famous Spongeorama to see the Sponge Diving Museum and stroll along the waterfront and a few specialty shops.
Tarpon Springs is also Florida’s own Greek village, so we of course had to sample some mouthwatering pastries at the very authentic Greek restaurant, Hellas. This was a “sweet” way to start the morning!
After spending about an hour here, we headed off to meet our friend Bob Sylvester and see his brewing set up at Saint Somewhere Brewing Company.
While Bob explained to us his brewing process, including his use of open fermentation, he also showed off his new tanks and told us that he has just expanded to offering his 3 brews- Saison Athene – Saison – 7.5% abv, Lectio Divina – Belgium Strong Pale Ale – 8.0% abv & Pays du Soleil – Dubbel – 8.0% abv- in kegs.
After seeing the size of this small brewery everyone was extremely impressed when Bob told us that his beers can be found in 35 states! It is truly mind boggling that that much beer can be produced here. Bob also said that he will be brewing the next collaboration beer he has planned with Cigar City called Déjà Vu, in this location. He told us that it will be a completely different style then Vuja Dé, which was made at Cigar City.
Did you know that 11:00 am is the time of day your taste buds are supposed to be most in tune? Well fortunate for us our beer tour happened to be at Saint Somewhere right about then, and we were invited to help ourselves to a taste of Lectio Divina out of the keg…and as if that wasn’t a beautiful thing in itself, Bob also shared with us 3 additional very special brews!
The 1st special brew was an extremely young oak barrel aged blend of his beers. Bob warned us that it was “young & hot” and really needed to age quite a bit longer before consuming. The nose of this beer was a mixture between rocket fuel and nail polish remover, however when it came to the taste, it was like drinking a fine port wine with no hint of the fuel or remover.
His 2nd special brew was a mature 2-3 year old oak barrel aged blend. This beer was sublime, the nose was mildly tart/sour with hints of oak, caramel and vanilla and the taste was both tart yet mildly sweet of fruit- with notes of the oak and a smooth as silk mouth feel. I could drink this all day. Ruth says just thinking about it makes her mouth water!
The 3rd special brew was a taste of a beer which he says never made it to the market. It was his Saison Athene with Brettanomyces “C” strain. The “C” strain added more tartness and citrus in the nose and taste than you would find in the “regular” Saison Athene.
After tasting these 3 beers, it made me feel extremely blessed that we have such a great Belgium style artisanal brewer here in Florida.
So we left Tarpon Springs to head over to Florida’s Scottish heritage town, Dunedin. Here we visited Dunedin Brewery for a brewery tour, beer tasting and a great lunch! Plus we will have Bob from Saint Somewhere join us too!
Dunedin Brewery is the oldest microbrewery in Florida. They always have 8 of their beers available year round on tap plus a few extra seasonal beers as well as guest taps.
We all stated off with their Celtic Gold Ale – Kölsch – 5.2% abv to enjoy while we toured around their brewing facilities
We had all worked up a mighty thirst during our tour, so we were happy to try the samples of their Dropkick Red Ale – Amber Ale &
Leonard Croon Stout – Stout – 5.2% abv offered to us by Ricky (our awesome guide, beer tender and server) before we placed our order for lunch.
I chose to have their famous Pacific Coast Fish Taco, and since I heard they still had some of their delicious Christmas Farm Ale – Spiced Beer – 5.2% abv available, I paired that with my fish taco. Boy, this was one great lunch stop!
Having fortified ourselves, we will set off to Cigar City Brewery. On our way over to Cigar City we passed the time playing a few rounds of Beer Cap Bingo for some beery cool (of course) prizes.
Cigar City Brewery was founded by beer columnist and Tampa native Joey Redner in the summer of 2007. Since its inception CCB has been guided by Joey’s passion for both great beer and the city of his birth. With the creative input and expertise of Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup award winning brewer Wayne Wambles, Cigar City Brewing endeavors to make world class ales and lagers which celebrate the rich heritage and traditions that make Tampa one of the world’s most unique cities.
During our tour of Cigar City’s facilities what struck me the most was how much they have expanded since we were here last year. During our walk around the brewery we even caught a glimpse of a group of B.J.C.P. judges occupying the back end of the brewery where they were hard at work judging something I’m sure we will quaff in the future!
Once we made our way to the tasting room we had some samples of:
Vuja Dé – American Wild Ale – 10.0% abv
Cubano Espresso – American Brown Ale – 5.5% abv
Jose Marti – American Porter – 8.0% abv
Humidor Jai Alai IPA – IPA – 7.5% abv
After having our fill at Cigar City we made our way back to the hotel to get ready for our big night out at Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse and Wine Bar. (or so they keep calling it…I wonder how long and how many beer dinners it will take to convince them to add Beer to the name?)
Stylish, contemporary dining is the hallmark of Fleming’s. The menu features the finest in prime beef, augmented by a tempting variety of chops, seafood, chicken, generous salads, inventive side orders and indulgent desserts.
We had a 4 course beer paired gourmet dinner created especially for our Beer Safari by the chef at Fleming’s.
Here is our menu:
lobster mango crisps; Crispy wontons topped with main lobster, mango finished with garlic, shallots, and fresh herbs paired with:
Sierra Nevada Kellerweis a Hefeweizen of 4.80% ABV by Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
Malheur’s Spring Salad; Julienned Pears and Gala apples, tossed in Orange Sriracha vinaigrette, finished with candied walnuts and grape tomatoes paired with:
Malheur 10 a Belgian Strong Pale Ale 10.0% ABV from Brouwerij De Landtsheer NV
petite filet; Chimichurri sauce, served with roasted baby carrots with golden raisins and balsamic reduction, garlic mashed potatoes paired with:
Terrapin Hop Karma IPA an American Brown Ale 6.00% ABV by Terrapin Beer Company
chocolate stout cake; Cake infused with double chocolate stout, served with Chantilly cream paired with:
Young’s Double Chocolate Stout a Sweet Stout 5.20% ABV Wells & Young’s Ltd.
Between Courses we had a brief overview of the beer we were drinking and the chef explained how he paired the meal with the beer. As you can see, we decided to try the same beer for the first pairing as the previous night, in order to do a comparison of appetizer/beer pairing for this beer, just to try something a little different. This Kellerweis is what I consider the perfect example of this style.
After Dinner we returned to the hotel for another round of beer tasting, but the 1st order of business was to settle our dispute as to which cartoon dog, Muttley or Snuffles, was the one which would jump up and then float down in air on his back like a feather after receiving a treat. To our surprise it was both!
This evening we finished what was left of:
Sierra Nevada Hoptimum – Double IPA – 10.4% abv
Funky Buddha Lounge’s Ginger Lemongrass Wheat, So Thank You Music
Bell’s Kalamazoo Stout – American Stout – 6.0% abv
As well as the following:
St. Bernardus Christmas Ale – Belgium Strong Dark Ale – 10.0% abv – Brouwerij St. Bernardus NV
Southern Tier Crème Brulée – Imperial Stout – 10.0% abv – Southern Tier Brewing Company
Paníl Barriquée – Flanders Red Ale – 8.0% abv – Paníl
The Lost Abbey 10 Commandments – Belgium Strong Dark Ale – 9.0%abv – The Lost Abbey
On Sunday morning after a leisurely breakfast we enjoyed a perfect day for our guided historical walking tour of Ybor City (the original “Cigar City”).
Our guide informed us that Ybor City is also the home of the 1st brewery in Florida, the Florida Brewing Company (after prohibition it was re-named Tampa Florida Brewery, Inc). In 1896 the construction of the Florida Brewing Company started; when it was finished, it was the tallest building in Tampa at six stories. They used the water from a natural spring which ran under the building to make their La Tropical Beer. The Florida Brewing Company exported more beer to Cuba than any other brewery in the USA. Unfortunately this Brewery closed in 1961.
Then was back to the hotel to say our goodbyes and check out. Overall, an amazing weekend with a fantastic group of people and great beer to match! Can’t wait until our next one! Looks like the Saint Augustine Beer Safari Weekend will be coming up in September…make sure you are on the BEERmail list to keep up to date on the latest with our Beercation Beer Tours and Weekend Beer Safari beer trips! Cheers!