Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Craft beer takes center stage at Annual Taste in Inverness Event.

Craft beer takes center stage at revamped 'The Taste' in Inverness, Florida.
The Citrus County Beer Experience will offer unlimited samplings at the food and beverage showcase

The City of Inverness has revamped its annual Taste of Inverness in 2017 to enhance the enjoyment of residents and visitors. The premier addition to what is now called The Taste is the Citrus County Beer Experience, a massive tent under which a wide variety of craft beers from regional breweries and home brewing clubs will be available for unlimited sampling.

The Taste will take place Saturday, April 8, from 3 to 8 p.m. at Liberty Park, 286 N. Apopka Ave., Inverness, Florida, and will benefit the Citrus County Education Foundation.

Local entrepreneurs Kemper Willcut and LouAnn Jacobs, owners of Pine Street Pub and The Cove Pub and Grub, both in Inverness, collaborated with the City of Inverness in conceiving the idea of integrating craft beer into the annual showcase. And it won’t be the last time the Citrus County Beer Experience tent will be raised.

“The Beer Experience was put together specifically to coordinate and conduct beer events throughout Citrus County and the Central Florida area,” Willcut says.
And the homebrew clubs participating will be entering their brews into a judged competition for prize packages.

“I want the homebrewers to be a big part of this,” Willcut says. “We are giving away cash prizes and awards — that’s a big deal. “  

Those prizes are:
·            1st place:  $100 cash plus $100 gift certificate from Pine Street Pub
·            2nd place:  $50 cash plus $50 gift certificate from Pine Street Pub
·            3rd place:  $30 cash plus $30 gift certificate from Pine Street Pub

Those attending who wish to participate without sampling the craft beer will be able to enter the festival for only $5 to enjoy music from local bands, an art show and a la carte food sampling from at least 10 local restaurants and 10 specialty food trucks. None of the food offerings will cost more than $6, and beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages will be available for purchase.

But craft beer fans who want the full Citrus County Beer Experience will pay only $20 more for unlimited sampling of the commercial and home brews throughout The Taste.

These are the commercial breweries already confirmed as participating. More will be added:

Florida breweries
·            Cigar City Brewing (Tampa)
·            Copp Brewery (Crystal River)
·            Nature Coast Brewing Co. (Crystal River)
·            Infinite Ale Works (Ocala)
·            Swamp Head Brewery (Gainesville)
·            Backyard Barn Winery & Microbrewery (Wildwood)
·            Brooksville Brewing Company (Spring Hill)
·            Miami Brewing Co. (Homestead)
·            Funky Buddha Brewery (Oakland Park)
·            Barley Mow Brewing Company (Largo)
·            Green Bench Brewing Co. (St. Petersburg)

Other breweries
·            New Belgium Brewing
·            Samuel Adams
·            Sweetwater Brewing Company
·            Abita Brewing Company
·            Terrapin Beer Co.
·            Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
·            Founders Brewing Company
·            Left Hand Brewing Company
·            Oskar Blues Brewery
·            Guinness
Plus numerous local homebrewing clubs.

WHAT: The Beer Experience at The Taste beer & food festival

WHERE: Liberty Park, 286 N. Apopka Ave., Inverness, Florida

WHENSaturday, April 83 to 8 p.m.

WHY: Food, beer and fun! Plus, a portion of proceeds will benefit the Citrus County Education Foundation. Its mission is to support Citrus County public schools in order to enhance learning and improve personal development for present and future generations.

HOW MUCH: $5 for admission to the festival; $25 includes general admission and unlimited sampling of craft beers.


Monday, March 20, 2017

Touring Winter Park's Brewstillery

Posing with Co-Founder, Andrew Asher, at the Brewstillery
When the Founders of the Winter Park Distilling Company unveiled expansion plans to combine their craft distillery with a fully functioning brewery, taproom and retail showroom, it was innovating, groundbreaking, and set to be the first of its kind in the State of Florida. Those plans were originally unveiled in 2015. Today, that plan and vision for “The Brewstillery” has been fully realized and patrons can visit the site, now home to The Bear& Peacock Brewery and the Winter Park Distilling Co. which has been in full operation since the grand opening in November 2016.

I was recently given a tour of the site by co-founder, Andrew Asher, whose enthusiasm and passion for craft brewing and distilling was on full display. The tour began in the brewery (which is separated from the distillery only by a government-mandated wall) where Asher gave an overview of the brewing process, focusing on the scientific nature of his five-barrel system. 

While I have been on more brewery tours than I can count, this tour was different. Asher’s presentation was fully engaging and enlightening. His love of Winter Park, craft beer, and craft liquor was inspiring. He intertwined Winter Park history into the tour and provided personal stories which gave light to his inspiration for opening the craft brewery. 

The name, Bear & Peacock, for example is homage to Winter Park— “Bear” referring to a lake he and his friends used to hang out around, and “Peacock” referring to the bird found on the city’s official seal thanks to members of the Morse family who brought the first peacock to Winter Park in 1950. As Asher stated in his original press release announcing the brewstillery, “Our identity as a craft distiller is grounded in the unique beauty and creative drive of this community.” 

The second part of the tour took place through the opening of the wall and into the distillery side. Here is where Asher truly shined. It’s clear that the Winter Park Distilling Co. is Asher’s first love. Again, he provided an expansive overview of the process. Like a kid on show-and-tell day, Asher proudly displayed the 250 gallon still which sits adjacent to the smaller, home-made still with which he began. The tour also included a walkthrough of the aging area where barrels of rum and whiskey await their bottling day, and a humble side space which serves as an office, lab, and bottling room.

The tour concluded with, perhaps, the best part – the samples! To no surprise, Asher pulled out every bottle of liquor he had available; he generously shared a tasting of each spirit while giving even more backstory behind each one. Typically, the samples are available only to those who pay for a tour (scheduled by appointment only), but Asher pulled in the crowd and invited several others to enjoy – one final reminder that the Brewstillery is, at its core, grounded in community.

Within hours, Winter Park Distilling Co. tweeted a photo from our tour
The Brewstillery is located at 1288 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, FL and is open Monday-Sunday. For tours, contact tours@wpdistilling.com or call 407.801.2714.

A few more shots from the tour:

Entrance to the Brewstillery, located at 1288 N. Orange Ave.
A look at the brewery's fermenters
Barrels of WPD rum and whiskey currently aging

The original, hand-made still at Winter Park Distilling Co.

Tasting the award-winning Bear Gully Classic Single-Barrel Bourbon
To see more from the Beer Apostle, be sure to follow on Twitter and Facebook and check out the Archives section! Have questions or feedback, contact me and share your thoughts! 

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Smallbatch Beer Program Launches at Marker 48 Brewing

Marker 48 Brewing's Smallbatch Beer Program

Released each week for the remainder of 2017, the beers could lead to valuable prizes for the brewery’s customers

WEEKI WACHEE, Florida (February 7, 2017) — Marker 48 Brewing has introduced a new promotion that will offer participants a chance to win magnificent prizes at the end of the year, as well as pours of unique one-off beers throughout 2017.

Here’s how it works:

The Beers:  Our Brewers and select guest brewers have committed to brewing 48 different small-batch beers, one new beer every week, for the remainder of the year.

These beers will allow our brewers and guest brewers to explore creative and experimental brewing — everything from sours to barrel-aged beers, and many styles in between.

The Promotion: Marker 48 is offering a VERY LIMITED number of Smallbatch Beer Books for sale. These books allow customers to receive one FREE small-batch beer per week or half-off bomber bottles of the week’s small-batch beers (when available).

The books cost $100 each and are on sale in the tasting room, Weeki Wachee, Florida. In addition to the 48 free beers, book holders will receive a stamp for each Smallbatch Beer drank.

The Prizes: At the end of the year those individuals who have all 48 stamps will get an exclusive Marker 48 Smallbatch Beer shirt AND a special 20 oz. glass to be kept in the brewery to receive core beers in for the same price as 16 oz. beers.

Depending on the number of stamps required, book holders will also be qualified to win end of the year grand prizes.

The prizes are:
10-25 stamps are qualified to win:
·        $100 Marker 48 gift certificate
·        Free passport book for 2018 ($100 value)
·        $25 BeckyJacks Food Shack gift certificate
·        $25 Florida Cracker Kitchen gift certificate
·        ($250 value)
26-35 stamps are qualified to win all of the above, PLUS:
  • The chance to brew a small-batch beer with our brewers in 2018

 36-48 stamps are qualified to win all of the above, PLUS:
  •  A one-night stay with one guest, hosted by Marker 48, on a private island on the Homosassa River and a half-day fishing inshore charter with a guide captain.

You must purchase a Smallbatch Beer Book to receive the stamps and qualify for the prizes but you do not have to have a book to come in and order each week’s Smallbatch Beers.

Most Smallbatch Beers will be released on Wednesdays, though some with special treatments or other special brewing techniques may be released another day. Each beer is expected to remain on tap for a couple of weeks, though that cannot be guaranteed. Check the Marker 48 Facebook page or Twitter accounts for announcements on the releases.

The first beer in the series was released on Sunday, Feb. 5. “Peanut Butter and Jellyfish” is a treated blonde ale that come in at 5.5 percent Alcohol by Volume and remains available as of this date.

For more information on Marker 48 Brewing, please visit their Facebook page.

Marker 48 Brewing is a 7-barrel craft brewery with a 32-tap tasting room in Weeki Wachee, Florida, founded by Hernando County natives Maurice and Tina Ryman. John Myers is the award-winning head brewer. Regular hours are Wed-Thurs., noon to 10 p.m.; Fri. and Sat., noon to midnight; and Sun. noon to 8:30 p.m. The address is 12147 Cortez Blvd. (S.R. 50), Weeki Wachee, FL 34613. Phone: (352) 606-2509.

Monday, December 5, 2016

Jacksonville's First Mead and Cider Bar is Now Open

Jacksonville's first mead and cider bar is now open.

The Mazer, owned by Ed and Beth Stansel and Whit and Regina Heffington is located at 1508 King St. Jacksonville, FL 32204. The Mazer opened for the Jax By Jax literary festival a few weeks back on Saturday, Nov. 12.

The Mazer features mead, cider, boutique wines and champagnes, craft beers and light fare.

Once federal and state licensing has been obtained by its wholly owned production arm, East Florida Fermentology LLC, The Mazer will be serving meads and ciders brewed in the bar’s in-house winery, with production estimated to start by mid-2017.Until then, the folks at The Mazer will be pouring a variety of hand-crafted meads, ciders and beers from across the country and abroad.

Co-owner, Ed Stansel, posing in front of brewing kettles

Ed Stansel, an award-winning home brewer and mead-maker whose beer recipes have been commercially brewed by several Jacksonville craft breweries, will be the creative genius of production, concocting mead and cider to be served in The Mazer’s taproom. Beth, his wifeserves as his muse and motivator.

Regina and Whit have owned and operated the Silver Cow for almost three years, bringing tap house management experience to the group.

The Mazer team’s goal is to provide Jacksonville with new tasteadventures in adult libations. Although mead – or honey wine --is believed to be the most ancient of alcoholic beverages and is the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. craft beverage industry, Ed says many people are not familiar with it.

“The biggest misconception is that all mead is sweet,” he said. “Customers who come into the Mazer often are surprised to learn that mead can be dry, semi-sweet or sweet, still or sparkling, just like fine wine, and can be made with a variety of fruits, spices and herbs. There really are no limits to what you can do with mead.” He said some of his favorite meads are traditional – made only with raw honey, water and yeast. “Those really let the honey character shine through,” he said. Another favorite is cyser – a hybrid of honey wine and apple cider.

Meadmaking supports beekeepers, who in turn ensure a healthy population of these pollinators that are so essential to our food supply. The Mazer and East Florida Fermentology plan to partner with area beekeepers and source honey and other ingredients locally and regionally.

The Mazer gets its name from a Medieval drinking cuptraditionally used to serve honey wine and other alcoholic beverages, and also from the fact that meadmakers often are called mazers.

Hours of operation at The Mazer are:
Monday  Thursday: 5 p.m. - 11:30 p.m.
Friday and Saturday:  4 p.m. - 1 a.m.
Closed Sundays

The Mazer will feature various events from tastings, food and dessert pairings; educational classes for mead, cider and wine;art classes; homebrew sharing events; and pollinatorconservation and awareness programs

The Mazer will be adding retail items to its menu featuring local honey, honey soap, candles, and bottled mead, cider and wine that will be available for purchase to go. Growler fills of select meads and ciders will be offered as well.

The Mazer's Happy Hour is daily until 7 pm with $4 wines by the glass and $1 off all meads, ciders and beers on tap and $2 off mead and cider flights.

Contactinfo@mazerjax.com or the Mazer himself, Ed, at ed@mazerjax.com

You can also visit www.mazerjax.com or follow mazerjax onFacebookInstagram and Twitter for all their upcoming events and classes.

Friday, November 18, 2016

Hourglass Brewing Announces Black Friday Basket

With Black Friday just a week away, many places have been promoting their specials and deals for weeks. There are plenty of deals out there, and one of those deals is this Holiday Gift Basket from Hourglass Brewing, a family-owned brewery just 20 minutes north of downtown Orlando, located in Longwood, FL.

The special holiday gift basket will include a 2016 bottle release of La Fée Dragée and Auld Clootie. This unique bundle will be sold exclusively at the brewery on Black Friday (November 25). Doors open at 11am.

Here's a closer look at the items included in the Hourglass Gift Basket:

La Fée Dragée is a 11.3% ABV Belgian Christmas Ale aged in rum barrels. This holiday beer includes a bevy of delicious dried fruits and spices and bursts with tasting notes of apricots, plums, and Turkish figs. This rich and dark ale is spiced with freshly grated nutmeg, allspice berries, ginger, and sweet orange peel to conjure up the holiday spirit.

Auld Clootie is a 12.2% ABV old ale brewed with copious amounts of barley and a touch of brown sugar that is then fermented with a blend of traditional English and Sherry yeasts.  Auld Clootie was split between bourbon and wine barrels and blended back together. The result is a rich and smooth brew with fruity esters that finishes with notes of bourbon, vanilla, and oak.

Glassware: The gift baskets will include two 14oz Libbey Abbey goblets, each with a 14-karat gold trim and logo representing the two bottles. The goblets will not be sold separately and are offered exclusively in the gift baskets, priced at $45.

Hourglass is very active on social media and post updates to all their events frequently. Stay involved by following the Hourglass Black Friday Bottle and Basket event page.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Fill My Cup: Anchor of Hope

Fill My Cup is a weekly Bible and Beer review where I share notes from a Scripture passage and a critical review of a featured beer. May this series spark discourse, reflection, and promote new learning about craft beer and the Bible. I invite you to engage with me--share your thoughts, comments, and your musings!

Good News
"Hope is a strong and trustworthy anchor for our souls. It leads us through the curtain into God's inner sanctuary." Hebrews 6:19
Faith is confidence in what we hope for and an assurance of what we do not see. Hope is the strong an trustworthy anchor of our faith--hope grounds us in Christ. Hope allows us to see past current circumstances because of our belief in Christ and trust in what is yet to come. If you're like me, maybe hope is the very thing that got you through this past election cycle.

While half of the country seems to be living in fear of what is yet to come, Christ-followers have an assurance that God is in control and can, therefore, hope for great things on the horizon despite (or in spite) of whatever the circumstances may be.

Hope transcends fear, worry, doubt. Regardless of whatever you're going through, remember the promise found in Hebrews 6:19-- Hope leads us through the curtain into God's inner Sanctuary. 

Craft Brews
Our Special Ale 2016, Anchor Brewing Co. 6.5% ABV

Our Special Ale is Anchor Brewing's annual seasonal release. Each year, the recipe changes ever so slightly to bring a nuanced flavor to close out the calendar year. This 2016 batch is Anchor's 42nd release of what has now become a seasonal tradition. Just as the recipe changes every year, so does the hand-drawn Christmas tree seen on label in the picture above.

While the craft beer "movement" in America is still fairly young, This California-based brewery brings decades of tradition to the shelves with this holiday release.
"[S]old only from early November to mid-January, the ale's recipe is different every year--as is the tree on the label--but the intent with which we offer it remains the same: joy and celebration of the newness of life." Anchorbrewing.com
Our Special Ale pours a picturesque dark brown, almost black, color with a light head that laces the glass beautifully. The beer gives off a semi-sweet aroma of molasses, caramel, and hints of pine and roasted malt. Spices and sweet molasses lead the initial charge of flavor, followed by caramel, dark fruits, burnt sugar and an earthy hop finish. As the beer warms, the holiday spices and wood notes become more dominate on the palate; the initial sweetness takes a backseat.

The 2016 release of Our Special Ale is one of the better recipes they've released in recent years. Layers of flavor and complex characteristics make this a fun beer to sip and enjoy.