Friday, August 26, 2016

Fill My Cup: God's Direction and Tampa-Style Lager

Welcome to the new weekly series, "Fill My Cup." The series will invite readers to share in and engage with my personal review of the Bible and also my critical tasting notes of a beer from the week. May this series spark discourse and reflection, while learning something new about craft beer and the Bible. I invite you all to engage with me--share your thoughts, comments, and musings along the way!

Good News

We are obsessed with directions. It's no wonder four of the top ten self-made YouTube millionaires made their money by posting "how-to" videos. Looking for the best Thai food in a 10 mile radius? There's an app for that. Need directions on how to learn a new instrument? There are dozens of videos online to get you started. Heading on a road trip and need directions on the quickest route? Cellphones now come with built-in GPS apps that not only provide you with a turn-by-turn direction, but they will calculate the best route given traffic and roadside hazards. If you're anything like me, you like to have your GPS on even when you know where you're going because sometimes it's nice to see you're still going the right way.

The directions we rely on everyday are only helpful when we have access to and can understand them (IKEA, I'm looking at you). God provides us with the ultimate set of directions: His voice. All we have to do is hear it. I love the line, "Whether you turn to the right or the left," because God knows that we are constantly losing our focus and that we have an inkling to lead ourselves astray. But the assurance we have is that at anytime, no matter how far off the path we've gone, His voice is always behind us, always leading.

Perhaps, the hardest thing to do is listen.

Craft Brews

If you're looking for directions to the best beer to help you finish out the summer heat, Cigar City's Tampa-Style Lager may be your beer. This American lager is a refreshing and light beer that has hints of tropical bitterness to make this an easy winner over some of the alternative light lagers on the shelves. The initial flavors on the palate are light cracker and grain malt with sweet corn and a dry, slightly bitter finish.

Tampa-Style Lager has been my go-to summer beer. It's highly drinkable, mildly crisp, and smooth. I could have used a bit more crispness on the finish, but other than that this is a very good beer that I suspect most people who try it will like.

Thursday, August 25, 2016

New Weekly Series: Beer and Bible Review




The etymology of Apostle is a Middle English word meaning "one who is sent on a mission." The word has several religious contexts.
Beer Apostle spawned from a conversation over beer at a craft beer pub in Houston, TX in 2009. I was enjoying a couple of locally brewed pints with a good friend. We found ourselves in this situation often: a couple of guys drinking beer together, talking about life, the world, and yes--even religion. The conversations were never heated or disrespectful. We enjoyed talking and, more importantly, listening to each other. No matter how far apart we were on various issues, beer was our common ground and our shared affinity.

Those conversations were the early stages of what would eventually become Beer Apostle, a platform to share Good News and Craft Brews. These two concepts--beer and Bible--have shared an important connection in my adult life. This new weekly series will peel back the proverbial curtain and provide insight into my personal studies and imbibitions.

I'm calling this series, "Fill My Cup: A Weekly Beer and Bible Review." The series will invite readers to share in and engage with my personal review of the Bible and also my critical tasting notes of a beer from the week. The verb, "engage" is important here. One of the most powerful aspects of connecting beer and Bible, in my experience, has been that the walls (literal and figurative) are often torn down and some people are more willing to engage in healthy and authentic conversations around religion, faith, and theology when it happens outside of a church and over a round of some tasty brews. 

The series will kick off on Friday, August 26. My hope for this series is that it will spark discourse, reflection, and an opportunity to learn something new about craft beer and the Bible. I invite you all to engage with me--share your thoughts, comments, and musings along the way! You sign up for the email list and receive this series, and every Beer Apostle post, directly to your inbox. Just look for the "subscribe" box at the top right of the website. Cheers!


Thursday, July 21, 2016

Florida SMaSH Beer Festival - July 30, 2016


Inaugural Florida SMaSH Beer Festival 2016
Central Florida Breweries Unite to Benefit Charity with Single Malt and Single Hop brewing

The Hourglass Brewery, in conjunction with Florida Craft and the City of Longwood, FL are hosting the inaugural Florida SMaSH Beer Festival on July 30th, 2016 from 1:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m. The event features over 20 breweries from around Central Florida and all proceeds benefit The Sharing Center of Longwood.

This event will not only unite brewers from across Florida, but it will showcase the true craft and talents of the breweries. Although each brewer will concoct a beer using the same single malt and single hop, the brewers have free reign to brew any kind of beer they choose. Festival goers will have the opportunity to sample each brewer’s SMaSH beer, getting a taste of the true variety and spectrum of flavors and styles that can come from the same base ingredients.

Tickets are available at www.floridasmashbeerfestival.com for $30.00.

With roughly 50 beers to sample, including one-offs from every brewery involved, there will be something to please everyone. All proceeds will benefit the Sharing Center, so this is the perfect chance to enjoying some delicious craft beer while supporting a great cause. Attendees will also have the opportuity to vote for their favorite SMaSH beer and the winning brewery will have the honor of taking home the first-ever Florida SMaSH Beer Festival trophy!


The City of Longwood and Hourglass has worked to ensure the event is a success. The event will have a large canopy to provide shade and a place to rest from the summer heat. There will also be plenty of port-a-potties on site (anyone who has ever attended a beer fest knows the toilet situation is almost as important as anything else).

Florida SMaSH Beer Festival Brewery and Beer List

See below for a list of participating breweries and the specific SMaSH beer they’re bringing to the festival. Samples are not limited to the beers below; many of the breweries will be pouring other offerings at their respective booths.
  • Barley Mow Brewing Co. - Double IPA
  • Bear and Peacock -  Belgian Golden
  • Black Cauldron Brewing -  Apricot Belgian IPA
  • Bowigens Beer Company - American Style Barleywine
  • Broken Strings -  American IPA
  • Bugnutty Brewing company -  Specialty Fruit Beer
  • Cask & Larder - American Pale Ale
  • Central 28 Beer Co. - California Common Inspired
  • Deadly Sins Brewing - Saison
  • Hourglass Brewing - Golden Strong Ale
  • Intracoastal Brewing Co. - Dry Hopped Sour Blonde
  • Marker 48 Brewing – Kettle Soured Honey Cream Ale w/cherries (+ two surprise SMaSH beers)
  • Musquito County Brewing -  “Berliner-esque” fruited Sour Ale
  • New Smyrna Beach Brewing Company - Fruit Beer
  • Ocean Sun Brewing - Saison
  • Orlando Brewing - Organic IPA
  • Overflow Brewing Company – Berliner treated with tea (not a part of the SMaSH submissions)
  • Red Cypress Brewery -Late Hopped Pale ale
  • Reprise Brewing - Fruit Beer/Fruit Cocktail
  • Wolf Branch Brewing Co. - German Pilsner
  • Wop’s Hops Brewing  - Belgium Ale W/ Lychee (+ three surprise SMaSH beers)


Monday, June 20, 2016

Three (more) Tree House Beers for Review


This is a continuation from a previous post where I sampled Julius. The bar has been set high, and I am excited to share my tasting notes from the remaining three Tree House Beers that I recently received.


Lights On 
American Pale Ale
5.6% ABV

Being that this is only the second beer I've ever tasted from Tree House, my only point of comparison is Julius--two radically different beers, and yet, I found some obvious similarities that show a distinct craftsmanship from the brewers. 

Strong and pleasant aroma--strong hop notes and a subtle orange peel aroma as well. As you can see from the image, the beer poured a thick hazed pale-orange color. Not as vibrant as Julius, but a similar haze and orange aroma.

Lights On tastes of grapefruit, orange zest, lemon, mango, and other tropical fruits. This is a very flavorful and citrusy pale ale that packs a balanced bitterness, making this an approachable and highly drinkable beer. It's not quite as juicy as Julius, but one could argue this beer had more going on in terms of depth/layers of flavors.


Haze
Imperial IPA
8.2% ABV

Similar to the previous two beers I've sampled, Haze is...well, hazy. This beer pours an almost identical color and "thickness" to Lights On and Julius. The aroma is similar as well: tropical fruits and some citrus zests dominate the nose.

On the palate, Haze begins with notes of orange, lemon, and pineapple. There's not much of a hop bitterness here, and I enjoy the more prominent malt presence that's in this beer. Still, there is a clear theme going on with Tree House's IPAs: they pack a punch of juicy (often tropical and citrus) flavors. Haze tips the scale more on the tropical side of the scale, but the signature orange flavors are certainly there. 

Also noticeable is the heaviness of this beer. I found Haze to have almost a "chewy" feel to it: quite thick and juicy--but that is definitely not a knock on the beer in any way. As an imperial IPA, Haze does not disappoint and provides the flavor and mouthfeel to satisfy the genre.


Single Shot
Milk Stout
6.4% ABV

I was excited to try this one as it was so very different from the previous three that I sampled. There was such a clear theme and pattern detected in the pale ales, that I was curious to see what Tree House would do with a stout.

Single Shot is labeled a Milk Stout or Sweet Stout, depending on which site you're looking at. Either one works well in my opinion. As soon as I cracked open the can, I was met with a sweet coffee aroma, something similar to a cafe con leche. 

If you are someone who likes their coffee with lots of cream, this beer is for you. Single Shot tastes of rich coffee and sweet cream flavors. There is a hint of chocolate in the middle, but this beer doesn't shy away from being a sweet coffee stout and nothing else. The finish is very smooth. There's absolutely no bitterness from hops nor coffee. This is a rich and smooth, sweet and bold stout. I would love to try this one on Nitro and have a nice creamy texture to go with the sweet cream flavors. 

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After tasting four different Tree House beers, it's clear that those of us who live in Florida are missing out on some well crafted beers! I thoroughly enjoyed each one and have to thank Nine State Brewery one last time for sharing these beers with me. Be sure to check out Tree House Brewing Co by visiting http://treehousebrew.com/ and show some love to Nine State by giving their facebook page a Like!  https://www.facebook.com/ninestatebrewery/



Thursday, May 12, 2016

Hourglass Brewing Wild Ale Bottle Release

SIMULTANEOUS RELEASE OF THREE WILD ALES, SATURDAY, MAY 21, 2016

The Hourglass Brewery has announced the simultaneous release of three beers in their Wild Ale Series, which will take place on  May 21st at 11AM in the Hourglass Brewing Taproom.

Each wild ale was bottle conditioned with champagne yeast, and embody a dry, funky flavor. These are wild ales by definition, not sours. While the beers certainly have a funky profile reminiscent of sour ales, the difference is that wild ales are not acidic.  
The three wild ales are:
  1. Wild Hare Wild Ale  – Golden ale with brettanomyces and organic, locally grown persimmon and roselle. We brewed this in collaboration with Wild Hare Kitchen And Garden Emporium.
  2. White Gold! – Golden ale with brettanomyces, white pepper, and white sage.
  3. TererĂ© Saison – Belgian saison brewed with yerba mate and lime and fermented with a traditional saison yeast and brettanomyces.
The Wild Ale Series will be available for purchase on May 21st. $15/each. There are less than 400 bottles of each, and sales will be limited to 4 bottles per person, per flavor. As a special promotion, patrons who purchase 3 wild bottles can purchase any 4th Hourglass bottle for just $10!


Each bottle features a custom label designed by Hourglass’ in-house artist and longtime employee, Jeremy Gonzalez. 

Visit thehourglassbrewery.com to learn more about this production brewery in Longwood, FL.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

Julius-Tree House Brewing Company


I received a message recently from Eric of Nine State Brewing. He asked if I had ever tried anything from Tree House Brewing Co. I explained that I hadn't but would love the opportunity and, just like that, I received a packaged containing these four beers. Eric's only request was that, in return, I provide my readers with honest and in-depth reviews of each beer. Challenge accepted!

After doing some research on each of the four beers, I decided to start with Julius and work my way through each one, posting a review as I go, based on the hop profiles of each beer,taking into consideration the beers that should be consumed fresh.
BreweryTree House Brewing Co.
Location: Monson, MA
Style: American IPA
ABV: 6.8%
Beer Apostle's Final Grade: A+

Julius is Tree House's flagship American IPA. Julius has a perfect score of 100 on both BeerAdvocate and RateBeer, and has become one of the more sought-after American IPAs as of late. Just a quick glance on any of the beer trading forums and you'll quickly see there is a considerable buzz around Julius. However, I will state for the record: I am not one to fall in line with the hype around beers. Without naming specific labels, there are several "whales" that dominate the ISO forums that, in my humble opinion, are not worth the trouble people go through just to get their hands on a beer that may not be much (if any) better than the beers brewed at your local microbrewery. With that being said, I trusted the endorsements given by many who have tried Julius and was eager to give it a taste for myself.

As soon as I opened the can, the aroma from Julius instantly fill the room. Just as if I had lit a candle, the kitchen filled with vibrant scents of citrus and tropical fruits. There was also a considerable amount of orange notes detected.

Julius pours a deep haziness. This is as cloudy as I have seen an IPA. The color is spot-on: a beautiful orange hue to match the theme and label.

Complex layers of citrus and tropical fruits attach the palate. Julius is just as sweet and juicy as advertised, and full of oranges--both fruit and rind flavors. But for as juicy and fruity as Julius is, there's also a good amount of bitterness that balances this beer. I have seen some reviews labeling Julius as sweet with little bitterness, but I would have to disagree. I get a good amount of bitterness, but it's just not overpowering. As for a malt profile, there's not much of one. Julius is juicy, tropical, and citrusy.
Overall, Julius is as near a perfect IPA as I have tried. In many ways, I find this to push boundaries on what my archetype of an American IPA is or was. Julius' juiciness is unmatched. And the amount of fresh orange flavors that are packed into this beer is impressive. As far as I can tell, Julius deserves the credit and even the hype. It's refreshing and delicious, and I wish I would have received more than just one can.

To see more from the Beer Apostle, be sure to check out the Archives section! Have questions or feedback, contact me and share your thoughts! And don't forget to join in on the discussion by following  on Twitter and Facebook!




Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Marker 48 Brewing

 
I started following Marker 48 about a year ago. They hadn't opened their doors for business yet, but they were already making their mark in the community. I first met owners, Maurice and Tina Ryman, at a beer festival and charity event. Their booth was packed, the line to try their beer was long, and the Rymans made an effort to talk with every person who came to sample their beer. I must have tried dozens of beer that night and met more people than I could remember, but I didn't forget Marker 48. They had made an impression on me as I suspect they did for others. That impression grew in favor as I followed the construction and building process of the brewery leading up to the grand opening in late-November 2015.

Fast forward to this past weekend when I happened to be in the Brooksville area for Valentine's Day. We made a stop to the brewery and it was the highlight of our weekend.  As I was sitting outside, listening to live music in the Marker 48 beer garden, Maurice and Tina were going from table to table talking with patrons. It was just as I had seen them do months before. They make it a point to talk to the folks who come out to the brewery and I think that makes a world of difference. Drinking at Marker 48 becomes a familiar affair. Judging by the number of strollers, kids, and dogs, I don't think I am the only one who feels that way.

I tried three beers during my visit, and thoroughly enjoyed each one. I started out with Mo Say It, an American pale ale brewed with Mosaic hops. This pale ale has a vibrant aroma and nice tropical fruit flavors. My next beer was the Pine Island IPA, which has become one of my go-to IPAs. Pine Island is an approachable IPA with a balanced malt/hop profile without being aggressively bitter. My last beer was Mermaid's Milk on Nitro. Mermaid's Milk is a beautiful blend of sweet, rich, and roasted flavors. It's a creamy stout that doesn't quite drink like a stout and finishes with just enough lactose sugar.

If personable owners and great beer isn't enough to convince you to visit, the atmosphere of Marker 48 surely will. The interior is beautifully designed with wood finishes and charming features, like the toilet that encourages folks to recycle their beer after they're done using it. The building itself is reclaimed--what used to be a tire and lube shop is now a beer brewing haven. The old garage doors from the lube shop open the taproom and lead patrons into the outdoor beer garden that includes ping-pong, jumbo-sized Jenga, live music, and Adirondack chairs. It's like having a fully operational brewery in the comforts of your own backyard.

On my way out, I noticed this donut-making food truck and couldn't help myself. I order 12 made-to-order donuts that capped off a perfect afternoon.

There's a reason it was recently named by Beer Advocate as one of 2015's best new breweries. It's a must-visit location that has put Brooksville, FL on the beer map.

Marker 48 from the front of the building

Mo Say It Pale Ale

Mermaid's Milk Stout

No caption needed

To see more from the Beer Apostle, be sure to check out the Archives section! Have questions or feedback, contact me and share your thoughts! And don't forget to join in on the discussion by following  on Twitter and Facebook!