Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Zardoz Imperial Russian Stout

Brewery: Aardwolf Brewing Co.
Location: Jacksonville, FL
Style: Russian Imperial Stout
ABV: 10.1%

The setting is a post-apocalyptic world in which Sean Connery strolls around in tight spandex (or is that a cloth diaper held up by suspenders?) and tries to save the world in a cinematic expression of good versus evil. The movie, Zardoz, is terrible. It’s a mockery of acting and should have ruined Connery’s career.

Seriously. Check out this trailer from 1974.

Thanks to the creative genius’ behind the brewing doors of Aardwolf Brewing Co., Zardoz has been resuscitated. Only this time, Zardoz is a Russian Imperial Stout. Those hoping to see 70s style spandex shorts should stay home and dust off the old LaserDisc.

Zardoz Russian Imperial Stout is a sci-fi thriller in your mouth. It’s James Bond meets Chewbacca meets that chick from The Fifth Element. It’s fun and enjoyable.

Jest aside, this beer is the real deal. Zardoz brings rich flavors of chocolate and smoked malts. There’s bits of oak that run throughout the palate, finishing with a subtle bitterness. Zardoz goes down surprisingly well for a RIS that weighs in at 10% ABV. There’s a sweet vanilla flavor that eloquently strings the smoked malts, charred oak, and bittering flavors together into something that is complex and quite enjoyable.

Beer Apostle's Final Grade: B

Aardwolf Brewing Company is located at 1461 Hendricks Ave. Jacksonville FL, 32207. I highly recommend visiting their taproom on Wednesdays as they release a new and unique pilot batch each week. 

Check out for more details on their beer and upcoming events. And as always, support craft beer and drink local!

Monday, February 9, 2015

Dunedin Brewery's Stogies & Stout: Everything You Need to Know!

Perhaps one of the greatest experiences a craft beer fan can have is attending a beer fest. Many breweries (and even cities) host their own festivals to honor craft beer and present patrons with a cornucopia of beer and beer styles. Most of these festivals try to cater to the masses and will have any color and flavor of beer you can imagine. But there is one festival that hones in on one particular theme: Dunedin Brewery's Stogies & Stout is the beer fest for those who like their cigars hand-rolled and their beers dark.

Dunedin Brewery is Florida's oldest craft brewery. They've been brewing solid craft beer for nearly two decades and have helped to set the standard for craft beer in the Sunshine State.

Stogies & Stout is a beer festival hosted at the brewery each year on the last Saturday in February. Apply named, the event delivers a myriad of deliciously robust stouts on tap and a hand rolled stogie to each person who purchases a ticket to the event (more on that a bit later). Stogies & Stout has become a long-running tradition for the brewery, and it's one of the best beer fests we have attended.

Stogies & Stout 2015 is just around the corner. And because we know craft beer drinkers like to be educated, we recently chatted with General Operator at Dunedin Brewery, Michael Bryant, who  additional context on Dunedin, their beer, and what you can expect at this year's 14th Annual Stogies & Stout.

Dunedin Brewery is well known in the Tampa area, but you guys seem to be under the radar a bit when it comes to the broader craft beer landscape. What should people know about Dunedin Brewery?

While Dunedin Brewery is Florida's oldest microbrewery, we do indeed fly slightly under the radar with regard to the mainstream craft beer landscape. This is mostly b/c we choose to spend our time as full-time creatives rather than full-time capitalists. While we do have plans to expand (slowly), we have never had a romantic vision of becoming a big factory. We do this to maintain our artistic clout & believe that a healthy regional/local beer scene is full of all sorts of business types--from purely creative to purely capitalistic (and everything in between).

Photo via
Dunedin Brewery strives to not only craft great beer, but also enhance our local community with top notch entertainment. We believe this is important b/c nothing seems sadder than beer for the sake of beer itself. Beer is a social lubricant. But that social situation will degrade if the people are not well entertained. We do whatever we can to elevate all of this--whether it be through live music, festivals, food, comedy and/or exploring the world through travel. Everything we discover that's worthwhile, we find worth sharing with our audience.

What sets Dunedin Brewery apart? What should folks look for/expect when visiting?

The main component that sets Dunedin Brewery apart from other breweries is our focus on guests. Every individual that visits us is unique. We approach them this way. Our beer selection is ever-rotating but consistently provides a full spectrum of flavors to help each guest find exactly what it is they seek in a beer, all while encouraging them to explore new things.

Secondly, we are one of the premier live music venues in the Southeast. With a year-round calendar filled with everything from national legends to great locals, we provide an endless narrative of inspiring craftsmanship.

And of course, our beer sets us apart. We not only brewed the first beer with fruit in the state (when it was still taboo), but continue to break the barriers of trends & styles. Our goal is not to replicate ideas, but to manifest new ones. This is what we are busy doing off-the-radar.

Tell me about Stogies & Stout. Where did the idea for the event come from? It seems to have become a local tradition for many people. Can you explain how that has happened? Why the pairing of stouts and cigars?

Stogies & Stout started 14 years ago as a social gathering on our brewery's patio among a small group of beer lovers. My father (founder of Dunedin Brewery) & some other beer aficionados came together with their small collection of stout bottles/kegs. Enjoying the dark beers, they discussed them while smoking cigars (simply b/c this small group of people enjoyed cigars). The original group was less than 20 people. As the years ticked by, the event became big enough to close the entire property and host just stout lovers for the evening.

Photo we snapped at 2014 Stogies & Stout
What has made the event unique & traditional for many local beer lovers is two-fold. First, we only sell a certain number of tickets in order to keep the place from being too full. This gives the attendees room to enjoy themselves as well as eliminates any waiting in line for a taste.

Secondly, the beer selection is hand-picked by myself. Most beer festivals invite every brewery to participate, usually with standard offerings that can be enjoyed almost anytime. With Stogies & Stout, I focus on quality of craftsmanship & ingenuity. This gives us a line-up of not only strong local beers, but also nationally distributed beers that have held up against the time of growth.

One final note with regard to the tradition of the event. Most beer festivals require the brewery representatives to work the event, pouring each sample to each guest. We relieve the brewery representatives from that duty & simply ask that they come enjoy themselves for the event. This allows beer lovers the chance to meet people who work at the breweries represented & even discuss the beers on tap.

What can people look forward to this year? Any new aspects or surprise tap listings?

This year will be our 14th annual Stogies & Stout. At the current moment, we have 35 different kegs of stout from 20 different breweries (10 FL breweries & 10 nationals). This number will continue to grow up until the event, as we purchase more flavors that come available before then. Cigar choices will be provided by our long-time partner Los Blancos Cigar Company. Live music will be provide by Lingo from Athens, Georgia. $35 admission gets them access to everything above, including a commemorative 2015 S&S tasting glass. For $10 more, attendees can opt to purchase a meal voucher which will get them a plate of Smoked Brisket (or Barbecue Seitan for vegetarians), Jalapeno Corn Mac n Cheese, Braised Collard Greens & Milk Stout Cornbread.

Current Tap List:

Dunedin Brewery Leonard Croon’s Oatmeal Stout
Dunedin Brewery Braemar Milk Stout
Dunedin Brewery Midnight Sextant
Dunedin Brewery Bourbon Barrel Aged Midnight Sextant
Dunedin Brewery Single Origin Honduran Brownie Batter Stout
Dunedin Brewery Mundofolbick Imperial Stout
Dunedin Brewery Vanilla Mundofolbick (cask)
Dunedin Brewery Cookies & Croon (cask)
Founders Breakfast Stout
Founders Imperial Stout
Founders Nitro Oatmeal Stout
Founders Black Rye
Terrapin Liquid Bliss (chocolate peanut butter stout)
Terrapin Guano Loco
Terrapin / Shmaltz Reunion 12
Stone Master of Disguise Blonde Stout
Stone Smoked Porter w/ Chocolate & Orange Peel
Stone 2011 IRS Belgo
Cigar City Marshall Zhukov Russian Imperial Stout
Sweetwater 2013 Happy Ending
Barley Mow Maven Nitro
Green Bench Stay Dry Stout
Green Bench — (Apple Brandy Barrel Imperial Stout?)
Pair o Dice Hot Cocoa Imperial Stout
Nature Coast Manatee Milk (imperial coffee chocolate milk stout aged in a Jack Daniels barrel)
Breckenridge 72 Imperial Chocolate Cream Stout
Swamphead Midnight Oil (coffee stout)
Funky Buddha OP Porter
St. Pete Grateful Stout
Three Palms Hot Schtuff (stout brewed with brown sugar, cinnamon, ghost peppers)
Wynwood Pop’s Porter
Highland Thunderstruck (coffee porter)
Dogfish Head Palo Santo Marron
Dogfish Head Chicory Stout
Rogue Double Chocolate Stout
Rogue Russian Imperial Stout
Great Divide 2013 Oak Aged Yeti

Ticket Purchasing:
FB Event:

Monday, February 2, 2015

Champion Brands brings first Public Access CNG Station

Champion Brands is known in the area for distributing some of the most recognizable brands in Jacksonville's craft beer scene. Aardwolf, Intuition, and Pinglehead are just a few of the local brands of beer that Champion Brands moves across the city and state.

On February 26, the first public access CNG (compressed natural gas) station will launch its grand opening, thanks to the partnership between Champion Brands and Trillium CNG. This station will be the first of several potential stations across the First Coast, and could put Jacksonville on the map as a leading hub for clean, natural gas operations.

Champion Brands piloted its first wave of CNG Trucks in October 2014. I interviewed Earl Benton, CEO of Champion Brands, in September 2014, and Benton talked in detail about his commitment to running his business efficiently. Benton explained that he wants nothing more than to "leave this world at least in as good a shape as when we found it." The launch of this CNG Station is evidence of Benton following through on his word.

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

First Annual Beer:30 Homebrew Contest at GastroFest, Hosted by Beer Apostle!

Update (2/10/14): Registrations is closed. You may still submit a registration and enter the 'wait list' for the competition. In the event one of the current participants has to pullout of the competition, we will contact those on the wait list in the order they registered.

Registration is now open for the 2015 Homebrew Competition at GastroFest. The competition is open to the first 12 homebrewers who complete the registration (below). If you're interested in entering your beer, please review the Contest Rules and Regulations before submitting a registration. Cheers and Good Luck!

Homebrew Competition Rules and Regulations:

Who is Eligible to Enter?

The competition is open to the first 12 homebrewers who complete the registration form below. Once all spots are filled, any additional registrants will be notified that they have been placed on a wait-list. If more than one person helped brew the beer, everyone who assisted must be listed on your entry form. Team beers are acceptable, but the entrant must have been an active participant in the brewing process.  Only one entry is allowed per ticket holder.  Beers brewed in commercially licensed facilities are ineligible. The winning beer(s) will only receive one medal, even if there were more than one people who brewed the beer.

Entry Fees

Entry fee is complimentary.

Online Registration

Your entry MUST be registered via the form below no later than February 17, 2015. If you have any questions, please contact Brian at:

Entry Requirements

  • Two bottles (22oz) of the same beer must be entered for the Judges Panel. Bottles must be labeled to include homebrewer's name, beer name, and beer style.
  • A minimum 2 gallons, maximum 5 gallons must be entered and available for sampling at GastroFest. Visitors will sample your beer and vote on the "People's Choice." for best homebrew.
  • Only beer, cider, or mead may be entered. No wine or liquor entries will be accepted.
  • The beer must be home brewed to enter.  No entries brewed at commercial facilities will be accepted.
  • You MUST be 21 to enter.

  • Event Schedule

    • Competitors MUST be available to sample out their homebrew during BOTH hours listed below.
      •  Hour #1: 2:45-3:45pm -- People's Choice Voting
      •  Hour #2: 6:45-7:45pm -- People's Choice Voting; Judges Panel Critique
    • (1) People's Choice Award and (1) Judges' Choice Award will be presented at 8:15pm.

    Judging Information
    There will be a panel of local "Beer Celebrities" to judge the entries. The Judges are:
      Entries will be judged on aroma, appearance, taste, mouthfeel, and overall impression. The judges will taste, critique, and score the entries starting at 6:45pm at GastroFest. Winners of both the People's Choice and Judges' Choice will be presented at 8:15pm.

      Register Now!

    Tuesday, January 27, 2015

    Berghoff Brewery Announces Distribution in Florida

    Photo courtesy

    The Chicago-based craft brewery, Berghoff Brewery, announced plans to expand distribution of their line of craft beers to the Florida market for the first time. Partnering with Cavalier Distributing, the beers will become available throughout Florida beginning Monday, February 2. The official launch will take place at Tony’s Studio B in Lakeland on Thursday, January 29Cavalier will distribute:  
    • Germaniac (Kotbusser Style Pale Ale) Pale – American Pale Ale | 6.3% ABV 
    • Reppin’ Red – Amber Ale/Red Ale | 6.2% ABV 
    • Straight-Up Hefeweizen – Hefeweizen | 5.2% ABV 
    • Oak-Aged Stock Ale – Stock Ale |10% ABV; and
    • Craft sodas in flavors of Root Beer, Orange, and Black Cherry.
    With a 127 year history rooted in the Midwest and growing popularity among craft beer consumers, we're excited to introduce our recently reformulated craft beers to a new market of drinkers," said Berghoff Brewery owner Ben Minkoff. "We've been closely following the craft beer boom in Florida over the past five years and think our beers will do well in supplementing this growing market," says owner Ben Minkoff, whose family has owned General Beverage Distributors for the past 80 years and purchased the Berghoff brand in 1994.  Berghoff plans to open Berghoff Brau Haus, a 20,000 square-foot brewpub in Orlando on International Drive in the fall of 2015. 

    Official Launch Event/Photo Opportunity
    Thursday, January 29
    8:30 p.m.
    Tony’s Studio B
    213 East Bay Street, Lakeland, FL 33801
    Live music by Banditos

    About Berghoff Brewery
    Berghoff Brewery is owned by Ben Minkoff and family. In June of 2013, Berghoff Brewery re-launched its entire line of beers with reformulated recipes and new labels. Minkoff consulted with brewing experts Randy Mosher and John Hannafan to create the top-notch German-style beers brewed at Berghoff Stevens Point production facility, located in Stevens Point, Wisconsin.  The first batch of Berghoff beer was brewed in 1887 by Herman Berghoff and his three brothers, Henry, Hubert and Gustav.  Demand for their beer grew with astonishing speed, and by 1890, the brothers were producing 90,000 barrels of lager annually.  During World War I, the brothers cemented their brewing company’s place in American history, changing their slogan from “a real German brew” to “a real honest brew” in honor of their adopted homeland.  In a bold show of American ingenuity, Berghoff produced soft drinks, including a root beer and a malt tonic throughout Prohibition, and was the first to return to production and sale of alcoholic beers when the Volstead Act was repealed, pouring at The Berghoff, the first liquor license to be re-granted in Chicago. For more information about Berghoff, visit
    About Cavalier Distributing
    Established in 1992 by Founder and President George Fisher, Cavalier Distributing is one of just a handful of U.S. distributors with a portfolio comprised exclusively of specialty imports and American craft beers. Headquartered in Cincinnati, the company employs more than 200 people dedicated to bringing better beers to consumers throughout Ohio, Indiana and Florida. The Florida operations are based in Lakeland.

    Wednesday, January 21, 2015

    Bold City Release Party and Beer Dinner - Archie's Rhino Rye Pale Ale

    Bold City Brewery’s very popular Archie’s Rhino Rye Pale Ale will be having a special Release Party on February 8, 2015.

    This Bold City creation, named after the Zoo’s oldest male rhino, will be featured at the Release Party event at Jacksonville Zoo and Gardens <>

    The keg will be tapped just prior to dinner and ticket holders will then enjoy a totally unique beer-themed dinner on Shaba Terrace. For all you wild party animals, live entertainment will be provided by the fabulous Snacks Blues Band!

    The event will be held from 6 to 9pm and a portion of the proceeds will go to Rhino Conservation.

    Tickets are limited – so get yours now! For more information and to purchase your tickets, please CLICK HERE.

    Monday, January 5, 2015

    Shiner Birthday Beer Chocolate Stout

    Brewery: Spoetzl Brewery
    Location: Shiner, TX
    Style: American Stout
    ABV: 5%

    Each year, the Spoetzl Brewery produces a new brew to commemorate it's birthday. This year, for its 106th birthday, Shiner brewed itself a cake. Sort of. Birthday Beer Chocolate Stout is brewed with real cocoa and made to be sweet and decadent. It's a different direction from the German-inspired brews that Shiner typically produces, and I like that they've had a little fun with this year's anniversary brew.

    Appearance: Birthday Beer pours a deep chocolate brown hue  (almost black) with a tan and frothy head.

    Aroma: There's an interesting nose on this beer. I get a lot of chocolate at first, but then I begin to pick up some bready yeast aromas on the back end. The chocolate smells very sweet, almost like chocolate syrup or frosting.

    Taste: This is definitely a dessert beer! Sweet milk chocolate and sugary goodness jump out on the front of the palate. Cake batter and chocolate frosting also comes to mind. Beyond the initial burst of sugar, the flavor dries out just slightly. Again, I pick up bread on the finish, which I tend to enjoy. It helps to cut the sweetness of this stout a tad.

    Overall: If there's ever a beer to replace the ol' cake at the next birthday bash, this is it. It's enjoyably sweet and has a drinkable body. However, as someone who doesn't really love cake and sweets all that much, this isn't a beer I would want to keep drinking. It's definitely worth trying, and I found the beer to be quite tasty, but one and done is good enough for me.

    Beer Apostle's Final Grade: B-

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