If you believe in karma, I may have made a grave mistake.
As you may know, the World Series is going on, with the Dodgers playing our beloved Tampa Bay Rays. I’m honestly not much of a baseball fan, but since the Lightning just won the cup, I really want to see the region have two championships at the same time.
We are literally halfway there through the Virtually Halfway There 6-pack from Tampa Bay Beer Week and 13 different collaborators, most of which are from the Tampa Bay area.
Most, except for Reve Brewing.
It is becoming increasingly difficult to find a brewery that makes brown ales due to its undeserved place as a pariah in the craft beer community. Somehow the brown became disavowed by beer drinkers, a relic of a time since passed and with a flavor just as easily dismissed.
And that’s possibly the furthest thing from the truth. Brown ales are flavorful, hearty, and incredibly delicious, with great earthy tones and wonderfully nutty notes. But brewers just don’t make them anymore. They definitely don’t make them a flagship beer and never let them get above 5% ABV.
Saisons scare me.
Not in the way a 100+ IBU Double IPA or a 15% Russian Imperial Stout does, but exactly the opposite. Saisons are so gentle, delicate, and almost frighteningly nuanced that I am still trying to find my way around the style. I am not too proud to admit how much more I have to learn about some beer styles, the saison in particular.
What’s worse is the style only seems to be approached by beer nerds/savants/snobs/connisseurs, mainly on the merits of the name sounding a little too foreign for average or budding beer drinkers.
Breweries are not known for their subtleties. Most breweries, anyway. And if there’s any way, shape, or form they can create to throw a well-placed pun or twelve into their beers, they are all for it.
But there are certain puns I never expected, least of all involving the late, great Tupac Shakur. Ivanhoe Park Brewing in Orlando has never been one to shy away from the crazy, especially when it is also involving a rather beloved public figure (e.g. Suck It, Trebek).
It’s October, which means you can leave the pumpkin spice at home because it’s time for Oktoberfest beers!
I cannot tell you how much I enjoy these. It’s literally the best thing about this time of year, before I get inundated with holiday lights and pressure to buy things. It’s just a simple and enjoyable reminder of what good quality beer is. As for why it’s not year round, I will never know.
Now we are going to talk about palate burn, or why you want to start off with the gentler beers first, gradually working your way up to the face melters.
I have made the rookie mistake many times of starting a drinking session with an IPA or a sour or something equally aggressive, then trying to double back to something softer like a kolsch or a blonde ale.
Everybody knows Cigar City. If you’re a beer drinker in Florida, you know Cigar City. Heck, during the boat parade after winning the Stanley Cup, half of the players on the Tampa Bay Lightning squad had cans of Jai Alai they were drinking (and drinking and drinking and drinking some more).
So it is a natural that Cigar City will be a part of the collaborations that make up this year’s unique Virtually Halfway There six pack with Tampa Bay Beer Week. Cigar City’s partner was Calusa Brewing in Sarasota, which is where things get interesting.