Saturday was quite the busy day for beer in Florida, with a beer festival going on in Miami, Gasparilla was doing its usual pirate thing in Tampa, and I was at the release for Due South Brewing‘s signature Mariana Trench Imperial Stout.
It wasn’t just a bottle release. Due South turned their brewery into a mini-beer festival, inviting breweries from around the state to bring beers. There were even a few from Jacksonville, which I was pretty impressed by.
To be honest, I didn’t really expect to go. I ended up getting a message late the night before inviting me to come pour with Davie’s Mack House nano brewery.
And, never having done a brew festival before, I learned a few things pretty fast:
1 – These things are exhausting. There’s a lot of work involved being at these things over just pulling a tap handle.
2 – You will say the same thing over and over again. And over and over again. I could go into the details of the beers almost on muscle memory after it was all over.
3 – Tap lines are finicky things. I think everyone had at least one line give them trouble sometime during the event. And there was one Swamp Head tap that didn’t work, which killed me. I really wanted to try that beer.
4 – Floridians sure do love their IPAs.
5 – There are some beer drinkers that only want high alcohol beers. This floors me a bit. If all you want is to get drunk, why not get a bottle of moonshine or something? Craft beer is about variety and intricacies. And some of the best beers at the event, or at any brewery, are the ones with the lowest alcohol contents.
6 – Line connectors are sharp. Really sharp. Cut my finger. Stull hurts.
7 – We hung out next to the fine people from Devour Brewing all day. They are good people, make a great beer, and I can’t wait for their brewery to open.
8 – It’s fun to listen to brewers talk. And it takes about 2 minutes of talking before they start planning a collaboration.
Luckily, Mack House’s brewmaster Justin and I were able to sample quite a lot of beers while we were there. It’s going to take me a little while to get through them all, but I promise that I will be reporting on all of them in due time. Meanwhile, I might as well get the beer of the hour done; Due South’s Mariana Trench Imperial Stout (American Imperial Stout, 10% ABV).
This was my first time finally tasting this, and it’s quite a fantastic beer. Well worth the reputation the beer seems to have gotten in the South Florida brewing community. It’s an Imperial Stout, but much more malty and significantly less brutally hoppy than most Imperials I’ve had. It’s still strong, and when you drink this, you know you’re definitely not having a simple porter.
Mariana Trench also adds roasted cacao nibs and vanilla bean, and here’s where the beer really shines. the cacao adds to the dark roasted malt flavors and brings a deep, toasty character to the beer. The vanilla serves to smooth everything down and make what could have easily been a giant burn in a bottle very drinkable and mellow.
After having it, I understand why the lines for the bottles were so big. But, it’s a great beer, and I’m tempted to try the beer once it’s been barrel aged for some time (which Due South is doing right now).
In the meantime, keep an eye out for reviews of beers coming from Due South, Mack House, Devour Brewing, Cigar City, Engine 15, Green Room, Swamp Head, Saltwater and more.
And I’ll get another bandage for my finger.
Drink Florida Craft,