Note: Today’s review is less a review and more of a eulogy, since Sawgrass Brewing is no more.
Sawgrass Brewing was in Coral Springs, very close to the Coral Square Mall right off the busy University Dr. It started life as a franchise of Tampa Bay Brewing Co., where Sawgrass Brewing’s headbrewer/owner Norm Lehman used to volunteer. TBBC stopped sending beer, and Norm started brewing his own spin on the classics, slightly rebranding the facility into the Coral Springs Tap House. This is when I first started going, sampling some pretty good beers, such as their Lazy Lu Hefeweizen.
Norm also kept an excellent selection of guest and rotating taps available. I was able to get beers from Orlando Brewing there, as well as beers from area homebrewers getting their first shot on Norm’s beautiful 3.5-barrel tandem system, located right behind the bar
It was then that Norm decided on a massive rebranding, into the Sawgrass Brewing that stayed with it for the rest of its life. There was a push for experimentation, with a 5-gallon batch list that would knock your socks off. The Wheat Brown Porter was smooth and immensely drinkable, while I firmly believe the Gin Oaked IPA would have made a huge hit in the state.
The standard beers, however, were particularly well crafted. Sawgrass has one of my favorite Florida beers ever, Tamarac Pride English Brown Ale. Some of these standard beers, such as the English Brown, even got bottled (just in the tap room, though. They weren’t available anywhere else.) And it’s because of this that I was able to have one last Sawgrass Brewing beer; a bottle I purchased and forgot about in my beer fridge until very recently: Kennedy’s Scotch Ale (Wee Heavy, 7.9% ABV).
This was one of two beers named after Norm’s granddaughters (his other granddaughter, Emory, had a pale ale named after her).
Sure, it was a little on the old side, but it was still worth it. There’s a rich, caramel malt aroma on the nose and definitely on the palate, although the taste also brings just a hint of a floral hop to the party. It’s also strong, the way a good Scotch Ale should be.
It’s a great representation of a classic, and a good example of why Sawgrass Brewing worked so well. Sure, I could give a post-mortem as to why the brewery closed up. But it doesn’t change the fact that a home-grown, quality brewery and business is no longer with us.
Drink Florida Craft, it helps to promote your community and the people around you.