I was a little sad to have written off Coral Springs’ Big Bear Brewing. They used to be a stalwart of the South Florida brewpub scene for me, but there have been a number of changes and I just wasn’t as hot on them as I used to.
One of those changes, as previous Brewmaster Matt Cox has moved on to open Copperpoint Brewing, was bringing in new Brewmaster Jeff Evans. Jeff and his friends Eric Gurrero and Mark Fee have been homebrewing for some time as Angry Union (and I even did a review of one of their beers they had brewed many moons ago with the now-closed Sawgrass brewing).
Here’s my thing: even if you don’t want to eat, Jeff is doing such good work in the Big bear brewhouse that it’s well worth a visit just to see what he’s doing. He’s doing some great things, especially with his seasonals. Such as:
Irish Coffee Brown Ale (Brown Ale, 6% ABV, 20 IBU) – Jeff is a big fan of brewing with coffee, as can be evidenced with some of the other beers he’s released. He’s really good at it, as this beer can show. It has a nice, classy coffee flavor with just a hint of the sweetness from a good cup of Irish Coffee.
Drunkin Pumpkin (Amber Ale, 7.25% ABV, 15 IBU) – A fantastic amber with a spicy, but not overly sweet, blend of cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, ginger, and so on. Just the right amount of amount of malt ties the brew together.
Smoked Maple Cocoa Pepper Imperial Stout (Imperial Stout, 8.75% ABV, 45 IBU) – Here’s my thing with most brewpubs; they tend to not be nearly as adventurous in their beers as standalone breweries. That’s why seeing this beer was such a surprise.
It’s a surprisingly approachable beer for as complex as it is and as daunting as it looks. A blend of a variety of peppers including chipotle, poblano, and habanero were used, plus roasted cocoa nibs late in the game. Yes, there’s heat, but it’s not insane. It’s more of an herbal, meaty flavor than anything scorching. The cocoa flavors are present but very subtle, and the maple is even more so. It’s dark and thick, but very flavorful.
I’m actually very excited to see what Jeff has up his sleeve (I’m pretty sure the coffee doppelbock is coming back. That’s a good time). We will have to see.
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