Brew Review – Spearfish Amber by Florida Keys Brewing Co. @keysbrewing

There’s a small but growing unhappiness within the craft beer community regarding names. You get some names that are just a bit too close to an obviously pop-culture specific reference (such as “It’s Always Sunny in Amarillo,” one I saw recently on the west coast).

Then you get some that are very similar to each other. Florida beer drinkers might remember last year’s hurricane-named beer brouhaha. I won’t really be getting into it here, but it’s a relatively big and contentious issue.

Most of the time, I feel like someone is just being a bit overreactive. I blame craft brewing behemoth Dogfish Head for acting this way. A few years ago, their lawyers went after Craig and Cheryl McBay for just this reason.

Their issue? The McBay’s own Islamorada-based Florida Keys Brewing Co., and one of their signature beers is the close-ish Hogfish Amber. It’s a pretty simple name, and reflects Craig’s love of spearfishing for hogfish in the Keys.

But, no. Apparently that was too close for Sam Caglione and Co. After the McBay’s sent pictures of them and their hogfish hauls, and were responded to with the threat of lawsuits, Craig made the unfortunate but necessary decision to change the beer’s name to Spearfish Amber (Amber Ale, 5.4% ABV, 30 IBU).

It’s unfortunate, since the beer is so good. It stands on its own. It’s clearly yummy and smooth and completely unlike anything in the Dogfish Head oeuvre.

Amber ales tend to be a bit contentious for me, and that wouldn’t be the case if more were like Spearfish. It strikes an expert balance between earthy hops and a solid caramel malt. It’s very easy to drink, nicely flavorful, and has something really for everything.

I was lucky to get some, albeit after the great contentious name change. But it’s a quality beer and was well worth the wait to finally get some.

No matter what name it had.

Drink Florida Craft (and be really angry at Sam Caglione),


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