Riverside Market is something of a pilgrimage site when it comes to South Florida craft beer. This stalwart of the Broward County brewing scene has been around for years, and one of their big events is an annual homebrewing competition.
This year was different, as they partnered with the Riverside Park Residents Association to take the homebrewing competition and expanding into a larger Fall Festival.
Much more than just a meeting of homebrewers, this event took the entirety of Riverside Park and turned it into an Autumn Wonderland. There was a pumpkin patch underneath one of their large trees, there was face painting and haystacks for photos, plenty of apple cider and activities for kids as well.
Plus, inside the park’s tennis court was the homebrewing competition and arts expo for local artisans.
Several area breweries also participated in the event bringing in some of their beers. Being part of the Riverside family, of course Tarpon River Brewing was there. I grabbed a sample of their Honey Love Imperial Cream Ale (Cream Ale, 9.5% ABV) a beer with a surprising amount of heft considering how light and flavorful the beer was. It’s an interesting study in opposites. Definitely enjoyable.
Brand new to the craft beer scene is Gulf Stream Brewing. They’ve been in the works for years now, but just open their doors a few weeks ago. They arrived with a few beers, one of which was Sub Hop (Pale Ale, 6% ABV) a surprisingly light and very citrus-forward beer that did not linger on hop bitterness for any length of time.
A few of the larger outfits from Miami’s Wynwood area showed up as well, including the newest, Veza Sur. Amongst the baseball caps being given out (and my wife thinks it’s interesting that I look good in it considering the flower heavy bill on the cap) was a bit of their Mango Blonde (Blonde Ale, 4.8% ABV). This is a very Miami-forward beer, having a light body and mostly sweetness coming from a bright malt that is then electrified a bit with the aforementioned mango.
But it wasn’t just beer and apple cider. Kombucha is still exploding in the craft seen, and Non-Prophet from Boynton Beach was there with several flavors, including their Dry-Hopped Kombucha, hopped with Citra. This one is always my favorite, since you really get a feel for the flavors in the Hop without any of the excessive bitterness. They make a great lineup of Kombucha is, but one of these days I’m also going to have to try their ginger ale. I’ve heard it’s fantastic.
Kombulicious is another new local kombucha maker, base close to Funky Buddha in Oakland Park. We tried two of their flavors, Tangerine Vanilla Lavender and Pineapple Aloe Lime Coconut, both of which were absolutely off the charts. Fantastic flavors, and I can only hope that I’ll be able to find more of their products soon.
Like I said, there were also a ton of Homebrewers all vying for votes in the all-important People’s Choice category. Final Destination Brewing Company from Davie came with a few beers, notably Sweet Nectar of the Gods (Pale Ale, 4.7% ABV) with nectarines, Cascade, Citra, and Nelson Sauvin hops. This one was light and sweet, didn’t touch on any flavor too much and allowed everything to blend very well.
Hermes-licious (Hybrid Red/Brown Ale, 3.6% ABV) was another beer from them, a stylistically calm and easy to drink blend of these two styles.
Another home Brewer, bringing his beers in old sparkling seltzer bottles, brought in two of his entries both with labels designed and drawn by his daughter. His Death By Pumpkin was a brown ale that had a thick chewy texture and plenty of pumpkin spice flavors to last a long time.
His other beer, though,Byton’s was a Cascadian dark ale with heavy notes of chocolate that I found intriguing and fantastic, in fact it was this beer that I voted for personally.
Some brewers brought several beers to try. One such brewer had a couple of saisons with him, and was trying to figure out which one he would enter. I suggested entering the Belgian Saison (Saison, 5.7% ABV) since it had that great Belgian Funk to a slightly spiky and very satisfying base.
He got my wife’s vote for his Barrel Aged version of a Coconut Imperial Stout (Stout, 9% ABV), aged in a bourbon barrel. It’s thick and chewy with just a slight coconut flavor and heavy roasted malts.
Still another home brewer brought the interestingly named Drink Me, I Am Irish (Irish Red Ale, 5% ABV). It had a light roasted character, very similar in style two other Reds that are available and stylistically on point.
I was more interested in the Paradisian Lager (Vienna Lager, 5.5% ABV) since I am a big fan of the style and this one did not disappoint. Light with a good amount of caramel flavor that I love.
In the end, this first foray into fall was quite successful. Barring the 95-degree heat, we definitely would have stayed longer and enjoyed more of the activities. But my daughter spent almost an hour on the playground and after that, trying some fantastic beers, and getting some awesome sugar scrubs, cookies, and definitely apple ciders, it was a very full and enjoyable afternoon.
Drink Florida Craft,