True story, I have a friend who is quite the beer Enthusiast and has a small Instagram account by the name of The Great Beer Adventure. I swear I’ll make him post more someday.
I was recounting to him my recent visit to Marker 48 Brewing in Weeki Wachee. A few weeks ago, there was a holiday parade in Hernando County, and Marker 48 participated with a parade float that was, quite literally, a pile of kegs arranged and dressed up like a Christmas tree. It was at this time that my friend asked, without a moment’s hesitation, did they tap those kegs?
Yes. Yes they did.
Marker 48 had kegs full of beer and brought along a lot of cups so that they could dispense said beer along the parade route. Free beer, as you would expect, tends to attract a lot of people and, as a result, they ran out of cups.
So Marker 48’s co-owner Mo let out a shout out of “Got your cup, bring it up!” And bring it they did. Apparently one parent even took their child’s sippy cup and emptied it, so they could come up and get some beer.
I’m not saying that you should take stuff away from your child to get Marker 48’s brews, but I understand. It had been a little while since I had visited them, and most of my time was spent chatting with Leigh Northcutt who had, a few months ago, been named as their new head brewer.
He and his assistant David are holding down the fort, and just getting back into the swing of things after a very hectic brewing schedule for their recent third anniversary. I got a bunch of those third anniversary bottles, and they’ll be showing up in blog posts in the coming days.
In the meantime, Lee has a lot of great things that are coming down the pipeline for Marker 48. Their barrel aging room is now open, exclusively for sours. They still use their basement for barrel aging, mostly the non-infected stuff. Lee is given a good amount of freedom with the brewhouse, and owners Mo and Tina were there as well to heap nothing but praise upon their newest brewmaster.
Naturally, there was a ton of stuff that I had to try, and I just left them pour and as I had no idea what I was getting myself into.
Suncoast Trail (Cream Ale, 4.2% ABV) – Ah yes, the cream ales are following me everywhere I go. This one’s a nice light easy drinking cream with a good amount of carbonation.
Santa’s Coming To Town (Milk Stout, 6.9% ABV) – A Nitro-served Chocolate and Peppermint Porter. It has a wonderful nose of a mint chocolate bar, with a silky smooth character. The mint blends harmoniously well with a nice roasted cocoa malt.
Meet The Heat (Saison, 6.2% ABV) – This is a pepper beer, but the nose has much more raspberry tartness to it. There’s a light heat and flavor coming from the cayenne, but it spends a lot of time bouncing around with the tartness in the sweetness coming from the raspberries instead.
The enhanced version is Meet The Devil (Saison, 6.5% ABV) and is quite the experience, and also a bit of a dare. The aroma is some of the most amazing garden-fresh peppers you will ever smell, adding serrano, jalapeno, and habanero to the cayenne. As a result, there’s a certain fear that results about drinking this beer, assuming that it is going to be absolutely death-dealing.
This is exactly how Lee wanted it, a beer that forces you to face your fears, but once you drink it you realize that while there is the heat and raspberry flavor from Meet The Heat, it’s not quite as scary as you would think.
Is there heat? Most definitely. Don’t get me wrong, this is not as gentle as a cream ale. But it is not as frightening as the aroma would make you suggest, which is exactly the point. Here you have a beer that you have to face your fears to drink, and you are very well rewarded for that bravery.
Lee had just gotten off his shift, and the beer that he poured for himself was Marker 48’s batch of Resilience (IPA, 7.2% ABV), the recipe coming from Sierra Nevada and being brewed by over 1,400 breweries in the US in an effort to raise funds for those displaced by the recent California wildfires. He was telling me that every Brewery is going to have to make little tweaks, since very few people are lucky enough to have a system as big and efficient as Sierra Nevada. If you haven’t had any of the many varieties of Resilience out there, it’s a pretty classic West Coast pale ale, very dank with incredible fruit notes swimming in a resiny hop character.
For the next flight, Lee brought out the heavy hitters. Sufficive to say, I just could not have finished everything without a taxi home…
Copp in the Name of Love (Imperial IPA, 12% ABV) – The name makes more sense when you realize this is their collaboration with Fran Copp of Copp Brewing, just a bit north in Crystal River. The beer, however, is all sorts of insane, drinking almost like an Imperial Red Ale. It has a massively pronounced caramel quality you can definitely sink your teeth into, with big Noble hop notes and a deep ABV that is pretty evident almost immediately. This is one of the best beers I’ve seen come out of the Florida West Coast, especially since I’ve never experienced a beer like this before.
Anybody’s Guess (IPA, 6% ABV) – This is actually an interesting entry into what is a very un-highlighted question in craft beer: When does it stop becoming a Pale Ale and start becoming an IPA? Is there really any specific delineation? With it’s lighter, crisper body and nice tropical notes coming from a dry hop of Ella and Motueka hops, I’d place this as more of a Pale and an incredibly enjoyable beer.
Putin It Down (Imperial Stout, 9% ABV) – This and the next beer were made exclusively by their brewer Dave, a big guy with a beard on a mission and a Stranger Things-style shirt, who was gracious enough to hang out with us even with a full docket of work still left to do. The man makes a mean Imperial Stout, though, with an oppressively heavy and chewy body overflowing with massively roasted malt flavors laden with coffee and plum notes.
Putin U Down (Imperial Stout, 12.5% ABV) – This was Putin It Down, aged on bourbon-soaked oak spirals. The oak gives a nice light vanilla quality and light woodiness, but this beer is massive enough without the bourbon giving it an extra dimension of meaty boldness.
The only thing that made this a bit bittersweet was that I am not sure as to when I will be back to Marker 48. In the meantime, I have some nice bottles to keep me company and I look forward to getting around to those when I can.
And I won’t empty my daughter’s cup, either. I’ll just use my own, thank you very much.