I’ve been to Riptide Brewing in Naples before. But it’s been a few years, and it’s actually better to state I’ve been to the location, but this is a whole new Riptide.
Everything has been changed: Ownership, the look of the taproom, the beers on tap, the patio in the back, even the whole vibe of the place. It’s incredible to see the changes and I have to honestly state the change has been done for the better.
Gone are the mustard yellow walls, dark wooden features, oddly Greek Poseidon mascot, and dismal back seating area.
In its place are cool blues and gleaming white tiles on the walls, all new wooden furniture with a coastal feel (including really neat two seaters angled just right to allow people to look out, not necessarily at each other), and a back patio area with plush seating that needs to be seen to be believed.
This is where my family and I camped to speak to Kim West, new co-owner of Riptide, She shared with us her vision of growth in a rapidly expanding Southwest Florida beer scene.
Everything is increasing now; new avenues of advertising, a new focus on canning and distribution in the area, even looking to expand locations.
But their charming current location on 3rd Avenue will always be home base to Kim and her crew.
Some things are still the same, and part of me was happy to still see their stuffed one-eyed panther sitting on top of their fermentation tanks. It’s an homage to the late Uno, the partially blinded one-eyed panther at the nearby Naples Zoo.
And Kim and her crew will expand their relationship with the zoo and more. It’s a great interview, and you’ll her more about it when we release it on the Florida Beer Podcast in the coming weeks.
But we needed to taste beer. Kim and er tap room crew were more than happy to take my wife and I through some of the offerings currently at Riptide as my daughter happily sipped on a root beer made at nearby Ankrolab:
Vanilla Port[er] Royale (English Brown Porter, 5.8% ABV) – A beautifully calm and simple porter with a moderate body filled with light nutty and coffee flavors. To this, the simplest kiss of vanilla sweetness was added, which rounded out the flavors nicely.
The Lager (Vienna Lager, 5.5% ABV) – THE lager, thank you very much. It trades in a touch of the sweetness for a faint whiff of hops, but otherwise this classic lager satisfies in ways that every classic Vienna should: solid malt characteristics in a silky smooth and sessionable beer.
Riptyed Sour Series No. 1 (Sour, 6% ABV) – Now we get interesting, as I never expected Naples to be a sour town. But here we are, and Kim said the first two batches of this particular beer sold out as fast as they got them on. This is pretty close to a slushy beer without the awful slushiness, bringing in explosive flavors of strawberry, banana, and passionfruit to a beer where sourness is merely one aspect of the the experience, not the main reason for being. There is a tartness there, but it brings bold and insane fruit flavors to the party. Thankfully Riptide was able to source fresh fruit purees, as many a Monday morning meeting had been spent mashing fruit of all kinds while talking.
Seafoam (Hazy IPA, 5.9% ABV) – This is Kim’s personal favorite, a hazy IPA that delivers big grapefruit notes courtesy of Mosaic and Citra. It ends up being a lot less bitter and a lot more juicier, especially on the back end. A light body carries the flavors through quite nicely. According to Kim, there are a lot of arguments from patrons who firmly believe grapefruit was added tot his beer. Not so, my friends.
Big Ship, Wee Boat (Scotch Ale, 7.6% ABV) – We end with a beer that was, simply put, a masterpiece. It’s a Scotch Ale, to be sure, but notice the ABV below 9%. That’s the aspect of this beer that makes it simply stand out; a Scotch Ale whose notoriety can rest on flavor and not booziness. It still has delicious notes of raisin, molasses, biscuit, and plum, but you can taste them. It’s not masked in an oppressive alcohol burn that towers over everything. It just came on tap, and I don’t see it lasting long.
They’re releasing some of their core beers in 16 oz. tall boy 4 packs, so I was able to get some and keep writing about them in the near future, something I am looking forward to doing.
What will be better, however, is going back and seeing all of the continued changes Kim and her team are doing. After all, it looks like all of Naples is watching.
And so is Uno.
Drink Florida Craft,
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