You can take the beer out of Florida, but you can’t take the Florida out of the beer.
Contract brewing is interesting. I completely understand it when it comes to building a brand or producing product in a volume that you can’t before, but I firmly believe that with contract brewing comes a touch of where it’s made that cannot be denied. And it’s non-Floridaness is why I originally dismissed Island Coastal Lager.
The brand is based out of South Carolina and is making a concerted and well-realized plan to position themselves not as a craft brewery, but as a premium craft brand intended to get macro beers out of the hands of Southern beer drinkers, replaced with their own beers. But of course those beers need to be made somewhere, and for that it looks like they chose the Florida Brewery in Auburndale.
We interviewed them on a past episode of the Sunshine State Happy Hour, and it was interesting to hear everything that they do. Not only do they make their own beers and contract for others, but they’re also the largest producer of Malta in the US.
If you’ve never heard of Malta, I’m not shocked. It’s almost like wart and geared specifically towards the Hispanic market. And it is, shall we say, an acquired taste. But they’re making a plenty other beers for Island and I’m very happy to see this coming out of our little state.
Not only are they making Island’s signature Coastal Lager, which I definitely need to get, but they’ve also released a few shandies including Lemonada (Shandy, 4.5% ABV).
According to the Island website, Lemonada is their Coastal Lager with fresh lemon puree. They are not the first lemon shandy on the market, and there are other Native American-themed brands that have done it for decades, but I rather like Lemonada. You can taste a very light and crisp malt quality, with low hops and a solid biscuit backbone that makes it the perfect starting off point to build up with fruit flavors.
Considering that fruit, it’s crisp and sweet, without lemon tartness that I am not a fan of. It’s very refreshing, very flavorful, and while Mediterranean-inspired, has the unmistakable kiss of Florida sunshine.
Island has a couple of other varieties and I’m definitely going to reach out to see if I could learn more about them. In the meantime, they may be from the Magnolia state, but the sunshine in this beer is unmistakable.
Drink Florida Craft,
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