Brew Review – Patio Pils by Cigar City Brewing

Drinking beer in Florida gets kinda tricky sometimes. You just don’t want anything heavy and big, especially when it’s 100 degrees with humidity to match. My only problem with some of the lighter beers is that they’re either bland and flavorless, or incredibly hoppy.

For me, most pilsners are like that. Light straw in color, hoppy in flavor, low in interest for me. But, I am a big fan of Cigar City Brewing, and I saw there was a pre-prohibition pilsner of theirs, Patio Pils, in the marketplace. I am a gigantic fan of their Patio Tools (a big, flavorful Irish porter), and I was interested in doing an article of what I termed (in my mind) their ”Patio Series.”

So I picked up a bottle. And had it. While on my patio. During a cookout, of course.

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That’s a cookout. I love Florida…

As far as I can tell, the term “pre-prohibition” refers to the tendency for brewers to use only malted barley in their beer. Most modern breweries use up to 50% corn or rice in their beers (think Budweiser. Then forget about Budweisser). Brewers will say that rice and/or corn adjuncts give the beer a greater clarity and crisp taste. What it really does is water down the beer. They give no flavor whatsoever.

Back to Patio Pils. Since it’s a pre-prohibition style beer, it has none of that yucky rice or corn inside. What you get is a light, crisp, refreshing beer, but it’s still got a big load of flavor and drinkability.

It’s a seasonal release, which is a shame. It also has pretty cool label artwork, that I wouldn’t be against getting for my man cave.

If you can find a bottle, grab it. Then head to your patio. It works well there.

Drink Florida Craft,

Chris

@floridabeerblog

floridabeerblog@gmail.com

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Brewpub Dining – Heading Back to Big Bear Brewing Co. (@bigbearbrewing)

Naturally, I went to Big Bear Brewing Company the day before I had surgery. Because that’s what I do.

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Big Bear has quite the nice interior.

Big Bear Brewing Company in Coral Springs is, as I have said before, one of my absolutely favorite brewpubs of all time. The quality of both their food and their beer is outstanding, and (locally, at least) they are a go-to place for me when people ask what’s good in the region. I’m still bummed that they don’t do growler fills or bottling, but that might not be a bad thing. Keeping things small keeps the quality consistent.

Anyway, that evening they actually had run out of a few of their standards. I was looking forward to trying their Red Ale, but, alas, it was not to be. I did get another glass of their Kodiac, the most flavorful and smoothest dubbel I have ever had. To be honest, I think my love of Belgian beers started with this one. It’s my go-to beer at Big Bear, and the beer I have started a number of friends of mine with when I’m there.

Big Bear Brewing's Kodiac Belgian Dubbel

Big Bear Brewing’s Kodiac Belgian Dubbel

Big Bear Brewing's Brown Bear Ale

Big Bear Brewing’s Brown Bear Ale

I am also a big fan of brown ales, and Brown Bear Ale never disappoints. It’s got all the right nutty, malty characteristics a good brown ale should have.

Big Bear's seasonal Paw Print Pilsner

Big Bear’s seasonal Paw Print Pilsner

They had two seasonal on draft (they should have had 3, but the imperial stout was out that evening as well). First was the Paw Print Pilsner, which has all the moderately hoppy flavors, bright golden color, and sparkling characteristics that a fine pilsner has.

Big Bear Brewing's seasonal Citrus Ginger Ale

Big Bear Brewing’s seasonal Citrus Ginger Ale

The other was the sadly non-bear named Citrus Ginger Ale. Color-wise, it looked a lot like an unfiltered version of the pilsner. Flavorwise, the tastes weren’t too far from it, either. I’m pretty positive they took their Paw Print ale and added flavors of tangerine and ginger. Those flavors aren’t incredibly pronounced in the finished beer, but I personally would have really liked the tangerine flavor to be a bit more pronounced.

I will definitely be back, maybe in a month or so. I’m excited to see what they will be releasing in the fall.

P.S. I’m feeling better.

Drink Florida Craft,

Chris

@floridabeerblog

Brewpub Dining – A1A Ale Works

When it comes to homegrown beer, St. Augustine’s claim to fame has to be A1A Ale Works.

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The only brewery in the nation’s oldest city, A1A Ale Works has sat only steps away from the city’s famed Bridge of Lions for quite some time. Good reason, too. It’s a quality full-service restaurant with a full bar and gorgeous copper brewing system right in the facility.

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They’re owned by Craftworks Restaurants, based out of Colorado and Tennessee (how you do two headquarters is beyond me). But they seem to give their brewers a good amount of autonomy. The restaurant has quite a lot of awards placed prominently around the restaurant.

So, good restaurant with lots of good food (and you can practically sit in the kitchen if you sat where we were). But what about the beer?

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To start, look at the beer flight above. Each of those are 4 oz. The entire flight was $6.25. That’s a good deal. So, what’s on there? Starting from left to right on the top row:

King St. Light Lager: A very light, crisp lager. Clean and easy.

Porpoise Point IPA: It’s a pretty good representative of your standard IPA. Nothing too fancy here.

Red Brick Ale: A slightly hoppy but robust red. Great maltiness.

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Summer Wheat: A good hefeweizen should be bright, crisp, fruity but not overly sweet, with just enough bite to be there, but not bite your head off. Everything A1A’s seasonal Summer Wheat beer is.

Coconut Porter: Coconut porters are starting to become the next big thing in fruity beers. This beer shows why. It’s got the big, dark flavors from a quality porter, and the coconut brings that slightly sweet, slightly tropical quality to it. If I had more than a few sips, it would be better. Alas, my wife loved it. Which means it got beernapped.

Two more beers in the flight pictured above to review. The one in the middle was Poolside Ale, a very standard, medium bitter pale ale.

Finally, on the far right is their Summer Honey Ale. I’m a big fan of honey ales, since the honey brings a nice sweetness that really complements the maltiness.

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There were two standard brews in the A1A Ale Works lineup, A. Strange Stout and Bridge of Lions Brown Ale, that were unavailable at the time. Kind of a shame, especially considering how much I love brown ales.

In all, A1A has a great lineup and great food. It’s a little on the confusing side to get in, but omce there, it’s a good time. Say hi to A. Strange for me.

Drink Florida Craft,
Chris
@floridabeerblog

Brewpub Dining – Titanic Brewery and Restaurant

How someone decides on the R.M.S. Titanic as a theme for a restaurant and brewery right next to the Univ. of Miami campus, I will never know. Seriously. Does anyone know?

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I liked it, though. Decided to take a ride down to Coral Gables to visit Titanic Brewery and Restaurant for beer and lunch. And Titanic. I don’t know which attracted me most, since I am somewhat of a Titanic enthusiast.

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There is a lot, and I do mean a lot, of Titanic gear on the walls, hallways, everywhere pretty much. Made me pretty happy. Even a good amount of the menu items were in some way Titanic-themed. Steerage Skirt Steak, y’all.

Quick note on the menu: Standard pub fare, but good and reasonably priced. I had a blackened chicked sandwich with bleu cheese on it, and it was quite good.

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Back to the beer (notice the gorgeous copper equipment above). Titanic does seasonals and guest taps, but maintains a standard selection of 6 brews, all of which can be tasted with Titanic’s Porthole Sampler:

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I wish I could remember which was which in the picture above. But, here’s a rundown. I will save you the explanation behind the names.

Triple Screw Light Ale. It’s light bodied and lightly flavored. A good intro beer, not overly powerful.

White Star IPA – Titanic describes this as an American version of an English IPA. I found this to be largely accurate. It’s hoppier than an English IPA, but nowhere near a hop bomb as a West Coast IPA would be. Still very hoppy.

Captain Smith’s Rye Ale – I’ve liked Ryes as sort of a less-hoppy IPA, but still has some of the kick. I have had some with a more pronounced rye flavor, but it wasn’t necessary for a drink as smooth as this.

Britannic Best Bitter – I am going to admit I have no experience in bitters. It wasn’t for me, but I also don’t have much of a frame of reference.

Boiler Room Nut Brown Ale – Here we go. I’ve been enjoying my brown ales, and this was a good one. Clean drinking, smooth, and quite flavorful.

Shipbuilders Oatmeal Stout – The hands-down favorite of my wife and I. Their stout is well rounded, exceptionally creamy, and the oatmeal lent a great heaviness and meatiness to the beer. Worth the drive to Coral Gables.

Now for the best part. I don’t know what I did, but the Porthole Sampler ended up being all of $6. 6-4 oz samplers for $6? Plus pints were $4.75. Maybe it was happy hour, but those were great prices.

In all, it’s strangely quirky for Coral Gables, but Titanic Brewery is a good time, good food, and good beer for a good price.

Prost!
Chris
@floridabeerblog

Brewpub Dining – Dinner at Big Bear Brewery

With all of the great craft beer that has been coming to South Florida, I have to say that Coral Sprrings mainstay Big Bear Brewing Co. has and has had some of the best beer in the area.

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It’s a small operation, and that keeps them lean and mean. (For those of you that are really sharp eyed, that’s their brewing area as the banner on the Florida Beer Blog Twitter page).

I have been to many brewpubs where the beer is great and the food doesn’t go too far past burgers and chicken fingers. Not so with the Bear: take the beer away and it’s still a fine restaurant. We always start with the Beer Cheese Soup, made with their Grizzly Red ale. Always great, but never eat it alone. Between the soup and the bread bowl it is served in, there’s so much food…

I am a huge fan of their Kodiak Belgian Dubbel, their abbey ale that is light, fruity, and less yeasty than most abbey ales I have had. It’s how I usually introduce people to Big Bear.

Tonight started with Brown Bear Ale, mostly since I’ve been on a big brown ale kick. It is so fantastivally smooth with a citrusy feel to it.

The other big beer of the night was a seasonal Key West Honey Ale. I had actually heard a number of poor reviews on Untappd. They are stupid people. It was light, fruity without being tart or rindy, and just the right aftertaste of honey. Perfect.

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Key West Honey Ale along with the best swordfish in the history of ever.

In all, Big Bear Brewing Co. is that rarest of things – an excellent restaurant and an excellent microbrewery in one.

Now to get them to sell growlers.

And bring back their Espresso Cream Stout. Now that was some good stuff.