As I had mentioned in a previous post we were able to find a few different Florida craft beers at the local grocery stores. While the temperatures were not what we were hoping for during our vacation there was no shortage of sunshine.
After a 26 hour drive from the wintry tundra of south east Michigan, we arrived in Marathon it was time for some beer. Our first sampling of Florida craft beer was a blueberry ale from Florida Avenue Brewing Company out of Tampa.
That was the view we were fortunate to see daily off the front porch of the house we stayed at for the week. It quickly became the inspiration for my daily beer sampling photos.
Anyway, back to the Blueberry ale. I don’t have a lot to say about this beer. It wasn’t bad, it wasn’t great, it was just ok. Having had a good variety of some of the best blueberry beers and having brewed my own blueberry cream ale, I found this beer’s blueberry flavor profile some what lacking and tasting fake. Have you ever noticed how some flavored beers just don’t seem to taste right? Sometimes they have a bit of an aftertaste that you would associate with artificial sweeteners. Sometimes its noticeable, sometimes it’s not. It’s my understanding that this is the flavor that comes from using flavor extracts instead of real fruits. Typically extracts are used because using fresh fruit in the volume that most professional breweries brew just isn’t practical, nor is it as predictable.
The following day began with a trip up to Islamorada Beer Company. You can read about our visit there at the link below:
IBC quickly became the yard stick to which all other Florida beers would be measured.
Sunday brought a trip to the Turtle Hospital. The Turtle Hospital is something that I suggest everyone take the time out of their vacation to visit. It’s an amazing facility full of great people that dedicate their time and effort to helping rescue and rehabilitate members of Florida’s sea turtle population. They do this while educating guests on what we can do to help protect these incredible and fragile animals.
After the Turtle Hospital we found a place to have lunch with a nice view of the water. That’s where we found beer #2 of this post.
That was Orange Blossom Brewing Company’s Orange Blossom Pilsner. Despite the amazing scenery here the beer was pretty blah. It wasn’t a bad beer, but it wasn’t anything spectacular either. It was very forgettable and middle of the road. The OBP was the kind of beer that you would drink when it’s your only craft beer option at the bar.
Next up on the list is one of the odd balls of the trip. It was Terrapin’s Hopsecutioner. While not a Florida beer, they are from Athens, Georgia, I think it was one of the most photogenic beers.
We picked this one up after our trip to the Turtle Hospital. It seemed very fitting to find this on the shelf after seeing all the little sea turtles. I found this to be a very mild IPA and probably would be great for someone new to IPAs.
While we are on the subject of odd balls the next beer on my list is the Landshark Lager.
Right now I’m sure a few of you are saying, “Hey hold on a second, that’s not really craft beer.” In saying that you would be correct. Landshark is part of the Anheuser-Busch InBev umbrella of breweries. In all honestly, it wasn’t bad at all. It wasn’t the kind of beer that is going to knock your socks off or make you stand in line for hours at a release party. But it’s something that would be great on a hot summer day at the beach or cruising around the yard on your riding lawnmower.
The Landshark was one of the few options on the boat ride back from the Dry Tortugas National Park. That’s something else I plan on making a post about as well in the future. It was an incredible excursion and we couldn’t have had better weather for a 70 mile boat ride out into the Gulf of Mexico.
As quickly as it began, our awesome vacation was drawing to a close. That didn’t mean that the beer well had dried up though. In fact, we found the two best beers on the final day of our trip.
The first of the final two was Funky Buddha’s Floridian. The Floridian is an incredible Hefeweizen. I don’t know if this was really spot on for the beer style, but it was something that I could drink all day.
As the sun was going down and we were packing our bags to head back north, I cracked open one of my favorite beers of the trip, Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA. I don’t know what I can really say about this beer. This is one of those beers that makes me wish I could properly describe all the flavors in a beer.
To me it seems as though tastes and flavors are very subjective. This was easily one of my favorite IPA’s period. I really wish I had brought back a truck load of these for the beer fridge. I think the next time I make an IPA I’m going to shoot for similar flavor profiles as this.
From the research I’ve done after we got home, these beers were a very small cross section of the entire Florida craft beer culture. I guess that just means that we are going to have to keep going back year after year until we try them all.