Yesterday was the kickoff to Tampa Bay Beer Week and the first, and probably most popular, event of the week was the Craft Beer Festival, which was put on by the Florida Brewers Guild. Present were sixty Florida breweries and over 250 different beers. My friends and I got the VIP ticket that got us in one hour early before general admission. That’s 4 hours of unlimited samples. I had to keep reminding myself that it was a marathon, not a sprint. But safe to say, I was a bit slobber knockered at the end. In all I sampled, to the best of my recollection, 32 beers. Here were my standouts:
Barley Mow Brewing Company: The Unkindness- American Black Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels
Cigar City Brewing- Marshal Zhukov Imperial Stout aged in sherry barrels
Coppertail Brewing- Unholy Trippel
Dunedin Brewery- Saint Jambrinus Abbey Dubbel
Orange Blossom Brewing- Toasted Coconut Porter
Saint Somewhere Brewing- Dry Hopped E’Te Sans Fin Saison
Wild Rover Pub and Brewery- Hello Lexie Lou Milk Stout
Wynwood Brewing Company – Samoa Cookie (yes it lived up to the name)
Funky Buddha Brewery- Maple Bacon Coffee Porter
Finding out that last one was going to be at the festival was a bit of a surprise given the critical acclaim Funky Buddha gets for it. But there was a catch. The festival ran from 1-5 and it wasn’t getting tapped until 4. So at 3:30, we got in their line and made 2 passes through sampling their other beers, trying to time it so that we would get a sample of the porter. As I waited in line, I pondered about what we were going to experience. To some extent I believe that beer can be great but at the end of the day, beer is just beer. I can’t imagine that a beer will cause me to dance in the streets, write a love song and just overflow with rapturous joy. When I put this porter to my lips, it’s either going to wow or disappoint, because what beer can possibly live up to such unbelievable hype. Well, we got our samples, we tasted and we enjoyed. It was the best beer at the festival. And it was worth waiting in line for a half hour. Would it be worth it to wait in line for 4 hours to get a bottle? No. I don’t think any beer is worth that. But that’s just me. But I’m glad I got to taste it and it was great.
In general, the event ran smoothly, it was a gorgeous day and we enjoyed ourselves very much. Kudos to the FBG.