Florida Beer Bites: When Black Friday comes, we’re gonna drink ourselves some beer

beer turkeyDo you know why they call the big shopping day after Thanksgiving “Black Friday”? I always thought it was because sales from that day meant retailers finally start showing a profit for the year, or putting them “in the black.”

Though that definition became popular in the early 1980s, according to snopes.com, the origin of the phrase dates to 1951 and refers to workers calling in sick because four-day weekends for the holiday were not common back then. About a decade later, Philadelphia police adopted the term to describe “the mayhem and headaches caused by all the extra pedestrian and vehicular traffic created by hordes of shoppers heading for the city’s downtown stores.” And despite what you might read on the Internet, it does NOT have anything to do with the hideous days of slavery in the United States.

So why the history lesson? Because I’ll be taking next week off from writing this update, and also because a lot of Florida breweries and craft-beer bars will have Black Friday events where you can enjoy special beers and discounts after the mayhem and headaches of the morning. There are far too many to list here, so check the Facebook page or website of your favorite watering hole to see what’s going on. (Feel free to mention your events in the comments).

Beer in Florida’s mission is to chronicle and support the thriving Florida craft beer community, but as a reminder, especially as the excesses of the holiday season lie before us: Drink responsibly. Designated drivers, hotel rooms, Uber, Lyft, and taxis are all great ideas. In fact, if you haven’t used Uber yet, you can get your first ride free (up to $15) by using the code uberBeerInFlorida when you sign up for the ride-share service.

And be nice to each other. To borrow a line from Jethro’s Tull’s “Christmas Song,” remember that the “Christmas spirit is not what you drink.”


Florida Brewery news

Green Bench Brewing Co. in downtown Saint Petersburg will host its inaugural Craft Film Fest tonight and Saturday. There will be screenings of local film submitted for the festival, awards and plenty of great beer. You can find more information here.

Robert Hilferding, the 2014 AHA Homebrewer of the Year got some nice coverage from TBO.com about his planned Zephyrhills Brewing Company. He’ll be pouring samples of his brew Saturday at the Skydive City Brewfest 2015. See “Festivals” below.


Brewery openings

Civil Society logoCivil Society Brewing in Jupiter opens its doors tonight at 6 p.m. More information here.

Marker 48 Brewing in Weeki Wachee has been working out the kinks since its soft opening three weeks ago and will have its grand opening Saturday from noon to 11 p.m. More information here.

The cider-making side of Accomplice Brewery & Ciderworks recently opened in West Palm Beach. The owners said they are still working on the beer side. Stay tuned. More information here.

Blue laws

The city of Lakeland has approved ordinance changes that changes Sunday alcohol sales hours to 7 a.m. to 2 a.m. from the more restrictive noon to midnight, according to a NewsChannel 8 report. The changes also eliminated a ban on Sunday package sales. But don’t expect the rest of the county to follow suit any time soon. “If I had my way, I’d bring back Prohibition,” one county commissioner told The Ledger.


  • Bonita Springs: Wine Fest & Craft Beer Social, Friday, 5 to 9 p.m. Info here.
  • Zephyrhills: Skydive City Brewfest 2015, Saturday, 2 to 6 p.m. Tickets/info here.
  • Port Saint Lucie: Eighth annual Treasure Coast Beer Fest, Saturday, 1 to 5 p.m. Tickets/info here.
  • St. Petersburg: Crafts & Drafts, Saturday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tickets/info here.
  • Dunedin: Dunedin Celtic Music & Craft Beer Festival, Saturday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Tickets/info here.
  • Oldsmar Craft Beer & Music Festival, Saturday, 3 to 7 p.m. Sold out.
  • Boca Raton: Craft Brew Battle, A Hoppy Affair, Sunday, 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets/info here.

That’s it for this week. If you find this website useful, feel free to drop a little money into our tip jar on up there on the right rail. If you’re planning your beer journeys in the Sunshine State, check out our Florida Brewery Map and List, which should have its next update within a few weeks.



Brew Tees - Setting the bar in craft apparel



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Florida Beer Bites: It’s been an odd week, but Hunahpu’s

Beer in Florida logoWelcome to another weekend, Florida beer-loving friends and strangers!

This will be a short roundup this week because blah, blah, blah. OK, I’ve been a horrible procrastinator this week and have to devote time to some paying projects before my deadlines whoosh by.

First, a couple of odd pieces of news from Southwest Florida.

It was announced that Tom Harris, head brewer at JDub’s Brewing Co. in Sarasota, is leaving his position. As Sarasota Beer Geek Alan Shaw reports, the decision was “mutual, but sad.”

Then, on Monday, Darwin Santa Maria, whose name graces Darwin Brewing Co. in Bradenton, which he helped found, announced that he resigned from the brewery. Ticket Sarasota writer Cooper Levey-Baker looks further into the situation.

Florida Brewery news

In other Sarasota-area news, Pair O’ Dice Brewing Co. in Clearwater says it has started distributing its beer throughout Sarasota and Manatee counties via local distributor Gold Coast Eagle.

Hunahpu's 2016Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing officially announced the date of the 2016 Hunahpu’s Day, the epic annual beer festival and bottle release that traditionally takes place the final weekend of Tampa Bay Beer Week. There’s a twist this year (actually, there seems to be a twist every year). For the first time, Hunahpu’s Day will take place away from the brewery on March 12 at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park in downtown Tampa.

Meanwhile, down in Miami, Concrete Beach Brewery announced that it’s firing up its new canning line and will soon have four-packs of 16 oz. cans of its Walls South American Red Ale available for sale in its tasting room and at select retailers. Concrete Beach is a part of Alchemy & Science, an independently operated subsidiary of the Boston Beer Company, makers of Samuel Adams.


That’s it for this week. If you find this website useful, feel free to drop a little money into our tip jar on up there on the right rail. If you’re planning your beer journeys in the Sunshine State, check out our Florida Brewery Map and List, which should have its next update within a few weeks.





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Florida Beer Bites: Fall in Florida seems a lot like summer

Now that we’ve put Halloween behind us, it’s time to look forward to the next major holiday: Christmas!

Cajun Cafe Fall Fest 2015Just kidding. This blog is not owned by an international merchandising conglomerate that puts profit before practicality (though I might be willing to at least listen to offers). It’s November in Florida, which means Thanksgiving is on the way and it’s time to break out the fall wardrobe of T-shirts, cargo shorts and flip-flops – depressingly similar to our summer and spring wardrobes.

I’m excited about this weekend’s Cajun Café on the Bayou Fall Craft Beer Festival. This is arguably the best Florida beer festival of the year, and for personal reasons, I’ve had to miss the last few. Back in 2011, I outlined my reasons for anointing it (and the annual spring festival) as the best in Florida in this post. Though the details have changed, I stand by that opinion. More information here.

Earlier this week, Green Man Brewery out of Asheville, North Carolina, announced it will IMG_3823distribute its beer throughout Florida. This doesn’t really come as a surprise: The Asheville craft-brewery pioneer started limited distribution in the Daytona Beach region in August, and Green Man has been making beer at the Brew Hub partner brewery for about a year. It’s always a positive to have such a well-respected brewery recognize the passion of Florida’s craft beer consumers – and they make pretty damn good beer. You can read the press release here.

Florida Brewery news

  • Broward-Palm Beach New Times reports that Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park will open Craft Food Counter & Kitchen, an in-house kitchen, on Wednesday, November 11. Read more here.
  • I don’t usually post about tap takeovers – there are just too many of them to keep track of – but there is one next week in South Florida that is too epic to ignore. Due South Brewing Company of Boynton Beach is tapping a ridiculous 50 different beers at World of Beer Wellington to celebrate the bar’s fourth anniversary. From the press release announcing it: “Among the beers to be tapped will be some Due South favorites like Caramel Cream Ale and Category 3 IPA, but it’s the single keg, special releases which will be the highlight of the day. And with 50 Due South beers to choose from, there’s surely something for everyone.” More information here.
  • Motorworks Brewing in Bradenton recently started canning its Rollcage Red Ale. Look for it on local store shelves where their other beers are sold.
  • Speaking of cans, if you haven’t seen it, Forbes.com recently published an article that looks at a recent merger of canning companies – and a tightening of supply at another – that could be trouble for small brewers. There has been no official word from local craft breweries as to how it will all affect them, but there have been some whispers. You can read the Forbes article here.
  • Saturday is the American Homebrewing Association’s Learn to Homebrew Day. Find events in Florida by clicking here.

Brewery openings

Marker 48 coming soon-001Marker 48 Brewing in Weeki Wachee is having a soft opening on Saturday. In addition, homebrewing club Beer Pressure of the Nature Coast will mark Learn to Homebrew Day with a demonstration beginning at noon. Marker 48’s official grand opening will be November 21. More information here.


  • Pinellas Park: Cajun Café on the Bayou Fall Craft Beer Festival, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2 to 6 p.m. Tickets/info here.
  • Tampa: River Rock Craft Beer & Music Festival, Saturday, Nov. 7, 2 to 10 p.m. Tickets/info here.
  • North Miami: South Florida BrewFest, Saturday, Nov. 7, noon to 4 p.m.
  • Orlando: Central Florida Chive Craft Beer Classic, Saturday, Nov. 7, 8 p.m. to 1 a.m. Tickets/info here.
  • Marco Island: Marco Island Craft Beer. Saturday. 1 to 4 p.m. Tickets/info here.
  • Jacksonville: Jax Beer Week kicks off Saturday. Event calendar here.

That’s it for this week. If you find this website useful, feel free to drop a little money into our tip jar on up there on the right rail. If you’re planning your beer journeys in the Sunshine State, check out our Florida Brewery Map and List, which should have its next update within a few weeks.

Please continue sending your Florida craft beer news to gerard@beerinflorida.com, and I’ll try to help spread the word.




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Enter The Beer Bible: One book to rule them all – maybe

A couple of years ago, a friend new to the passion and community of craft beer asked me to recommend a book that could tell her more about its history and culture and the product.

Though I eagerly devour well-written books on the subject, I did not know of one that would suit her needs. Instead, I researched a little and gave her a list of three that I thought, together, would do it.

I still stand by that list, but if asked the same question today, I’d recommend one book:

The Beer Bible” by Jeff Alworth.

This expansive tome, published in August by Workman Publishing, also publishers of “The Wine Bible,” provides the most in-depth look into the past, present and future of the brewing world that I’ve read to date.

“The Beer Bible” is divided into six parts. Part One is titled “Knowing Beer,” and Part Six is “Enjoying Beer.”

In between, the sections focus on specific beer styles and sub-styles: Ales, Wheat Beers, Lagers and Tart and Wild Ales. Each of those sections is further subdivided into further divisions, varying in number. For example, Tart and Wild Ales has three sub-styles: The Lambic Family, The Tart Ales of Flanders and Wild Ales. The more general Ales section has 19 sub-styles, such as Bitters, India Pale Ales and Belgian Ales. In total, the book contains in-depth profiles of more than 100 styles.

Each of those chapters is structured similarly, beginning with a history of the style and the region in which it originated, how local geography and climate affected the beer’s development, stories and anecdotes, the flavor and ingredients – and how those ingredients affect the flavor – and example of beers, usually readily available, that the reader can try while studying the tasting notes.

But as with any book, the author’s writing style keeps the reader enthralled. After reading each nugget, I felt more like I just finished a conversation with Alworth over a pint in a pub than having studied a subject even as delightful as beer – and walked away a smarter beer drinker because of it.

Don’t be put off by the weight of the 600-plus page book. It’s crafted to be read in easily digestible chunks, and that’s the ideal way to tackle it.

I approached it by reading the first and last sections – Knowing Beer, then Enjoying Beer.

The first reaches deep into the beverage’s history, and though Alworth likely did not travel 10,000 or so years back in time to when ancient peoples discovered fermentation of grains quite by accident, the reader feels like he might have. The narrative continues into present day and incorporates more new-to-me factoids than any such book I’ve read before.

This first section also outlines the mechanics of beer and brewing it. This part highlights the author’s knack of writing to all levels of beer consumer, from the freshly minted beer explorer to the well-seasoned traveler in the world of fermented beverages. Though I consider my own knowledge in that spectrum to fall somewhere in the middle – and likely lower than I’d care to admit – at no point did I feel like Alworth was writing down to me nor talking above my head. That takes some talent.

The final section, Enjoying Beer, is pretty much how it sounds, with the subject titles: Serving and Storing Beer, Pairing Beer with Food, At the Pub, and Beer Tourism. Each chapter delves deeply enough into the subject that the reader feels he has become smarter and has been entertained.

The book is peppered throughout with profiles of individual breweries that the author has visited, both in the United States and abroad.

The middle sections that delve into styles are best consumed, I find, in chunks, preferably with a version of that style of beer in hand.

My only criticism of “The Beer Bible,” admittedly colored by my personal bias, is reflected on the map of U.S. breweries on pp 588-89, titled “American Breweries to See.” Alworth, who hails from Portland, Oregon, seems to heavily focus on breweries of the Northwest U.S. and Pacific Coast states, and to a lesser extent, those of the Midwest and Northeast. The Southern states are relatively barren, with only Cigar City Brewing, though certainly worthy of inclusion, being the sole representative of Florida’s craft brewing community. Not to mention that even over two years, traveling more than 17,000 miles and to six countries, the author could only take extensive tours of 52 breweries, though he visited many more.

This predisposition is common to those who reside in what is arguably the cradle of the modern American craft beer community, but I hope that Alworth learns of the great variety of high-quality brews produced here in the Sunshine State.

There’s a good chance of that happening very soon, as he has scheduled a pair of book signings in Florida this week.

You’ll be able to meet the author and have him sign copies of “The Beer Bible” Wednesday, Nov. 4, at Books & Books in Coral Gables starting at 8 p.m.; and Thursday, Nov. 5, at one of Florida’s newest breweries, Hidden Springs Ale Works in Tampa, starting at 7 p.m. (in conjunction with Inkwood Books in Tampa).

So if you go, offer to buy Alworth a local beer and hopefully broaden his already expansive knowledge.

EDIT: Received this update from the author: “If this book makes it to a second edition, I will be able to spend more of my time in the US and less overseas (presuming that most of the old European breweries I mentioned are still in business and making the same beers then). I promise to come back to Florida!”




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