Saturday, April 5, 2008

A Visit to Florida

I recently made a trip to Florida with the family to visit family. I was kind of wondering if I was going to be able to get any beer I couldn't get elsewhere. Fortunately, Santa Rosa county has become "wet" over the past few years, so there was actually a liquor store close to my in-law's house called Fusion Fine Wine and Spirits and they had probably close to 75 different kinds of bottled beer available. They also had a select few bottles on the shelf that you could make your own sixpack. I was impressed to see that they had a lot of Bell's beer here. I totally didn't expect to see Bell's this far south. They had a lot of the standard Bell's stuff, but they also had the Cream Stout and the Two-Hearted Ale.

I opted for a cold sixer of Shiner Black, which is a fantastic example of the style. I recently had some of this from tap in another state, and I think that there was actually more of a coffee flavor to the tap version. That flavor seemed more subdued in the bottle version, but it could be I had an old sixpack, since I don't think most of the residents of Santa Rosa county get past the Budweiser aisle. The Saaz hops are apparent in this beer, and the hop/malt balance is awesome.

This is a very nice beer. For those of you uninitiated in the style, black lager is not as "heavy" as a porter or stout. It is just that, a lager that appears black. Just as Sam Adams and Budweiser are examples of lager, this is a lager as well, only the ingredients include Carafa, which is a super dark malt. So depending on what is used, and my guess is that in addition to Carafa, they are probably using some roasted and chocolate malts for that bit of coffee flavor, you get a lager, but with some slight properties of a stout or porter, but with more of a hop bite than a porter or stout will get you. I would call it a "bonus" lager, because instead of just drinking a normal lager, you get a really cool color, and a slightly different flavor.

I also put together a sixpack including two beers from Sweetwater, which is out of Atlanta. I got the Blue and the Hummer. The Hummer is a white ale, and really just an average example, which isn't a bad thing, just not anything super exciting. If you were at a pub and wanted a white ale, it's not a bad call.

Just a side note on white ales: I had been sort of down on Blue Moon for a while, mainly because it was a pretty mainstream beer (not to mention it is owned by Coors). I had a 12-pack in the fridge leftover from New Year's and had been avoiding consumption because I was hoping that my wife would have taken care of them, but NYE had a curtailing effect on her beer drinking. So I had some Unibroue Belgian style ales and a couple of Goose Island Belgian copies (which I should discuss in and of themselves, because both the Matilda and Pere Jacques are awesome in their own right) and figured I would see how the Blue Moon compared. I have to admit, it is a very decent example of the style. The Sam Adams version is similar, and I would almost have to give Blue Moon the nod in a side-by-side comparisson.

The Sweetwater Blue was a light ale with blueberries added. The aroma was overwhelmingly blueberry muffins. Smelled some wheat in there along with the blueberry muffins. It was a nice thirst quenching brew, which you would expect from a brewery out of Atlanta, with hot weather. The blueberries were not as much in the taste as the smell, which is a good thing. This is a proper fruit beer.

I got two Flying Dog beers, the Road Dog Porter and the Snake Dog IPA, both of which were pretty average. Nothing to see here, move along.

I also got a Blue Moon Honeymoon, which basically tasted like the original, only they added some honey, which appears to have made the ABV about 0.2% higher than the original.

The final and best beer of the sixpack was the Sam Adams Doppelbock, which, at 8.8% ABV will knock you on your booty if you drink too many on an empty stomach. Nice example of the style, malty and sweet. Pretty color.

The other beer event on this trip was dinner at McGuire's Irish Pub in Pensacola. I never really tried their beers when I lived here, which puzzles me. McGuire's is kind of a trendy tourist place, but they do have pretty awesome food, and a wide variety of food styles. Also, there is a tradition of people marking up dollar bills and stapling them to the walls and ceiling of the place. The photo shown here is from the Destin location. It's really a cool place.

We went on a Wednesday night, which is mug club night, and members get a full mug of beer for $1. I wasn't a mug club member, but still, my 12-oz beers only cost me $1.88 with tax, which is pretty damn cheap for a glass of beer anywhere. I tried thier light beer (yep, it's for the Bud drinkers), red ale (good red), porter (pretty traditional, a good example) and their seasonal, which appears to have been their ESB. This confuses me, because it was way more hoppy than an English style of pale ale, or ESB. Lighter in color than most ESBs as well. Either way, it was just a great beer. I really enjoyed the flavor of this one.

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Shakadal said...
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