Getting Into Florida Craft Beer in One Week
Craft beer doesn’t have to be for everyone. The goal here is not assimilation but education and promotion. You’ve already clicked, so some part of you must be actively interested in craft beer and what I want to do here is help you get acquainted with some of Florida’s most accessible brews so that by the end of the week my job will be done and we’ll all have cultivated a similar passion. Sounds too simple, I know.
Each day of the week has a distinct feel and as such welcomes a different opportunity to drink a beer that fits with the personality of that day. We’ll start our week on a Sunday and by Saturday we’ll hopefully all feel a tad more disposed to favoring some of Florida’s excellent craft brews.
Beers, Brunches, and Beautiful Florida Sunsets
Depending on how you choose to live it, Sunday might be one of the shortest days of your week, but it can certainly be well-stocked with fun. It seems that brunch always tends to rule the day, and whether it’s the bottomless mimosas and bloody marys you’re looking for, or the rainbow of hearty, schedule-confused appetite suppressants designed to both absorb the brunt of the week’s indelible force and satisfy 75% of your food intake for the day, the Sunday tradition is a comforting close to any weekend. But if bloodys aren’t really your thing, or you’d rather keep the pants on your drinks, here’s a Florida beer that’ll go down easy on this day of rest: Bold City Brewery's Killer Whale Cream Ale.
Pouring very light, this low ABV ale is very refreshing as a midday beverage. It goes well with food, and thus can be enjoyed nicely if you lean more towards the lunch side of the menu. It’s also a great beer to drink while you’re enjoying the outdoors; perhaps a couple while you’re mowing the lawn or just relaxing by the pool, watching the sun go down along Florida’s enchanting gulf coast.
And the best part is, you can typically get Killer Whale at any Publix. But every store has a slightly different stock. Mine happened to have Killer Whale, but you might also see some other great Bold City options like Duke's Cold Nose and Mad Manatee.
After the Grind
Even if you don’t have a 9-5 job, even if Mondays are your day off, the day still hits with a certain underlying connotation. Mondays are a reminder of the cyclical nature of both our emotional well-being and the sometimes grueling marathon we call employment. Every week we start anew, counting the hours until the Friday clock strikes 5, granting us a two-and-a-half day furlough. And whatever time of the day you choose to reflect on the past and anticipate the future, Monday is a day for needing a beer as opposed to wanting one.
So whether you’re just getting home from work after struggling to catch up on your emails, or you’re telling yourself that it’s time to ask for that promotion, or even simply trying to figure out something new to spice up your meal-prep routine—regardless of what it is—here’s a great Monday beer to help you get through it: Cigar City’s Jai Alai IPA.
Taking its name from the Florida famous sport, Jai Alai is one of the most recognizable craft beers you’ll find at any supermarket or liquor store in the Sunshine State. With a 7.5% ABV and 70 IBUs, this copper-colored beer will certainly help ease the transition from bittersweet weekend calm before the weekday storm. Enjoy it by itself in all of its tropical, citric glory.
A Dip in the Swamp
Other than tacos, Tuesday doesn’t really have much to offer in the way of personality. It’s a day of keeping quiet and persevering and immediately forgetting that weekends are even a concept. It’s probably the day that people get the most work done (the closer we get to the weekend the more inclined we are to push our work under the rug). But there is definitely a beer that goes with Tuesday. It’s a beer for being proud of the work you’ve gotten done; a beer to reward yourself with for catching up or getting ahead. And that beer is: Coppertail’s Night Swim Porter.
I know porters sometimes get a bad rap for being too strong. Often times darker beers are associated with higher alcohol, but actually the two factors have zero impact on each other. Imperial stouts and porters are equally as strong as imperial IPAs but you’ll see more of the former than the latter and its the term imperial that deems a beer stronger (imperials have more hops and malts, thus raising the alcohol content). What gives a dark beer its color is roasted malts. The darker the roast, the darker the beer.
And Night Swim isn’t by any means a run-of-the-mill dark beer. Complimenting the roasted, chary aromatics of this indulgent style of beer are flavors such as coffee and chocolate and Night Swim is a balanced, smooth representation of both. Enjoy before, after, or even in conjunction with dessert.
Getting Over the Hump
Wednesday is a day that pulls you in two directions: work and play. It’s this confused sense of purpose that the day lends itself to that leads me to offer a rather complex beer on a similar quest of self-discovery: Funky Buddha’s Cosmic Journey.
Cosmic Journey is a hazy IPA; and by definition packs that bitter punch, without the added bonus of a high alcohol content. Pouring a bit more translucent than your typical IPA, this juicy, super-dank beer from Miami is packed with flavors of papaya and guava and is truly a voyage into the satiable cosmos of Florida’s craft beer canon.
Winding Down the Week
Once you get over that midweek uncertainty, the inevitable enjoyment of the ensuing weekend begins to hit the tip of your tongue. You can start to taste the adventure and loosen your grip on that wallet and elect to eat out instead of saving money and taking the time to cook. You might be more inclined to have a couple of this next beer, as its incredibly high taste to ABV ratio will surely get those creative juices going. Perhaps you might use that creativity to host some friends or go out for trivia, but whatever you decide to do, start the night off with Florida Avenue’s Passion of the Heights.
Brewed in Tampa, this refreshing Florida Avenue wheat ale might not be as regularly available in the panhandle or in the southern part of the state, but if you can find it at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, it is worth seeking out. I actually found mine at Lucky’s Market. It pours pink and comes equipped with a bevy of fresh flavors that should be detectable by even entry-level beer enthusiasts. Florida Avenue also offers some particularly inventive sours, rotating seasonally.
You don’t have to take any of my recommendations, really. But if you call Florida home, or are just visiting, consider yourself lucky because there is a wealth of great beer options available just about everywhere you turn. And nothing says Florida beer better than Orange Blossom Brewing’s OBP Honey Pilsner.
Delicately brewed with real honey derived from orange blossoms, 2.3 ounces of the pure liquid goodness graces every 12-ounce can of one of the most Floridian beers on the market. And fret not, because the fermentation process leaves the sugar in the honey tasting more crisp than sweet, without losing any of the juicy citrus flavor that give this beer a signature taste.
Mixing It Up, Throwing It Down
If you’re going out on a Saturday night, there is one beer that is appropriate for just about every variation of what that means. Whether you’re trying something new or hitting the town with a few friends who need a night out as much as you do, MIA Beer Co.’s Mega Mix Pale Ale is the perfect ingredient to kick off the party.
This floral, citrusy APA is another welcome deviation from the typical IPA because American pale ales are typically less hoppy than their bitter cousins. And true to its party-inspiring nature, Mega Mix officially inspired MIA Beer Co to host its first ever Mega Mix Beer & Music Festival which took place in February of 2019. Look for its second installment of the successful party on November 9, 2019. Pair with your favorite Mexican food, and take some advice that only a Saturday night could warrant: stay hydrated.
Although Mega Mix is a rotating selection from MIA, you should be able to find it in your local Publix. MIA also offers several other delicious beers such as Miami Weiss and 305 that are available year-round.
Take It or Leave It
So, whether you choose to enjoy these beers one-day-at-a-time or opt out of my 7-day quest, I implore you to see what your local grocery store has in stock in the way of Florida craft beer. I will say that each of these brewing companies has a lot to offer and each of the taprooms are worth a visit if you’re in the area. Whatever you decide, drink responsibly and try not to put boundaries on your palate. You never know when you’ll find something right here in Florida that pushes you away from something you’re more accustomed to and toward something that may enlighten your senses.