Saturday, November 23, 2013

Beers Under the Same Roof as Greg Koch...

If the CEO and Co-Founder of your favorite brewery (Stone!) is going to be in town, much less going to be in town, and accessible to meet and drink beers in the same room with - not only do you blog via run on sentence, but you go! You make sure your Sunday evening schedule is clear for Greg Koch, and you drive on down to Coconut Grove to the LoKal for this grand occasion! That is exactly what I did one beautiful, full moon Sunday evening. 

Hanging out with Greg Koch, ya know, typical Sunday...

I was happy to represent the Craft Brewjas, and while a packed house waited for the guest of honor, I had a chance to catch up with old and new Miami beer friends. I love meeting beer friends, especially the ones from Instagram. It's nice to have a real name to the IG name! I say this all the time, but it's so exciting to be a part of South Florida's craft beer movement. There has never been such a fulfilling time to be a beer nerd. We have so many options for great craft beer in South Florida!

OK, back to Greg Koch. As he tapped Enjoy By 12.13.13, he preached to his craft beer disciples about how Miami has made such progress in craft beer, and enlightened us with inspiration such as: "No longer will we put up with the fizzy yellow beer; can I get a hell ya?!"  I will say no more. OK, a little more. He was amazingly approachable, extremely down to earth, and very hospitable. Coolest CEO ever. He signed my W00tstout, and his people were texting the shot to Wil Wheaton. He shared his Crime and Punishment bomber with anyone that held up their glass. And that my friends, is a testament to why I love Stone. Not only are their beers hardcore, bold, in your face and made with obvious quality and ingenuity, but their leader is a man of the people. The craft beer people. 

While we're talking about Stone, I've recently tried the Suede Imperial Porter, a collaboration between 10 Barrel (OR), and Bluejacket (DC). It's brewed with Calendula flowers, jasmine and honey. I loved this one. It was like drinking some smmmooooth velvet. Suede was a great name. I don't know what Calendula flowers taste like, however, I did pick up on a lightly sweet floral-esque hint, so I'm guessing it was the flowers. I will be picking up another so I can age it. It will be awesome. 

Most recently, I picked up a Belgian random bomber from my local Total Wine. Pauwel Kwak, a traditional Belgian special ale (8.4%). I enjoyed this. The color was a beautiful honey hue, and the mouth feel was crisp, full and classic. It's from Belgium. Chances are it will be fantastic. They've been doing this a lot longer than most of us. One day I will get there and taste first hand. Until then, I will keep hitting up the Belgian aisle. Cheers!

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Broward Beer Adventures...

It's such an exciting time to be a beer nerd, in South Florida! We've got new breweries like Wynwood and MIA Brewing; and restaurants and beer spots upping their craft selections regularly. The best thing is when you stumble upon a new spot by accident! On a rainy Saturday night, a group of 3 non beer nerds, and myself were out and about in Ft. Lauderdale. They took me to The Parrot (near the beach). Oh my. It's a bar/restaurant with it's very own craft beer menu! It was such a nice surprise to find this gem of a craft beer mecca. I enjoyed a Ballast Point Sculpin IPA bottle. Delicious! This place has a lot of taps, and a large craft beer fridge. I can tell hardcore beer geeks know about the place since a lot of items were out.. I will be back to this place, and recommend if you're near Ft. Lauderdale beach, check it out. 

Continuing my fall / pumpkin extravaganza, two high ranking brews for me are: Shipyard Pumpkinhead, and Cigar City Good Gourd. CCB Good Gourd was all that I was expected it to be. Believe the hype. I could probably pass up a slice of pumpkin pie this Thanksgiving for some Good Gourd. Southern Tier Warlock Imperial Stout made the cut for International Stout Day. This one was dark, luscious, satin pumpkin smoothness and was very memorable. 

After a long week, all I wanted to do was to go drink out of my Funky Buddha snifter. It's the small things, ya know? It was truly what I was looking forward to all week. So, we go, and arrive to the fire alarm going off. No big deal, but somewhat disorganized. No one really said, oh hey, welcome, and disregard that alarm. It was kind of everyone looking at each other like - should we be in here? Eventually, they ask us to go outside while the fire department handles business and the alarm is shut off. We wait quite a bit once inside to even get waited on, and the server was kind of zoned out, eventually helping us, and was not courteous, but not rude. The other servers, with the exception of Adam, all appeared so stressed and like they didn't want to be there. I was so surprised, because every other time I've been there - everyone has been so pleasant. The vibe was stressful, and I didn't want to stay that long. My beers were awesome though. Adam was fantastic like usual, but I'm disappointed with the vibe now. Seems like some team building is order. Hopefully they get it tightened up. My Pip's Pumpkin Porter was excellent. I would love to have more. My sampler was on point too: Cream Abdul Jabar (creamy and awesome, like a mild Boddington), Red Dawn X and Broooownn Double Brown. 

I knew Tap42 would cheer me up, and that it did. I had a flight of: Miami Brewing Co. Coconut Blonde, Rivertown Brew Espresso Vanilla Porter (OH), and Cigar City Cubano Espresso. Yesssssss. They were all so tasty! I loved them all. The Rivertown was pretty malty, and roasty. The Cigar City was heavy on the espresso, just how I like it. Miami Brewing Co. Coconut Blonde is so easy drinking and full of flavor. I love when I find this on tap! Big ups to Lauren at Tap42 for making the beer selection nothing less than perfect every time I go there. By the way, their new menu is very cool. I had baked potato soup, and shrimp mac n' cheese. Yes, yes, yes!! 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Pumpkin and Fall Beer Review - Florida Style!

Since I'm in Florida, my autumn equates to humid, hot and leave-less days. That doesn't mean I don't celebrate the season. I'm a sucka for a theme, especially anything fall related... Whether it's candles, decor, or beer - I want it! So, I made a trip to my Total Wine and selected some random pumpkin and fall brews to get in the spirit, all in the name of research (and my personal enjoyment). With football in the background, I began the tough job of reviewing.

 My rankings, in a very particular order:

5. Weyerbacher Imperial Pumpkin Ale (PA)
Very dissapointed in this one. It was syrupy, way too sweet and thick. It felt like dessert, but a dessert that should be in cake or pie form. There was a flowery/perfume taste which I did not like. If you took maple syrup, some carbonation and a bouquet of flowers, you'd have this. Not a fan.

4. Summit Brewing Oktoberfest Marzen Style (Minnesota)

Not as bad as #6, but it was way too sweet for my taste. It was immensely syrupy, sweet as hard candy, and had a fake aftertaste. Sorry Summit.

3. Smuttynose Brewing Pumpkin Ale (New Hampshire)
This one was good. In one word: bountiful. It was piney, spicy and highly carbonated. I couldn't pick out individual spice notes, but more of an overall big, spicy blend. Thumbs up.

2. Abita Fall Fest Octoberfest Style Lager (Louisiana)
If I was someone that had to rake leaves outside, I would like to have one of these waiting for me afterwards. It was light, yet bursting with full flavor! It reminded me of a crisp, golden Pilsner. It has a large mouth feel, and was very refreshing. A+

1. Anderson Valley Fall Hornin' (Cali)
Oh yeah, I like this one. I want some more. This was in a can. I love beer in cans. To me, it's fresher. This was the clear winner. It was smooth, sharp with no overpowering taste of alcohol. It was a pretty amber hue, with notes of cloves and cinnamon. There was a very savory pumpkin presence, however, it wasn't super sweet. The taste was natural, and no artifical-ness. Clear winner of the afternoon!!

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Peace out summer. Football is back!!

I am so happy football season is back. There’s nothing like Sundays with friends, family, football, food and good beer. Factor in that I’m taking people’s money in my Fantasy league this year, and you’ve got one excited beer nerd. My draft party compares to none other. We have flat screens that display our picks, music, and profile photos. It is quite the production. It was held at Duffy’s in Deerfield Beach. Lucky for me they had Harpoon IPA bottles, and lucky for me that Duffy’s is 2-for-1! I’m expecting big things from my QBs Kaepernick and Eli Manning, RB Arian Foster and WR Pierre Garcon this year. Special little reminder for you losers in my league that read my blog: I’m taking money this year.


Nothing beats breakfast for dinner. One random night, I was in the mood for some bacon and eggs, so I paired it with a Collaboration Not Litigation Ale from January 2012 (Avery and Russian River). I thought the story behind it was great. Both breweries had beers named “Salvation”. Neither one was trying to give up their brew, so they joined forces and created this fabulous dark Belgian style, maple syrupy deliciousness. Good thing!


On my most recent haul, I picked up a few noteworthy bottles: Pyramid Black IPA, Erdinger Oktoberfest, Anderson Valley Brewing Fall Hornin’, Claymore Scotch Ale, Founders Porter, Kentucky Bourbon Barrel Ale, Terrapin Dos Cocoa, and Goose Island Matilda. Let me express just how EXCITED I was to see Matilda at my Total Wine. Totally made my day. I have such a weakness for a fine Belgian, or Belgian style beer. A good Belgian beer feels so indulgent; am I wrong? Porters are another weakness of mine. One of the best I’ve ever had, was Edmund Fitzgerald’s Porter from Great Lakes Brewing in Cleveland. I’m really looking forward to trying the Founders Porter (Michigan), to make the whole “Midwest” brew comparison. I gave my Anderson Valley away to a guest, so I’m going to have to scoop up another one of those to try.

With getting back into the school routine, I was super excited (like everyone else) for the much needed Labor Day weekend! It was one of the best weekends I’ve ever had, and it’s not because of the beer selections. Just saying. I would love to elaborate, but this is a beer blog, so you’re only getting beer talk. My Lagunitas IPA on draft at Burger and Beer Joint, in Pembroke Pines was refreshing and crisp. I’m thrilled to have Lagunitas on tap near me! My Holy Mackeral Panic Attack at the Melting Pot, (yes, I said craft beer at the Melting Pot) paired perfectly with the massive amounts of meat, vegetables, and chocolate we consumed.  For the boat, gotta roll with the cans. I checked the beer fridge to see what I had in stock. Harpoon White UFO, and Oskar Blues G’Knight Imperial Red Ale got to come with us to Hillsboro Inlet. 

Harpoon White UFO is like a grown up Blue Moon. The mouth feel is lighter, and I can taste the difference in quality. Oskar Blues, well, I love everything they do. They are on my list of top breweries. 

Other breweries that come to mind on that personal list of favorites are: 


The Bruery

Great Divide

Southern Tier 


Green Flash

Cigar City

It's too much pressure to name any others! There are just too many great beers and brewers out there, to name them all. 

Stay tuned for my next post, dedicated to fall and pumpkin beers! Fall is my absolute favorite time of year, so it's fitting that the blog gets an entire entry about them. Cheers!


Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Burgers, Atlanta and Tap and Grinding with the Craft Brewjas!

It was a typically humid South Florida Sunday morning, when a caravan of beer geeks from Orlando's Tap & Grind, arrived at Funky Buddha in Oakland Park. Craft Brewjas' were there to greet them, and kick off the 1st Reverse Tap Takeover! Supporting local places is an important job, and we were happy to do it! After sippin' on some of the great brews like: a blood orange IPA, (think beer mimosa), and No Crusts (PB & J Porter), the crew (without me unfortunately) trekked up to Due South Brewing in Boynton Beach, to take them over next! It was a great show of local support from Orlando's Tap & Grind, and South Florida's Craft Brewjas! I think we should hit the road to Orlando next!

Project Management doesn't stop, so off to Atlanta I went for an extremely quick, yet time-enough-for-a-craft-beer-outing trip! I was literally at the airport to come home, 24 hours after I landed. That's OK! Still time for exploring the craft beer scene! As soon as I knew I was going, I made dinner plans with one of my BFFs who lives there. Her being the sweet friend she is, picked out the perfect spot. Fabulous (she eats nowhere less), with an extensive craft beer selection, (because she knows I'm a beer nerd) and good food (cause a girls gotta eat)! Tap 1180 was the spot. Throw in another fab girlfriend, and ya got a Tuesday night downtown with the ladies. I am so excited to share that I finally tasted a Goose Island Matilda. It was superior and decadent, like Belgian velvet in a glass... No wonder Instagram goes crazy with trades on this. I get it. I couldn't be in a new town, without trying something local! So my next beer was a MNB Drafty Kilt Scotch Ale. I'm a sucka for scotch ales. They're one of my favorite styles. I give this one a B+. It doesn't top Claymore's, or Old Chub's Scotch Ale, but it was close, smooth and delicious. *Notable Hotlanta spot for my next trip: Sweetwater has it's very own pub at Delta's terminal. Yes please! I will be sure to fly Delta when I go back.

Breaking News!! West Broward has a new craft beer spot! They also have bomb ass burgers, and bomb ass mac' and cheese! Let's give a warm Pembroke Pines welcome to...Burger and Beer Joint! 

-Yes, it's the same one as in Miami Beach. 
-Yes, it's not all the way in Miami Beach, or east of 95! It's right here, in my hood.

Did I mention they have 59 taps? They have 59 taps. Pretty good stuff too! In my flights I sampled and sipped (since some I've already 'sampled'): Bells Kalamazoo Stout, Capital Hop Cream, Green Flash IPA, Bell's Two Hearted Ale, Lagunitas IPA and Florida Avenue's Lager and Blueberry. I'm normally not a big fruity beer chic, however, this one had bold flavors so I accept it. Throw in the cool pin-up/retro/red wall with album cover decor, and classic rock playing - you've got a new local place for the beer nerds of the west, and the visiting beer nerds from the north, south and east! I'll see ya there..

Friday, August 9, 2013

Can't Get Enough Funky Buddha, and Hey Ladies!!

Funky Buddha emailed me that my personalized snifter was in. That's all I needed to head back to Oakland Park. After a delicious, not overly sweet Blood Orange IPA, it seemed like a perfect time for a 2PM tour. So, after $5, and a free commemorative pint glass, off to the back we went! The tour guide was awesome. He was super passionate about the history, the beer, and the process. Beer nerds know beer nerds, and this dude knows what's up. I didn't realize how successful their Maple Bacon Coffee Porter was at GABF (Great American Beer Festival), and how it was instrumental in putting them on the map! I also learned that their tanks are named after kids, pets and dead Grandparents; i.e. Popper, Gram and Miles, to name a few. After touring the facility, sampling the goods along the way, and checking out the fridge with the motherload of kegs - we were released back with the common folks. I had a No Crusts, which seriously, is like a PB&J but very drinkable, and then a big ol' growler of Hop Gun IPA for the road. Hop Gun IPA was so fresh, and just delicious. I'm not sure what kind of hops they use, but it really reminded me of Cigar City Jai Alai. Two very different tasting, and yummy IPAs, but, I can see a parallel in there somewhere. Maybe it's the same kind of hops??

Time for a ladies night! Two beer dorks, and three non beer dorks, got glammed up and headed to the Royal Pig in Ft. Lauderdale. I was curious to try their own Royal Pig Red Ale, so I ordered it in a flight along with: Green Flash IPA, Rogue Dead Guy Ale, and Breckenridge Vanilla Porter (all safe choices). I wasn't overly impressed with their Red Ale. It seemed a little watery, but I did enjoy the oaky flavors. Maybe it was the tap. It wasn't good enough to get another one. My next one was an Epcot sized glass, of Rogue Dead Guy. Can't go wrong with that one!

Random shout out! Friday's in Davie has expanded their craft selection, specifically on the local side. I savored a Monk in the Trunk (Inlet Brewing), but had a choice of Tequesta Brewing. Impressive, Fridays! 

As I'm typing and sipping, I have to talk about this Dogfish Positive Contact; the collaboration of apple cider, music and beer, with Dan the Automator. You've got spices, cilantro, light mouth feel, yet 9% ABV. I can't recall a more complex, yet simple brew. Dogfish is known for their random specialty brews, and this is one of the better ones I've had!

Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Bottle Share / Bake Offs, and Beer Academy Graduation - A Week of Inaugural Stuff!

Warm RuinTen IPA Cheese Dip... Silky Southern Tier Choklat Cake... Chilled bombers and growlers... Hot chics preparing it all…

Is this a dream? No! It’s the inaugural Craft Brewjas Bottle Share / Bake Off!

Some bad ass Craft Brewjas
On a rainy afternoon, Craft Brewjas drove from near and far, to bake, cook, eat, share and drink beer. Juicy convo was involved. One lucky dude made it in. 

The Menu:
-RuinTen IPA Cheese Dip, with Homemade Taragon Sour Loaves
-IPA Braised Sausage with Lager Sauerkraut
-Baked Beer Mac & Cheese
-Ghostface Killah Stuffed Peppers
-Cigar City Maduro Brown Sugar Cookies
-Southern Tier Choklat Cake 

Pair all that deliciousness with these brews: Bruery 4 Calling Birds, Weyerbacher Riserva, Lips of Faith Heavenly Feijoa, Sweetwater Dank Tank, Idle Hands D'aison, Asheville Brewer's Association Hoppy Saison by Green Man, Peg's Cantina / Cycle Brewing Rare Dos (YES!!), 7th Sun Brewing Graffiti Orange, a bomb ass growler from Rapp Brewing, Ironfire Six Killer Stout, and a growler of Broken Flan from our local friends, 4th Age Brewing. 

This my friends, is how us Craft Brewjas roll. After all, we are wicked women who get crafty with our beer! Plans are in the works for the next soiree. All I can say is that it involves costumes, pumpkins, and beer... Want to see what we're up to before then? Check out the Facebook, Instagram, Untappd and Twitter pages! @CraftBrewjas 

If you're a Facebook fan, you can find the recipes on the page. Just sayin. 

Beer swag!

In other inaugural news this week, I graduated from Riverside Market’s Beer Academy! It was six evenings of learning and sipping, with meeting great friends along the way. Our last class featured a presentation on ESBs from the owner of Kingshead Pub (Sunrise - who also brought us English chips and free drink tokens), Barleywines and Sours presented by the host with the most, Julian from Riverside Market, and our old homebrewing (Invasive Species) friend from last week, Josh Levitt. We sampled: Goose Island Honkers Ale, St. Somewhere Lectio and Full Sail Barleywine. Side note - my personal favorite Barleywine is Stone's Old Guardian. Totally not sampled, but I thought I'd throw that in.

Our final exam consisted of a blind tasting. Cue the Shiner Bock Lager, Southern Tier Porter and the Stone Sublimely Self Righteous Ale. Our final class concluded with the presentation of the diplomas, and some beer swag! Beer Academy was an awesome experience. I will miss it, but know that I am now a wiser beer nerd because of it.

Wiser beer nerd.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Funky Buddha! And Prepping for Beer Academy Finals...

Finally! I went to Funky Buddha Brewery! This friend was going to take me, that friend was going to meet me there, this group was going to go. Whatever. I am not a patient woman, so off to Oakland Park I went. I started with a flight, on a cool ass Buddha shaped tray. My samples included: Last Snow, Mocha Porter, Hop Gun IPA, Pineapple Hop Gun IPA, No Crusts, OP Porter and Doc Brown Ale. The highly Instagram'd No Crusts, and Last Snow were my favorites. No Crusts truly tastes like a PB&J, but not overly sweet as I expected. Last Snow has a nice nutty flavor and both, better yet, all of their brews for that matter, are very smooth, flavorful and taste super fresh! I joined the Snifter Club, and can't wait to drink out of my "CraftyCableGal" glass. That's whats up. Let me know when you want to meet up there.

Beer Academy at the Riverside Market is in full swing, wrapping up next Tuesday. If school was as interesting as Beer Academy, I would've had my Masters. Evan Benn, Staff Writer at the Miami Herald, and Online Beer Columnist at, schooled us on IPAs and Pale Ales. We sampled: Oskar Blues Pale Ale, Bells Two Hearted Ale, Stone IPA, Dogfish 60 Minute, Cigar City Jai Alai and Green Flash Imperial IPA. Yeah, that was a great lesson. We learned a good rule of thumb: for every percentage of alcohol, you should estimate about 25 calories. Also, if you take all breweries - craft breweries only make up about 10% of the brewing world; the other 90% are the "big guys". This was amazing to me; look at the abundance of craft breweries, and picture that this is only 10% of the brewery's world. Amazing. Our IPA and Pale Ale guest speaker, Evan Benn, was very knowledgeable, intelligent, and his passion for his craft (no pun intended) is evident.

Since last night would the last Beer Academy fellow classmates, Amanda and Jeff, our table decided we'd bake to share with the class. Does anyone really need a "reason" to bake? Exactly. Amanda brought decadent Brooklyn Brewery Irish Dry Stout Cupcakes with whiskey ganache. Ronnie spoiled us with yummy brownies. I brought Cigar City Maduro Brown Sugar Cookies. I see some extra credit in our future.

The "baking" table at Riverside Market's Beer Academy
The baked goods
Getting smart, and getting photo-bombed by Angry Union
Last night's Beer Academy lesson was....Homebrew Night. How exciting is this?!? We had the pleasure of getting educated by Eric Guerrero of Angry Union Brewing, and Josh Levitt of Invasive Species Brewing Club. Wow, their beers were good! From Angry Union, we had a summer-appropriate Raspberry Hefeweizen, and a perfectly hopped IPA. Invasive Species shared a robust Alt, and a creamy, luxurious and balanced white oaked IPA. Wow, those were good. As we sipped on the goods, all kinds of terms were being taught to us: hot liquor tank, mash tun, 3-way valve, steadmash and the importance of temperature. Who would've thought two degrees could make such a big difference? It sure does. I would love to try homebrewing, but can see how much work is involved, and not ready to maintain all that stuff. For now, I'm going to remain open for "guest brewing". 

My night couldn't have ended any better, than with a smooth, silky taste of Cigar City's Brewers Brunch Stout, courtesy of some dedicated fellow Instagram beer peeps that happened to hang at Riverside Market that night. I never met them in person before! Gotta love when the beer nerds recognize each other from social media beer postings! Cheers! 
Josh Levitt, of Invasive Species showing how it's done

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Randall Action, Creme Brulee and Some w00tstout...

Imagine this: do a random Facebook check before leaving work, and notice that 595 Tap and Tavern is doing a 'Randall the Enamel Animal' event with Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale, infused with bourbon soaked wood chips and German cone hops. My quiet evening of groceries and heading home, was quickly detoured to sample this goodness. It was delicious. I'm a total sucker for bourbon barrel beers, so anything bourbon-related will get me every time!

Friday, I had the privilege of sharing a bottle of Southern Tier Creme Brulee with a friend. It was my first time tasting it. I am a huge stout girl; this one was like luxury and silk in my glass. I'm not a huge dessert person, but in a beer - I'll take it. This is a great dessert beer. I can say that I now have one in reserve in the beer fridge. 

So. My biggest beer related excitement of the week was finding Stone's new collaboration beer: Stone Farking Wheaton w00tstout. Cool name. Cool story. It's a collaboration between Stone co-founder, Greg Koch, founder Drew Curtis, and actor/home brewer Wil Wheaton. It's an imperial stout brewed with pecans, wheat and rye, with a portion aged in bourbon barrels. Now, I have never, ever, ever had a Stone brew I didn't like. This is no exception. As it warmed up, the pecans were more present, and it reminded me slightly of Stone's Imperial Russian Stout, but on a different level. Good stuff! Any beer that doesn't get out out on shelves, and you have to go and ask for it behind the counter, has got to be good. This did not disappoint, and had a 13% ABV to boot. W00t w00t! 

        Oh, yes. Keep bringing it Stone.