Wednesday, December 23, 2015

What does the future hold for craft beer in the Tampa Bay area?

By now you have heard of the demise of 2 of our local breweries in quick succession.  Is the the death knell for the local craft beer industry?  Probably not.  Coincidence? Again, probably not.

There are over 40 breweries in the Tampa Bay area, with several more planned.  The additional breweries could be a boon to the local economy, but many believe that the market has reached saturation and that they will add to the glut of craft beer flooding the area.  It is true that other metro areas of a similar size across the nation support a greater number of breweries.  Seattle, for instance, has over 100 breweries and many more in the planning stages. But Tampa is not Seattle, and Florida beer drinkers do not compare to the beer connoisseurs of the west coast.  Beer culture is ingrained in Seattle culture and craft beer has been part of their lives for many years, whereas in Florida, the craft beer movement is relatively new and the palates of our citizens are relatively undeveloped.  This fact is easily confirmed by looking at the beer selection in your favorite sports bar or watering hole.... Bud, Bud Light, Michelob Ultra, Coors, etc. still rule the taps.  Ever so often you may see a "craft" beer offering, like Yuengling *wince* or even rarely a Jai Alai from Cigar City.  In Seattle, it is a rare case indeed to visit a bar or restaurant that doesn't have a dandy selection of local brews.

So what does this mean for the future of the local beer market?  The answer is complex.  Were you
around for the real estate boom in the early part of the century? At that time, any inept investor could buy a property, sit on it for six months, and sell it for a sizeable profit.  Then came the crash.  The real estate investors believed that the boom would never end and that the money tree would never die.  The beer market here has been about the same.  The unbridled enthusiasm of the hipsters who 'discovered' craft beer rushed madly to their local brewery and slugged down whatever beer they were told was delicious so that they post online "Look, I'm drinking craft beer.  I'm cool".  The thing about hipsters is that they are fickle and quickly move on to the next cool thing.  The boom will come to an end, if it hasn't already.

The survival of the local beer industry rests squarely on the shoulders of the local brewers and their investors.  As with any business there are three kinds of owners:
1. The owner who generally knows business, but doesn't know THIS business and thinks that they can make a go of whatever they try.  This guy will probably fail when the inevitable bubble breaks.
2. The owner that knows his craft, but really doesn't know how to do business.  This owner can survive if the product that they produce is superior, but often fails anyway due to lack of business acumen.
3. The last is the business owner that knows their craft AND knows business.  This savvy bastard usually survives whatever comes at them.
The brewery failures that have recently occured confirms this observation. One made great beer, but business experience was weak, the other had a good business model, but didn't make great beers.

The nuts and bolts of survival is too complex to be analysed by a cretin like me, but here is the simplified version.  One of two things will happen in the near future with the craft beer industry in Florida, it will either see sales slow and eventually reach a stable sales level or it will contract, with many of the less agile companies closing their doors.

The simplistic answer to what can be done when the slowdown occurs to keep the more business savvy companies brewing are:
1.  No crap on tap.  You already know which breweries will survive, don't you?  It's the ones that you often visit because you love their beers.  You have found yourself skipping trips to the breweries that have 'meh' beer.  The brewers that are producing beers for mass market appeal will fail in the face of competition from the big guys.  Anheuser Busch spent $1.57 BILLION on advertising in 2014.  The type of drinker that drinks mass market beer is a sucker for rhetoric and will always choose to spend $9.00 per 12 pack for mass market beer over $6.00 per craft beer.  The drinkers who will always spend their money on good beer over crap beer will rarely choose mass market style beer.
2.  Advertising.  Ted Turner was once asked how to succeed at business.  His response; "Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise".  With enough advertising money you can even make an absolute shit beer like Dos Equis sell to suckers.  Of course you can't expect the local guy to shell out $1.57 billion on advertsing, but the wise brewer will try to stir up excitement in their immediate neighborhood by offering incentives, donating to local schools and charities, and getting out to meet potential customers.  There is an old wives tale that says a person must see a product 3 times to remember it's name.  Another school of thought uses the rule of 7, saying that it takes 7 times.  The reality is that studies show it take 12 times for a person to start thinking that a product is pretty good, and that the input must be kept up ad nauseum for our vacant brains to retain the information.  Think about the last football game you watched on TV, how many beer or car ads by the same company did you see during the game? 5?  10?  And that is just ONE game.  Keep up the sales pitch and survive.  Beer festivals are not the answer .... too many brewers clamboring for the dollar of someone who is already going to buy craft beer is a waste.
3. Collective consciouseness.  It is very difficult for a small business to maintain advertising for any length of time.  It's not like the brewer has huge profit margins.  If everyone that is a member of the Florida Brewers Guild pitched in to an advertising pool it would be quite a sum of cash.  The Brewers Guild could then afford to hire an advertising firm to help Florida craft beer producers tap (heh heh) into new markets, at home and abroad.  Let them help honk the horn, ring the bell, wave the flag .... or whatever cliche you can come up with.  It will benefit all involved if all are marketed as a whole.  A tourist from China doesn't even know that they want a craft beer until they are convinced that a tasty beer is exactly what they need.

YOU  can help by continuing to buy and enjoy locally made craft beers and if your lcoal watering hole doesn't carry you favorite beer, ask them to bring it in.

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Beer Review - Browereij Verhaeghe's Barbe Ruby

Brouwerij Verhaeghe Barbe Ruby Fruit Beer - 7.7% ABV

Here is a special treat for you to try from Brewery Verhaeghe in Vichte, Belgium.  Does this brewery sound familiar?  No?  What if I said Duchesse de Bourgogne?  Ring a bell?  Ah, those guys.  Any lover of Belgian sour beers has tried 'The Duchesse'.  This small, family owned and operated brewery (since 1885) in West Flanders produces some of the most intersting sours that we have ever tried, the Barbe Ruby is no exception.

The Ruby is actually 1of 4 on the 'Barbe' line of beers.  Barbe d'Or, Barbe Rouge and Barbe Black are included in the series, and even though we haven't tried any of them, after trying this gem we will surely seek them out.  Brouwerij Barbe d'Or was a medieval brewery in the old town of Leige and belonged to the family 'de Romsee', an ancient Liege family whose coat of arms adorns the logo of the 'Barbe' beers.

Barbe Ruby is a top fermenting beer and has an interesting opaque 'ruby' color (duh).  The nose is of cherries and almonds, a bit sour but so darn interesting that we spent quite a bit of time passing the glass around so everyone could have a sniff.  The flavor is every bit as interesting with the sweet hitting you right at the front but with the fruit sliding right in behind, leaving a tartness lingering on your tongue.  Complex, complex, complex.  Take your time and sip this one, allowing the beer to rest on the tongue for a bit.  Highly recommended.

Banana Nut Beer Bread

Hey, what say we continue on with the beer/food/porn track?  Oops, forget the porn part (or not, just don't get anything in the cake). This easy to make holiday treat will be a hit with the beer geeks in your circle.

1 - Butter Pecan cake mix
3 - eggs
1 - cup brown honey ale (or nut brown ale)
1/4 cup of melted butter
3 - large, very ripe bananas (lots of black showing on the skin), mashed
1 - package (3 oz.) instant banana pudding
1/2 cup chopped pecans

- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Dump ALL of the ingredients into a large bowl
- Mix for about 3 minutes
- Pour igredients into 2 greased (or cooking spray) loaf pans.
- Bake in the oven for about 35 minutes or until knife inserted into the bread come out clean.  The bread will be slightly browned.
- Eat that shit

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Dark Chocolate Stout Cream Pie Recipe

Thankgiving is about the turkey, right?  Stuffing?  Of course.  Sweet Potatoes?  Damn straight!  For you, maybe, but not me.  I'm all about the desserts.  Baked goods are rare in these parts so when I get my hands on something in a pie tin I tend to overdo it quite a bit.  Like a "give me the pie, give me a fork and get out of my face" kind of thing.  Here is one of my favorites that combine my 2 favorite things to shove in my face .... pie and beer.  Easy to make, easy to eat.  Cheers - Bon

Dark Chocolate Stout Pie



1- Pillsbury™ refrigerated pie crust, softened as directed on box.


1 3/4 - cups whole milk
1/2 - cup stout beer
1 - box (6-serving size) chocolate pudding and pie filling mix (not instant)
1 1/2 - cups semisweet chocolate chips


1 1/2 - cups whipping cream
2 - tablespoons powdered sugar
1/2 - teaspoon vanilla


  • 1 Heat oven to 450°F. Make pie crust as directed on box for One-Crust Baked Shell, using 9-inch glass pie plate. Cool completely, about 15 minutes.
  • 2 Meanwhile, in 2-quart saucepan, cook milk, beer and pudding mix over medium heat 5 to 8 minutes or until mixture comes to a full boil, stirring constantly. Remove from heat. Stir in chocolate chips until melted and smooth. Pour into medium bowl; cover surface of pudding with plastic wrap. Refrigerate about 2 hours or until cold.
  • Drink the remainder of the stout.
  • 3 Spoon and spread pudding mixture evenly into crust. Refrigerate at least 4 hours until set.
  • Drink another beer while you wait.
  • 4 Just before serving, in chilled medium bowl, beat topping ingredients with electric mixer on high speed until soft peaks form. Spread over top of pie. Garnish with chocolate shavings, if desired. Store covered in refrigerator.
Courtesy Betty Crocker

Monday, November 23, 2015

Thanksgiving Beer Pairings

You have become quite an expert in beer and don't need no stinkin' bloggers telling you exactly which beers to drink at Thanksgiving, do you?  So rather than tell you which beers we would drink, let us suggest to you a couple of beer styles to consider when chosing your holiday brews.

What do you eat at Thanksgiving?  Turkey?  Ham?  Roast beer?  Pizza?  Even though turkey is the traditional choice, it isn't really close to being the only choice.  What is traditional is that you will probably eat a huge selection of foods with wide ranging flavors, so it is quite difficult to suggest a particular beer style.  Or is it?  There are a few beer styles which are so easy to drink and so broad in flavor profile that they could easily be paired with any food type, so for your consideration:

 - Bière de garde or Saison - Look, you are going to eat virtually every animal found in a farmyard, so why not pair your dinner with a beer that has a earthy, barnyardy background.  This yeasty, lightly carbonated beer will handily compliment your turkey OR your ham.  You may wish to consider Saison Dupont.

 - German Marzen or Oktoberfest - Rich and malty, but lightly textured beer will not fill you up, preventing you from gorging on Grandma's stuffing.  Hell, this will even make dry, overcooked turkey easy to consume.  WE will be drinking Paulaner Oktoberfest with our bird.

 - Scotch Ale - Oh-so-smooth and probably too easy to drink, this beer's carmelized, malty, character perfectly complement any meat dish, and the peaty bitterness tones down the sugars in your dessert, making it easy to tolerate a 2nd or even 3rd slice of pie.  We always have Belhaven in our refrigerator and so should you.

 - Brown Ale - While Newcastle Brown Ale is probably too one-dimensional to use in your Thanksgiving pairings, American style brown ales have a chocolatey, malty, hoppy profile that will bring a pop to your tarts.  Dogfish Head's Indian Brown Ale or Rogue's Hazelnut Brown Nectar would be our choices.

 - Dubbel - Oh come on, you knew we were going to snob it up, it was just a matter of when. It will so impress your family/friends when you whip out a bottle of Chimay Première (red label) and pop the cork.  The rich warm maltiness lives to be paired with baked goods and the significant carbonation cuts through the coating in your mouth from the greasy, cheesy goodness that Aunt Matilda brought.

 - Dessert - Two ways to look at picking a beer for dessert.  There is sweet to complement the sweet, or bitter to contrast the sweet.  Let start with sweet:  your type 2 diabetes is going to cause you to lose a limb anyway, so go ahead and pick up an English Barley Wine or a Belgian Quadruppel. Dark fruits, caramel and toffee character of these beers will pair along with any dessert, we'll just call you 'Stumpy'.  Firestone Walker §ucaba will be our poison pick.  Bitter:  Pick a beer that is as bitter as your holiday hating personality.  What?  Your wife just left you for her boss?  Choose a west coast double IPA that will make your face scrunch up every time you take a sip, so that your friends and family know just how shitty you think life really is.  Stone Ruination should fit the bill.

Monday, October 19, 2015

Shelton Brothers Beer and Cider Festival 2015

Shelton Brothers Beer and Cider Festival 2015

The Snobs love going to beer festivals and indeed, we have attended multitudes of beer festivals from Shanghai to Munich.  But this one was a bit different, a bit odd.  It seems to have been created purely as a celebration of beer geeks.  So while it is here in St. Petersburg it would be silly to not go see what all of the chatter is about.

Now of course you and I know that when you organize a beer festival it is all about the money.  Some make their money primarily by tickets sales to attendess.  The festival organizers that wish to have a wide range of brewers represented usually rely on ticket sales for their income.  At this type of festival you usually have an 'open bar' them with unlimited tastings of whatever you wish to taste.

Others make their money from charging the distrubuters to feature the beers that the distributer wishes to push (call it advertising).  You can tell when you are at one of these festivals when your selection is limited to the same basic crap beer that you see at your local sports bar and each beer is paid for as you drink ... think of ticket vouchers.

You also have hybrids like the GABF that makes money from both groups.  They charge each brewery a significant amount of money to enter their beer into the festival and then charge attendees a significant amount to enter the festival.

And then there is the Shelton Brothers Festival.  The Shelton brothers (yes, they exist, and 3 of them own the company) began in Massachusetts as an importer of small batch craft beers and has grown to a distributer of high quality beers and ciders with representation in nearly every state.  They import thousands of labels from every continent, with the exception, of course, of Antarctica.  The list of breweries that they have discovered and represent is quite impressive.  Cantillion (who they discovered), Mikkeller, Nøgne Ø, Siren, Dieu du Ciel, Brewfist, Ridgeway, Westvleteren are among those that beer snobs know and adore.  In the U.S. they distribute Prairie, Cigar City, Jester King, Hill Farmstead, Jolly Pumpkin and other breweries known as up and coming as well as for their quality.
t Hofbrouwerijke Flower Sour

Saison D’Epeautre  by Brasserie de Blaugies
The beer festival is a moving celebration (it is held in a different city every year) of the breweries and cideries represented by Shelton and let me tell you, it is unbelievable.  Most of the beers and ciders were being served by the brewers themselves, who were all too happy to chat with you about their creations.  Their pride in their products was evident with all that we were able to chat with.  The crowd was much smaller than you would expect with a selection like this, but this made the evening not turn into a drunkfest with the pushing and shoving that you get with the huge, oversold festivals. No drinking team t-shirts ... no pretzel necklaces ... no cheering every time someone dropped a glass ... just serious beer geeks enjoying the evening.
Toccalmatto/Prairie Ales Okie Matilda is a Belgian Pale Ale style beer brewed by Birra Toccalmatto in Fidenza, Italy

The Monarchy Preussen Weisse a Spice/Herb/Vegetable beer byThe Monarchy, a brewery in Köln (Cologne), 

Guldenberg by Brouwerij De Ranke
I would love to describe all of the beers that we sampled, but in this instance it would be so very difficult with the quantity of quality beers that were available. We will admit to spending a bit too much time 'sampling' the Westvleteren XII and were dumbfounded that there was no line whatsoever at their station.  We invite you to research and find some of the beers that are shown in photos with the promise to you that the odds of you being disappointed in any of these is remote.

We recommend that you find next year's festival (rumor is that it will be in Boston) and make plans to attend, for it is not often that you will find a festival for geeks, by geeks, that seems to exist purely for the enjoyment of sharing.

Cheers - Bon

Shelton Brothers
P.O. Box 486
Belchertown, MA 01007

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Pumpkin Beer Bingo - A comparison of Pumpkin Ales

Battle of the Pumpkin Ales 2015

We were trolling around on the interwebs recently (instead of doing the work that needed to be done) and stumbled across this article with the audacity to judge the best pumpkin beers available this year (  Quite a bold statement, and since we are quite fond of our own opinions, we thought we would test their findings.  Thus we went to the local beer purveyor and purchased a couple of the selections from their top 5 that are readily available here in Tampa as well as choosing a sample of pumpkin ale from one of our well respected local small craft brewers.  We then set up a blind taste test and had the tasting panel taste, rate and comment on these pumpkin beers. 

The beers that we chose (seen at the bottom of the photo above) were Pumking Imperial Pumpkin Ale by Southern Tier Brewing (ABV 8.6%) which was rated as the 4th best pumpkin beer.  Good Gourd Imperial Pumpkin Ale (in the middle of the photo above) by local favorite Cigar City Brewing (8.5% ABV) which received the nod as the second best in the country.  And lastly, Six Ten Brewing's Pumpkin Ale (5.0% ABV) one of brewer Chris Johnson's creations is only known locally (seen at the top of the above photo).

First to be reviewed is the Southern Tier Pumpkin Ale which was received very mixed reviews by the Snobs.
   - "Pumpkin spice flavor, less pumpkin, well balanced, thin".
   - "Tastes like medicine, boozy, don't like at all".
   - "Too much spice, cereal tasting".
   - "Boozy, too much spice aftertaste".
   - "Boozy, vanilla, no pumpkin really".
   - "No pumpkin flavor but lots of booze.  Sweet with strong vanilla, good beer, though".

Good Gourd from Cigar City was the second to be reviewed by the snobs and had mixed reviews.
   - "Sweet front end, almost cloying, slightly medicinal".
   - "Well balanced, good pumpkin flavor".
   - "Way too sweet".
   - "Vanilla, syrupy flavor at the end".
   - "Odd mouthfeel, subtle pumpkin".
   - "Soapy mouthfeel, noticable pumpkin flavor, cloying aftertaste".

And lastly was our local underdog Pumpkin Ale from Six Ten Brewing and the reviews should not be a surprise.
   - "Light pumpkin flavor and spices, flavor builds as you drink".
   - "Spices, pumpkin, by far the best of the three".
   - "Perfect amount of pumpkin, not too sweet".
   - "Not overly spiced, good pumpkin flavor".
   - "Warm spiced, identifiable pumpkin".
   - "Rich and malty, nice carbonnation, noticable pumpkin, easy drink".

The panel was also asked to rate the beers from first to worst.  To make it easy, first place received 3 points, second 2 points and third received 1 point.  The score was:

1. Southern Tier Pumking - 9 points
2. Cigar City Good Gourd - 9 points
3. Six Ten Pumpkin Ale - 18 points

Interesting results.  Everyone on the panel chose Six Ten Pumpkin Ale as the best pumpkin ale with Southern Tier and Cigar City in a tie for second.  Thus our results should tell you that you should seek out Six Ten's Pumpkin Ale and we heartily recommend that you try this beer.  See for yourself how going local is always the best choice

Six Ten Brewing 
7052 Benjamin Road
Tampa, FL 33634

Cigar City Brewing
3924 West Spruce Street
Tampa, FL 33604

Southern Tier Brewing
2072 Stoneman Circle
Lakewood, NY 14750

Monday, August 3, 2015

Battle Sweet Stout - Angry Chair Fudge Bucket vs. Barley Mow Cocoa Maven

We recently compared sweet stouts created by 2 of our local breweries and though both are technically sweet stouts, they are very, very different.

                         Barley Mow Cocoa Maven (left) vs Angry Chair Fudge Bucket (right)

Angry Chair Brewing Fudge Bucket (9% Abv). This is a powerful brew, viscous, with a milk chocolate colored head.  It is quite sweet with a substantial coffee presence.  You can imagine yourself drinking an espresso fudge brownie.

Barley Mow Brewing Company Cocoa Maven (6.5% ABV).  This milk stout poured more like a tradtional stout with a medium body and a creamy tan head.  It has a coffee presence, but not so overpowering and not nearly as sweet. There is an odd aftertaste that we could not quite identify, but it is not unpleasant.

Our results:  In a split decision the panel of tasters mostly agreed on the outcome.  Fudge Bucket is obviously crafted to be a monster beer.  The flavors explode in your mouth with such intensity that your raise your eyebrows in surprise and delight.  However, it is so massive that it is a bit difficult to drink and it was not at all easy to finish even one glass.  Cocoa Maven is sweet enough to be interesting and the coffee does not destroy the palate and is an easy drink.  By a 4:1 margin the tasting panel chose Cocoa Maven over Fudge Bucket.

Saturday, July 18, 2015

Beer Review - St. Bernardus Abt 12 Oak Aged

St. Bernardus Abt 12 Belgian Abbey Ale - Oal Aged - 11% ABV

I like big beers and I cannot lie .... now let's see you get that out of your head.

Now where was I?  Oh yeah, big beers.  If you have read our blog at any time in the past you are surely aware that we love big beers.  Huge beers.  Massive beers. Belgian quadrupels are those kind of beers.  Rich, thick and powerful.  The very pinnacle of huge beers.  And which beers are bigger than the Belgian quads?  Beers that have been aged in booze barrels, that's which beers.  So what if you age a Belgian quad in a booze barrel?

Shortly after the Second World War, the Trappist Monastery of St. Sixtus in Westvleteren licensed the St. Bernardus Abbey to comercialize their beers. The brew master from Westvleteren, Mathieu Szafranski became a partner in the brewery and brought along the recipes, the knowledge and the St. Sixtus yeast strain and founded the Brewery St. Bernard.  Their beers are considered to be amongst the finest in the world and their quad is rated by the Snobs to be in the top 5 best beers that we have ever tasted.  Early last year they announced that they would be releasing an oak barrel aged version, and that news had us drooling with anticipation.  Could it possibly be as good as we hoped?  Yes, oh yes.

Have you ever tried Calvados?  Calvados is an apple cider brandy distilled from brandy made from specially grown and selected apples.  It is not uncommon for a Calvados producer to use over 100 specific varieties of apples.  The fruit is havested and pressed into a juice that is fermented into a dry cider.  It is then distilled and aged for at least 2 years in oak casks.  It is, in a word, sublime.

The creative geniuses at St. Bernardus decided to create this heaven inspired brew by aging their already nearly perfect quad in emptied Calvados barrels for 6 months creating something magical.

The beer pours slightly cloudy dark brown with a surprising white head.  The smell, oh the smell, is rich with apples, dates and sugars and a bit of alcohol ethers in the background.  We were a bit surprised that the smell of the brandy didn't bury the smell of the beer, but we must remember that the beer is quite hearty on it's own and stood up nicely.  The flavor is so amazingly complex and wonderful.  We should have known that brewmasters like those at St. Bernardus would let their wonderful beer be overpowered by the barrell aging.  They have achieved a balance that is quite nearly perfect.  The apples from the brandy are there along with the dark fruits from the beer.  Silky and rich.  Unbelievably delicious.

We are going to recommend that you search for this beer and find it.  Buy as many bottles as you can and horde them like your crazy aunt hordes cats.  Drink a few, age a few.  Do not miss out on this.

Brouwerij St. Bernardus, NV
Trappistenweg 23
8978 Watou (Belgium)

Friday, June 19, 2015

Proper Beer Serving Temperatures

Proper Beer Serving Temperatures

From the American Homebrewers Association

You have heard that Europeans, the English in particular, drink their beer warm.  Not true.  They serve their beers at the proper temperature for the style of beer that you order.  Contrary to popular belief, at least here in the U.S., not all beer should be served so cold that it hurts your teeth.  The fine folks at the AHA have actually done the research so please read and learn. - Bon

Ditch the frosty mugs and listen up!
Drinking beer ice-cold may sound like the perfect thirst quencher, but you are potentially missing out on much of a beer’s nuances that make it so worthy of your palate in the first place. But wait! Don’t warm it up too much or you’ll end up with the unenjoyable task of choking down lukewarm beer.
So what is the perfect beer serving temperature?

Temperature’s Effect on Beer

Before jumping into temperature suggestions, it’s important to understand the effects that incorrect serving temperature can have on beer.
Too Cold
Chilling beer below ideal serving temperatures enhances some qualities of beer, while masking others. Sure, anything ice-cold is going to come across as refreshing on a hot day, but beer is to be enjoyed for its flavor, especially if you spent weeks making and managing homebrew!
The biggest issue with beer served too cold is the way the temperature masks many flavors and aromas. The cold temperature slows the volatilization of aromatic compounds causing them to linger in the beer. When these compounds are not released, it dramatically changes the apparent flavor and aroma of the beer, sometimes to the point where it may come across as thin and tasteless.
The cold also enhances qualities like bitterness, dryness and carbonation, which can enhance the “quench” quality, but if paired with a “thin, tasteless” beer can make for a very unpleasant drinking experience with harsh texture. Overly-chilled beer can also exhibit haziness in a usually-clear brew.
Too Hot
Warm beer, on the other hand, does allow for more of the flavors and aromas to come to the forefront, but as beer approaches room temperature the sensations from hop bitterness and carbonation can decrease, which can lead to an almost flat-tasting experience.
It’s also usually pretty obvious you don’t want to drink too warm of beer (unless you’re making a flip, of course).
Just Right: Suggested Beer Serving Temperatures
So that leads us to the million dollar question: what is the proper serving temperature for beer so that it is refreshing and thirst-quenching while still allowing you to enjoy the bouquet of flavor that makes drinking high quality beer so great!
Unfortunately, there’s not one temperature that is perfect for all beers, but instead it depends on the beer style, brewing process and a little bit of tradition. However, using a few rules basic rules, along with the handy table below, you can make informed decisions on the temperature to serve your next beer. Remember, these are general suggestions and some styles may bend the rules a bit!
For exact serving temperature suggestions for specific styles, visit the Style Finder.
Beer Suggested Temperature
American Mainstream Light Lagers33° – 40° F
Pale Lagers, Pilsners38° – 45° F
Cream & Blonde Ales40° – 45° F
Nitro Stouts40° – 45° F
Belgian Pale Ales, Abbey Tripels40° – 45° F
Wheat Beers40° – 50° F
Lambics40° – 50° F
Dark Lagers45° – 50° F
American Pale Ales & IPAs45° – 50° F
Stouts, Porters45° – 55° F
Strong Lagers50° – 55° F
Real & Cask Ales50° – 55° F
Belgian Dubbels50° – 55° F

Data from Tasting Beer by Randy Mosher.

General Serving Temperature Rules:
  • All beers should be served between 38-55° F.
  • Lagers are served colder than ales.
  • Stronger beers are served warmer than weaker beers.
  • Darker beers are served warmer than lighter beers.
  • Macro lagers are served as cold as the Rockies.
  • Serve beers a few degrees colder than the target temperature, to accommodate for warming from the glass and the drinker’s hands.

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

SAVOR 2015 Review

SAVOR an American Craft Beer & Food Experience 2015

Like the Swallows making their annual flight to Capistrano, we make our annual flight to swallow some great beers in Washington D.C..  This event is one of the most prestigious events that a brewer can be invited to attend.  The 76 brewers are chosen by lottery (yeah, right) and each is allowed to showcase 2 beers (though some may have a special beer hidden belowe for their fans to try) which are pairded with a specific food dish created by a well known chef.

The event is the highlight of the year for us snobs and we always appreciate being a part of the fun.
There were highs and lows of this year's Savor, so let us give you a rundown of our impressions and observations.

- By and large the beers were superb, however, the brewers are no longer stretching their creative wings to inttoduce or showcase new beers.  In years past, many of the brewers would create special or one of a kind brews specifically for Savor, but this year they seemed to be satisfied with presenting their typical brewery releases.  Nothing special.

- The food pairings by Chef Adam Dulye were amazing.  Chef Dulye has been working with well respected brewers and award winning restaurants for many years.  Imagine a brown ale paired with a Roasted Pork Shoulder with a Smoked Pecan & Parsely Vinigarette.  How about a strong American ale paired with a Bacon Wrapped Date with Rosemary & Current Gastrique?  Cardamom and Clove Rice Pudding .... Caramel Apple Upside Down Cake ... Steak Tartar w/ Soubise, Sea Salt, Cocao Nibs & Caper Berries ... these creations would be outstanding dishes at any restaurant.  All perfectly paired with the beer selections and often the better part of the pairings.

- Boy were these beers potent.  Many high gravity offerings that had us staggering like ... well ... like a bunch of drunks.

- Highs and Lows - Impressions of some of the beers:
   - Best Beer Name:  Bat Shit Crazy Coffee Ale from Mob Craft Brewing.  It is too bad that the     beer wasn't as good as the name, nonetheless it was nice seeing a beer named after my wife.
   - Best Brewery That We Have Never Frigging Heard Of:  Kuhnhenn Brewing from Warren, Michigan.
   - Best Brewery Name:  Fat Bottom Brewing from Nashville, Tennessee.  Been to Nashville, the name is appropriate.
   - Most Famous Person Serving Beers:  Sam Castiglione from Dogfish Head Brewing.

   - Most Interesting Brewery Concept:  The aforementioned Mob Craft Brewing allows you to suggest a concept for a beer and then uses popular vote of their patrons to determine what style of beer they will produce.  We said an interesting concept, not good idea, however.
   - Best Food Paring:  Grave Robber Fraud Quad (Belgian style Quadruppel) from Lost Highway Brewing in Denver, Colorado paired with Loin of Venison w/ Fried Parsnips, Pomegranate & Red Eye Gastrique.  Boooiiinnggggg!
   - Biggest Brewery Disappointment:  Funky Buddha Brewing from Fort Lauderdale, Florida.  Fuckers ran out of beer half way through leaving us unable to try their much talked about offerings.
   - Gaaaaaaakkk!:  Maple Chipotle Pineapple Black IPA from St. Lawrence  Brewing Company of Canton, New York - Gaaaaaaaakkkkkk!
   - Biggest Hop Head Challenge:  Blimey That's Bitter TRIPLE IPA by Rueben's Brews from Seattle Washington.
  - Best Dessert Beer:  Choklat Oranj by Southern Tier Brewing Company from Lakewood, New York.
  - Best 'I Am Happy That I Can't Get That Here' beer:  Wulver Wee Heavy Scotch Ale Aged in Bourbon Barrels by Thirsty Dog Brewing Company from Akron, Ohio.  'Nuff said.

We hope that you will be able to join us for next year's Savor.  Cheers - Bon

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Beer Review - Spencer Trappist Ale

Spencer American Trappist Ale - 6.5% ABV

We are beer snobs.  You probably know that by now.  And what beers do we consider the best beers made?  C'mon, you know, the snobbiest of the snobby beers.  That's right, the Trappist beers, which are produced by the 11 Trappist breweries.  6 in Belgium, 2 in the Netherlands, one in Austria, one in Italy and the last in ..... Spencer, Massechusetts!?!  Who knew their was a Trappist brewery in the frigging U.S.?!?  Knot eye.

The brothers from the St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Massechusetts, which just released it's first beer, spent 2 years touring the Trappist breweries in Europe, learning the craft of craft beers from their European brethren.  The last, and longest, stop on their tour was at the Abbey of Sint Sixtus, where the acclaimed Westvleteren ales are produced and if this beer is even close to what Westvleteren produces then we have us a big win.  Our opinion is that there is not a single beer produced by Trappists which is not incredible.  Well, up to now that was our opinion.

Their website says that their recipe was inspired by the traditional refectory ales known as patersbier in Belgium.  These beers are session beers for their dinner table and are typically only available at the monastery.  This one is .... interesting.  The overpowering flavor driver to the beer is the live yeast, whose flavors overpower everything else.  Being unfiltered and unpasteurized the yeast continues to add flavor and aroma even after bottled.

The beer is a cloudy golden/orange with yeasty aroma and a substantial fluffy white head,  The brewers describe the flavor of the beer as full bodied with fruity accents, light hops and dry finish.  We can agree with that to an extent.  All of the panel of tasters describe the flavor as a yeast bomb with the yeast drowning out the accompanying flavors needed to make it a great beer.  It is quite one dimensional.  The fruity accents are much like that of a person born in a foreign land that has lived in the U.S. for most of their life.  You kind of hear an accent in the background when they speak but are not really sure what you are hearing.  Perhaps it is just a speech impediment, and you are afraid to bring it up.  The fruit flavor is their, but hard to identify, or even locate.  It is mildly hoppy and as described, it has a dry finish.  All of the 5 panelist describe the beer as 'something is missing'.

While the beer is pretty good it does not come close to the magnificence that we have come to expect with other Trappist beers.  We will give it this caveat, it is a great first try.

Spencer Trappist Ale is produced by the St. Joseph's Abbey in Spencer, Mass.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

European Beer Tour With the Snobs

European Beer Tour

We have a very exciting offer for all of you snobs. We are partnering with Go Tours to offer you an affordable option to visit all of the places that we love to visit while drinking our way through Europe. 

Belgium?  Of course!  We'll tour the ancient city of Bruges and partake in traditional Belgian beer tastings as well as sampling the delicious Belgian foods.  Because Belgium is such a beer drinkers wonderland with so, so many beers to try, we will have lots of personal time for our own explorations or join in on optional tours of a few Abbeys (Maredsous Abby anyone?).

We'll stumble through the streets of Brussels, pinballing from pub to pub, stuffing Belgian chocolates and frites in our faces as we go.  Heaven.

Let's see ... is there another country where we can partake of wonderful, traditional beers?  Maybe .... Germany?  Hell, yes!  We'll visit Cologne where we will tour the town and then partake in a  Kölsch tasting.  You may stroll around the town for a bit, stretching your legs and exploring pubs then on the bus and off to Wurzburg, for a bit of a change of pace.

While Germany is justly famous for it's beer, the German wines are also quite lovely.  We'll travel down the Rhine valley and stop in the ancient town of Rudesheim am Rhein and partake in a wine sampling then on to Wurzburg, where we will tour the Residents Palace, a UNESCO world heritage site.  Next stop .... Bamberg.

Ah, Bamberg, the German City of Beer.  Ask any Germany which city is best know for beers and they will tell you Bamberg.  There are literally hundreds of breweries in this small city and while we can't visit them all, we can try, can't we?

Last stop on the tour is Munich.  We have spent many a drunken night stumbling around the beer halls of Munich.  As a group we will visit Andechs Brewery and tour the town.  You may have the fortitude to visit the Big 6 Breweries on your own.

We would love to share our love of beer exploration with our beer snob friends.  Please visit for all of the pertinent information and please share this offer with your friends.  That is 12 glorious days with people that you know that share your passion for fine beers and exploration.  There are opportunities to add on side tours or extend your trip to visit Prague as well.

The minimum needed for the tour is 16 brave souls, but we will happily entertain as many as 28.  Please email us with any questions at  We look forward to hearing from you.


Monday, April 27, 2015

AHA Big Beer Weekend

This Saturday is National Homebrewers Day and is the American Homebrewers Association Big Beer Weekend.  If you are a homebrewer and want to share your infinite knowledge of beer with others that also know all there is to know about brewing, come Six Ten brewing to geek out with your people.  Here are the details:

Join Tampa's Original Homebrew Club, Tampa Bay B.E.E.R.S. for AHA Big Brew National Homebrew Day at Six Ten Brewery! As always, if you are an active B.E.E.R.S. member and you donate 5 gals to WaZoo, B.E.E.R.S. will buy your ingredients (up to a 10 gal batch with OG under 1.070)!!! Be sure to submit your recipe to by April 25 so we can buy in bulk! We'll be setting up at 9a.m. for a full day of all grain & extract brews! Don't forget sunscreen, tents, snacks, etc., if you'll be hanging out all day! Please RSVP if you'll be joining us to brew! Spectators welcome & encouraged!!! Come have a refreshing Six Ten pint with us!!

Six Ten Brewing is located at:
     7052 Benjamin Road
     Tampa, FL 33634

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Join us at the Toronto Festival of Beer

I know what you are thinking ... "where in the hell is Toronto, Florida"?  No, no you silly goose, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.

Your second question is ... "why in the hell would I want to go to a beer festival in Canada"?  Fair question, let's discuss:  The Toronto Festival of Beer held on July 24, 25 & 26 is the largest beer festival in Canada featuring many, many beers that neither you nor I have tried.  There will be live music by several bands including Naughty by Nature.  There will be Poutine (basically French Fries covered with gravy and cheese. Pure evil and the perfect drunk food).  Lastly, my gut tells me that Toronto in late July will be slightly cooler than Tampa in late July.

Having been to several, many, tons of beer festivals around the U.S. we can tell you that the beers at every festival are virtually the same at every venue.  You see the same brewers hawking the same products at every show.  Not that we don't like American beers, oh no don't get us wrong, we adore American brews, but sometimes, don't you want to try something different?  There are over 60 brewers, many, or even most that we have not heard of before, serving more that 300 different beers we are quite sure that there will be something new.

Flights now at time of publishing are running around $500/ person but are sure to change, though which direction I cannot say.  C'mon, take a trip with us and enjoy the great beers and the nicest people in North America.

Toronto Festival of Beer
July 24, 25 and 26 at Bandshell Park in Toronto

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

So you want to be a beer snob, but there are so many beer styles to choose from that you are overwhelmed.  Perhaps this simple chart will help you decipher the choices. - Cheers, Bon

Friday, February 27, 2015

Brewery of the Month - Three Palms Brewing

What factors are involved that creates a great brewery visit?  The beer? DUH, of course, but that is only part of the equation.  There are a few breweries in town that we have visited that produce outstanding beers, but the staffers are either incompetent twits or condescending asses.  We don't go to these any more.  There are other breweries that we have visited that have great facilities and servers but have *meh* beers.  We don't return here either.  So what makes a great brewery visit?  Believe it or not, we have codified the equation:

1.  Great beers - Check
2.  Great facilities - Check
3.  Knowledgeable and personable staff - Check

Three Palms brewing in far east Tampa (close to the county jail ... a bit too close for comfort after packing in a couple of high gravity brews) is a tiny brewery founded by Randy and Danelle Reaver and is in a very real sense, a labor of the love of beer.  It is located in a delightful neighborhood (that is a lie) that is easy to find (also a lie) with clear easy to read signage (again, a lie).  The trek past the jail and through the sketchy neighborhood landed us in a very pleasant space located in a tidy little business park.  A truism for most fledgling breweries is that they are usually located where the rents are affordable.  My guess is that the rents here are very affordable.  Danelle was working the taps on this lovely Saturday afternoon and has studied and mastered customer service.  She answered all of our inane questions without a hint of condescension.  The atmosphere in the tasting room was quite relaxed and laid back.

The beers?  You want to know about the beers?  All right, all right .... cool your jets.  On this day we tried several monster beers and all that we tried were done very well:

1. Coconut Vanilla Stout - 8% ABV.  Have you ever tried the Maui Brewing Coconut Stout?  Were you able to taste coconut?  Neither did we.  This is a dandy desert beer that definitely tastes of vanilla and coconut.  Do I also taste a hint of chocolate malts?  Actually, drop a dollop of ice cream in there and your desert is made.

2. Caramel Apple Stout - 8% ABV.  We didn't really taste any apple, but holy hell the caramel really jumps out at you.  Again, quite sweet and would make a great desert beer.

3. Sir Albert's Barrel Aged Double Stout Nitro - 9.5% ABV.  Warning!  Malt Bomb!  The whiskey is so far in the background as to be unnoticeable, or at least very slightly noticeable.  But even without the whiskey this is a smooth, easy drinking malty stout guaranteed to make you shit faced in no time.

4. Viscous Vlad Smoked Rye Russian Imperial Stout - 9.5% ABV.  Our opinion is that due to the huge rye signature, this brew is really more of a porter than a stout.  Viscous?  Mother Goose this stuff is so thick that you can chew it.  It is very complex with a burnt sugar character that makes it super interesting and with a loooooooong aftertaste.

5.Smoked Pepper Kumquat Ale - 7% ABV.  Do what now?  Ghost peppers?  Kumquats?  What the hell is a Kumquat?  This is one of the most interesting beers that we have tried in a long time.  Sweet up front with a citrus signature, followed by a smoky hint and ending with a great pepper burn.  What makes this one great is that the brewer, Randy, was able to take TWO very intense ingredients and blend them so that neither overpowered the other.  Kumquats are brutally sour with face imploding intensity and ghost peppers and so intensely hot that you will feel the burn on your O ring for days after eating them.  This beer is neither too sour not too hot to enjoy and I applaud their masterful inclusion.

Worth the drive to Brandon (almost)?  Hell yes.  Will we return?  Again, yes.  Should you go?  A resounding yes, and we will see you there.

Three Palms Brewing
1509 Hobbs Street (look for the handpainted street sign).
Tampa, FL 33619