Florida breweries are the focus at two September events

Only a couple of years ago, it would have been extremely difficult for a craft beer bar to dedicate more than a few of its taps to beer produced in Florida, much less have a decent-sized beer festival dedicated exclusively to brews from the Sunshine State.

A pair of signature events in September will showcase just how far we’ve come in a short time.

halfway there 2014 300x135 Florida breweries are the focus at two September eventsOn Saturday, September 6, the second annual Halfway There: A Rare Beer Festival will take place at the historic St. Petersburg Coliseum, featuring nearly 50 Sunshine State breweries and noted national players. Not only will fest-goers be able to taste rare and one-off beers, but also the creations of at least eight homebrew clubs. There will be vendors, food trucks and live music. The festival marks the halfway point to the 2015 Tampa Bay Beer Week, which continues to grow bigger and better each year. Tickets are available here. Follow the Halfway There Facebook Page for updates.

proof logo Florida breweries are the focus at two September eventsThen up in Tallahassee, Proof Brewing Company will hold its second annual Florida Tap Invitational on September 13, featuring 50-plus brews from more than 20 breweries “from the tip of the Keys to the western edge of the Panhandle.” The event will feature commemorative glass snifters with a logo from the event, live music and food trucks. If you’re attending, you might want to make a weekend out of it so you can visit Proof’s new Railroad Square production brewery, as well as other Tallahassee craft-beer hot spots such as Momo’s Pizza & Brew House and Fermentation Lounge. I’ve heard rumors that there might even be an opportunity to try some brews from Tally’s soon-to-open Grasslands Brewing Company.

If you can attend either event, it will help support our growing craft beer industry and offer an opportunity to taste some of the fantastic beer being made here.

I’ve confirmed that I’ll be signing and selling copies of “Florida Breweries” Florida breweries are the focus at two September events at the Halfway There fest, and I’m working on doing an appearance at the Proof Brewing event as well. Stay tuned.

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Florida Beer Company to distribute in North Carolina

Swamp Ape tap 150x150 Florida Beer Company to distribute in North CarolinaA North Carolina beer distributor has announced that it will carry some beers from Cape Canaveral-based Florida Beer Company.

Mutual Distributing Company, based in Raleigh, said in the announcement that it will handle three of the brewery’s porfolio at first: Key West Southernmost Wheat, Swamp Ape Double IPA, and the recently debuted Sunshine State Pilsner.

“We are very excited to have the opportunity to partner with Mutual Distributing as our statewide partner in North Carolina. We look forward to working with Mutual and introducing our brands to the craft beer enthusiasts of this state,” said Jim Massoni, President and CEO of Florida Beer.

Florida Beer Company joins Saint Somewhere Brewing Company of Tarpon Springs and Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing in the currently small club of Florida breweries that distributes beyond the state line.

Florida Beer officially opened its new Cape Canaveral brewery and tasting room to the public on July 26. It previously operated out of a much smaller facility in Melbourne. The brewery also  just announced a new addition to its beer porfolio – Gourd Shorts, a seasonal pumpkin ale.

(Florida Beer Company is featured on Page 77 of the Florida Breweries Florida Beer Company to distribute in North Carolina guidebook.)

 

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Cigar City and Carnival usher in new era for craft beer

CigarCity Legend3 300x200 Cigar City and Carnival usher in new era for craft beerWhen I first read of the agreement by Carnival Cruise Lines to carry a couple of Cigar City Brewing’s beers, I was ecstatic.

Not because I’m a big cruiser (I’m not, though I’ve thoroughly enjoyed the few I’ve experienced, except for the lack of quality beer) or because I’m a huge supporter of Tampa’s Cigar City and Florida breweries Cigar City and Carnival usher in new era for craft beer (I am), but because it indicates that the American craft beer revolution is continuing its foray into venues dominated by AB InBev, SABMillerCoors, Diageo and other multinational conglomerates.

Look at airlines. JetBlue now carries Sam Adams on its flights, Southwest offers New Belgium Brewing’s Fat Tire, and some Delta flights serve Sweetwater 420. It’s not unusual to find local craft beer taps amongst the macrobrews in hotel lounges. Casual family-dining chains are dipping their toes into locally brewed craft beer – it’s getting more difficult to find any tap lineup in the Tampa Bay area that doesn’t have at least Jai-Alai IPA from Cigar City. Up in my neck of the woods, the Crystal River Applebee’s started serving some of the beers from the local Copp Brewery, and apparently they can’t keep enough in stock because it’s selling so well.

Other cruise lines offer “craft beer” on some of their sailings. For example, the recently opened Gastrobar on the Celebrity Equinox boasts “more than 40 handcrafted brews,” but a look at the beer list shows only about a quarter of them are true American crafts under the Brewers Association definition. Carnival has offered its house beer, Thirsty Frog Red Ale, in its ships’ Red Frog Pubs but sources show that it is brewed by AB-InBev.

Now that Carnival is serving Cigar City’s Invasion Pale Ale and Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale in the pubs on its Florida-based ships, I anticipated that the trend will snowball and we’ll see a lot more of these types of partnerships.

CigarCity Legend1 Cigar City and Carnival usher in new era for craft beer

Getting the Cigar City beers in front of and in the mouths of millions of passengers from across the country and around the world should help spread the word that there is some damn fine beer being made in the Sunshine State. And at $4.95 per can – a reasonable price on a cruise ship – sales should be good.

Here’s the official press release from Carnival Cruise Lines.

MIAMI (July 14, 2014) — Capitalizing on the growing popularity of craft beer in the U.S., Carnival Cruise Lines has entered into an exclusive agreement to offer Tampa-based Cigar City Brewing’s craft beers on all of its Florida-based ships.

Cigar City’s Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale and Invasion Pale Ale will be available on 13 Carnival ships sailing from five Florida ports beginning this week.  Combined, those ships carry more than two million guests each year.

The agreement — the first partnership of this magnitude between a craft brewery and a major cruise line — was announced Sunday, July 13, at an event aboard Carnival Legend at the Port of Tampa.

“Carnival continues to seek high-quality brands to enhance our guests’ experience, and Cigar City Brewing has been rated among the top craft breweries in the world,” said Eddie Allen, Carnival’s vice president of beverage operations. “Cigar City Brewing craft beers are a fantastic addition to our already extensive beverage menus and will provide our guests a chance to enjoy two delicious and refreshing beers that aren’t available on any other cruise line.”

Allen noted that Carnival also offers its own private label draught beer, ThirstyFrog Red, which is available throughout the fleet.

“Cigar City Brewing could not be happier than to partner with another great Florida institution, that being Carnival Cruise Lines. Everyone at Cigar City Brewing is thrilled to start this wonderful partnership,” said Joe Burns, national sales manager for Cigar City Brewing

Carnival has 13 Florida-based ships sailing three- to eight-day itineraries to the Caribbean, Mexico and The Bahamas, including Carnival Breeze, Carnival Conquest, Carnival Ecstasy, Carnival Glory, Carnival Victory and Carnival Splendor from Miami; Carnival Sensation, Carnival Sunshine and Carnival Liberty from Port Canaveral; Carnival Freedom from Fort Lauderdale; Carnival Paradise and Carnival Legend from Tampa, and Carnival Fascination from Jacksonville.

Cigar City’s Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale is named for the colonial-era “Cracker” cowboys of Florida. Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale is brewed with unmalted wheat, orange peel and coriander, and ends with a spicy, dry finish. The beer pours cloudy straw in color and has moderate notes of orange peel, coriander and hints of vanilla.

Gold in color, Invasion Pale Ale is Cigar City’s version of a “session” beer (a beer with a relatively low alcohol content) in a hoppy ale that celebrates Tampa’s alleged history of being a pirate hideout. The tropical aroma offers suggestions of peach, mango, lime and papaya. Invasion has a light caramel malt character laced with a slight “breadiness” and the finish offers a bounty of tropical and citrus hop flavor and bitterness.

Unlike most U.S. craft breweries, Cigar City Brewing packages most of its beverages in aluminum cans. Aluminum cans are the most widely recycled containers in the United States, and aluminum may be reused repeatedly without loss of strength or quality. From a beer drinker’s perspective, cans have zero light penetration to better preserve the integrity of the brew, and they chill faster, are easier to store and have a longer shelf life than bottles. Cans also are shatterproof and therefore are allowed where bottles are not — such as poolside. Producing new cans from recycled aluminum reduces greenhouse gas emissions by 95 percent.

Florida Craft Brewing Trends

Over the past decade, the number of craft and microbreweries has grown dramatically across the United States and consumer demand for craft brews continues to increase. In 2013 in Florida, the state’s 66 small breweries produced 130,000 barrels (4.03 million gallons) of craft-brewed beer for an economic impact of $875.8 million, ranking the state 12th in the nation.

Nationwide, in 2013 the overall beer market represented total sales of $100 billion, of which $14.3 billion was craft beers. That represented a 20 percent increase in craft beer sales and an 18 percent increase in production volume over 2012, according to the Brewers Association.

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Mile Marker Brewing tap room shuts its doors

mile marker brewery 150x150 Mile Marker Brewing tap room shuts its doors

UPDATE: A source who wishes to remain unnamed confirms that Mile Marker Brewing has closed its brewing operations in St. Augustine as well as its tasting room.

An announcement on the Facebook page for St. Augustine’s Mile Marker Brewing indicates that its tasting room has permanently closed.

The post reads:

To all of our friends, supporters, customers and fellow beer lovers, our tap room is now closed. (Not opening today, Sunday). Please visit some of the other awesome bars and restaurants that carry Mile Marker beer and tell them we sent ya there! We’d love to know where you are drinking Mile Marker beer! Thank you to everyone, and especially to our regular customers, thank you! Try not to cry in your beer, ok?

It is not known why or if it is in fact permanent, or if it will have any effect on the brewery’s production. No further explanation was given in the comments.

I have sent co-founder Mike Fiero an email asking for comment. This post will be updated as needed.

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