‘Sunshine State Suds’ – Florida craft beer community featured in ‘Florida Crossroads’

A new half-hour documentary by the The FLORIDA Channel‘s show “Florida Crossroads” takes a look into the booming craft beer industry in the Sunshine State.

Robb Larson of Grindhaus Brew Lab. Image from “Sunshine State Suds,” produced by The FLORIDA Channel

Host Rebecca Baer talks to a variety of people in the state’s brewing community, from pioneer Michael N. Bryant of Dunedin Brewery to relative newcomers such as Robb Larson and Lisa Colburn of Grindhaus Brew Lab, as well as representatives from the University of Florida’s hop research lab and The University of South Florida-St. Petersburg Brewing Arts program.

Baer even allowed me to add my two cents to the conversation, interviewing me in the beer barrel-aging cellar at Marker 48 Brewing in Weeki Wachee. (BTW, if you want to get a close look at that cellar – and more – I guide behind-the-scenes tours there most Saturdays at 3, 4 and 5 p.m.).

You can view the show at this link, or check the schedules of your local PBS stations for when it might air there.

Down in the barrel room at Marker 48 Brewing.
Image from “Sunshine State Suds,” produced by The FLORIDA Channel

“Florida Crossroads” is an award-winning, half-hour documentary series that looks at the people, places, and events shaping Florida.

The series explores a wide variety of environmental, political and social issues from across the state.

Located in the state Capitol building, The FLORIDA Channel is a public affairs programming service funded by The Florida Legislature and produced and operated by WFSU-TV.


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Craft beer podcast ‘Gator Growlers’ debuts from Gainesville

Image by GateHouse Media Services

I have a craft beer podcast!

We’re a few episodes in, but I’m pretty excited about it.

Background: I try to keep my day job duties separate from my beer writing, but those pesky upper-level editors at The Gainesville Sun – where I’m a lower-level editor on the news desk – found out about my side gig and asked if I would be willing to talk about craft beer as one of a new group of podcasts being launched through the gainesville.com website.

And those of you who know me are well aware that I need little excuse to ramble on and on about my passion for the craft brewing community.

Thus was born Gator Growlers

The goal is to keep these short – max of 30 minutes – and to concentrate on the community, not necessarily the liquid itself. There are plenty of other podcasts, blogs and vlogs to fill that need – plus, they won’t let me drink in the studio during working hours. Instead, the content aims to enlighten, educate and hopefully amuse the middle ground between the craft beer newbie and the hard-core beer geek.

Though broadcast from the Gainesville Sun newsroom, the podcast will not necessarily be Gainesville-centric. The content will radiate from the North Florida city to cover all of the craft beer community in Florida and elsewhere.

The first Gator Growlers podcast featured guest host Nathan Crabbe, the Sun’s opinion editor and a bit of a craft beer aficionado himself, who interviewed me so new listeners could get an idea of my background and what to expect from the podcast.

The second was just me, explaining a bit about the definitions of craft beer and craft breweries, so listeners – if there will be any – will know what I mean when the term comes up in conversations.

Now that the baselines have been established, future episodes will feature interviews with local and national craft beer personalities and delve into diverse subjects related to the world of craft beer and brewing.

You can find the first podcast here and the second one here, and subscribe to it on stitcher.com or iTunes, though it will become available on other podcast hosting platforms in the near future as well.

The podcasts will be recorded every other week, usually Thursdays, at first though when we get rolling, we might bump that up to weekly.

Any questions, comments or critiques can be sent to gatorgrowlers@gmail.com or put on the comment thread when the episodes are posted to The Gainesville Sun Facebook page.

I’m very excited about this opportunity.




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Win swag from Jameson Caskmates Drinking Buddies and its beer partners

The contest is now over. Please check your email if you entered.

It’s been awhile since Beer in Florida has done a giveaway, so let’s do one, especially since it has a bit of a St. Patrick’s Day theme.

Late last year and earlier this year, seven breweries across the country released special beers in conjunction with Jameson Irish Whiskey as part of the distiller’s Drinking Buddies program. These breweries aged beer in Jameson barrels, and one of them was Downtown St. Petersburg’s own Cycle Brewing, with is Buddy Shots brew.

In addition, Jameson aged some of their whiskey in stout beer barrels from a local craft brewery back home in Ireland and released those spirits under the Caskmates brand.

The good folks at Jameson sent me samples of each — as well as some swag that I’ll be giving away to some Beer in Florida fans. (NOTE: YOU MUST COMMENT ON THIS POST, NOT ON FACEBOOK, OK?) Read on to find out the rules, but first, here’s the info from Jameson regarding the program.


Seven Hand-Selected Craft Breweries Across the U.S. Create Limited Edition Beers Aged In Jameson Whiskey Barrels

NEW YORK, NY — Recognizing those with a shared passion for quality and craft, Jameson Irish Whiskey continues its craft brewery partnerships with Jameson Caskmates Drinking Buddies. A collaboration with seven American craft brewers, Jameson Caskmates Drinking Buddies is the result of bringing like-minded individuals together with a common bond of creating superior quality beer and whiskey.

Returning breweries include Angel City Brewery in Los Angeles, Captain Lawrence Brewing Company in New York, Deep Ellum Brewing Company in Dallas, and Great Divide Brewing Company in Denver. Rounding out the final three collaborating breweries are Stoup Brewing in Seattle, Cycle Brewing in St. Petersburg, and Fat Head’s Brewing in Cleveland.

Inspired by the creation and end result of Jameson Caskmates, a one-of-a-kind whiskey born out of conversation and collaboration with local Irish craft brewery Franciscan Well, Jameson took a similar approach and worked with the seven local breweries by giving them Jameson barrels to age their craft beer for a select period of time. The end result? Limited edition beers featuring hints of Jameson Irish Whiskey incorporated with their already distinct craft beer flavors.

The Jameson family motto, Sine Metu, means without fear, and the Jameson Caskmates Drinking Buddies program celebrates the fearlessness of each brewer as they continue to pursue their passions. The same spirit and tradition of the family motto lives on through the creation and partnership with the seven local breweries.

“Jameson Irish Whiskey has always taken pride in celebrating those who share the same passion and focus when it comes to their craft,” said Sona Bajaria, Vice President, Jameson Irish Whiskey, Pernod Ricard USA. “Jameson Caskmates Drinking Buddies allows us to put the spotlight on these local craft brewers who ultimately embody the same spirit as our motto, Sine Metu.”

Each Jameson inspired craft beer will be available in their respective market for a limited time only.

Here are the breweries and the beer each released.

Cycle Brewing

Buddy Shots

  • Color – Dark amber to almost purple in color.
  • Aroma –  All malt, all day.
  • Flavor – Brewed with 6 different caramel malts and just a little bit of chocolate to showcase the finer, sweeter side of the beer and the whiskey.
  • ABV – 11% ABV

Angel City Brewery

ACB Imperial Irish Red Ale

  • Color – A rich mahogany-hued ale.
  • Aroma – Huge ripe fig and toffee notes dominate the aroma, leading into flavors of light vanilla, molasses, black cherries and a distinct peppery finish.
  • Flavor – Conditioned for 5 months in Jameson Irish Whiskey barrels, this beer has an indulgent yet subtle sweetness, full body, and warming linger.
  • ABV – 16% ABV

Captain Lawrence Brewing Company

  • Trans-Atlantic Imperial Red
  • Color – Deep auburn color with red highlights.
  • Aroma – Rich and malty aroma with hints of chocolate and citrus fruit.
  • Flavor – Deep and rich as the sea, the Trans-Atlantic Red’s natural taste combined with Jameson Irish Whiskey barrels gives this beer a deliciously complex flavor profile. Malt backbone, chocolate and coffee flavors highlighted by vanilla.
  •  ABV – 7% ABV

Deep Ellum Brewing Company

The Fascinating Bellman

  • Color – The experience is a custom crafted light smoke, wood aged, deep brown ale with ruby highlights.
  • Aroma – The aroma of bittersweet bakers chocolate and warm vanilla welcome a complex flavor of toasted chestnut. The smoke character shows a history not to be forgotten that fades then returns as the glass warms.
  • Flavor – Oak Smoked Imperial Irish brown ale aged in Jameson Whiskey barrels. We select fresh hops and smoke a portion of malt with Texas post oak. The resulting ale is fit for members only.
  • ABV – 7.8% ABV

Great Divide Brewing Company

The Smoothness

  • Color – Dark coloring.
  • Aroma – Whiskey notes, chocolate, oak and leather aroma.
  • Flavor – You don’t know smooth until you experience the velvety, silky feeling and dark lager taste of The Smoothness. Roasted malt, vanilla and oak flavors.
  • ABV – 8.5% ABV

Stoup Brewing

Dublin Down Imperial Red Ale

  • Color – Chestnut color with golden highlights.
  • Aroma – Rich and bold with notes of vanilla and toffee.
  • Flavor – A rich, malty red ale with notes of caramel and toasted bread. The time in Jameson Irish Whiskey barrels adds a depth of richness to the beer and added structure, bringing happiness to the palate and warmth to the belly after each satisfying sip.
  • The subtle grainy sweetness of Irish malt is balanced by a strong addition of bittering hops and warming alcohol.
  • ABV – 10% ABV

Fat Heads Brewing

Strange Trip Barrel Aged Imperial Stout

  • Color – Aging in Jameson Irish Whiskey barrels for 6 months has pulled a subtle touch of cocoa beans, Marzipan and charred oak.
  • Aroma – Inspired by flavors from an Irish Coffee.
  • Flavor – A heady brew, hopped with Perle, Centennial and Simcoe. The heavily roasted creamy flavor comes from the combination of flaked barley and chocolate malts.
  • ABV –  9.4% ABV

And as far as the Jameson Caskmates Whiskey:

Two heads are said to be better than one, and this whiskey adds serious weight to that argument. Emerging from a conversation between our head distiller and the head brewer of Cork’s Franciscan Well Brewery, Jameson Caskmates has been finished in stout-seasoned whiskey casks. While our triple-distilled smoothness is very much intact, notes of cocoa, coffee and butterscotch confirm the stout influence.

Caskmates is a head-turning, modern Irish whiskey.

  • Nose: crisp orchard fruits like green apples and pears, mild pot still spices
  • Taste: Subtle touch of hops and cocoa beans, Marzipan and charred oak
  • Finish: Long and sweet with Milk Chocolate and Butterscotch

Unfortunately, the Cycle bottles for sale at the taproom are long gone, according to the brewery, though there may be a keg or two tucked away in local craft beer bars. The Caskmates whiskey is still available in liquor stores around the area.


What I have to give away is this:





Two T-shirts, one Extra Large and one Medium (Note: The sizes seem to run small, especially for a XXL dude like me).  The T-shirts have the Jameson logo on front, and the logos of the seven breweries in the program on the back.

Two Jameson Whiskey tote bags. They are bags to tote things in.

If you wish to enter, here are the rules.

  • Leave a comment on the post here (NOT ON FACEBOOK). Your email is required, but don’t worry: it won’t be shared or used in any other nefarious way. And I’ll have to contact you if you win.
  • Say in the comment which size T-shirt you would want, or if you would like to win a tote bag.

I’ll run this through Tuesday, March 21, at 6 p.m., at which time I’ll use the Random.org service to choose a winner. The winner will be notified by email and have 24 hours to respond with a shipping address. If I don’t hear back by then, another winner will be chosen.

As I mentioned above, Jameson Irish Whiskey provided this swag through its marketing arm, but the company has no involvement in this giveaway.





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Florida Brewery Map updated, and the number is …

The growth of the small brewery industry continues to proceed at a dizzying pace. The Brewers Association announced at the end of November that the number of breweries in the United States passed the 5,000 mark, with 99 percent of those being small and independent breweries.

More than 2,000 are in planning.

But what about in Florida? As regular readers of this blog know, I’ve maintained a Florida Brewery Map and List here since 2012, and just completed a major update of it.

As of January 24, 2017. there are 215 216 217 218 operating breweries in the Sunshine State, with 38 37 on their way to opening. (EDIT: Yes, the number keeps changing as I tweak the list/map based on feedback)

Two hundred and fifteen sixteen seventeen eighteen.

Yep, we’ve cracked the 200-brewery mark, and then some.

Though I updated the list and map periodically, this is the first major update since July 2016, when there were 184 operating breweries and 37 on the horizon.

Inevitably, a few have closed along the way, but openings still outnumber those by a large margin.

Could we hit 300 breweries by the end of 2017? It would not be a surprise if we did.

Here are the criteria I use for a brewery to be included on the map:

  • The brewery or brewpub must produce beer on its premises. This means you will not find companies such as The Abbey Brewing Co. in Miami Beach, which contracts its beer at other breweries.
  • Size doesn’t matter. Whether a brewery makes tens of thousands of barrels per year, or one a week, as long as it can sell and serve to customers, whether on premise or strictly through distribution, it counts.
  • It includes two brewpubs – Karibrew in Fernandina Beach and Marco Island Brewery – whose brewing processes are completed on site but started elsewhere.
  • In the case of a brewery like Barley Mow Brewing Company in Largo, there is the original brewery/taproom and another location that is production only, without a tasting room, though they have recently opened The Raven brewpub, which will have on-premise brewing in the future. All three locations are listed, with a note that The Raven has not started brewing on premise.
  • It does not include BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse locations, which does not brew at any of its restaurants. The chain is one of the brewing partners at BrewHub, the operation in Lakeland that offers brewing and marketing services for other breweries, and contracts at some out-of-state breweries as well. (BrewHub is on the map.)
  • Cideries and meaderies are not included, though I might create a separate section for them in the future.

To be included, a brewery or brewpub must have a physical address – it would be hard to map it otherwise – and if not yet open, it needs to have made solid steps such as ordering or installing equipment, or starting the regulatory process. A website or Facebook page is ideal, though not required. Most have them and are linked. Be sure to check that link before you visit for any details, such as operating hours or special events.

Other maps and lists out there are based on different criteria. The Florida Brewers Guild lists those breweries and brewpubs that are members. Others list breweries that haven’t made any steps toward opening other than filing as a business entity, sometimes years ago, with no progress since. There are some fine sites out there with maps of limited local areas, and I appreciate their creators allowing me to use them to research.

This map is a labor of love for me because I am passionate about my home state and its craft beer community. Friends and fans of this site offer invaluable help in tracking down some of these, and I am extremely grateful. I feel it is the most accurate listing of its type out there, but it has become a LOT of work because of the research involved.

I do get a little financial help via sponsorships, but if you feel it is of value to you, I would not object if you were to drop a little change to help using the “Donate” button on the right column of this page.

Speaking of sponsors, huge thanks go out to  Florida Fun Shuttle, Ye Olde Brothers Brewery Marker 48 Brewing, Tampa Bay Brewing Company, JDub’s Brewing Company, Coppertail Brewing Company, Dahlia’s Pour House, and St. Pete Brewing Company.

Any brewery or related business interested in becoming a sponsor can drop a line to gerard@beerinflorida.com, and I’ll send the details.

As always, I appreciate any feedback if I missed a brewery, have one listed as open that has closed – or vice versa – or made any other errors. Send me an email or leave a comment below.





Florida Brewery Map & List

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