Two Florida breweries win medals at Great American Beer Festival

The awards ceremony at the 2015 Great American Beer Festival just wrapped up, and two breweries from Florida are bringing home medals.

Boy BlueBrew Bus Brewing, the brewing outfit associated with the Brew Bus tours in Tampa, South Florida and Jacksonville that makes its beers with the facilities at Cigar City Brewing, got a silver medal in the Fruit Wheat category for its You’re My Boy, Blue! blueberry ale.

Their website describes it so: “A blueberry wheat ale brewed with real blueberries to give it a natural deep purple color. We use Pacific Gem hops for optimal balance.”

aardwolf coaster 2 largeAardwolf Brewery in Jacksonville won a bronze medal in the Belgian-Style Blonde Ale or Pale Ale category for its Belgian Style Pale Ale.

It is described as a “malt forward pale ale fermented with a Belgian yeast.”

For a complete list of the competition winners, click here, and to view a list of the style categories, go here.


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At Great American Beer Festival, a record number of Florida breweries

The Great American Beer Festival kicks off this Thursday, and GABF logo 2015Florida craft breweries will be represented in the greatest number to date.

Twenty breweries from the Sunshine State will be pouring samples on the festival floor, up from 11 last year and seven the year before that. A few, such as Barrel of Monks Brewing and Crooked Can Brewing Co., weren’t even open to the public during last year’s GABF.

Those 20 still represent only a small percentage of the total 750 breweries expected at the fest, but with more than 150 breweries making beer on premise in the state, that number should continue to grow each year.

Hopefully, this will also translate into more medals coming back to the state from the GABF’s annual awards competition, but that’s hard to predict as each beer is judged on its own merits. Florida breweries collected three medals in total last year – one gold and two silver.

Here are the Florida breweries representing in 2015, according to the GABF website.

Barrel of Monks Brewing Boca Raton
Biscayne Bay Brewing Co Miami
Brew Hub, LLC Lakeland
Cigar City Brewing Co Tampa
Coppertail Brewing Tampa
Crooked Can Brewing Co Winter Garden
Due South Brewing Co Boynton Beach
Florida Beer Co Cape Canaveral
Funky Buddha Brewery Fort Lauderdale
Gravity Brewlab Miami Beach
Grayton Beer Co Santa Rosa Beach
J Wakefield Brewing Miami
JDub’s Brewing Co. Sarasota
M.I.A. Brewing Co Doral
Motorworks Brewing Bradenton
Point Ybel Brewing Company Fort Myers
Saltwater Brewery Delray Beach
Swamp Head Brewery Gainesville
Tomoka Brewing Company Port Orange
Wynwood Brewing Company Miami

The Great American Beer Festival comprises four sessions at the Colorado Convention Center in downtown Denver, one each on Thursday and Friday, and two on Saturday. This year, the festival will have 90,000 more square feet than before and expects more than 60,000 attendees.

For more information, visit the GABF website.



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Help Pair O’ Dice Brewing recover from a setback and ‘Crush the Cans’

Julia and Ken Rosenthal were thrilled.

Photos courtesy of Pair O' Dice Brewing.

Photos courtesy of Pair O’ Dice Brewing.

The first canning run of Hop Bet Red IPA and Clearwater Honey Cream from their Pair O’ Dice Brewing had finished, and sales from the brewery and distribution to store shelves would soon begin.

“The canning went beautifully,” Julia said. “Too beautifully I suppose.”

The last cans rolled off the line late Thursday night.

The first inkling of a problem came the next morning, when some of the guys running the canning line, who had taken home a few six-packs, noticed beer on the bottom of their refrigerator shelf.

They informed the Rosenthals, who promptly checked for any leaking cans at the brewery.

“We went into the cooler to find several cans with beer dribbling down the side.” Julia said. “As we started to do visual inspections on the Hop Bet Red IPA that afternoon, we found that of the initial 14 cases checked only two cases were considered ‘good.’  Then, as those ‘good’ cases warmed up, we noticed more leakage.”

After further inspection and testing, it became clear that both runs of beer had the leaking issue, and by 6 p.m. Friday, it became obvious that those cans would never see the market, and would be dumped.

The news went out on the Clearwater brewery’s Facebook page early Saturday morning:

“We are disappointed to announce that our release of cans has been delayed until next month. Quality is our number one priority and yesterday a seaming issue was discovered that affected the majority, if not all, of the cans we produced this week. This resulted in extremely high dissolved oxygen levels in the beer greatly reducing the shelf life. We stand by our mission to produce a high quality product and therefore will not be selling any of these first run of cans in the tasting room or sending any out to distribution.”

“We never questioned what had to be done, but it was very upsetting to say the least,” Julia said.  “We are a small brewery, bootstrapping our way along so the financial and employee morale blow was huge. All of our staff was so excited and worked so hard to get to this point, and it felt like a kick in the face.”

The subsequent outpouring of support from the local craft beer community overwhelmed the Rosenthals. Customers expressed their sympathy. Fellow brewers offered equipment and expertise for the next canning run. People even offered to buy cases of the beer to help offset the financial loss for the brewery.

But even though the beer inside the containers still is good, for now, the oxidation issue will quickly affect the quality, so even selling it to people who are aware of the problem means that within a short time, there would be product “out there” that is not of the quality the Rosenthals intended.

Another idea formed. Since the beer would need to be dumped and the cans destroyed, why not make a party out of it? And at the same time, give those offering support and encouragement a chance to follow through in a tangible manner.

Hence, the Crush the Cans Party was born.

can crush pair o diceThis Wednesday, September 16, people can come by Pair O’ Dice from 6 to 9 p.m. and for $20, “sponsor” a case of beer to do with what they want, with a few caveats:

  • Any beer consumed must be consumed (responsibly) on premises. Remaining cans must be poured down the drain, and the can crushed and put into the recycling bin.
  • You can take a can or two home as souvenirs, but it must be emptied at the brewery.
  • All pop-tabs need to be removed to donate to a local Ronald McDonald House fundraising program. In case you were wondering why only pop-tabs, from the RMcDH website: “Although the whole aluminum can is valuable, the tab is much cleaner and easier to collect in large quantities than whole cans. The tab of a standard soda can is made of high quality, high-grade aluminum. By itself, it doesn’t mean much, but when you pull together, pop-tabs add up and become a valuable donation to your local Ronald McDonald House.”

In addition, anyone who wants to sponsor a case but can’t make it to the event can do so remotely. Julia promises that Ken will dump the remotely sponsored cases via video. Click here to remotely sponsor a case.

The money from the sponsored cases will go toward helping pay for Pair O’ Dice’s next canning run, scheduled for October 7-8.

“We need to buy more beer ingredients and Ken wants to buy some QA equipment as well, such as a micrometer so we can measure the seams ourselves,” Julia said.

Those cans should be available for purchase in the tasting room on October 9, with cases sent to the distributor the next week.

Meanwhile, the Crush the Cans Party is shaping up to be a good time that will help one of the Tampa Bay area’s newer and already well-respected craft breweries recover from a setback that a more well-established business would be better able to absorb.

“I’m sure we’ll have fun coming up with some creative ways to crush the cans as well,” Julia said.

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USBTC Grand Champions include two Florida breweries

usbtc_logo(compressed)The United States Beer Tasting Championship has announced its Summer 2015 Grand Champions, and two Florida Breweries are on the list.

In the Amber-Red Ale category, Motorworks Brewing in Bradenton won for its Rollcage Red Ale.

Cigar City Brewing was named Grand Champion in the “Pull Out Category” of Highly Hopped Lager for its Hoppier then Helles.

The USBTC is a highly competitive contest that takes place over a one-month period in separate locations near Boston, Washington, D.C., and Chicago.  For each beer category, the field trials continue for several rounds until the winning entries are selected.

The Grand Champions are listed here. Full Summer 2015 results will be posted soon.

Congratulations to the two winners from the Sunshine State.


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