Tampa Bay Beer Week only has a few annual go-rounds under it’s belt. So the fact that it held a Halfway There Rare Beer Festival party on Saturday to mark the midway point to next year’s event is even more impressive. It’s the kind of thing towns with more established beer cultures do.
Five hundred tickets to the event at the Cuban Club in Ybor City showcasing about two dozen breweries and brewing clubs sold out quickly.
Among the foamy highlights:
♦ Sparkle Horse, a grapefruit-flavored Berliner by 7venth Sun in Dunedin.
♦ Chocolate Peanut Butter Stout by Rapp Brewing in Seminole.
♦ Ol’ Cackler, a barrel-aged porter by Barley Mow Brewing Co., in Largo.
♦ High Thai’d IPA by the Suncoast Barley Mashers.
♦ Flambe Strong Ale made with roasted bananas by Angry Chair Brewing Co., in Seminole Heights. Angry Chair co-founder Ryan Dowdle told me the brewery’s tasting room is on track to open later this year.
♦ ChoCCa Belgian style imperial ale by Three Palms Brewing.
♦ 44 Magnum by Lagerhaus Brewery & Grill. At 22 percent alcohol by volume, you had to ask yourself, “Do you feel lucky?”
♦ Green Bench Brewing Co.’s Surrealist IPA. Head brewer Khristopher Johnson also collaborated with Bob Sylvester of Saint Somewhere in Tarpon Springs to produce Sanc Banc Vert, a rustic farmhouse ale that also was sampled during the event. Johnson says Green Bench plans to open in the next few weeks in St. Petersburg with about 15 taps.
Johnson also is collaborating with 7venth Sun on a Florida Berliner weisse, with Cask and Larder in Orlando on a white India Pale Ale, with Cigar City Brewing on a specialty brown ale with lactose and peppercorn and with Tampa Bay Brewing Co. on a smoked black IPA.
ST. SUPERY TASTING
I had a chance last week to taste the lineup of Napa Valley wines by family held St. Supery Estate Vineyards & Winerey. Emma J. Swain, St. Supery’s CEO, talked us through eight outstanding wines that ranged in price from $20 for the very drinkable 2012 Napa Valley Estate Sauvignon Blanc to $85 for the outstanding 2009 Dollarhide Estate Cabernet Sauvignon.
Kevin Pelley, general manager of Bern’s Fine Wines & Spirits, also was at the meal and had an excellent pairing I can’t wait to try: The 2012 Napa Valley Estate Moscato with Thai food. The light-yet-sweet wine, which sells for $25, should pair well with that cuisine’s spicy dishes.
♦ Cinnamon Toast Crunch shot, made with Fireball cinnamon whiskey and RumChata, at Paddywagon Irish Pub in downtown Tampa.
♦ Lagunitas Capuccino Stout. Sometimes, when a coffee and beer love each other, they get together and make a stout.
♦ Founders Red Rye PA at New World Brewery in Ybor City. Big, bitter, hoppy flavor. Not an ale for wimps.
Great new books about adult beverages to consider: ♦ “World Beer,” by Tim Hampson (DK, $40). Encyclopedic in scope, this book is a craft-beer lover’s dream, with details about more than 800 breweries and 1,000 beers from Europe, the Americas, Asia, Australia and Africa. St. Somewhere Brewing and Cigar City Brewing each get nice mentions.
♦ “Bourbon,” by Kathleen Purvis (University of North Carolina Press, $14). Purvis, an award-winning food editor at the Charlotte Observer, provides a belly warming small batch of whiskey facts about Kentucky’s greatest export not named Muhammad Ali.