Field Trip: 6th Annual Florida Tap Invitational at Proof Brewing Co.

FLTAPLogoLast month, we were lucky enough to receive an invite to the 6th Annual Florida Tap Invitational at Proof Brewing Co. (Tallahassee, Florida) and we have returned – after a bit of a delay – to provide you with a recap and photographic account of our experience at this truly special beer festival.

Taking place each year at Proof Brewing Co. in Tallahassee, the Florida Tap Invitational is an exclusive beer festival that aims to collect the finest and most interesting/innovative beers being produced in Florida so that craft beer fans can experience them all in one spot.  Beyond just being a celebration of the state’s craft beer community, this year’s event went an extra mile by serving as a fundraiser for Proof Brewing Co.’s neighbors in the Florida Panhandle that were affected by Hurricane Michael.

The description of the event that we received was very similar to the paragraph above, but we had no idea how intimate this beer festival would be until we turned the corner to the parking lot to get in line.  The entirety of the Florida Tap Invitational takes place in Proof Brewing Co.’s parking lot, beer garden and tasting room – none of which are incredibly large.  Despite that fact, someone who undoubtedly was a savant at Tetris found ample space to set up pour stations – most of them housed under tents – for 45 or so breweries and still had room for food vendors, a stage for musical entertainment and areas for attendees to congregate.

We entered with the VIP ticket holders, and the ID check/ticket redemption process was speedy and efficient.  As soon as we received our glass and got through the gate, our worries of over-crowding – a very real occurrence at many beer festivals – were quickly put at ease.  The amount of tickets allotted for this event was nearly perfect, and the layout basically kept the crowd moving at a slowly churning pace.  Even after General Admission was let in and attendance was at its peak, we never felt rushed or crowded and always had somewhere to go to hang out and have a conversation.  At times, many pour stations were wide open and allowed guests plenty of time to chat with representatives from their favorite breweries.

As far as the beer goes, the level of quality at the Florida Tap Invitational was as advertised.  Nearly every brewery came with the intention to show you their absolute best, and the event was utterly awash with countless one-off, rare, and limited release beers.  To give you an idea of the insane brews that graced our glasses during this event, here are our “Top 5 Most Memorable Beers of the 6th Annual Florida Tap Invitational” (list is in no particular order):

  • Magnanimous Brewing | Flourish – New England-style Wheat.  A new brewery coming to Tampa, Magnanimous made quite the first impression with a Wheat Ale that was bright, hoppy, luscious and refreshing.
  • Deep Brewing Co. | Bourbon Barrel CYNNICAL – Imperial Stout with cinnamon, ancho chile, cacao & vanilla.  CYNNICAL blew us away with big notes of brownie batter, dark chocolate, bourbon and just the right pop of heat.
  • Aardwolf Brewing Company | Bearer of the Cup of the Blood of the Ancients – Barrel-aged Raspberry Sour.  The name immediately captured our attention, and the beer itself delivered a wonderfully complex experience filled with tart raspberry goodness.
  • Invasive Species Brewing | Malkovich Malkovich – Hazy IPA double dry-hopped with Mosaic, Citra & Cashmere hops.  This IPA was ridiculously juicy and had just the right amount of delightful dankness. Oh, and the label artwork on the can is just stunning.
  • Proof Brewing Co. | Coffee Vanilla Hazelnut Bourbon Barrel-aged Glass Emperor – Bourbon Barrel-aged Imperial Stout.  The home team stood up and showed out with a tap list comprised of over 30 beers, but this one set itself apart by nailing every descriptor in its name.  Pronounced and impactful but not overly cloying, this was THE dessert stout of the festival for us.

In addition to all the amazing beer, the Florida Tap Invitational also featured an incredibly solid lineup of food trucks/vendors and an unforgettable musical performance from Tallahassee’s Catfish Alliance and their majestic hype man “Sex Manatee”.  Once all the pieces of this event – from the beer to the food to the band – started functioning as a whole, the Florida Tap Invitational was then able to go next level and become a true celebration filled with nothing but good times and vibes.

Absolutely everything mentioned above was truly fantastic, but the coolest and most interesting part of the Florida Tap Invitational was how the brewers/brewery representatives behaved while at the event.  It was very clear that they were all there to talk to fans and properly showcase what makes their breweries special, but throughout the event we noticed that almost every single one of them found a moment to disappear into the crowd in search of a beer they were excited about. Sure, the “I need a beer, I’ll be right back” kind of moment happens at all beer festivals, but this was something different.  We ran into countless of them at other breweries’ tables and they were just as giddy as the ticket-holders surrounding them for the chance to try these beers.  They were talking shop, catching a laugh with old friends, and just genuinely stoked to be there.  At times it had the air of a company holiday party and showed that a very real camaraderie exists in Florida’s brewing community.

This speaks volumes for the Florida Tap Invitational because if the brewers and brewery reps – people who are at beer fests/events constantly all year long – are clearly having a great time and genuinely want to be there, that means you, the beer lover, need to be there.  There is no better endorsement for a beer festival than that, so check out the photos below and go ahead and make a note that you will need to be in Tallahassee in 2019 for the 7th Annual Florida Tap Invitational.  Prost!

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Field Trip: Media Reception & Beer Launch at New Realm Brewing Company

radegastLast week, we had the pleasure of attending a VIP Media Reception and Beer Launch event at New Realm Brewing Company (Atlanta, Georgia) and we have returned to supply you with a photographic account of our experience at this newly established craft beer institution that is sure to have a huge impact on Atlanta’s beer scene.

Established by Carey Falcone, Bob Powers and IPA whisperer Mitch Steele, New Realm Brewing Company is a 20,000 square-foot facility located on Atlanta’s Beltline.  This game-changing destination brewery houses a 25hl, four vessel brewhouse and 50hl tank farm from Krones Steinecker, a stunning taproom and restaurant, multiple multipurpose rooms that can act as event space or additional seating, several bars, a dedicated growler station, and a rooftop deck featuring a breathtaking view of the Atlanta skyline.  The brewery’s main system will be focused on creating world-class, regular rotation offerings while a pilot system will be dedicated to churning out a regular stream of creative and innovative one-offs and experimental batches.  Helmed by General Manager Don Mioton and Executive Chef Julio Delgado, New Realm’s restaurant “[blends] global flavors and southern techniques” to offer a delicious menu that pairs beautifully with the house beers.  Speaking of those beers, New Realm offerings will span the style spectrum, but you can rest assured that you will see many hop-laden brews from Mitch Steele.

New Realm Brewing Company officially opened to the public on Monday (January 8), but we were lucky enough to get a first look at the facility last week.  Although part of me wishes that we returned home with a notebook full of technical data on the brewery and the beers, it was kind of refreshing to hear that this event was meant to have more of a relaxed, hangout atmosphere rather than that of a formal interview.  When I say refreshing, I mean that more so from the perspective of the New Realm team that was facing an opening week that would be full of photo ops, interviews, and the intense scrutiny of being a new brewery and restaurant in a major U.S. city.  This was the crew’s last chance to take a breath and a moment to celebrate before that coming storm. It was a needed break disguised as a soft opening and media event.

We wanted to respect that, so our conversations with Mitch Steele and everyone else at New Realm were limited to small talk about our personal lives, the beer industry in general, hobbies, and good food.  Although fun for us, we realized that those discussions would not produce interesting copy.  So . . . we adjusted our approach to the event and instead decided to document our experience through photos.  We want you to experience this place through our eyes, and hopefully that will inspire you to visit New Realm, sample the beers, have a meal, take the tour, and experience something truly special.  We hope that you enjoy the gallery and, above all, realize that you need to experience all that can be found in New Realm.  Prost!

 

Click any image to enlarge

Field Trip: An Evening with Lord Hobo Brewing Co.

On Monday, July 31, Cavalier Distributing welcomed Lord Hobo Brewing Co. (Woburn, Massachusetts) to the Florida beer scene with an industry-only event at The Dalí Museum.  We were lucky enough to score an invite to the event, and you know we took plenty of photos to document the festivities for you.

Just last week, we let you all know the exciting news that Lord Hobo Brewing Co. was arriving in Florida with a series of launch events set to take place from August 2 to August 12 (click here to read that post).  The party got off to an early start on Monday as representatives from Tampa-area breweries and craft beer establishments got together at The Dalí to introduce themselves to the crew and brews of Lord Hobo.  The evening was filled with damn good beer, tasty eats, great tunes and even better conversation held against a backdrop of Salvador Dalí’s artistic masterpieces.  It was a truly unique, craft beer experience that is probably best conveyed in a visual format.  Check out photos of the festivities below, and be sure to hit up one of the remaining launch events so that you too can get to know the amazing folks of Lord Hobo Brewing Co. while they are in town.  Prost!

 

**Click any photo below to enlarge, read descriptions, and/or view the gallery as a slideshow**

 

Field Trip: VIP Night at Noble Crust – Wesley Chapel

1SignOutdoor_editedOn Saturday, July 15, the Noble Crust hosted a VIP Night and Preview Party for their new location in Wesley Chapel, and we were fortunate enough to receive an invitation to cover the festivities.  Here’s your first look at this fantastic new restaurant taking up residence at the Shops at Wiregrass.

Serving as a benefit for The Florida Hospital Wesley Chapel Foundation, this VIP Night event acted as the perfect platform to introduce the community to Noble Crust and its philosophy that is clearly built on generosity and hospitality.  From the hostess at the door to the proud ownership mingling with the crowd, the entire crew at Noble Crust does absolutely everything they can to make you feel at ease and at home when you visit their restaurant.

And what a beautiful restaurant it is.  Before you enter the restaurant proper, you easily glide through a cozy patio space that has been designed with the ability to tame the Florida heat with breezy fans and a gentle misting system.  As you walk through the front door, your eyes feast on a gorgeous space that includes comfy social dining areas, an immaculate open kitchen, clever lighting that provides a warm ambiance, and one of the most stunning bars in the area.

Take a seat and your attention suddenly shifts to the alluring aromas wafting from the kitchen.  With a menu comprised of seasonal Italian dishes that retain a Southern soul, your options are many.  You can nosh on tasty appetizers such as Deviled Crab Arancini and Ricotta Gnocchi before selecting a main course that could range from one of several of Noble Crust’s incredibly balanced and delicious pizzas to Rigatoni & Short Rib Ragu or some Southern Fried Chicken.  After polishing off your first two courses, be sure to look over the dessert menu because you are definitely going to want to finish off your meal with a slice of Lemon-Buttermilk Pie or a jar of Warm Chocolate Budino.  Finally, and this goes for your entire meal, your Noble Crust experience is not complete unless you pair these delectable dishes with something from the bar.  It could be a of glass wine, a tasty brew from their carefully curated beer list, or one of their many ambrosial house cocktails.  Just find the flavor that best suits you, settle in, sip away and fully savor the complete dining experience that Noble Crust provides.

We could go on and on about our time at Noble Crust, but it is probably best to let our photos do the talking from here on out.  Check out the photos below and, most importantly, be sure to check out Noble Crust – Wesley Chapel as soon as possible.  The restaurant opens to the public this week, and their staff is polished and ready to go.  Make it happen and enjoy what may just be the finest dining option now available in Wesley Chapel.  Prost!

 

**Click any photo below to enlarge, read descriptions, and/or view the gallery as a slideshow**

Field Trip: Cavalier Distributing Trade Show – Tampa

Just a few weeks ago, Cavalier Distributing (Lakeland, Florida) held a fantastic and informative trade show at The Vault, a beautiful venue located in the heart of Tampa’s Downtown Arts District.  Cavalier used this industry-only event as an opportunity to introduce the area’s restaurants, bars, retailers, and media members to their vast portfolio of fine craft beers, meads, ciders and spirits.  The best way to capture all that this event had to offer was through a visual medium, so check out the photos below (click to enlarge) so that you too can get the inside scoop on the exciting beverages headed our way this year from Cavalier Distributing.  Prost!

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Field Trip: SweetWater Brewing Company 20th Anniversary Party

On Sunday, February 19, SweetWater Brewing Company (Atlanta, Georgia) celebrated “20 Years of Heady Beers” with a 20th Anniversary Party that featured a ridiculously awesome tap list and a musical performance from moe.  We were fortunate enough to receive an invite to cover this event, and the only way to do this spectacle justice is to provide a visual account of the day.  Check out the photos below, and be sure to raise a glass in the near future to recognize SweetWater Brewing Company’s two decades of brewing excellence.   Prost!

**Click any photo above to enlarge and view captions**