Ah, South Florida in February: to whose sun-soaked beaches swarm the most gorgeous young women, along with the ugliest, fattest living senior citizens on the planet, as they flee their harsh winters in search of vitamin D. Though I fit into neither category (not yet, anyway…my sex change operation is next week), I headed down there with two goals in mind: to find great beer, and to play 18 holes. I’m happy to report that I accomplished both. Accompanied by Lady and Little Lady Copperpot on Hollywood Beach, in between soaking in the rays and the sights, I took a few minutes (read: several hours) away from the beach and the 82-degree pool to sample whatever local craft brews I could get my hands on. After all, there must be some decent beer being brewed in southeast Florida, right? Here’s a rundown of the non-Cigar City selections I found (Cigar City selections to come in a subsequent post):


Monk in the Trunk LogoMONK IN THE TRUNK – ORGANIC AMBER ALE (Jupiter Brewing Company, Jupiter, FL contract brewed at the Orlando Brewing Company)

Notes: 12 oz. bottle from Whole Foods Market on US 1 in Aventura, FL.

Style: Amber Ale

ABV: 5.5%

Appearance: Clear copper with some rubicund highlights (yes, I just dropped some gratuitous SAT vocab on your asses right there, and you liked it.)

Head: About a 1/4 inch that dissipated within 45 seconds.

Lacing: Some light splotching.

Nose: Robust spice, malt, and a touch of Belgian yeast funk.

Taste: Belgian yeast spice up front yields to caramel and stone fruit candy in the finish. The finish, however, does not quite balance out the preceding spice, and falls flat. The watery end of the sip is reminiscent of a (gasp!) light lager.

Mouthfeel: Medium/light body with light carbonation.

Drinkability: Though I’m much more into hop-blasts than in spicy, malty concoctions, I found this beer to be a middle of the road example of an amber ale. At 5.5% ABV, it’s an easy session, though not what I would call a particularly enjoyable one.

Rating: 2.5 hops


(Gordash Brewing. Fort Lauderdale, FL contract brewed at Thomas Creek Brewery in Greenville, SC)

Notes: 12 oz. bottle from Whole Foods Market on US 1 in Aventura, FL.

Style: Quad

ABV: 10%

Appearance: Dark orange\amber hue.

Head: Very little to speak of.

Lacing: A few splotches here and there.

Nose: Subtle yeast with apple skins and nectarines.

Taste: The taste is much richer and more robust than the nose would imply. Belgian yeast spice with an intense dosage of nectarine and other citrus notes. The finish is mild and crisp.

Mouthfeel: Medium bodied with medium effervescence. Gently coats the mouth.

Drinkability: At 10%, you can’t really quaff too many of these bad boys. But the medium body and balanced carbonation makes it go down pretty smoothly.

Rating: 2.5 hops. There are far better quads on the market (see Four, Allagash), but the folks at Gordash have produced a solid effort here, which also happens to be pretty affordable.



Notes: 12 oz. bottle from Whole Foods Market on US 1 in Aventura, FL.

Style: American Golden Ale.

ABV: 8.5%

Appearance: Mostly golden, with some amber coloration. Just the slightest bit cloudy due to a negligible amount of sediment.

Head: Popping bubbles at the beginning of the pour; zero retention.

Lacing: Nada.

Nose: Pale malt with a mild whiff of Belgian yeast funk.

Taste: Yeast spice up front, countered by pale malt in the finish. The flavor was not exactly what I would dub “full” or “complex.” It was more like my soul: “empty”; and my intellect: “simple”.

Mouthfeel: Medium/light body and heavily carbonated.

Drinkability: The verbiage on the side of the bottle claims that this beer is excellent now, and will only get better if cellared for 2 years. Though I cannot vouch for the 2-year old cellared version, I can tell you that the term “excellent” is hyperbole. This beer is “sorta OK” now, which would make me want to cellar the rest in the hopes that some day it would be halfway potable. Plus, at 8.5% ABV, it’s not exactly drinkable even if you did like it. I drank just one, and was on to the next Sunshine State offering.

Rating: 1.5 hops.


KEY WEST SUNSET ALEKEY WEST – SUNSET ALE (Florida Beer Company, Melbourne, FL)

Notes: 12 oz. bottle from Whole Foods Market on US 1 in Aventura, FL.

Style: American Amber Ale. Appearing on the bottle: “Sunset Ale is an American medium bodied Amber Ale with a tropical twist. It is brewed with pale and caramel malts blended with hops…” Really? You made this beer with malt and blended in some hops? That’s about as helpful as “triple hops brewed.” Should have known what I was getting myself into.

ABV: 4.8%

Appearance: Clear light copper.

Head: Dissipated within 30 seconds.

Lacing: Nil.

Nose: A bit of caramel and honey, but really not much to speak of.

Taste: Mirrored the nose: just some caramel and honey. No complexity. May God have mercy on this brewmaster’s soul.

Mouthfeel: The light carbonation waned pretty quickly, and the beer began to remind me of the cup left standing at the end of a 90-minute game of pong.

Drinkability: I suppose if you liked this beer, it would be easily drinkable. In my case, it went down quickly because I refuse to spend my precious time on this planet drinking bad beer.

Rating: 1 hop.


Native LagerFRESH BEER – NATIVE LAGER (Fresh Beer, Inc. Melbourne, FL)

Notes: 12 oz. bottle from Whole Foods Market on US 1 in Aventura, FL.

Style: Pale Lager

ABV: 4.7%

Appearance: Clear maize. The picture to the left would suggest that this beer has a dark-reddish tint to it. It does not.

Head: Slightly frothy; weak, but steady retention.

Lacing: I didn’t stick around long enough to find out.

Nose: Kinda smells like spicy dirt.

Taste: Dear God. To call this insipid would be a compliment.

Mouthfeel: Light body, weak carbonation.

Drinkability: It’s not potable. I dumped it after 2 sips.

Rating: 0 hops.


After that lineup, it’s no wonder Cigar City has caught fire down here. Excuse me while I crack into another Jai Alai.

Lord Copperpot

5 thoughts on “SUN OF A BEACH

  1. I’m jealous of all you guys making a beeline to Tampa to go see Cigar City. God only knows when I’ll be able to get some of that.

  2. Okay, so Monk in the Trunk should clearly be a Quad, Dubbel, or Belgian Stout right? Some sort of big ass Belgian (I mean, it’s right there). What a great name to waste on an amber ale…

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