If craft beer makers are the new rock stars, Funky Buddha has gone platinum. Saturday, January 10, Funky Buddha held its second annual Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Festival at its Oakland Park brewery, which seems to be growing by leaps and bounds as demand grows for their myriad of one-of-a-kind craft beers.
Looking at the crowds, this year’s event easily eclipsed last year’s in terms of attendance. The city of Oakland Park closed down the street to accommodate the throngs of craft beer lovers. Several food trucks set up shop along the street, giving attendees some tasty eating options, including Chaco’s Chinese Tacos and Diablo Dogs. Craft beer and street food just go hand in hand. For ease in operation and to speed up sales, tickets are sold for $5 each, with beers sold one per customer – no exceptions. Bottles of the precious Maple Bacon Coffee Porter were sold between noon and 3 p.m., with pick-up from 4 – 7 p.m. Unfortunately we arrived later that afternoon and never had a chance to buy any bottles. Damn. Maybe next time.
But back to the beer. FB’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter may be the star, but there were over 50 craft beers to choose from; most of them Funky Buddha signature beers, some specialty brews, plus several guest taps including several Florida beer makers such as Due South (Boynton Beach), Wynwood Brewing (Miami) and Angry Chair (Tampa). Unless you have a second liver or are resistant to the effects of alcohol, there is no conceivable way to try every beer on the menu. We each had a Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, which was delicious and true to its moniker, tastes just like breakfast in a glass. As we started surveying the options, we realized that almost all the earlier timed releases were sold out. Not to be deterred, we formulated our plan for the next release as we sipped a Dredd Pirate Robert’s Imperial Stout (9% ABV), which had strong hints of chocolate, raspberries and coconut. Next up was the Up Pip’s Kriek American Sour on oak and cherries (5.4% ABV), which, like most good sour beers make you pucker up and smile. With “appetizers” out of the way, we then focused on Funky Buddha’s timed-release beers.
Standing in line, shoulder-to-shoulder, like die-hard fans waiting to score concert tickets, the countdown begins and then it’s release time! We had a game plan and put it in action. We anxiously awaited as the countdown began in the tap room, looking forward to a pour of the Bourbon Barrel-Aged Nikolai Vorlauf Imperial Stout (10.5% ABV). Sweet, complex and boozy, the NV takes on the characteristics as it ages in the Bourbon barrel, with strong hints of vanilla caramel added to what is already an incredible beer. Outside at one of two beer trucks, a similar frenzy was building. There were so many great choices but this time we were after the Chocolate Basil Porter (6.7% ABV). This was easily one of the standout beers of the festival with a flavor profile that struck a nice balance between the cocoa and basil.
We met up with some fellow beer-loving friends during the event, which gave us all an opportunity to sip and savor other beers we may not have a chance to try. We sipped and strategized for the 7pm release which was going to be tricky. There were several beers at each timed release station that we wanted to try that were, most likely, not going to last long. We split up and headed to our respective stations. Thankfully, we were able to get each beer we were after.
The Uncle Vucub’s Imperial Stout, which is made with cinnamon, vanilla, cocoa nibs and habanero. Sweet, spicy and strong with its 9% ABV, Uncle Vucub’s Imperial wakes up your taste buds from the first sip. Stepping outside of Florida we also enjoyed a Toppling Goliath PseudoSue Pale Ale (5.8% ABV) from Iowa and a name any Star Wars geek can appreciate: Revolution Deth’s Tar IRS Imperial Stout Heaven Hill and Old Forester barrel-aged (11.4%) from Chicago. The Force is with this craft beer maker, for sure. Both of these beers lasted only a short time and we considered ourselves lucky to get to try them. The piece de resistance was the Last Buffalo in the Park Snowed In Imperial Last Snow Porter (11% ABV) aged in Buffalo Trace Whiskey barrels. It doesn’t get better than that so we decided to call it a night on this high note.
If you appreciate good craft beer, the Funky Buddha Brewing Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Festival is a once-a-year event worth checking out. Just make a point to arrive early, park and by all means, pace yourself. Cheers!