Articles from: February 2012

Jupiter Craft Brewer’s Beer Festival – January 28, 2012

Jupiter Beer Festival

Jupiter Beer Festival

Regardless of what you may think of craft beer, it’s hard not to like what’s going on across America, and the world, for that matter, with regard to the popularity of craft beer.

In our little sparging tank of the world (South Florida) we’re fortunate to experience beer-tasting events like the annual Jupiter Craft Brewer’s Festival, located in Jupiter, Florida. Taking place in the more favorable mild winter temps of January, over 40 craft brewers descend upon Roger Dean Stadium this time of year to ply their wares to the most ardent beer aficionados.

Blue Point Toxic Sludge

Blue Point Toxic Sludge

For the uninitiated, the Jupiter Fest is a large, well-organized and well-attended event that never disappoints. Besides the beer itself, there is always food on hand, along with live music and a “Silent Disco” (don’t ask). True, there were some noticeably absent craft brewers like Flying Dog and Bell’s at this year’s event, but that doesn’t mean we didn’t have more than our fair share of beer choices available. With our event lanyards draped across our chests and plastic steins in hand we proceeded to sip, sample and savor a good amount of some of the finest craft ales, pilsners, stouts and wheat beers the country has to offer.

Crowd Waiting for Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Porter

Crowd Waiting for Funky Buddha Maple Bacon Porter

Several local and state breweries were there as well, including Cigar City, Dogfish Head, Funky Buddha, Stone, and Blue Point. Of these, The Funky Buddha, located in Boca Raton, Florida, by far had the most unique and best-tasting beers of the lot. The Funky Buddha No Crusts (PB & J in a bottle – brilliant!) and Maple Bacon Porter were hands down the most sought-after beers of the event (as judged by the throngs of tipsy festival goers acting like orphans seeking their next bowl of gruel), and went quickly as the kegs were tapped. The one drawback to these events is the limited availability of certain high-demand brews. Several brewers had message boards posted stating when their specialty brews would be put on the public tasting block. We missed out on the Cigar City White Oak Peach IPA early in the afternoon, but were well rewarded with the Funky Buddha offerings later in the day.

After three and a half hours of sampling fine brew, it was time to call it a day. With our stomachs full and a pleasant buzz in our heads, we all headed south to grab a late afternoon bite to eat at Sweetwater Bar & Grill, located in Boynton Beach.

Sweetwater

Sweetwater Bar & Grill

Sweetwater is a charming bar and eatery that boasts an excellent beer and drink menu while serving up some amazing food. Among the most notable items were the scallops on the half shell special topped with a topping similar to dynamite you would find on some sushi dishes; tangy, sweet chicken wings; mini burgers and fries; belgium battered octopus, and Korean beef soft tacos that were to die for.

We will definitely keep Sweetwater Bar & Grill in mind during our next adventure on the Wanderlushes highway.

Lazing On A Sunday Afternoon – Wanderlush Style

South Florida Lazy Sunday

South Florida Lazy Sunday

I am not a firm believer in preventing a hangover via the “hair of the dog.” To me, it simply delays the inevitable – so why put it off? A better cure is to absorb any traces of alcohol in the system by a strict adherence to being lazy, eating rich food and imbibing (responsibly) in the curative properties of more alcohol. This method is unscientific at best, and to my knowledge no data exists to support it. But it sure makes for a fun and filling Sunday.

Bloody Mary at Sea Watch

Sea Watch Bloody Mary

Which is where we Wanderlushes found ourselves this particular January Sunday. Every so often we like to throw caution to the wind, venture out and do a modified version of a pub crawl in our town. Ours started with breakfast, or in this case a brunch of lobster benedict and Bloody Marys at one of our favorite Fort Lauderdale beachside restaurants, Coconuts. The weather was ideal for sitting outside, but even the booths indoor offer a favorable glimpse of the beautiful Fort Lauderdale intracoastal.

Sea Watch

Sea Watch

After brunch we drove north along A1A, breezing through Fort Lauderdale into smaller seaside towns like Lauderdale-By-The-Sea, Pompano Beach, Lighthouse Point, Deerfield Beach and Boca Raton. We decided to make a pit stop at one of Pompano Beach’s oldest and most frequented beachside eateries: Seawatch. Still full from our brunch at Coconuts, we ordered four Bloody Marys and sat outside on the upper deck patio/dining area that offers unbeatable vistas of the grassy dunes and beach. It’s days like this that we’re grateful to be living in South Florida and not digging out of three feet of snow in sub-zero temperatures somewhere else.

Sea Watch

Sea Watch

After sipping on our drinks and enjoying the gorgeous weather, we piled back into the Wanderlushmobile and headed north along A1A to Boca Raton, admiring many of the multi-million-dollar homes situated on either side of the street. It’s staggering to think how much people pay to live along the beach in South Florida, though it must be worth it because, as the late comedian George Carlin quipped, “You only have a**holes on three sides of you.”

Biergarten

Biergarten

We made it to Boca Raton and stopped by the Royal Palm Plaza to check out an arts and crafts fair taking place in the parking on the Federal Highway side of the shopping center. There were people there selling original art, clothing, homemade pickles and jewelry. We wandered around for a while checking out the wares and decided a little snack was in order, so we ended up ordering some noshes at The Biergarten Boca Raton. The décor at this Boca newcomer is decidedly hofbrauhaus, with waitresses clad in festive Oktoberfest dresses and a menu consisting of German and American bar bites and pub grub. We ordered beers, a plate of chicken wings, sausage bites with mustard dipping sauce and bier cheese fries, which were good, but were served sundae style and with a thin cheese sauce. Overall the Biergarten is a fun place to enjoy some lighter fare and beers, especially outside, weather permitting.

Biergarten Apps

Biergarten Apps

Most people would be sated at this point and call it a day. But not the Wanderlushes. With the sun still shining we were bound and determined to make the most of this lazy Sunday, so we headed over to Mizner Park to check out the Cheese Course.

Cheese Plates

Cheese Plates from The Cheese Course

This establishment does wine and cheese right. Not only do they boast a world-class array of some of the finest domestic and imported cheeses, they have an eclectic wine selection so you can purchase and enjoy both on the premises. A pleasant woman working behind the counter offered samples of three delicious cheeses, which we all tried.  After sampling the Cahill Porter, Cacio di Bosco (Truffle!) and Teahive cheeses we decided we had to share  couple of cheese plates to complete our evening.   We looked for a nice bottle of red to accompany our selections and settled on a bold and zesty Sebastiani California Zinfandel.  We then sat down at a long, rustic wooden dinner table (country style) and enjoyed our cheese, bread and wine feast. Whatever traces of hangover or blahs we had in the morning were long gone by the time we left Boca Raton early that evening. Not a bad way to spend a Sunday, in our book.

Wanderlushes

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