LauderAle Brewing, Fort Lauderdale, FL

IMAG5575 Not quite fresh on the heels of Funky Buddha, Due South and Saltwater Brewing, comes Fort Lauderdale nanobrewery, LauderAle.

The brainchild of friends Kyle Jones and Joe Farrell, LauderAle’s modest brewing facility is located inside a 3,200-square-foot space warehouse space at 3305 SE 14th Avenue, in Fort Lauderdale. Finding it can be tricky, but is worth the effort.  (Note: there is currently road work taking place close by at Fort Lauderdale-Hollywood International Airport, so be patient and keep your eyes open when driving to LauderAle.)

On a recent Saturday we stopped in to offer our support for these up-and-coming beer entrepreneurs. This is beer drinking stripped to the bare bones, which is what you’d expect from a burgeoning craft beer maker. No frills, no gastro inspired food (only food trucks, but not on this night), just pint glasses, picnic tables and a decent-sized bar for now. Given its limited space, you can see and smell the brewing process happening right before you (and that’s a good thing). We had a pint of the American IPA and the Robust Porter.  The American IPA is hoppy enough, though it may require some tweaking to amp up the bitter, piney flavors you’d expect from some more established IPA’s. The Robust Porter is rich, dark and complex, with loads of malty chocolate to satisfy discriminating tastes.  On a second visit we had the Russian Imperial Stout and the Saison, which was perfect for sipping on this hot summer day.IMAG5724

We’re glad to see Fort Lauderdale establish itself in the ever-expanding craft beer world. We raise a pint to the future success of LauderAle. Cheers!

Wandering Wynwood

Wynwood Brewing CompanyAfter playing taxi for relatives going on a cruise last Sunday, we decided on a whim to take a detour on the way back to Fort Lauderdale and explore the Wynwood Arts District.  It had been a while since we had been in the area and we were impressed by the changes.   We could have spent hours just walking the blocks taking in the murals covering almost every space.  Unfortunately, we had limited time and had to narrow down the jaunt to drinks and lunch.  These are just two of the many places we could have chosen to go but that is just another reason for us to take the quick 25 minute drive back down!Wynwood Beer

Wynwood Brewing Company 

It’s no secret that the craft beer industry is growing exponentially across the country. Once lagging behind, Florida is finally getting its feet wet and diving headlong into unchartered territory. Closer to home, Wynwood Brewing Company, Miami’s first craft production brewery, took the leap and began its brewing operation back in 2011. Located in the heart of Wynwood Art District, Wynwood Brewing is a family owned and operated facility that is chugging out some remarkable craft beers in and around South Florida, both to locals and tourists alike. Their 15-barrel brewhouse is surrounded by former clothing and shoe warehouses, but are now the canvas for local artists who have painted some truly amazing graffiti art.Our Beer

The taproom is small, but comfortable and well lit, and offers craft beer lovers an opportunity to see the brewing operation first-hand behind large glass windows in the back of the bar. There is some eclectic art on the wall at Wynwood Brewing, and it definitely has a laid back, do as you want feel. The staff is very friendly, and on this particular day they were dealing with having to tell everyone that it was cash only since the network was temporarily down.  Lucky for us, we had cash in hand.  Now, on to the beers…The Wynwood IPA (7.2% ABV) is just what you’d expect: Bitter on the open and middle with strong hints of pine, grapefruit and floral notes, followed by a nice mellow finish.  La Pantera (The Panther 6.5% ABV) Coffee Stout is a collaboration of sorts, between friends, using Panther Coffee as the base for an amazingly complex brew. Yes, Panther Coffee. Like most stouts, La Pantera hits your palate like a strong jolt of Cuban Coffee (Que Bola!), then throws in some malty cocoa notes just to bring your tastebuds back to earth. Of the two beers we tasted this Sunday, La Pantera clearly was the favorite.Wynwood Mural

Kush by Lokal 

Kush by LokalSpray painted in bright red on a brick wall in Kush Wynwood is a simple, yet prophetic adage every craft beer lover lives by: “Cheap beer ain’t good, good beer ain’t cheap.”  Fresh from our craft beer tasting at Wynwood Brewing Company, it was time for a bite to eat. Checking for nearby restaurants, we found ourselves heading a few blocks over to Kush by Lokal, a funky little eatery and craft beer establishment that boasts some of the best burgers in the area along with an impressive draft and bottle beer selection. The bar/restaurant is very small, with only a few tables situated along the walls and a modest bar. There are tables outside, but on this 90+-degree South Florida day, we decided indoors was a better dining option. Seating at Kush is first come, first served, so as soon as you walk through the door, be sure to get a staff member’s attention so they can offer you a place to sit when it becomes available. We got lucky when a couple at a counter near the bar had just finished and were paying their check.

Kush BeerKush’s beer menu walks a fine line between the beers you know, the beers you’d like to know and the beers you simply have to try.  We ordered the Victory Dirtwolf Double IPA (8.7% ABV), a one-two punch of strong hoppiness that assaults the palate, and the Mikkeller George Imperial Stout (12% ABV), a chocolaty, malty complex stout that is rich and deep in dark flavors without being cloyingly sweet.

Kush FoodKush’s menu has plenty of options to satisfy any palate: from the South you can nosh on alligator bites (fried and served with creamy garlic and spicy mayo) to pork sausages and fried pickles. But Kush is known for its burgers, so we decided to split Kush’s award-winning Johnny Utah (I am an FBI AGENT!), which was recently voted best burger in Miami by New Times weekly. Johnny Utah, the burger, not Keanu’s free spirited, surf obsessed federal agent character from “Point Break,” is a quarter pound of beef cooked to order and topped with hot pastrami, LoKal Sauce (don’t ask), sliced tomato, diced white onions and cheddar cheese. One bite and you can taste why the Johnny Utah burger won the award (yet, despite his duty, wouldn’t bring Bodhi in). Flavorful and juicy, savory and spicy – whatever adjective describes awesome – the Johnny Utah is without a doubt one of the best burgers we’ve had in some time. With food of this quality and a beer menu that will satisfy even the most discriminating of craft beer drinkers, Kush by Lokal is perfecting its art in Wynwood.

New Belgium Brewing Lips Of Faith Series Beer Review: Transatlantique Kriek and La Folie Sour Brown Ale

Transatlantique KriekTransatlantique Kriek Ale

New Belgium Brewing, like any other cutting edge craft beer maker, isn’t afraid to take risks to create new and exciting beers. Their Lips Of Faith Series of beers have forged new territory, with both good and not-so-good results, depending on whom you ask. They teamed up with Brewerij Boon of Belgium to create Transatlantique Kriek, an ale they call, “a spontaneously fermented Lambic Ale” made with Polish cherries.

Bright red in color and a dead ringer for a Lambic (think of Raspberry 7-Up but slightly darker), the Kriek is equally effervescent and pours clean into the glass, never really achieving a foamy head. Then the welcoming gurgling subsides and there is the unmistakable (yet pleasant) cherry aroma. It’s like smelling Sweet Tarts in liquid form. The taste, as you would expect, is crisp and clean (that would be New Belgium’s golden lager tempering the sour cherry) and has a sweet mouth feel. The cherry tartness never lingers and produces a satisfying finish.  This is a great summer sipper that’s worth trying.

La Folie Sour Brown AleLa Folie

The next Lips Of Faith Series ale we tried in a fortnight was the La Folie, which is French for “The folly.” This latest New Belgium creation is a sour brown ale that’s aged for one to three years in large, oak barrels called foeders, creating a deep mahogany ale. I’ll admit I have been hesitant to drink sour ales, farmhouse or otherwise, for some time. La Folie, however, changed my mind, and will do the same for you – if you give it a chance. The sourness hits you right away on the opening sip, but once the assault on your taste buds subsides, things begin to mellow as the complex flavor profile begins to take shape. I noticed strong hints of sweet fig and plum, plus some green apple thrown in just to remind you that you’re drinking a sour ale. Let this sit at room temperature for about 15 minutes before serving; allow the ingredients some time to “stretch their legs” before enjoying this great new addition to New Belgium’s Lips Of Faith Series. Cheers!

Hardy Park Bistro – Ft. Lauderdale

Psst. If you live in South Florida, don’t tell anyone about this tiny, out-of-the-way restaurant located in the vicinity of downtown Fort Lauderdale. It’s really, really good, but it’s not very big, see? Once word gets out about the quality of food, well, you know how it goes with popular places that start our charming and friendly but run the risk of becoming a “one and done” eating establishment you enjoy with the intention of returning to soon, but when you finally do, you realize that now there’s a long wait for a table, parking has become an issue and the clientele…well, you get the idea.

We’re hoping Hardy Park Bistro stays exactly the way it is: A charming, unassuming little place that’s big on flavors and attention to detail.

The restaurant (aptly named because it sits right across the street from a city park that bears the name) is Fort Lauderdale’s newest eatery that is worth checking out. This particular Saturday we arrived around 9 p.m. after attending a downtown art walk event. I must admit I didn’t think we’d get seated as quickly as we did. A young woman had greeted us at the door and told us they needed to clear a table, but it would only be a few minutes.

The restaurant is spare but elegant (it was a barbecue restaurant in its former existence), containing seven tables inside; two tables located on one side in the front outside; as well as a pub-height bench table and chairs on the other side. HPB’s staff is very friendly and knowledgeable. The wine menu contained a respectable listing of reds and whites, all reasonably priced.

For dinner, we ordered the Grilled Octopus Salad with Arugula, Roasted Tomatoes, Garlic and Eggplant and the Grilled Salmon with Risotto Cake, Asparagus, Red Pepper Coulis and Basil.  Both dishes were excellent.  The salmon was cooked to absolute perfection. It was moist, yet flaky, and combined with the other ingredients, never felt overpowering. The Risotto Cake was phenomenal and contrasted nicely with the fish. We were both impressed. With dinner finished, our server asked us if we saved any room for dessert. We politely declined the offer, but perhaps next time we will take them up on it.

Oh yes, we will be back, Hardy Park Bistro…you can count on it.

Sunday Brunch at Red Cow, Fort Lauderdale, FL

Smoked Bloody MaryDon’t look now, but Sunday brunch is back. Well, sort of…not that it really went away. To the legions of late-night denizens, drunkards and party hearty types, Sunday brunch is an indispensable meal, more an event, really, that welcomes the brain dead back to the land of the living.

And, even if you’re like us, with more late night adventures behind than in front of us, Sunday brunch is a nice departure from the usual Sunday paper, coffee and bowl of cold cereal routine. And South Florida has numerous options available for the brunch crowd, including Red Cow, one of Ft. Lauderdale’s newest restaurants, located at the site of the former Texas Hold ‘Em.

Red Cow is known for its down-home barbecue fare, but on Sundays it transforms the usual eggs-and-bacon into something quite Dizzy Chicken Hashremarkable. The service is friendly and welcoming, and the day we dined there we were seated right away.

The restaurant looks like your friendly, neighborhood eatery, a comfortable place you can kick back and relax. Red Cow has a bar, complete with a respectable wine and beer selection. We ordered Bloody Marys, including one that features a smoke-infused vodka. Garnished with beef jerky and a pickle, both were delicious and satisfying.

AustinFor our meals, we enjoyed The Austin and the Dizzy Chicken Hash.  The Austin features two eggs cooked to order, jalapeno cheddar sausage, a cowboy potato cake and corn bread. It was incredible, to say the least. The Hash is a big, delicious mound of breakfast goodness piled on the plate, consisting of pulled rotisserie chicken, an egg cooked to order and fresh pico de gallo. I cleaned my plate, barely.

I don’t know if food can cure what ails you, but Red Cow offers up exactly the type of food you’ll enjoy eating on a Sunday morning or early afternoon – regardless of your condition. Red Cow is Sunday Brunch done right, and definitely worth trying.

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