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2015…A Year of Living Decadently

So, for any visitor to our site it must be obvious that we have been a bit neglectful in our updates.  As with many people, life, work and all the things that go with living it got in the way!  The good news is that we really enjoyed the living part this year and plan on doing more of the same next year.  Our intention is to actually add things as they happen, but we’ll just have to see how that goes!   Anyhoo…without further ado, our 2015 in photo review.  We hope you get an idea of just how much we savored it!

Funky Buddha Brewery Maple Bacon Coffee Porter Festival

FB2If 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.10866055_766364990121851_153536580750934960_o

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.

0110151646Standing 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.

IMG_2725We 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!

Brasserie Cantillon Night at the Sybarite Pig, Sep 1, 2014

IMAG5801  IMAG5790There was no secret knock to get in, but as we entered the Sybarite Pig for the Brasserie de Cantillon tasting on a recent Monday, we felt that we were stepping into an exclusive experience where we were, by far, the novices.

Tonight we would be sampling several offerings from Brasserie Cantillon that we will, most likely, not have the opportunity to try again anytime soon, if ever.  If we do become lucky enough to find one of these rare beers, our wallet may not be able to handle it.

Despite our relatively limited knowledge, we were welcomed by the attending enthusiasts. Everyone we spoke to was obviously enamored with these beers and wanted to share that love and exuberance with us.  Several of our fellow beer lovers pointed out we were starting out at the top and risked finding other beers of this style we have in the future lacking.  Oh well, go big or go home, right?  We dove into the experience with great anticipation.

The evening started with a plate prepared by Daniel, the owner. The plate of lamb atop basmati rice was an original dish that he explained won a competition and started him on his culinary career. It was the perfect start to a very special tasting. One by one the coveted beers were presented and poured, each unique and complex.  By the end of the evening we were IMAG5794sharing the remains of the bottles with new friends. And oh the beer!  We still have a lot to learn but we know enough that we want more! More Lambic, more Kriek, more Gueuze, just more! Tonight, sour ruled and we loved it.IMAG5797

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!

Craft: Spirits & Beer, Miami, Saturday, November 9, 2013

What is craft? What does it mean to ply one’s craft? These were questions that would be asked throughout the Craft Spirits & Beer event held in November at Soho Studios, in Miami.

Craft, in the strictest sense, is defined as an activity involving skill in creating things by hand. During this inaugural event this idea was evident in the distillers and brewers in attendance. Complementing the craft beer and spirits were chefs and food purveyors that also embraced that ideal.

Over 30 artisans attended the event, though it never felt overly crowded in the warehouse space.  It was a treat to sample some of the stellar and rare offerings.

In addition to the tasting portion of the event, there were panel discussions, bringing experts in the field of beer brewing, distilling, as well as the bar and restaurant industry.  We attended a panel discussing the idea of craft and what the future holds for the craft ideal. Craft is a highly subjective term that means many things to many people, but this panel focused on what they defined as craft as it relates to their particular industries. Is it quality over quantity? The artisan creating something unique in a world of cookie cutter products? These questions may not have an easily defined answer, but the conversation is worth having.

Although it may not have been the intention of the organizers (perhaps it was due to lack of advertising) but the event was not a crowded affair. We were able to try samples at each booth or table without a long wait. This gave us an opportunity for more personal interaction with the representatives.

We’re hoping that the crowd present was at least enough to give event organizers a reason to hold it a second year. Maybe craft is too subjective a term to define in black and white, but we’re eager to learn (and try!) more.  Cheers to the artisans who epitomize the true essence of craft.

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