Sunny Forecast for Florida Craft Beer

For years, Florida had the reputation of being a craft beer desert. Today, however, the Sunshine State is the one of the nation’s fastest-growing states for craft brewing.

Florida’s brewery count has leapt from 25 a decade ago to more than 180 today. There’s also quality as well as quantity. Cigar City Brewing Company’s Hunaphu Imperial Stout and Funky Buddha Brewing’s Maple Bacon Coffee Porter are among the nation’s most sought-after beers. National craft breweries, too, have taken notice of Florida’s craft beer boom. Some of them are skipping states to establish distribution networks in Florida.

Beer is starting to take its place along theme parks, beaches, and baseball spring training as a tourist attraction. Walt Disney World serves Florida craft beers at its parks and hotels. Cigar City’s Hunaphu release party draws thousands, and visitors who fly home from Tampa can enjoy fresh beer at Cigar City’s on-airport brewery.

The Friday Mash (Night at the Opera Edition)

Fifty years ago today, the Metropolitan Opera House opened at Lincoln Square in Manhattan. The opening-night performance was the world premiere of Antony and Cleopatra by Samuel Barber.

And now…The Mash!

We begin on ESPN College GameDay, where Sam Crowder held up a sign last Saturday asking Vemmo users to send him beer money. Within hours, more than 2,000 people contributed.

BBC correspondent Stephen Evans hopped a flight to make a beer run…all the way to Beijing. His Chinese friends had made a trip to the border to acquire “forbidden” Taedonggang beer, which is brewed in North Korea.

Here’s a solution to a problem you didn’t know you had. It’s a beer mug that won’t block your view of the TV when you’re drinking.

Pork roll aka Taylor ham, a New Jersey breakfast favorite, is now a beer ingredient. Flying Fish Brewing Company has released Exit 7 Pork Roll Porter as part of its “Exit Series”.

Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing has rolled out a beer honoring the stereotypical “Florida Man”. The label for this beer, a double IPA, depicts a man wrestling an alligator—and winning.

Beer is more expensive than ever at NFL stadiums, but there’s one consolation: you can now buy craft beer from breweries that Anheuser-Busch InBev and MillerCoors recently acquired.

Finally, Nebraska liquor regulators have banned homebrewers from beer festivals. Because homebrewers aren’t licensed, there’s no assurance that they meet health and sanitation standards.

The Wednesday Mash (Countdown to Christmas Edition)

Ludwig is on Christmas break, and won’t be back until January 4. Maryanne and Paul will be filling in for him. In the meantime, Ludwig left a plate of cookies, his heartiest Season’s Greetings, and an early version of…

The Mash!

We begin in Chicago, where Patti Wetli of DNAInfo.com takes us back to the Great Chicago Beer Riot of 1855. Hundreds of armed Germans stormed the city’s courthouse to protest the enforcement of liquor laws they considered anti-immigrant.

Queen City Q, a Charlotte-based chain of barbecue restaurants, has taken Anheuser-Busch products off the menu in protest of A-B’s allegedly pressuring distributors to stop handling craft beer.

Long Island’s Barrage Brewing Company has released two beers for Seinfield fans. They’re infused with Snickers and chocolate babka, foods that starred in the sitcom.

In Montreal, some cab drivers are competing with Uber by selling beer and cigarettes to passengers. Those sales are illegal, but the cabbies argue that Uber’s business model is illegal, too.

TravelPulse.com has compiled a scorecard of major U.S. airlines’ craft beer selections. Alaska and Delta Airlines lead the pack, Spirit Airlines ranked last, and Southwest Airlines showed the biggest improvement.

A federal appeals court has upheld an Indiana law that requires convenience stores to sell beer at room temperature. Liquor stores, which bar under-21s from entering, are allowed to sell cold beer.

Finally, Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s Beer Camp will return next year. The first stop on this six-city national tour will be Tampa on June 4. Sierra Nevada and 30 regional breweries will also brew a series of collaborative 12-packs.

The Friday Mash (Liberator Edition)

On this day in 1783, Simon Bolivar, “The Liberator,” was born. Bolivar was instrumental role in making Bolivia, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela independent of Spanish rule. Toast him with a glass of Polar beer, “The People’s Beer” of Venezuela.

And now….The Mash! 

We begin in Milwaukee, where Pabst Brewing Company is returning to its original location. Pabst’s owner, Eugene Kashper, says the brewery will new small-batch beers, based on Pabst’s archived recipes, while staying true to its roots.

A new Indiana law classifies retirement communities as homes, so they no longer need a liquor license to serve alcohol to residents. One problem not likely to occur: underage drinking.

Mark your calendars. Next year’s Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference will be held at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina. The dates are July 8-10.

Jackie Speier, a congresswoman from California, announced on her Facebook page that she’s introduced legislation that would allow the U.S. Postal Service to ship alcoholic beverages.

The clever folks at Printsome.com have designed beer labels to match the personalities of Facebook, Google, Nike, and 14 other highly recognizable corporations.

Yes, you can get an India pale ale—along with a host of other craft beers—in India. The subcontinent’s first brewpub, Doolally in the city of Pune, opened its doors in 2009. A slew of others have followed.

Finally, the Buffalo Wild Wings in Tacoma displays a bottle of Corona with a lime slice underneath an American flag. An unidentified woman ordered the Corona and placed it in front of an adjoining seat in honor of her brother, who was killed while on duty in Iraq.

Grand Rapids is the “Best Beer Town”

The votes have been counted, and USA Today announced the winner of the “Best Beer Town” competition. The winner, as determined by online voting, was Grand Rapids. The surprising runner-up was Tampa. Rounding out the top ten: Asheville, Bend, Fort Collins, San Diego, Portland (ME), Portland (OR), Denver, and Burlington

Fire Damages Yuengling’s Tampa Brewery

Last night, fire damaged D.G. Yuengling & Son’s Tampa brewery. The two-alarm blaze, which investigators have ruled accidental, began in the brewery’s storage building. It caused an estimated $1 million in damage, and resulted in one Tampa firefighter sustaining a minor injury.

The Friday Mash (Georgia Bulldogs Edition)

On this day in 1785 the University of Georgia, the nation’s first public university, was established. The list of people who went to UGA includes Colonel Charles Beckwith, creator of the Army’s Delta Force; actress Kim Basinger; Heisman Trophy winner Herschel Walker; numerous Georgia governors; and the members of R.E.M.

And now…The Mash!

We begin in Frederick, Maryland, where Flying Dog Ales plans to roll out 20 beers over the course of the year. One of them, a saison called Wildeman, is the first addition to the brewery’s year-round lineup since Raging Bitch hit the shelves in 2009.

The Houston Astros have announced that they’re reducing the price of beer at Minute Maid Field this coming season. The way the Astros are playing–they had the worst record in the majors last season–fans will need a few to get them through the game.

John Close of RacingNation.com insists that beer is “the official fuel of NASCAR”, pointing out that beer and auto racing have gone together for decades. Close says that the only beer-soaked event that draws more fans than NASCAR races is Munich’s Oktoberfest.

The Washington Beer Commission has announced that the second annual Washington Beer Open House will take place February 25. Among other things, participating breweries will offer food pairings, rare barrel tastings, and new seasonal releases.

If going to next month’s San Francisco Beer Week, Zambo, the head brewer at 21st Amendment Brewery has beer and restaurant recommendations. He also recommends the quirky Coit Tower.

The folks at Liveability magazine have compiled a list of the ten best “unexpected beer cities”. Expect to find good brew in unheralded places like Akron, Boise, and Chattanooga.

Finally, some good news for spring breakers headed to Florida. Cigar City Brewing Company will open a pub at Tampa International Airport in March. It’s part of a $6 million concessions upgrade.

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