Stout Day: A Day for Dark Beers

International Stout Day has been a hallmark of November for the last seven years, the same way that IPA Day has become a big part of August each year.  These “beer holidays” are a great day to branch out and try something new, something you may not have tried otherwise.

Be careful, and do not underestimate stouts – they can carry a larger alcohol presence, depending on which style of stout the brewer decides to brew.  Even the beers listed in this article begin at 5.2% ABV and rise all the way up to 10.2% ABV – so drink slowly and share with friends, if you like.  Or if sharing a bottle is not an option, bring enough for the whole party.

Here are a few suggestions of beers to warm your November – on International Stout Day and beyond:

Swamp Head Brewery Udderly Calm Milk Stout




Swamp Head Brewery Udderly Calm (5.2% ABV): Gainesville’s Swamp Head Brewery chose this milk stout (stout brewed with lactose, or milk sugar) as the wintry entry in the Migrational Series of beers.  Imagine candy bar chocolate, milk chocolate, and chocolate cookies in beer form, then wake up and enjoy a can of this dessert-forward limited beer.





Captain Jack's Stone Crab Stout Label


Coppertail Brewing Captain Jack Stone Crab Stout (8.3% ABV): One of the few of these stouts that can boast a bit of Florida in every bottle, Coppertail Brewing’s Captain Jack’s Stone Crab Stout starts with a boatload of Florida Stone Crabs. “Our Brewmaster Casey drives to Key West and loads up a couple of hundred pounds of fresh-caught stone crab from the legend himself, Captain Jack.  Meanwhile back at the brewery, the crew times the brew day just right for Casey’s arrival. Minutes later the crab is added to the stout boil.”  These crabs give a briny edge to the roasty, earthy, and chococlatey stout that bears the name of the legendary Key West boat captain.




Infinite Ale Work Into the Dark Roast



Infinite Ale Works Into the Dark Roast (9.0% ABV): Dark, black, and viscous, Infinite Ale Works’s Into the Dark Roast brings layers of coffee and roasted malts to bear on the palate in this sipping beer. Into the Dark Roast is available all year long, but it is especially delicious in the dark months of Florida winter, where the air is cold and the nights are long. This stout is at home with a piece of chocolate cake or a robust cigar – for best results, bring some to share with friends.






Sierra Nevada Narwhal 2019




Sierra Nevada Brewing Narwhal (10.2% ABV): When the beer dictionary is written, and the entry about imperial stouts is written, Sierra Nevada’s Narwhal will be the picture that illustrates the style.  Inspired by the mysterious creature that lives in the depths of the oceans, the Narwhal is a beast that loves to share its nuances of espresso, baker’s cocoa, roasted grain and a light hint of smoke. Narwhal brims with malt complexity and a warming alcohol presence that can stand up to even Florida’s winter chills.





Abita Brewing Company Office Party Stout




Abita Brewing Office Party (6.8% ABV): Just like an office party brings people out of their shells to celebrate the holidays, Louisiana’s Abita Brewing Company’s Office Party Stout brings all of the different flavors present in dark beer out to play. Generous amounts of cocoa nibs, cinnamon, vanilla, and nutmeg are added to infuse the spirit of the holidays into this limited release.


Enjoy some great Labor Day beers!

As the season of summer comes to an end on the calendar, Labor Day offers one last chance to get together with friends and family at the pool, the beach, the river, or the park before September and October rattle through into winter time and relatively cooler temperatures.  In preparation for those final pool parties, beach days, picnics, and tubing sessions, choosing the right beer can make Labor Day shindigs that much better and brighter.  The right ale or lager can add depth and complexity to any dish and the Labor Day cookout is no exception.


Here are a few ideas for Labor Day beers that can endure the Florida sun and keep the party going:

Samuel Adams Oktoberfest on ice


For the Grillmasters: Samuel Adams Oktoberfest (5.3% ABV) The toasty malt in this amber-colored lager will be enough to match flavors with burgers, dogs, and pulled pork while maintaining a relatively low alcohol content.  Try one with your favorite bacon cheeseburger, slider, or sausage and see how many layers of flavor this beer really shows.

Coppertail Brewing Independent Pilsner


For the Football fans: Coppertail Brewing Independent Pilsner (5.5% ABV) College football is finally kicking off for the season – watch parties and football days are back.  Why spoil these events with inter-team rivalries?  Tampa’s Coppertail Brewing has a beer that doesn’t take sides!  Independent Pilsner is light in body but with a touch of hops and a clean finish.  And those tater tots, nachos, or jalapeño poppers?  Independent Pilsner will not get in the way of any savory halftime snack.


Dogfish Head SeaQuench next to the pool

For the Pool partiers: Dogfish Head SeaQuench (4.9% ABV) For those who want to get a few days poolside, SeaQuench has you covered.  This beer is a hybrid of three light-bodied styles of beer and has a citrus presence and touch of salt.  Those of who might like a low-country boil and/or cedar-plank salmon are in luck also – SeaQuench was specifically designed to pair with seafood.


For the Beachgoers and boaters: Swamp Head Brewery Hydroslide Kolsch (4.9% ABV) For those who’re looking to get in touch with mother nature in the motorboat, canoe, kayak, or water shoes, Gainesville’s own Swamp Head Brewery’s summer classic Hydroslide Kolsch is made for weekends like this.  Dry-hopped for aroma, this light-bodied ale will quench a thirst and go well with virtually any picnic or cookout food.

Abita Purple Haze


For the Bonfire/ Mallow roasters: Abita Brewing’s Purple Haze (4.2% ABV) While some insist that a s’more has to be roasted over a campfire, the oppressive heat of Florida summer cannot be understated.  Whether you decide to roast marshmallows outside or make indoor s’mores in the oven, try some chocolate and sweetness with Abita Brewing’s Purple Haze.  This wheat lager has an addition of raspberries added to it so that anything sweet and chocolatey will gain the berry flavor.  So basic chocolate s’mores become raspberry chocolate s’mores.  Chocolate bars become raspberry chocolate bars, and so on.


To find these fine ales and lagers, please click over to our Beer Finder.


Cheers to Labor Day, football season kicking off, and enjoying a day with friends and family.  Please enjoy the day and enjoy it responsibly.


#IPADay – As hoppy as you make it

As the cycle of Florida summer continues, there are three daily certainties: sun, rain, and thirst.  The sun and the rain are beyond control, but thirst, well thirst has met its match.  One day is reserved each summer, during the first week of August to refresh and delight the world with beers of all manner of hoppiness.  It’s the hoppiest day of the year – a day when Humulus Lupulus brings all of his leafy glory to a nearby pint glass, gifting the world with the aroma and the taste of hoppiness.  This day celebrates the most popular style in craft beer – the India Pale Ale.  IPA Day will take place on August 3rd, 2017 – the day of the year picked out to celebrate the brewing innovation that hops brought to beer.


Single Hop on Vine
A single hop grows on its vine.

What is a hop? 

Hops are the flowers of the humulus lupulus plant.  Hops are grown all over the world, mostly in areas with long days of daylight like, in the U.S., the Yakima Valley area of Washington and the Willamette Valley in Oregon.  While many farmers are working on growing hops in Florida, the idea is still relatively young and IPAs take so many hops that few breweries have made commercial beers with Florida hops.


How are hops used?

Hops on the bine
Hops are the cones of the humulus lupulus plant.

Hops were discovered around 700 AD and slowly became used for their utility in brewing beer.  In those “old days,” hop bitterness was used to counter the sweetness of malted barley.  Hops also have an antimicrobial effect on beer, acting as a preservative and as a way of keeping spoilage organisms out of beer for a time.  Hops became increasingly popular in brewing and by the year 1500 AD they were commonly used in brewing most styles of beer.

In modern times, Hops are harvested once each year and then dried and packaged for use continuously until the next hop harvest.  Hops are usually processed and pelletized for use and the vast majority of brewers use these pelletized hops to impart hop aroma and hop flavor into their beer.  When smelling a beer, the two largest contributors to aroma are the malt and the hops in a beer.  When tasting a beer, hops can play a starring role, a supporting role, or even a bit part in the flavor depending on how many hops the brewer adds and at what time in the brewing process.


What does it mean if a beer is ‘hoppy’?

A “hoppy beer” is one where the aroma and the flavor favor the hop, as opposed to favoring malt or something added to the beer like chocolate, wheat, or another flavor.  Hoppy beer can have flavors derived from any variety of hops, and hops can have a myriad of different flavors to impart on beer.  Hops commonly used in 2017 have flavors ranging from citrus fruits like lemons, oranges, tangerines, or grapefruits, to tropical fruit like guava or passionfruit, to strange and colorful flavors like pine sap, resin, or even flavors described as “catty.”  The amount of hop flavor imparted on a beer is controlled by the brewer and when he or she adds the hops to boiling beer.  For a hoppy beer, expect to find hop flavors in the aroma and in the flavor profile of the beer, usually extending into the finish or aftertaste of the beer.


Where can I start trying hoppy beer?

Abita Brewing Big Easy IPA

IPA is the best-selling style of craft beer in the United States and most brewers have a .  There are many styles and sub-styles of IPA, depending on your individual preference, but this style is accessible from many doors.  For instance, check out the following IPAs to test the hoppy waters.



New to the world of IPA? Try a Session IPA like Abita Brewing’s Big Easy IPA – Here’s a beer that is brewed in Louisiana and meant to bring the spirit of the Big Easy across the United States.  Big Easy is a session IPA, a beer with big hop flavor in a relatively small beer – finishing at 4.5% ABV while carrying the flavor of lemon peel and four different hops throughout.  Like Abita says, “Easy to drink and just right for long hot days, steamy nights, parades or a day on the river with friends.”


SaltWater Brewing Screamin Reels IPA


Want to try a hoppier IPA? Try an IPA like Saltwater Brewing’s Screamin’ Reels IPA – Stepping up to an IPA from a session IPA, there is a marked increase in body, hop flavor, and alcohol presence.  Delray Beach, Florida’s Saltwater Brewery’s Screamin’ Reels IPA carries the flavor of light caramel followed by earthy tangerine in waves of hops.  An IPA for those interested in nuances of the hop, Screamin’ Reels IPA washes in with a wave of hops





Ok, I think hoppy beer if for me! Where do I go from here?

Dogfish Head 90 Minute IPAFrom the hoppy starter beers, there are many avenues to explore how far the humulus hopper can take a beer.  If your palate is warming up to (or in love with) beers with more hoppiness, try a few of these on for size.


Try an imperial IPA (also called a double IPA) like Dogfish Head Brewery’s 90 Minute IPA – Introduced in 2001, Dogfish Head Brewery of Milton, Delaware places their 90 Minute IPA in one of the top spots in the category in terms of hop flavor and aroma.  The beer’s name comes from the fact that the beer is hopped continuously for 90 minutes, Picked by Food & Wine Magazine as one of “The 25 Most Important American Craft Beers Ever Brewed,” 90 Minute IPA does not disappoint.  90 Minute IPA has a good deal of malt character behind the beer, which gives the beer a caramel flavor to reinforce the monstrous amount of hops used.


Sierra Nevada Brewing Hop Hunter IPA



Try another IPA with a different spin like Sierra Nevada Brewing’s Hop Hunter IPA – One of Sierra Nevada Brewing Company’s year-round IPAs, this beer utilizes farm-distilled hop oils alongside the brewery’s traditional whole cone hops for a uniquely potent hoppy beer.  Hop Hunter IPA is the standard burger beer dialed up to 11.  To get the most out of this beer, try it with a blue cheese and roasted red pepper hamburger or with a Stilton cheese to illuminate the distinct flavor of this beer.  For more information on farm-distilled hop oils, click here.



21st Amendment Brew Free! or Die IPA Blood Orange



Finally, try a different take on IPA by adding some fruit like 21st Amendment Brewery’s Blood Orange Brew Free! Or Die IPA: San Leandro, California’s 21st Amendment Brewery knows a few things about the West Coast style of IPA, being founded on the San Francisco Bay.  Recently, the brewery has used the addition of blood orange puree to make the blood orange version of their IPA a horse of a different color.  While the hoppy character of Brew Free! Or Die is the building block of the beer, the sweet citrus of these sanguine fruits adds a few layers to the hop flavor parfait.