JDUB’S BREWING COMPANY

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SARASOTA, FLORIDA

Just north of downtown Sarasota in a light Industrial setting, ambitiously bohemian brewpub, JDUB’S BREWING COMPANY, opened in 2014. Inside a pale green aluminum warehouse with two overhead doors guarding large brew tanks and a hauntingly Transylvanian-arched wood entrance leading to the patio-fronted pub, JDub’s innovative recipes range from a creamsicled Berliner Weisse to a wintry barrel-aged stout.

Jdub’s basically a cartoonish hippie-esque wonderland perfect for any casually fun event or High Times party. The relatively small graffiti-filled cement-floored interior features interesting front-walled painted pix of its flagship beers, four stormtrooper-related beer posters, five community tables and a right side serving station with 1 TV and a refrigerator (plus other paraphernalic ephemera).

But what really makes this Sunshine State brewpub so special is its three separate backspace patios. A backdoored Jdub’s insignia leads to a covered back deck with two community tables, hanging Edison lights and red tiled pavers. Then, there’s an open air furnished yard with plastic furnishings and a trellis-enclosed side deck. It’s truly a handy party-spirited expanse.

Nerdy owner shows his love for modern popular culture, comedic films and rock music by pasting the bathroom wall with Goonies, Big Lebowski, Wayne’s World and Prince art.

Brewer Vince Falcone, lover of pilsners and West Coast IPA’s, tries to push the limits just a little with his consistent, rangy brews.

On my inspirational April ’19 afternoon journey, my wife, Karen, and I gather at the bar to consume some sassy suds.

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First up were the four flagship brews.

The most straightforward year-rounder, Poolside Kolsch, brought dry lemon-dropped orange rot and tannic green grape tartness to bready pale malts, leaving gentle mandarin orange, bergamot orange, tangelo and marmalade illusions in the sweetly soured citric recess.

Perfumed passionfruit and mango stayed subtle for light-bodied fruit ale, Passion Wheat, caressing its pale-malted cracked wheat spine before phenol hop tannins arrive.

Sharp grapefruit bittering and tangy orange peel juicing brightened Up Top! IPA, a brisk medium body picking up floral-daubed lemon zesting and lingered herbal hop resin.

Fudgy milk chocolate-sugared Bell Cow, a soothingly creamed dessert-bound porter, promoted Yoo-Hoo, Hershey’s chocolate, mud pie and chocolate cake sweetness over slightly charred hop bitterness.

After these permanent offerings I settled into the whole gamut of stylishly challenging elixirs.

Tart rose raspberry and lemony hibiscus adjuncts delicately affected hybridized Berliner Weisse, Mellow Pucker, leaving lightly acidic lime salting and sour lemongrass oiling on its vinous back end.

Another innovative Berliner Weisse, Cream-Sick Ale, sprinkled lemon-limed coriander saltiness upon zesty orange-peeled vanilla sweetness, embracing its Creamsicle likeness without dismissing the stylish acidic sourness.

Dry-hopped wheat ale, Psychedelic Sunday, grafted grassy-hopped lemony grapefruit bittering to its mildly sugar-spiced white wheat backbone.

Tranquil white-peppered floral spicing serenaded orange-bruised lemon zesting and ripe banana-peach subsidy above honeyed Graham Cracker sweetness for Buffalo Smile Saison.

Easygoing dry moderation, Dirty Bong H2O Double IPA, let rustic wet grain dankness seep into yellow grapefruit and navel orange tartness as well as wispy herbal spicing.

Sweet-tart Blueberry IPA loaded syrupy blueberries atop light citrus pining and sugared wheat malting for a frolicsome fruitful delight.

Lovely tropical fruited New England-styled IPA, Pastel Daydream Milkshake, regaled milk-soured lemon yogurt acidity with barley-floured gooseberry, melon rind, kiwi and mango tartness while retaining a creamy vanilla center.       

Soothingly soft-toned Bourbon Barrel-aged Damb Good Wee Heavy (with unassuming 13% ABV) fortified its dry bourbon foundation with oaken vanilla tannins and roasted chocolate malting, leaving rum-spiced burgundy and port tones to linger below the surface alongside tobacco leaf crisping.

Milk chocolate goodness draped bourbon vanilla sweetness and wintry nutmeg-anise spicing for decadent Barrel-Aged Imperial Stout, an oaken rum-fermented full body deepened by molasses, cocoa, dark cherry, hazelnut and cola subsidies.

jdubsbrewing.com

CALUSA BREWING

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SARASOTA, FLORIDA

Taking up an entire gray warehouse a few miles off Sarasota’s bustling Route 75, CALUSA BREWING opened up in 2016. Utilizing a large left space for a silver tank-dominated 15 barrel system and several oak barrels (for sour ales and wood-aged elixirs), head brewer Jason Thompson crafts a veritable cornucopia of amazingly consistent and totally iconic traditional styles.

Entering the separate right side drive-in doored taproom in late April ’19, my wife and I take a seat at one of the seven tables serviced by the 12-seat U-shaped bar. Many oak barrles line the back wall while a beautiful mural with an octopus attacking a shipwrecked pirate takes up the aquamarine front wall. There’s even a billiard table.

During our one-hour pre-dinner sojourn, the NHL playoffs are shown on the back-walled TV as I imbibe four fine IPA’s and two contrasting stouts.

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Briskly hopped yellow grapefruit juicing led zestful moderate-medium body, Minus Zero IPA, letting barley-floured sourdough malting scour limey pineapple, mango, guava and melon rind tropicalia.

Perfectly centrist in appeal, stylishly straightforward V.I.B.E. Eagle IPA, connected tangy citric-pined Mosaic hop aromatics to bittersweet mango-peach-nectarine-influenced El Dorado hop niceties and lemony gooseberry-soured Moteuka hop tartness.

Zesty grapefruit and orange peel tanginess thrusted forth for cleanly refreshing Mosaic-Galaxy-hopped Naked Villainy Triple IPA, a surprisingly strong (10.5 ABV) medium body with barley-floured haze and light sugared spicing.

Its rival triple IPA, Mind Burst, employed new hop varieties (Sabro/ Denali 105) to sharpen its Citra grapefruit-peeled orange rind bittering, leaving wet-grained herbal dankness at the back end.

Tarry black chocolate bittering and light wood tones gathered for King’s Creature English Export Stout, a dry espresso-finishing dark ale.

For dessert, outstanding Caribbean-styled Mountain & Sea Imperial Sweet Stout wrapped its richly creamed dark chocolate malting around toasted coconut, vanilla, hazelnut, sugared coffee and Graham Cracker alacrity. A perfect Floridian nightcap!

 

These are only a few of the 70-plus beers Calusa has created since its initial setup merely three years hence.

3.14 PI CRAFT BEER

SIESTA KEY, FLORIDA

Making incredible pizza and wings to go alongside some of the finest local Florida craft beers, Siesta Key’s 3.14 PI CRAFT BEER opened for biz in 2014. Just down the road from the beautiful Gulf of Mexico in the bustling Sarasota area, this prized pizza pub is a fun-tastic diminutive tiki bar with plenty of wall-lined liquors for fancy cocktails and specialty drinks.

At the center entrance, a wooden covered front porch with community tables adds to the quaint beachside ambience. Upon entering, two four-stooled tables make up the nifty  middle room. To the right, there are three separate tap stations with twenty-plus draught lines (and electronic beer list) at the laminated U-shaped bar. A back door at the constricted low-ceiling barroom leads to the kitchen and the left side periwinkle blue-walled billiard room adds more seating.

During my pleasant April ’19 dinnertime stopover, my ole college friends and I tried five fine draughts while eating pizza and calamari. Listed in the Beer Index are reviews for Funky Buddah Pineapple Beach Blonde Ale and Two Henrys Jalapeno Blueberry Porter plus three Fort Myers brews: Fairway Finder Session IPA, Sand Loafer Pale Wheat Ale and Chocolate Peanut Butter Porter.

  http://www.siestapi.com

 

VINYL BREWING COMPANY

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HAMMONTON, NEW JERSEY

Inspired by the spirit of rock ‘n roll, VINYL BREWING COMPANY opened for business autumn ’17. One of three newly established breweries gracing the blueberry capital of Hammonton, halfway between Philly and Atlantic City, Vinyl is headed by entrepreneurial punk rockin’ head brewer, Jim Sacco, a former homebrewer who started crafting elixirs at nearby Three 3′s Brewing.

Inside a centrally located tan-bricked garage house with two glass overhead doors, the cement-floored open space features a 20-stooled serving station, a few surrounding tables, two blue brick-walled TV’s, various exposed pipes, the famous NYC-shirted John Lennon poster, walled album covers and a hard-to-find bottle and can beer collection at the middle metal beam.

Sacco’s suds are a fine array of limited edition one-offs and a few seasonal to year-round staples pulled from a small-batch three-barrel system. I settled in one rainy Friday evening in April ’19 to sample ten fine samples.

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Delectable flagship, creamily soft-tongued MRE Belgian Blonde, kicked things off with spritzy candi-sugared lemon zest and clove-spiced orange peel sweetness embellishing its dewy Vienna-malted oats base.

Next, dryly passionfruit-imbued saison, What Happened To The Passion, let limey lemon-juiced passionfruit, guava and gooseberry tartness infiltrate its leathery barnyard acridity.

Sweet lemon-dropped tartness picked up herbal residue for Fully Actualized Saison.

Sea-salted coriander spicing received puckering lime souring and lactic lemon yogurt caking to engage dry gose, Dag.

Lemon-juiced grapefruit bittering and light wood dryness scoured Citra-Amarillo-hopped cream ale, He Wears T-Shirts Sometimes.

Sunnily soft-toned DDH Advances Citra Pale Ale placed lemony grapefruit, mandarin orange and blood orange zest above bready malts.

Just as briskly easygoing, Souvenir IPA let lingered grapefruit bittering and wispy melon snips gain minor pine resin above sugared oats malting.

Stylishly straightforward Razor Burn IPA brought mild grapefruit-orange-tangerine tanginess to the fore above lightly spiced oats-wheat malting in a clean-watered setting.

Dry rye-malted Element 115 Honey Rye Porter soaked chalky cocoa-chocolate bittering in sinewy dark honey.

Milk-sugared brown chocolate contrasted dry cocoa powdering for VP The Punk Milk Stout, a lovely dark ale with fudged brownie undertones.

The ever-popular double dry-hopped Advances In Modern Technology went undiscovered.

www.vinylbrewingnj.com

 

DEATH OF THE FOX BREWING COMPANY

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CLARKSBORO, NEW JERSEY

New Jersey’s first coffee-beer brewhouse opened at the Villages of Whisky Mill in Clarksboro during August 2017. Playing tribute to the first hunting club in America, homebrewers Chuck Garrity and Dan Natkin initially partnered up because they liked German and Brit styled beers, leading to the creation of humble café-styled pub, DEATH OF THE FOX BREWING COMPANY.

An L-shaped 18 stool bar services three front-windowed tables, three mid-room tables, one community table and plush left side living room furnishings. Caged Edison lights hang from the high pipe-exposed aluminum ceiling and an emblematic Death of The Fox crest highlights the bright red right wall above six historic hunting portraits.

While the backroom brewery creates rangy regularly rotated fare and engaging one-off limited edition beers for the sixteen draught lines, a full menu of flavored coffees are also brewed here.

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During my two-hour Friday afternoon visit, April ’19, I consumed ten original elixirs with my wife before heading to Renault Winery & Golf Club for further relaxation.

Lemon-peeled coriander spiced up modest flagship witbier, Sunshine Patriot, a casual off-dry summertime refresher with wheat-cracked sugared wafer spine.

Another fine flagship offering, New England-styled IPA, Hazy Crazy Diamond, grazed lactic milk-souring barley flouring against lemon-dropped grapefruit, peach and mango tanginess over groaty rolled oats.

Straight-up citrus moderation, Overflow Double IPA, stayed stylishly conforming as its grapefruit-peeled orange tang and zesty lemon spritz picked up herbal piney hop resin.

Goose-berried Huell Melon hops provided mild guava, passionfruit and pomegranate tartness for Dual Hop -Sterling Melon IPA, leaving unexpected pastry-caked donut residual upon deceptive cinnamon sugaring in a happily offbeat manner.

Easygoing dry-bodied Hessian Session Kolsch brought sour lemon-rotted grape esters to crisp spelt-grained pale malting.

Brown-sugared dried fruiting remained low key for caramel-spiced Reynard’s Last Chance Doppelbock, a sedately plum-date-induced moderation with mossy earthen dewiness.

Roasted caramel malting picked up dry earthen nuttiness for middling Hulda’s Black Forest Schwarzbier.

Hazelnut-glazed brown chocolate sweetness absorbed delectable English brown ale, Hazelnut Hound, leaving cocoa-powdered dried fruiting on its nutty mocha resonation.

Smoky milk chocolate creaminess defined the nitrogenated version of Stout Heard Round The World.

My fave was wonderful winter warmer, Spruce Wintersteen, where spruce-tipped fern minting sidled milk chocolate richness and juniper berry bittering in a most refreshingly unconventional way.

www.deathofthefoxbrewing.com