25 miles northwest of Miami, Coral Springs’ upscale BIG BEAR BREWING is situated inside Stonegate mall on University Drive (visited January ’08). Left side green-maroon awning, right side red brick section, and front deck mark exterior while oblong center bar (with conveniently placed TV’s), large dining area, and entranceway brew tanks garnish brick-sided interior.

Brewer Matthew Cox crafted basic soft-hopped regulars such as mildly bitter lemony lightweight Polar Light Golden Ale, salty-hopped grapefruit-peeled apple-candied pear-ripened IPA-styled Hibernation Pale Ale, and honey-dipped caramel-malted red-fruited Irish-styled Grizzly Red Ale.

Fruitier choices were banana-cherry-bruised honey-suckled Belgian Blonde and tart peach-lacquered wheat-cracked Peach Ale.

Better still were creamy plantain-fig-date-dried vanilla-backed Kodiac Belgian Dubbel, buttery tobacco-dried vanilla-malted fig-prune-pecan-hoisted Brown Bear Ale, and veritable chocolate-spiced dessert treat, Bourbon Barrel Stout (a citric-peeled prune-pureed Kahlua-tinged bourbon whiskey-finishing elixir).

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