The food abides…

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Winter is here…

Are you ready for the Game of Thrones Season 7 Premiere?

I’ll be pouring Ommegang’s “Bend the Knee,” a golden ale brewed with honey. Theses bottles are so gorgeous I almost don’t want to open them at all. There are three different versions, matte black painted and each adorned with a different house crest (Stark, Targaryen and Lannister respectively).

We can rest assured that someone’s favorite character will come to a grisly end at some point this season but Ommegang’s yearly zythophilan attempt to capture the spirit of the show in a beer is sure to cushion the blow.

Hope everyone enjoys the show tonight…

And remember.. beer is freedom… and the food abides…

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Capping off an evening with a blind goat…

Any evening that ends with brews at the Blind Goat after midnight can be considered a good one…

French Toast Double Brown Ale? Yes please…

Oh Funky Buddha… sometimes you just get me…

Saving this bottle for vacation next week. Assuming I can resist the temptation of cracking it open tonight…

Boating Brews and Dockside Eats…

Ma Nature managed to give us one last blast of the dry season (I know I said that last time but the weather continues to surprise) with a cold front that stretched all the way down to us in the Bay Area which very rare in May. Being smart enough not to waste it, our crew headed for the high seas to enjoy some boating and kick-ass weather. Of course the day included some great food and craft beers.

I brought along two six packs for the day. The first was Uinta Brewing’s Baba Black Lager. This brew had the flavor notes of a porter but it was no where near as thick. This boasted some malty notes, some toasted barley and just a hit of hoppiness. For a dark beer this was remarkably smooth and wound up being a perfect brew to enjoy out on the water.

The second was 21st Amendment’s Brew Free! Or Die Blood Orange IPA. I absolutely loved this one. Of all the Blood Orange IPAs I’ve tried recently this was the sweetest. It honestly tasted like a hoppy, boozy Sunkist orange soda and this is a good thing.

The cooler air brought a lot of wind so we stuck to the inter-coastal waterway due to all the chop on the water. This afforded us the chance to hit the Seabreaze Island Grill and Raw Bar in Reddington Shores, probably one of the best dockside seafood eateries I’ve been to in quite a while.

Started with a round of drinks and discovered a much appreciated policy of a free beer if you arrive by boat.

Ordered a plate of Caribbean Island Wings for the table. They were cooked in a flavorful but not overpowering jerk seasoning and served with two dipping sauces.

I’m a sucker for good shellfish so I went with the Island Style Mussels. This was hands-down the largest bowl of mussels I’ve ever eaten and the red sauce it was served in was a perfect complement.

I actually had doubts that I could finish the whole thing but with a little help from my friends I’m able to share this photo of post mussel decimation…

We spent the rest of the day out on the water and then decided to hit the Candy Kitchen in Madeira Beach for some ice cream.

Not much of a sweet tooth but Ice Cream and Peanut Butter would definitely be considered my kryptonites so this Vanilla Peanut Butter Swirl was the one that got me.

Being a vintage candy shop, the Candy Kitchen also boasts what is probably the most distracting bathroom you’re ever likely to see.

 

I always feel a little sad when the dry season ends because I know once the humidity kicks in I will be barricading myself indoors where it’s air-conditioned for the next four months (or longer if the weather the last few years has been any indication). With good food, good beer, amazing weather and some great friends, this weekend was a great way to send the season off in a positive way.

Have some favorite boating brews or dockside eats? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… beer is freedom… and the food abides….

National Beer Day Weekend 2017

I had quite a lot going on for National Beer Day Weekend 2017. There was a bit of serendipity in the fact that Beer Day fell on a Friday, I happened to be able to take the afternoon off of work and Ma Nature decided to give us one last taste of cooler weather as the temp dropped to about 73 degrees.  Perfect storm as far as a good beer-sampling weekend goes.

Started at the Brass Tap with a Victory Kirsch Gose. I’ve mentioned Kirsch before as one of my favorite goses. Tart cherries, a perfect amount of salt and just enough of a hint of coriander to not be overpowering.

Moved on to Funky Buddha’s “What is that, Velvet?” Red Velvet Cake Ale. I love the sweetness that this one has throughout, right down to the cream cheese frosting flavor on the back end. And because of the name I now have Eddie Murphy’s old man voice stuck in my head…

Not everyone was lucky enough to get out of work early on a Friday afternoon so on Saturday our crew observed National Beer Day with a little fiesta at my friends’ lakeside abode. And no beer fiesta is complete without a little cornhole. As you can see. my team is winning…

In the spirit of the day, many new brews were on hand to try.

Brew Hub’s Keybilly Island Ale. Sweeter and less tart than I was expecting but a nice rounded key lime flavor throughout.

Ballast Point Grapefruit Sculpin. I’ve avoided this beer for quite a while because the price-point pissed me off (unless they’re brewing it with flecks of gold, there is no reason for this to be 16 dollars a six-pack). However after trying it I have to admit this may be worth the price tag as this is an incredible IPA. Hoppy and crisp with solid grapefruit notes and a nice carbonation.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s Old Elephant Food IPA. Very floral nose, very hoppy, very refreshing. This is a great beer for a hot day and brewed right here in Tampa Bay to boot.

Red Brick Brewing Company’s Laughing Skull Amber Ale. Since my first crack at this one for New Beer Friday a few years ago, I’ve found that this beer has improved its flavor immensely. All the same notes are there but the edge has mellowed significantly.

A fiesta needs eats and a decent charcuterie slate always scratches the itch when drinking beer, especially when you know which cheeses to pair them with.

My friends cooked up a great meal of burgers, Hawaiian chicken kabobs and some grilled pineapple (which was very good by the way).

Pineapples right on the skewer with the peppers and onions made for a pretty damn flavorful piece of chicken. Need to try this one on my own at some point in the future (with maybe a little jalapeno to balance the pineapple sweetness with some heat).

Skewers on the plate with cucumbers, tomatoes and goat cheese and a nice macaroni salad. The Hawaiian Chicken paired very well with the Keybilly Island Ale.

While everyone else was munching on cookies and cake for their desert I turned my focus to some sweeter brews for mine.

Due South Caramel Cream Ale w/Vanilla Beans – Absolutely loved this one. Sugar on the nose, malty and an on-the-dot caramel flavor that carried from the first pull to the back end.

Lagunitas Brown Shugga Ale – Not my first rodeo with this one, but just as great as I remembered it. The brown sugar notes made for a hearty backbone.

Good weather, good food, good beer and great friends. Can’t ask for a better weekend than that. Do anything special for National Beer Day? Leave a message in the comments section below!

And remember… beer is freedom… and the food abides…

Walking Dead Finale – Terrapin’s “Lucille” Blackstrap Molasses Stout

For the Walking Dead’s Season 7 Finale, Terrapin Brewing Company cooked up something special.

Every so often Terrapin brews a one-off and they never disappoint. For those not in the know, this season’s Walking Dead antagonist is a charismatic, leather-clad psychopath named Negan who beats people to death with a razor-wire wrapped baseball bat he lovingly refers to as “Lucille.” Terrapin has managed to take this character’s swagger and insanity and brew it into an incredible stout.

Lucille pours a dark blackish-brown with about a half an inch of frothy, khaki colored head, that dissipates very fast but leaves quite a bit of lacing on the glass. On the nose is a fragrant bouquet of leather and smokey bacon.

On the first pull the molasses notes come through right off the bat and mellow into some subtle hints of vanilla. On the back end are some earthy smoked wood flavors that round everything out with just a touch of what tastes like maple syrup.

Like Negan, this brew is complex and I’m loving this one. Perhaps it’s the smoked wood, but this tastes like an apocalypse and it was an excellent accompaniment to this season’s finale. Terrapin nailed it.

Tried Terrapin’s Lucille? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… beer is freedom… and the food abides…

Epcot Flower & Garden Festival 2017 Photopost

Disney knows how to capitalize on a good thing. Their Epcot International Food & Wine Festival that occurs in the fall has garnered quite the following and with that taking place only once a year, they’ve started to build out some of their other seasonal events. Epcot’s Flower & Garden Festival is now a bona fide culinary event in its own right.

With 15 outdoor kitchens, they’ve incorporated the whole gardening and fresh produce aspect into the event by focusing on the concepts of sustainability, local sourcing and urban agriculture.

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Here are some highlights from one of our most recent trips…

Crabless Cake and Wildflower Pale Ale

Crabless Cake with Pickled Vegetable Slaw paired with a Forbidden Root Wildflower Pale Ale from the Urban Farm Eats Kitchen.

Maudite Amber

Unibroue Maudite Amber Ale from the Northern Bloom Kitchen.

Chard and Kale

Fresh Swiss Chard and Kale. Literally growing right underneath the monorail tracks.

Braised Chicken and Crawfish and Kronenburg Blanc

Braised Chicken and Crawfish w/Rice Pilaf paired with a Kronenbourg 1664 Blanc from the Fleur de Lys Kitchen.

Pineapple Manu

Maui Brewing Company’s Pineapple Mana Ale from the Pineapple Promenade Kitchen.

Tomato Plants

Vertical urban orchards and gardens – Tomatoes and Amaranth.

Tuna Poke

Tuna Poke from the Hanami Japanese Kitchen.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company Quat

Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s “Quat” Kumquat Ale from the Florida Fresh Kitchen.

Berry Buckle and Founders Rubaeus

Warm Wild Berry Buckle Cake with Pepper Berry Sorbet paired with a Founders Rubaeus Pure Raspberry Ale from the Berry Basket Kitchen.

Potato Pancake

Potato Pancakes w/House-made Applesauce from the Bauernmarkt Kitchen.

German Beer Flight

German Beer Flight – Kostrizer’s Schwartzbier Black Lager, Schofferhofer’s Hefeweizen and Paulaner’s Munich Lager from the Bauernmarkt Kitchen.

Conch Salad

Caribbean Conch Salad w/Avocado, Mango and Onions (with a very backlit Three Caballeros in the background) from the Isla de Fresca Kitchen.

Sugar Cane Shrimp

Sugar Cane Shrimp Skewer and Rice w/Coconut Lime Sauce from the Isla de Fresca Kitchen.

Limoncello

And while not related to Flower & Garden in any way, no trip to Epcot is complete without Limoncello cordials in Italy.

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I’ve found that the chefs are able to experiment a little more since they aren’t necessarily confined to a specific region’s cuisine so the dishes are a little more unique than what you find a Food & Wine. The beer pairings which included some really unique brews and you have a recipe for some amazing experimental dishes that make it completely worth the trip.

Have you been to Epcot’s International Flower & Garden Festival? Leave a message in the comments section below!

And remember… beer is freedom… and the food abides…