The food abides…

Posts tagged “craft beers

Came for the Oktoberfest, stayed for the Dunkel! Rapp Brewing Company’s Munich Dunkel

For the last couple of weeks I’ve been sampling a number of local area Oktoberfest beers in an effort to pull together enough to write a piece about the Best of the Bay. Yesterday’s sampling took me to Rapp Brewing Company, a place I had yet to make it to previously. I’m glad I did because in addition to the great Oktoberfest lager I came in for, I discovered something else even more amazing.

Not only is Rapp an incredible craft beer operation specializing in German styles (with a huge variety totaling almost 40 taps), but it boasted one of the best Dunkel’s, if not one of the best beers I’ve ever had.

Ladies and Gentlemen, I give you Rapp Brewing Company’s Munich Dunkel…

rapp-munich-dunkel

The Munich Dunkel pours a rich dark brown with about a finger and a half of khaki-colored head and significant lacing on the glass. There’s a nice bready aroma with just a subtle hint cocoa.

This brew boasts a surprisingly enjoyable mouthfeel; lighter than I’d expect this kind of beer to have but still thick enough to grab your tongue. The toffee and malt flavors are abundant on the first pull with notes of toasted biscuit and a little nuttiness. On the back-end it rounds out to a nice solid caramel finish with a dash of chocolate. What I enjoyed most was the noticeable absence banana notes which seems to be a common trend among Dunkel recipes and I’m not the biggest fan of banana.

While I love almost every style of beer, it’s no secret that my palette tends to skew towards the dark side especially in the cooler months. However I can honestly say that my preference is not coloring this opinion: this is easily the best Dunkel I’ve ever had. An older gentleman sitting at the end of the bar was also singing the praises of the brew with a giddy, childlike glee as if he were a kid with an ice cream cone. It’s safe to say I’m not alone in my opinion.

This is a full-bodied, drinkable Dunkel and if I had the time and was not driving I would have stayed for at least three more. If you dig Dunkels you’re doing yourself a disservice by not stopping in and trying a stein and I can’t recommend it enough.

Tried Rapp’s Munich Dunkel? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…


New Beer Friday! – Abita Amber

Abita Amber

In my search for decent reds and ambers during the summer, I recently came across Abita’s amber offering. The Louisiana-based Brewery puts out some really flavorful craft beers most notably Turbodog and Purple Haze. I’ve been a fan of Abita’s beers for quite some time so I decided to give it a shot since I’d never tried it before. It’s hard to associate ambers with summer because of their richness and depth, but Abita’s is definitely one I could consider a “summer” amber.

Abita Amber pours a deep red color with a good two fingers of head. The aroma is slightly more floral than I would have expected and it’s more akin to something I’d see in a lighter beer. Flavor is a mellow caramel with notes of lemon and just a little hint of honey. It doesn’t seem to sit as heavy as beers of its type typically do which is why it makes such a good summer offering.

The only drawback is that I would not consider this a “sipping” beer as the warmer it got the more the flavor started to sour a little. Which is a shame because this would be perfect for just kicking back on the porch on a warm summer night.

A good brew all the same however.

Tried Abita Amber? Leave a message in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…


Blue Moon Caramel Apple Spiced Ale

In truth, I don’t particularly care for Blue Moon’s standard Belgian White Ale; there’s too much citrus, the bouquet is overpowering and if stored even the slightest bit improperly, it skunks very easily. However they always do a phenomenal job with their seasonal offerings. Last year I tried their Harvest pumpkin Ale and was pleasantly surprised. While not the “champagne” of the available pumpkin offerings, it can hold its own among them and has the advantage of being more readily available in grocery stores, at least here in Tampa.

So last night I was hanging out with some friends and my buddy pours us a couple of glasses of another one of Blue Moon’s autumn seasonal beers, the Carmel Apple Spiced Ale which I had yet to try.

Incredible beer! It’s much sweeter than a standard ale and the spice and caramel notes are definitely there, but what this beer does very well is add the flavor of apple without it tasting like a cider (neither my palette or my stomach are a fan of ciders). You actually get the subtile hints of a candy apple which is a perfect fall flavor.

Solid seasonal offering from Blue Moon. This is autumn in a glass!

Have you tried this? If so, leave your thoughts in the comments section!

And remember… the food abides…


Shrimp Tacos @ Prime Bar!

Headed up to Prime Bar last night with a buddy of mine to grab a beer, catch the baseball game and munch on some shrimp tacos. Black beans, a stiff white rice and a little lime-infused salsa. Washed it down with a Dunedin Redhead Ale.


Review – The Refinery

Located in a renovated house on Florida Ave in the Seminole Heights area of Tampa, the Refinery is something unique.

The building itself is has a kind of self-styled hipster vibe going on and although that’s become more and more commonplace in the Heights, the Refinery owns every bit of it, right down to their purple walls and “Hippie Side Entrance.” Beyond the decor, the first thing I noticed was that seating was sparse and every table was filled. It’s small and doesn’t appear to be conducive to small groups but I find that to be a positive, because I prefer smaller, more intimate settings. Fortunately there were only three of us and my friends had the foresight to book a reservation early. It was a good thing too, because after a quick conversation with the person who seated me, I learned that apparently the next open table they had available was two-and-a-half hours later.

I was greeted with an amazingly varied selection of rare craft beers which is something love seeing as I’m somewhat of a beer snob. I settled on one from Colorado called Crazy Mountain Amber Ale. Deep red, malty and a thousand times more refreshing than a Coor’s Light, I was happy with my choice and even happier with the restaurant for introducing me to a new microbrew.

My friends had already made me aware of the fact that the restaurant features local food. But I had no idea how far that actually went. The chef, who recently won an award for “Best Chef in the South” buys locally and builds his menu based on what was currently available that week. Some people see food as an art and this guy is no exception as the menu was incredibly interesting. A completely new menu is created every Thursday. The boon here is that the adventurous get some amazing dishes to choose from, and should the picky take a look at their menu on their website and not see anything appealing, they can simply wait a week.

There are a variety of small plates, the sizes of which in comparison to the price left a little to be desired. We each settled on a small plate and shared: duck wing confit, clams in an onion cream sauce and some firecracker grilled corn on the cob with lime-butter. All three were amazing and the flavors were perfectly complimentary.

The main course options were even more interesting. I saw a game hen with ancho-cocoa sweet potato puree which looked good. There was also an eggplant cannelloni with roasted quinoa. There was a chocolate chipote burger which I swear I would have ordered on the spot if I could eat red meat. Yes, you read that right. Chocolate… chipotle… burger. These dishes were just so inventive I had to make a mental note of some others to come back and try (but promptly erased it once I realized this  menu would be gone in five days).

I settled on the polenta cakes with creamy chai butternut squash, collards, red potatoes, chick peas and toasted cashews. Being italian, polenta is a staple but I have never had anything like this before. It was a perfectly balanced dish despite having no meat course. The polenta was buttery and firm, the veggies were crisp and flavorful and the seasoning was perfect.

We had tickets to a show at Skipper’s Smokehouse later that night so we opted to skip desert but upon making a trip upstairs to the restroom I realized there was a second floor with a rooftop bar that looked really cool. The mental note was definitely made to return, try another dish and spend some time up there.

All through the meal the service was attentive and prompt. Our server was personable and able to recommend his favorite dish-of-the-week when asked (which is something I value). Aside from the size of the small plates, I don’t have a single complaint and would recommend that anyone who’s looking for something off the beaten path in location, creativity and taste.

Check out the menu at http://www.thetamparefinery.com and if you give it a shot, let me know in the comments.

And remember… the food abides…