I’ve long sung the praises of Big Storm Brewing Company as one of my favorite Bay Area microbreweries. This past weekend I got a chance to stop in to check out their new taproom in Pasco County, just next door to their old one. Apparently I missed their Grand Opening celebration by a day, but that was actually okay because it afforded me the opportunity to take it all in without having to deal with a crowd.
Decked out in gray wood and coastal colors, it’s a much larger space than their old taproom but it retains the wide open feeling of the previous location with the brewery floor right there in the same space.
A large full-sized bar replaced the old four-seater and 20 taps ply their current catalog of brews in 5, 7, 10 and 16 oz glasses. I loved the 5 oz option as it gave me the chance to try a great deal more varieties than I would have been able to with full pints.
And of course the beer. The folks at Big Storm truly care about beer and that love is apparent in every single ale and lager they make. While not full-fleged reviews of each, here’s a couple of the beers I sampled:
Started light with the Berry Subtle Strawberry Saison. With Florida strawberries in season right now this was a good call as a brewing component. A light and refreshing beer, this didn’t have the aftertaste I usually associate with saisons which is a good thing.
Turned it up a notch with the Lie to me Imperial Cherry Chocolate Stout. Cherries and chocolate go incredibly well together and this strong and heady brew utilized that combination well.
The Red as Rain Irish Red Ale was something special. Irish Reds typically have a somewhat burnt note on the back end because of the heavily roasted grains. This one had a very smooth body with no burnt flavors and it left every other Irish I’ve tried in the dust.
As a one-time brew for their Grand Opening they made a special version of their Waterspout Milk Stout with Cocoa Nibs. Really dug this one and its flavor was reminiscent of a chocolate milkshake.
And of course no visit would be complete without the beer that first introduced me to Big Storm, the Wavemaker Amber Ale. I still maintain this is the best Amber Ale I’ve ever had.
As I’ve said, I’ve long heralded Big Storm as one of the best breweries in the ever-growing beer scene in the Bay Area. Between their amazing beers and their new taproom, there’s no excuse not to pay them a visit.
Tried Big Storm Brewing Company? Leave a message in the comments section!
And remember… the food abides…
In a New Beer Friday in March I posted my thoughts about Big Storm Brewing Co.’s Wavemaker Amber Ale and made note that I needed to visit their brewery, which was only about a half hour away from me. Well it took me five months and a random Friday off for other reasons but I finally made it. And now I’m wondering why I waited so long.
Let me preface this by saying ALL craft beer is light years better than most mass-produced macrobrews. But something I’ve noticed is that the breweries that concentrate more on the making of the beer in rather than the selling of the beer, tend to be more experimental, which yields more complex and flavorful recipes.
This is evidenced by Big Storm’s tasting room. The entire brewery is located in an industrial park in Odessa FL (you actually walk in through a giant garage door) and their tasting room simply consists of a small bar and a few tables right in the middle of the brewery floor. Brewmasters are ten feet away from you checking kettles and brewery workers load pallates right next to your table. It’s cool to be right in the thick of the process while you enjoy your beverage.
While the seating was limited, the place was filled with beer-lovers, a few of whom were obviously regulars. The girls behind the bar were very friendly and knew just about everything there was to know about each style. At one point my server consulted the brewmaster for me about a question I had regarding the seasonal availability of the Oktoberfest.
Speaking of the Oktoberfest, it was the first beer I tried. A traditional marzen-style ale, Big Storm’s Oktoberfest pours a solid copper color with about a finger of head and slight lacing. You can pick up a scent of sweet caramel as is traditional.
The caramel comes through on the first pull with an accompanying maltiness. Just a bit more carbonation than is usually found in this style produces slightly more tiny bubbles which deliver a more robust flavor. Said flavor does not mellow on the back end but does round out to a sweet finish and, interestingly enough, I picked up just a hint of candied yams.
I’ve long been an advocate of Samuel Adams’ Octoberfest and touted it as one of my favorite beers. As difficult as this is for me to admit, Big Storm’s Oktober beats it in every way. This is a perfect fall beer. Sadly, they do not bottle or can this particular brew so you’ll have to go to the tasting room to try it. When you do, bring a growler!
As you know I tend to gravitate more towards ambers, reds and browns, so next I tried the Chief’s Bitter Brown Ale. This was a rather unique take on a standard brown ale especially since bitters tend to be much lighter.
The Bitter Brown pours a dark brown, almost blackish color, with nearly two fingers of head and a heavy lacing that stuck around for quite a while. There’s a very earthy aroma to this beer.
The first pull delivers a heavily roasted malt flavor with hints of dark chocolate and the bitterness is right there on the forefront. It doesn’t mellow at all but becomes stronger on the back end with a slight black licorice aftertaste which I found rather pleasing. I would warn only that you may have to like bitter ales in order to appreciate this one but if you do, you’ll be rewarded with a very complex and layered brew.
Finally, even though I’ve had it before I had to go for the Wavemaker Amber Ale on draft. It is every bit as good as the first time I tried it and the draft only intensified those flavors. The Wavemaker is hands-down one of the best Amber Ales I’ve ever had and I’m thankful the brewery as close as it is which means high availability.
As the Fall Beer season is my favorite time of the year, I have a number of local breweries with interesting Fall flavors (Pair O’Dice’s Pumpkin Vanilla, Wild Rover’s Sweet Potato Stout), that I plan on trying before everything disappears at the end of October, but I will be back to this one at least once before then, with friends in tow. True, Odessa can be kind of a hike from the Downtown Tampa or St. Pete/Clearwater areas, but the folks at Big Storm really care about the beer-making process and if you’re the type of zythophile who appreciates that, it’s worth the trip.
Tried Big Storm Brewing Co? Leave a message in the comments section!
And remember… the food abides.
Rather than wallow in the fact that the Fall and Winter Beer seasons are over and slowly rationing out my dwindling stock of Marzens, Harvest Wheats and Pumpkin and Winter Ales I’ve given myself the task of trying more of what the other seasons have to offer with an open mind. For today’s New Beer Friday, I’m starting with the Wavemaker Amber Ale made by the boys over at Big storm Brewery right here in the Bay Area.
The Wavemaker pours a deep red with about half an inch of head (which unfortunately dissipated while I was trying to get the lights out on my lanai to turn on). There’s a significant toasty aroma which is rather pleasing.
The first pull brings a slightly sweet caramel and malt flavoring complimented by a very mellow citrus note with just the tiniest bit of spice. There’s a little bit of a bitter bite on the back end but it rounds out rather quickly. This is an expertly balanced amber ale; as dark as this beer is, it’s still remarkably light. This is the kind of beer I could drink outside on a hot summer day.
I’m digging the Wavemaker. It’s a very solid amber offering and enough of a kick in the pants to make me want to get my ass down to Big Storm’s tasting room over in Odessa, especially if I can get this stuff on draft.
Tried the Wavemaker Amber or any of Big Storm’s other brews? Leave a message in the comments section!
And remember… the food abides…