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Making Waves with Florida Craft Beers

Glass bottle of beer wedged in the sand while a wave flows over it

It wasn’t very long ago that the entire state of Florida was routinely written off by craft beer enthusiasts. In 2012, there were a staggering 57 breweries located in the Sunshine State – quite a low number considering we are the third most populous state in the nation. But times certainly are changing, and the resulting growth has been as exciting as it has been explosive. As of March 2019, there are 268 breweries in Florida, with 79 new taprooms opening in 2018 alone. Gone are the days of Florida breweries, concentrated primarily around the Tampa Bay area, churning out basic, tourist-friendly lagers and blondes. Today, delicious brews are being produced throughout the state, crushing stereotypes, silencing naysayers and ushering in a new era of innovative tastes. Moreover, brewers are embracing our abundance of natural resources to craft beers that are distinctly Floridian. Here are some of the most unique:

No Wake Zone Coconut Key Lime Ale,  Islamorada Beer Company, Islamorada

You’ll be wasting away in MargaritavALE when sipping on this delicious island concoction. Be transported to the tropics with the sweet and tart local flavors of the Keys. At 5% ABV, this refreshing brew is perfect for the beach or boat. Drinking it out of a coconut is optional.

Orange Blossom Pilsner,  Orange Blossom Brewing, Orlando

People have been buzzing about this homegrown beer coming from the citrus groves of Central Florida for quite some time, and with good reason. Made with real local orange blossom honey – 2.3 teaspoons in each can – this aromatic pilsner is a tribute to our state’s most famous export. It’s not overly sweet because the sugar in the honey is fermented, giving it a crisp, clean taste. Orange juice for breakfast, Orange Blossom for lunch!

Datil Pepper Chocolate Imperial Porter,  Motorworks Brewing, Bradenton

While the fabled Datil is St. Augustine’s most treasured native plant, we occasionally don’t mind lending her out for a good cause. And these master brewers on the west coast made us proud by bringing home the silver medal at the 2018 World Beer Cup with this incredible brew. Inspired by the chocolatiers of the Old City, this porter melds the hefty habanero-like heat of Datil chili peppers with rich cacao. Historic St. Augustine is the chief cultivator of Datil peppers in the world, and this brew boasts roughly a pound of the fiery local delicacy per barrel. Bittersweet dark chocolate flavors complement the chili’s natural fruity character in a uniquely Floridian blend of sweet-heat. Just don’t say we didn’t warn you.

Frosted Elfin Session Pale Ale,  First Magnitude Brewing, Gainesville

Science! These beermakers teamed up with the Florida Museum of Natural History to bring awareness (and proceeds) to an endangered butterfly species found in the area: the frosted elfin. They are drawing yeast from these fragile creatures in a propagation lab built specifically for the endeavor and using it to craft this floral, hoppy ale. A perfect choice for camping by the Suwanee or day drinking at the springs.

Coquina Gose,  Bog Brewing, St. Augustine

The head brewer/avid fisherman at this local gem west of downtown took his skiff offshore one day and brought back 13 gallons of seawater. Over the next two and a half days, he evaporated the seawater off, leaving only the beautiful sea salt. Still, not quite ready to settle, he fermented this Gose on Florida Orange and Tangerine Peel. Was all the effort worth it? We’re definitely not salty about it. The pleasantly mild citrus finish is everything on a hot summer day spent drinking beer in the Old City.

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