Saturday, November 27, 2010

Cocoa Beach Brewing Company

Firkin Around...Cocoa Beach, Florida.

Cocoa Beach Brewing...C'mon in!
5...4...3...2...1, blast off for the space coast of Florida!  Don't miss the opportunity to see a real microbrewery and pub in action on the east coast of Florida.

On your next visit to Daytona or Orlando, spend a day at beautiful Cocoa Beach. Grab some SPF and sunshine, even go for a swim in the surf. Visit the shops along North Atlantic Avenue and then end your day with a wonderful libation at the Cocoa Beach Brewing Company.  It's just minutes, make that steps away, from the sunny sands of Cocoa Beach.

Tidy taps, trickling terrific tastes
Snug and cozy, this beach side bungalow has been transformed into a fully functioning microbrewery and pub. The selections are varied and the service is warm and friendly.  On this trip, I was able to meet with President and Owner, Chris McCall.  He explained how they brew on premise in the back part of the building.  He went on to discuss how Cocoa Beach Brewing is also keging brews for the local distribution reach, along the east corridor of the state. Bottling of selected favorites is also available for purchase at the brewery as well as local liquor stores and shops in the area.

Pale Ale and a shot of Dirty Blonde
We sampled some of the CBB local wares, including the Pale Ale, the Dirty Blonde Ale and everyone's hands down favorite of the night, "Not Just Some Oatmeal Stout".  All were tasty and enjoyed with gusto. Visit their website at the link below for a full lineup of the ales on hand. As for the building the pub is housed in, it has gone through a complete renovation to transform it into a local dispensary of sensational suds. The front room has a fireplace, big screen television and is accompanied by plenty of comfortable seating.  The second room has been converted into a tap room with bar front seating.  There are also some large and copious high-top tables - - - all there to get your beer-comfort on. Backgammon boards will inspire you to enjoy your beers over a little friendly competition and conversation. Spartan and small does not mean it isn't comfortable, inviting and cozy, by any stretch. Being that the brewery is within ear and eye-shot of the NASA launchpads, one wall sticker proudly proclaims, "Brewing Doesn't Take a Rocket Scientist...(But we have them anyway)." Be sure to sign their guest book while there; they are always looking for new friends and beer lovers!

...oh yes, it is!

This is a place you surely want to visit. After all, you're a beer lover, aren't you? I was joined on the trip by my daughter, son and future son-in-law, topping off a great Thanksgiving Day weekend, while visiting the area. A first trip for all, but definitely not the last!

Firkin Around at the Cocoa Beach Brewing Co.

Firkin Suds and Surf!

Cocoa Beach Brewing Company
150 North Atlantic Avenue
Cocoa Beach, FL 32931-2960
(321) 613-2941

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Saturday, November 13, 2010

World of Beer Sarasota Turns 1

Firkin Around...Sarasota, Florida.

One of the newest beer establishments in Sarasota is now a statewide chain.  The last year has seen a marked growth from the four original Tampa Bay area locations.  There are now at 9 stores statewide with 4 more planned by 2011.  I wouldn't be surprised to see growth in other states as this Florida franchise gains further popularity.

Just Dave
Today's noon to 5:00 celebration included the rockin' tunes from "Just Dave", a local area musician.  He kept the crowd engaged with his folk guitar renditions of some tasty classic soft rock. The mood was set for chill times on a spectacular autumn day in South Florida.  Along with the music, laughter and chatter from the crowd abounded. Patrons were seated indoors at the long wooden bar, watching their favorite games on the numerous televisions.  Others were out under the canopied beer garden/patio adjoining the main bar, listening to the music and enjoying conversations.

Wafting through the air was the smell of some great BBQ from Hickory Hollow Barbecue.  They served up pulled pork sliders and Maryland crab cakes along with other side dishes. "The food is amazing gooood", according to eleven year old Lauren "Loopy" Lambert. Good times, were all around.

Selection and knowledgeable staff

Beer on tap today was served at half-off prices in honor of the celebration. With and incredible 40 taps and 500 total selections, World of Beer a standout in beer bars, anywhere. Their knowledgeable staff are always ready to help you decide.  Can't figure if you're a 'hophead' or if you like your beer more on the malty side?  The WOB waitstaff are trained and ready to help you through your excursion in beer.

Bartender/Corporate Trainer Carolyn Wallace said that WOB provided one month of beer training in defining the different styles of beer before she started on the wait staff.  Additional training of 2 weeks on cooler storage techniques and 2 weeks of computer training, rounded out the solid knowledge in handling and serving beer to customers.

 Reward yourself with a Loyalty Card
This dedication has turned a slick style corporate franchise into a friendly and knowledgeable neighborhood bar that keeps the locals coming back for more. On top of all this, World of Beer rewards regular customers with a loyalty plan.  Brogan Klepper explained how the loyalty card works. "By signing up for a Loyalty Card ($15 purchase) each time a customer purchases a different draft bottle or can, they earn a point." Point values are kept in their computer and there are rewards at 50 (t-shirt), 100 (t-shirt & mug), 250 (golf shirt and nameplate on plaque) and the ultimate of 500 points of a party in your honor. There are other weekly incentives for service industry, a ladies night promotion and a dollar off select bottles night.

World of Beer keeps the interest with all kinds of different promotions, but mostly, the vast selection of beer keeps them coming back for more.

Firkin 500 Beers!

World of Beer
8201 Tourist Center Drive
Bradenton, FL 34201

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Saturday, November 6, 2010

BBC 2010 - Pearl Street Pub Crawl

Firkin Around...Boulder, Colorado.

November 6th Pub Crawl on Pearl Street
How do you top a satisfying meal coupled with Boulder Beer's brewery fresh drafts and an all access brewery tour? The answer is to get lost in the throng on Pearl Street in a good old fashioned pub crawl.  The Beer Blogger’s Conference hosted by Zephyr Adventures had made arrangements with several local establishments for us, the bloggers, to visit. All establishments offered a free sample of beer to those attending the conference. All we had to do was show our badge.

West End Tavern - 926 Pearl Street
Decisions, decisions. Where to begin?
First up was the West End Tavern where I sampled some Avery Hog Heaven. It was a deep ruby red color with lots of malt flavor and whoo, the alcohol!

The West End Tavern sports a very rough and ready wooden bar that had looked like it was one of the original bars on Pearl. There were many tap handles on the front of the bar, ready to dispense all the local liquid gold you could imagine. Heading out, we chatted it up with some group of local fellows, indulging in some fine craft brews. They asked us questions about our travelling crawl and we broke into conversation about craft beer.  Some bloggers’s cards were exchanged along with smiles.  We bid farewell and departed for our next stop.

Old Chicago - 1102 Pearl Street
Angel's Tears
Old Chicago was the next place on the billet. Immediately upon entering, I spied a Tullamore Dew bar-rubber and asked the bartender if I could get one. Tullamore Dew is what I prefer to drink, when I’m not drinking beer, and you do not see it in many bars. It is my rough measuring stick to judge a fine bar. Well, needless to say, the item was gifted, after explaining this to the bartender. No names, don’t want anyone getting in trouble, but he got a nice tip! Mr. Bartender-dude, you are awesome.  Onto the beer, I glanced down the extensive list of tap handles and made 2 Below from New Belgium my next  selection.

More surprises awaited us at Old Chicago as our group was photographed and interviewed for an upcoming article from Westword Denver. A photo journalist was covering the Beer Blogger’s Conference for Westword Denver; specifically the pub crawl portion of the agenda. Lucky us. Come to think of it, this afternoon, Jason Cormier did mention in his presentation to the beer bloggers, how his New Belgium shirt luck would rub off on us. He considers it his good luck charm, so it stands to reason that the New Belgium 2 Below we ordered, fulfilled his prediction that good things happen. Bingo, right on the money!

The Boulder Draft House - 2027 13th Street
Erik finds a PBR
The third way point on our journey was The Boulder Draft House, situated just off Pearl Street, on 13th.  The Hop’stache beer I selected while there, was a no-brainer. If you have ever seen the walrus mustache I have, you would certainly understand why it was the brew to order. This joint was rocking with a live band and the crowd was jumping to the tunes.  Aimlessly walking around the barroom eyeballing the selection of pub craft brews, we spied someone’s PBR on a small shelf. Hey, not judging, just saying. I have thrown back a few of those in my day too. Good fun.

Conor O'Neill's - 1922 13th Street
Conor O'Neill's is as Irish as it comes and was absolutely packed, this evening. Elbow to elbow we made our way through the place and got split up several times. We reconnoitered back near the main entry.  The long bar that snaked its way throughout the place. Looking up on a shelf behind the other Irish whiskeys, my favorite bottle of Tullamore Dew was looking so alone.  One order of angel’s tears later, I completely forgot about ordering my free beer. No worries. The band was pounding out tunes and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves at this point.

Mountain Sun - 1535 Pearl Street
Find your way back to the hotel.
Mountain Sun was the last call on this tour.  Long and narrow dimensionally and the bar at the back of the room.  Nice selection of drafts on hand here as the multiple crawl groups began to collect inside and out on the sidewalk. Ordered a Pumpkin something-or-other, (it was hard to keep track at this point), and upon finishing, went back out into the refreshing night air. Sandman was calling us now, loud and clear. Not knowing where in the hell I was, I was just hoping for someone to walk with, back to the hotel.  I spotted Greg Koch leaving and asked if he would like company on the walk back. Thank goodness he knew how to navigate the streets. I would have surely taken a wrong turn. Fifteen to twenty minutes later, we were back. safe and sound and bid each other good night.

What a night. Certainly one I won’t soon forget. It was truly a great experience.  All that great craft beer and terrific people made it the best way to spend the night away.

Firkin Cool Pub Crawl !

BBC 2010 - Boulder Beer Brewery Tour

Firkin Around...Boulder, Colorado.

One of the original cradles of craft brewing (43rd brewing license issued in the United States), Boulder Beer began operations in 1979 and has continued to thrive to this day

Some of the Boulder lineup
Queuing up in the wrist band line, (must be over 21), I noticed the line at the bar was longer, than for the food. I zigged to the chow line while the others zagged to the tap handles. There were yummy chicken fajitas with all the trimmings, complete with black beans and guacamole waiting for all us hungry beer bloggers. A scoop of rice, a little hot stuff, viola'…done! Now off to the bar!

All that, and a Singletrack Copper Ale!
Fortunately, most of the Boulder lineup makes its way to my sunny home base in Florida.  Hazed & Infused and Mojo can be found on our liquor store shelves. One brew  I hadn’t heard of was Straightline Copper Ale; so good and a great choice! It went especially well with the spicy food.  The tap room was packed, so some of us cool kids went out on the patio to dine in the chill night air. Laughter and good conversation ensued as we enjoyed the food, beverages and each others company. Speaking of spicy things and conversation, one very heated topic on college football came up. Both sides agreed to disagree and it was great fun to watch unfold. Not naming any names…

Original copper mash tun and grist hopper
Back inside, a tour was gathering in the front room that contained two old copper mash tuns.  Our guide and "Marketing Tool", (I ain't making that up, get one of his business cards and see for yourself), Dan Weitz took us through the back workings of the brewery.  We walked by some of the more modern tanks and bottling lines, until we reached the refrigerated holding room. It was amazing to see how so much brewing equipment was literally packed into one space! Without a doubt, it was a marvel of modern engineering.
We thanked our hosts as the buses began pulling up at the front of the brewery to whisk us away to Pearl Street for our ‘pub crawl’.

Since 1979

Another great Colorado microbrewery tour! Big props and thanks to the wonderful folks at Boulder Beer for making the evening something very memorable.

Hazed and Infused neon sign

Firkin Original Microbrewery!

Boulder Brewery 
2880 Wilderness Place
Boulder, CO 80301

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BBC 2010 - The Night of Many Beers

Firkin Around...Boulder, Colorado.

More Beeeer! 
Me and Mr. Stoat

Romey, Boles and Wenchie
A bit of a beer pictorial, featuring the one and only Mr. Stoat of Brewdog fame. Only one of 25 bottles produced, ours was the only media Stoat available, free of the $700 to $800 price tag. It's now the latest in breweriana, Mr. Stoat from Brewdog and The End of History. A 55% ABV monster in a twelve ounce bottle.

The star of the evening.
There was much more to see that evening. Building up to The End of History release, beer bloggers gathered and reveled in each others company. Everyone brought beer representative of his or her locale. We even had some rare finds from the UK brought over by a chap from England. Strong beers, easy drinkers, hard to find, widely talked about all start to describe non-industry sub classifications of beer between fellow bloggers.

The party went on late into the evening...

Firkin Rare Beer Gathering!

Friday, November 5, 2010

BBC 2010 - Oskar Blues Brewery Tour

Firkin Around...Longmont, Colorado.

     Oskar Blues hosted a dinner and brewery tour for the bunch of us tonight at their Longmont facility. As our bus turned the corner at Oskar blues I spied a pickup truck that could have been mistaken for a rolling can of Ten Fidy. This is going to be special I thought aloud, to no one in particular.

We were welcomed by the staff as we exited our buses at the Lyons facility. We walked straight into the brewery where an area is sectioned off to serve as a bar and gift shop. The rest of the building is the brewery, in all of its stainless-steel working splendor!
"The Beer Wench"& me

Some of Oskar Blues lineup
An area left of the taproom was reserved for our dinner buffet, within the main brewery area.It included shredded BBQ, chicken wings with several types of dipping sauces. There was a mac & die for. The gumbo was oh-so hot and spicy. Coleslaw, much food. All good and hot and plentiful. Nearby, a jockey box with Dale's Pale Ale and Old Chub was setup for quenching your thirst.
Fermentation line

All around us lay the business end of a fully operational fermentation and canning plant for beer.  It's as if they locked us kids inside the candy store! After we noshed and quenched our thirsts, the tours began.  The first thing I noticed was a skateboard lying on the ground near one of the work areas. Must be the quickest mode of transportation around the facility, I thought! You won't see that in a conventional beer processing plant. It shows the unconventional and irreverent atmosphere that is prevalent at Oskar Blues. I'd call it a young at heart attitude, and would take it over stuffy and stodgy any day. Sometimes it pays to break the rules.

Empty cans awaiting filling
Easy transportation
Speaking of the rules, we were given an insight on their Ten Fidy Imperial Ale, as to the origins of the name.  Many think it has something to do with the ABV percentage, but it was explained that they broke a formerly held 10 to 1 ratio for ingredients that the industry had long adhered to as an undeniable rule.  "F#c$ the industry, Do It Yourself" was the rally cry and Ten FIDY became the name.

Unconventional brewer but outstanding beer! 

Firkin canned!

Oskar Blues Brewery 
1800 Pike Road # B
Longmont, CO


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Opening Comments from BBC 2010

Firkin Around...Boulder, Colorado.

 Alan Wright, Ashley Routson, Julia Herz, Jessica Daynor. These are the people that welcomed us during the first session of the conference.

We have been welcomed to the first Beer Bloggers Conference with confidence, enthusiasm and inspiration.  We are here today because we all share the same focus of getting out the good word about beer through our adventures and experiences. And of course, by blogging about the subject.

We have only been assembled for a little over an hour and have been inundated with plenty of knowledge about beer facts.  We have also been informed as to what you, the blog reader, want to hear about. Listening to your audience is one of the most important takeaways thus far.

We have discussed finding a voice and to be sure to identify with our audience. Clean elements and viewing style are also important keys to the reader.

This is the start of something epic...

BBC 2010 - Time Zones and Beer

Firkin Around...Boulder, Colorado.

Upon arrival to Denver International Airport, it occurred to me to set my watch back two hours, adjusting from Eastern Time to Mountain Time.  It also occurred to me, tomorrow is Daylight Savings Time.  We will be setting our clocks back yet another hour - - - I can almost feel myself getting younger by the minute.

Backdrop: The snow capped Rocky Mountains as seen from DIA
The fact that it’s Daylight Savings Time isn’t lost on me, either.  Chance favors the prepared, so we bloggers will be making every advantage of the time change during our pub crawl, come Saturday night.

What’s that?  Last call, you say?  Whoop, not so fast bartender…we’ve got another hour to indulge in our craft suds.

Mr. Sandman can wait!

BBC 2010 - On the way to Boulder CO

Firkin Around...Boulder, Colorado.


Leaving Tampa FL, bound for Boulder CO to attend the first ever Beer Bloggers Conference.  The inaugural event takes place the weekend of November 5th, 6th and 7th. Of over five hundred beer bloggers identified, a little over 100 will attend this event.  I am looking forward to the chance to meet many of my brethren beer writers over the next three days of the event.

The agenda is jam packed, including two local brewery tours. Keynote speakers, bloggers of interest and brewers will take us, (the faithful advocates of craft and artisan brews), through a myriad of breakout sessions.  They will include topics such as monetizing a blog, creating a brand presence, learning how to drive more traffic to your blog, social networking, meeting brewers and learning the finer points of taste testing, and oh yes, blogging of course.  Quick, up-to-the-minute blog posts will abound to give our readers a glimpse into what is going on at this conference as it happens live and on the spot.

It is assured there will be many takeaways from this conference. Even as I write this on the plane to Boulder, I realize that the first intent will be to sharpen the focus of spreading the word about craft beer.  This will lead to better communications from the craft beer brewers, through us bloggers, reaching all the way out to those eager to learn more about this booming business of micro brewing.  I hope that your questions get covered.  Please leave comments on the posts if you need more information.

As I sit and stare out the window at 38,000 feet, munching on snack crackers and macro brewed swill, my mind reels in anticipation of the phenomenal beer that awaits.  Perhaps we can convince more airlines to carry some better beers….here’s to that revolution!

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

BBC 2010 - 2010 Beer Bloggers Conference

Firkin Around...Boulder, Colorado.

 It's coming. This weekend. Stay tuned for updates on Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

It's going to be Firkin Awesome!