Beer at Fort Myers Beach and Cigar City Guava Grove

The Captain Wants a Beer
The Captain Wants a Beer

A week ago, my wife and I met up with some family in Florida.  Specifically, we went to Fort Myers Beach.

While there, in addition to hanging out at the hotel tiki bar, we checked out the local night life, and sampled some of the local beer.  Several places had house beers, including the Smokin’ Oyster Brewery, the Yucatan Beach Stand, and The Beached Whale.  Each house beer was a different interpretation of a red.  The favorite was the Yucatan red, because it was more smooth,and was similar to a lager.  A close second in our group was the Beached Whale Ale, another red, but with more ale-like qualities.

Cigar City Brewing Guava Grove
Cigar City Brewing Guava Grove

Also while we were there, I had a chance to sample Guava Grove, the farmhouse ale from Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida.  Because of the added guava, it was a bit sweeter than most saisons, but it had a very nice hop flavor and aroma.  It was a good saison and worth a sample.

It was a great trip, and we enjoyed a lot of good beer.  Have you had the local beers at Fort Myers Beach?  What was your favorite?

Goose Island Pepe Nero

Goose Island Pepe Nero
Goose Island Pepe Nero

The other day, I had the chance to try the new Vintage Ale from Goose Island, Pepe Nero.

It is considered a farmhouse ale, but is much darker than any I have seen of this style.  When I first poured the beer, it was a dark brown-red color.  It had a very strong scent to it, with a large burnt caramel aroma with a bit of Belgian-style sour scents mixed in.

The flavor was very interesting.  It had a strong roasted chestnut flavor with just a hint of Belgian funkiness on the finish.  It had a slight bit of tartness, but not too much to be overwhelming.  The final impression reminded me of a lighter Belgian dubbel .

Did you try Pepe Nero?  What was your impression of this new ale?

Beer Brewing for Winter

Granny Smith Apples in the Caramel Apple Tart
Granny Smith Apples in the Caramel Apple Tart

Over the past three weeks, every Sunday, I’ve been working tirelessly on increasing my winter beer reserves.  With family coming to town for Thanksgiving, and an “Ugly Sweater Party” the beginning of December, I had a lot of beer to make.

Starting off, week one, I made a saison, and one of my specialties, caramel apple tart.  The previous time I made the caramel apple tart, I used a sour mash, but decided to use a less time consuming method of adding acid malt the last ten minutes of the mash.  Here’s the all-grain recipe (let me know if you want more details):

  • 6 lbs 2-row malt
  • 3 lbs Munich malt
  • 0.5 lbs Crystal 40 malt
  • 0.5 lbs Special B malt
  • 1 lb Acid malt (10 minutes left in the mash)
  • 1 oz Willamette hops (60 minutes, 3.5% AAU)
  • 1 oz Willamette hops (10 minutes, 3.5% AAU)
  • 2 Granny Smith Apples (Julienne’d in the secondary)
  • California Ale-type yeast (I used WLP001)

The last time I tried this beer, it was a hit at our engagement party, so much so that everyone kept asking when I would make it again.  It’s a nice, slightly tart beer with an aroma of apples and a hint of caramel.  It has a very refreshing finish, and leaves a bit of “tart apple” in your mouth.

Week two, I made a nice Belgian Wit and a Samuel Adams Boston Lager (as an ale) clone.  These four beers, along with an Oktoberfest done a month ago, give us plenty of beer to have around the holidays.

However, not being satisfied with these for our holiday party, this past Sunday, I made an Oatmeal Cookie Ale (with vanilla and cinnamon), and a Gingerbread Cookie Ale (with ginger, cinnamon, and cloves).  I know I’ve said how I dislike spiced winter beers, but I had to make an exception, especially when I keep the spices to a minimum.

Have you made or had any out-of-the-box beers lately?  Let me know!

Peace Tree Cornucopia

Peace Tree Cornucopia
Peace Tree Cornucopia

I recently had the chance to try Peace Tree Brewing’s Cornucopia.  It is a saison with sweet corn and corn stalks.

Being a fan of saisons, I was excited to sample Peace Tree’s interpretation. It had a slightly spicy aroma.  The first taste was a bit sweeter than other saisons I’ve had, and had a hint of corn flavor.  The finish was clean, but it left an “interesting” aftertaste.

I held back on my original (not as favorable) review of this, and I’m glad I did.  Here’s why: I found several things that made drinking this beer a better experience.

  1. It was better fresh.  The bottles I had at the beginning of the season and at the beginning of six-packs were much better than those during the fall and at the end of the pack (unless I drank all of them in a few days time).
  2. It was much better with the yeast mixed in, so pour it into a glass, swirl around what’s left in the bottle, and pour the sediment into the glass.

Overall, it was a good saison, but it’s still not my favorite Peace Tree offering.

Have you had Cornucopia?  What did you think?