11 September 2007
Beer Diary - Jim | South Florida Edition
2 September 2007 Location: Brugge Brasserie
Old Dog Grand Cru - Enjoying a birthday celebration with milady at Brugge. The usual suspects are on the beer menu--The Black and the Tripel de Ripple--along with one I haven't tried: Old Dog Grand Cru. I order some frites (with the roasted garlic aioli) and decide to try the Old Dog. Pours with an orange-brown color, tan head, slightly cloudy. Nose is spicy, a little raisin and pepper. Taste is lighter than expected. Thought it would be sweet, but it's actually quite smooth to my palate. Flavor not as spicy as the nose. Medium mouthfeel. A good beer, but not the best that Ted and Co. have made.
6 September 2007 Location: Big Bear Brewing Company, Coral Springs, Florida
In sunny South Florida for a business conference. Upon arrival at my hotel, I hit RateBeer and BeerAdvocate to scout for some beer geek havens. Don't come up with much. South Florida doesn't seem to be very beer friendly. There's an interesting place called Brother Tuckers, but it's too far. However, I do find Big Bear Brewing Company, which is about a fifteen-minute drive from the hotel. So I decide to head there for an early dinner.
I take a seat in the bar area. Looks like a typical brewpub--lots of wood fixtures, and a glass wall separates the brewing facilities from the dining area. At 5:00 p.m., the place is fairly empty except for people who appear to be regulars. They're all seated at the bar; not a one of them appears to be under 50. The cast of characters: a fridge repairman with his name on his shirt; a crispy-tan Long Island refugee; an airline mechanic; a retired mafioso (he's wearing a mock turtleneck with a gold chain); and a Jim McGreevey look-a-like with a pinky ring. This looks like the place where the 1970's came to die. I half expect the gang from Three's Company to stop in for some drinks.
I take a gander at the beer menu. Notice that the soundtrack in this place is "smooth" jazz. Ick. I sit waiting for the smooth jazz version of the Pina Colada Song. Also notice that only the fridge repairman is drinking a beer. The rest all have mixed drinks. McGreevey is grooving on a mojito. Guess that makes sense since we're so close to Cuba, but it does not bode well for the beer quality. Yet I place my first order, eager to see if the beer is as bad as the atmosphere...
Kodiac Belgian Dubbel - Pours with a mahogany color, light tan head. Has a nose with plum, yeast, a little bit of caramel, and some banana. Nose has a musty quality, but is not unpleasant. Taste is banana-like, slightly sweet, with a little bit of clove. Medium mouthfeel; not as chewy as expected. Yum. This is very, very good. Pairs well with the fish and chips I ordered. Beats the crap out of many other Belgian-style beers I've tried.
For the next move, I sample a seasonal--a light lager infused with apricot--but find it too weak. Bartender recommends their pale ale, so I go with that...
Hibernation Pale Ale - Orange color, orange head. Lots of lacing. Big ass citrus nose--grapefruit galore with slight yeasty funk. IPA-like in taste, with an intense hop flavor. Also dry, hops clearly outweigh any malt flavor present. The IBU's on this bastard must be up there. Again, very good quality beer. Almost as good as Alpha King.
After two pretty high-powered ales, I decide to call it a night. While I can't recommend Big Bear for its atmosphere, I can recommend it on the quality of its beers. Look 'em up if you're in the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood area.
7 September 2007 Location: Ichiban Japanese Restaurant, Davie, Florida
Have endured a marathon conference session, so decide that it's time to go eat and drink like a salaryman. Ichiban is on the way back to the hotel, so I head there for some tuna sashimi and some Japanese bagel rolls (salmon, cream cheese, and scallions). What would a salaryman drink after a long day at the office? That would be...
Kirin Ichiban - This is Kirin's premium beer. Malty and sweet nose. Classic golden lager color, white head. Crisp, light, drinkable. Tastes like Heineken, but with a little more edge. Goes well with the sashimi. Not a beer that will warm the hearts of beer geeks, but it served its purpose well. If you're going to drink a Japanese beer with your Japanese food, this is the one.