Location: South Street City Oven & Grill
In South Florida on business. To be precise, my wife and I are staying at the Marriott Beach Resort on Marco Island, where I'm participating in a professional conference. In my limited experience of this part of the state, there's little to offer when it comes to craft beer. The best that the resort has is Samuel Adams (which is actually one of my favorite lagers, but I'll save my paean to Jim Koch's creation for another time).
We decide to head north to Naples for dinner and maybe a beer or two. After doing a little hunting, we find South Street City Oven & Grill with the assurance that Tampa's vaunted Cigar City beers will be on tap.
South Street turns out to be a pizzeria that looks like it was decorated circa 1987--lots of neon coloring; exposed brick walls with bright graffiti straight out of a DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince video; and lithographs of '80s rock icons such as Billy Idol and Morrissey. There's a Philly connection to the place as well, as evidenced by the name of the establishment (South Street is a well-known drag in Philadelphia) and the Eagles flag hanging from the ceiling.
We have a seat at the bar and take a look at the menu. There appear to be about two dozen taps, which include three Victory Brewing Company selections (HopDevil among them), Smuttynose Old Brown Dog, Magic Hat #9, Southern Tier IPA, and Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale.
Looking for a local offering, I go for the Maduro Brown. Upon sampling a whiff of this beer, I can immediately tell that this is not your garden-variety American Brown Ale. The nose is heavy on the coffee and chocolate notes, with just a touch of oak perhaps (though I'm pretty sure that the beer is not barrel-aged, so my nose might be deceiving me). It's got a pillowy, creamy head on it with a dark brown body that carries a faint reddish tint. The mouthfeel is a bit thick for the style, and the beer is very malty, with coffee, chocolate, molasses, and a bit of brandy dominating the flavor profile. If you served this to me while I was blindfolded, I could almost swear that I was drinking a Founders Porter because Maduro Brown is just as dark, rich, and sexy as Founders Porter. It's certainly a beer that I wish were readily available back home.