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Review: Red Door Red Ale

Red Door Red Ale

Photo by The Ride Photography

With the Brew Hub under construction, Lakeland Brewing Company securing funding, and various rumors of future Lakeland craft beers floating around our little city, it was only a matter of time until us Lakelanders could truly “drink like a local” outside a Lakeland Brewers Guild meeting. Happily, this new era of locally-brewed beer has officially begun thanks to the Red Door Wine Market and their new red ale.

Red Door’s owner, Richard DeAngelis, and head chef, Jason Boniface, crafted the red ale’s recipe together. They then took it to Portland, Maine where it is currently being contract brewed by Shipyard Brewing. Plans are already underway to move brewing to Lakeland, and I’m betting we’ll eventually see more door-knocker tap handles at the Red Door.

Red Door celebrated the launch of their first craft beer Saturday, August 24th with an absolutely delicious New England Beer and Food Fest. Check out event photos below from our friend Ryan at The Ride Photography.

So how is the Red Door’s first craft beer? It’s a sweet, malty red with notes of caramel and dark fruit flavors. As it warms, citrus-y hops pleasantly become more noticeable. It’s an easy-to-enjoy ale that should appeal to both seasoned beer drinkers and to newer palates.

I’ll leave the rest of the reviewing up to you; I want to know what you think!

If you need more reasons to try this red ale, consider that this is the only Lakeland-made craft beer you can (currently) buy, and it gives you an excuse to indulge yourself at the Red Door Wine Market! Pair it with one of Chef Boniface’s amazing dishes. No doubt, you, like me, will find yourself still enjoying the red after a few rounds.

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Review: New Belgium Fat Tire

The wait is finally over. New Belgium is now available in Florida in 22 ounce bomber bottles of Fat Tire, Ranger IPA, Sunshine, Trippel and 16 ounce cans of Shift Pale Lager. No other beer has been asked for more in Lakeland than Fat Tire, so I made sure I tried the unassuming amber ale as soon as I could.

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Details: Fat Tire by New Belgium, Fort Collins, Colorado
Amber Ale, 5.2% ABV

Honestly, I was let down at first; that is, until I reminded myself that this was a 5.2% amber ale. It never promised to be as flavorful as a smoked sour wheat or a barrel-aged Russian imperial stout. I continued drinking and enjoying the company of neighborhood craft beer lovers and friendly Florida Distributing reps at The Brass Tap.

Realizing my glass was nearing empty, I poured myself more from the 22 ounce bottle.

I began dissecting the ale for other reasons for the hype. It was amber in color with a white foamy head. Slightly-sweet biscuit and caramel malt flavors. Little to no hoppy bitterness.

I was nearly finished with the entire bomber bottle when it started to dawn on me. I was still enjoying the amber ale and lots of good company. Maybe that is what people have been waiting for. Most sought-after craft beers these days require your full attention to be truly appreciated. Not Fat Tire… and perhaps that’s why people love it so much. I even wonder if people are less nostalgic about the amber ale itself and more about the good times they associate with Fat Tire.

New Belgium’s amber ale is very sessionable and its mellow flavor can be easily enjoyed by almost any palate. It may not be your new favorite craft beer, but it may become one of your “go tos.”

Fat Tire and the other aforementioned offerings from New Belgium should be easy to find in a week or two. Be sure to check them out. I’ll love to know what you think think of them.

What you do you make of Fat Tire? Let us know in comment section below.

Review: Rapp Brewing Lichtenhainer

Thanks to the suggestions of a few discerning friends, I had the pleasure of trying some great local brews this weekend at Rapp Brewing. I enjoyed a flight of six outstanding beers at the Seminole brewpub, and took a growler of the Lichtenhainer back to Lakeland with me.

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Photo courtesy of Pair O’ Dice Brewing

Details: Lichtenhainer by Rapp Brewing, Seminole, FL
Lichtenhainer (Smoked Sour Wheat), 4.4% ABV

I only brought back 32 ounces, but I was able to share it with eight friends. You see, the Lichtenhainer is a smoked sour wheat beer. For what it is, Rapp absolutely nails this style of beer… but it was still fun to watch my friends’ reactions.

“Smells like a bacon grilled cheese sandwich.”

“Smells like brisket.”

“Smells like… like hot ham water.”

Similar to a Berliner weiss in appearance, mouthfeel, and sour tartness; as salty as a gose; and — thanks to those smoked malts — meatier than an episode of Epic Meal Time, the Lichtenhainer will make your head shake, your mouth smile, and your hand go back for more.

Rapp Brewing is only about hour west of Lakeland and their beer is definitely worth the drive. Order a flight and be sure include the gose, chocolate peanut butter stout, and, of course, this lip smacker!

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UPDATE: Sixpoint at Fat Maggie’s event

I’m proud to say that the first Lakeland Craft Beer event was a huge success! Mostly thanks to the amazing staff at Fat Maggie’s, Ben Eberly from Cavalier Distributing and everyone who came out to this awesome event!

I’d tell you more about the event, but Logan over at Eat A Duck has already done a fantastic job, so go check out what he had to say! Click here to check that out.

Until next time, just look at these great photos Ryan Powell (of The Ride Photography Company) took at the event… <drool>

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Review: Great Divide Titan IPA

This review comes to you from Denver, Colorado. Andrew Denniger lived in Lakeland, FL for two years, but recently moved to craft beer heaven. Now he regularly reminds me that he lives within biking distance to some of the best breweries in the country. Andrew knows his stuff, so listen up! (And for what it’s worth, I throw my two-cents in, too.)

Photo by Andrew Denniger

Details: Titan IPA by Great Divide, Denver, Colorado
American India Pale Ale, 7.1% ABV

Appearance: With an aggressive pour, it is a rich copper and is very clear. The head is frothy and white. Throughout drinking the beer, the head fades to nothing.

Aroma: Medium nose, that has hints of citrus and piney hops at the front with caramel malts at the end. Great balance of the bitter and sweet, very clean.

Taste: Very similar to the aroma, the beer starts out with a big hop presence. This is initially a piney taste but does have a good amount of citrus that comes through after. The maltiness is sweet and gives it a great caramel note right before finishing bitter.

Mouthfeel: At 7.1% this is a very easy to drink IPA. Though it seems heavy, the carbonation does balance it out. Great Divide does a great job of giving you a balanced and complex beer that you can drink almost like a session beer.

Comments:
Andrew: It coming in a six-pack, I felt it was required for me to drink all of them throughout a week to get a good understanding of the beer. At no point during the week did I ever feel as if this was a chore, in fact, I enjoyed every single one. Great Divide is known for it’s huge beers so I was assuming this would be another big bodied beer, especially with a name like Titan. While drinking the beers, I did pair with a chicken salad and a burger and both seemed like a good combination.

Dave: Andrew nailed it. Loads of pine, resin and mild grapefruit flavors from the hops. That bitter hoppiness combine with the caramel-y sweet malts and 7.5% ABV to make for a well-balanced, bittersweet almost-double IPA. Those new to IPAs, imagine somewhere between Sixpoint’s Resin and Jai Alai from Tampa’s Cigar City.

Summary: Titan IPA is a great single IPA. I would recommend it to anyone and would put it up against pretty much any other IPA on the market. I would consider it more of an East Coast IPA that has a more full bodied/complex taste, but would not say it’s overwhelming. Titan is a definite recommendation if you can find it, in fact, Great Divide in general is an amazing brewery so drink anything you find of theirs.

Ok, now it’s your turn. Comment! Have you had Titan before? What’d you think of the review? Want us to review a particular beer? Well, then tell me! Thanks for reading!

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Sixpoint at Fat Maggie’s – June 25

I am beyond excited to announce the first Lakeland Craft Beer event!

Tuesday, June 25th at 7 PM, come taste six Sixpoint beers along with Sixpoint-inspired Fat-Maggie’s-made dishes — including food made with Sixpoint beer! Knowledgeable beer reps from Cavalier Distributing will be on hand to talk about the beer as well.

Admission is $30 and includes your gratuity and a sweet beer koozie. To reserve your spot, stop by Fat Maggie’s and ask to sign up (preferably) or send me an e-mail. Space is limited so make sure you reserve your space early!

Show your support for these local businesses and Lakeland Craft Beer. It’s going to be a great night!

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Review: Orange Blossom Pilsner

Choosing the first beer to review came with a bit of pressure. I wanted to pick something local, easy to find, and affordable. I tried to be mindful of newer craft beer drinkers by avoiding anything too bitter or boozy right away. And I figured that a lighter, sessionable beer would be appropriate for this time of year.

So, after staring at the surprisingly impressive craft beer section at the “Good Beer BP” for a while, Abby and I ended up leaving with a six pack of Orange Blossom Pilsner.

Photo credit - easywdw.com

Photo credit – easywdw.com

Details: Orange Blossom Pilsner by Orange Blossom Pilsner LLC, Orlando, Florida
Pilsner / American Pale Lager, 6.5% ABV
note: OBP is currently contract-brewed by Thomas Creek Brewery in SC

Appearance: Mostly transparent, deep straw gold / pale orange color. Pours with a foamy, white head.

Aroma: Subtle syrupy-sweet aroma with notes of honey and orange citrus.

Taste: Simple and refreshing. Honey sweetness; citrus sourness; mild hops; yeasty, strong wheat finish. Most craft beers improve as they warm up; OBP does not. Everything good about this pilsner begins to fade as it warms. Once warm, a cloyingly sweet taste is followed by an unpleasant sourness reminiscent of old oranges. The nice wheat finish fizzles before it goes anywhere.

Mouthfeel: Sessionable. Lightly carbonated, a little syrupy. Goes down easily.

Comments:
Abby: I had pretty low expectations for this beer and was pretty pleasantly surprised. While it’s not really complex, it is very refreshing and pleasantly fizzy when it’s cold. Usually, letting beer warm up a bit before drinking it improves the beer’s flavor… but not this one. When it had been in my glass long enough to start to warm, it was unpleasantly sweet/sour and less carbonated. It’s a good choice for a quick beer in the summer heat, but this definitely isn’t one just to sip on.

Dave: As long as it’s ice-cold, I don’t mind drinking PBR at a cook out on a hot summer day — the same could be said for OBP. Rather than adding the usual, cheap domestic beer to the Igloo cooler, pick up a six pack of local, more flavorful OBP on the way to your next cook out. It should pair nicely with your grilled food, too.

Summary: The name suits it well. Orange Blossom Pilsner is sweet like honey and sour like citrus. Refreshing and easy to drink, OBP is good choice on a warm day. Don’t wait for it warm up or you may find yourself having to gulp down the rest.

Ok, now it’s your turn. Comment! Have you had OBP before? What’d you think of the review? Want us to review a particular beer? Well, then tell me! You get the idea. Hey, thanks for reading!

Welcome!

Hi! My name is Dave — I’m the guy behind Lakeland Craft Beer.

Last Decemeber, I came up with the idea to develop an online community and resource for craft beer fans and local businesses in Lakeland. Since then, the idea and craft beer scene has evolved, and now I think it’s time to take Lakeland Craft Beer to another level.

In addition to what I usually do on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, my plan is to start cultivating and promoting local events and deals, providing craft beer reviews and suggestions, and create more focused, accessible online resource for you. That won’t happen right away, but here we are at step one – a website.

I’m excited about this new stage and I’m extremely thankful for the supportive community in Lakeland that have not only made this possible, but also worthwhile! Thank you!

So, keep supporting craft beer around town! Keep “Liking,” following, commenting, and sharing things on the Facebook and Twitter pages! Keep helping me out with information and tips that you hear! Keep saying hi to me and telling your friends about Lakeland Craft Beer!

Stay tuned for events and reviews coming soon! Oh, and feel free to take a look around the website. Let me know what you think. If you have any suggestions or comments, let me know!

Thanks again!