TL;DR: these beers are all of high quality, and very true to type. If you like a particular style of beer, you will like these versions of that style.
Omphtaloskepsis begins now:
This box of goodies was a very nice gift, and like all good gifts, it says something. It says something about the recipient (I like beer) it says something about the relationship between the parties (we like beer), but what does it say about Florida Man? Rather a lot, and rather surprising revelations to me, who only knows FM from his meth-and-gator insights and his flirtations with Jesse.
These beers are all very disciplined. While it’s fun to think of Florida as the home of funny headlines and Burn Notice, it’s beers like this that reminds you that it’s also the home of the House of Mouse. At every brewery tour I’ve ever been to, someone in the tour group makes some comment about how megabrews suck, and the tour guide always responds with some variant of “They are great brewers, it takes a lot of skill to make a beer with so little taste and no way of hiding flaws.” Well, these beers are like that — not because they have no taste, but because (with one exception) the tasting experience is perfectly consistent across time and tongue. Any off notes would be very easy to notice, and they aren’t here. I actually find this a little disconcerting, as my favorite genre (Trappist ales) has tons and tons of different things with the flavor in flux from the first sip to the swallow. You can hide mistakes in that. And while I only got one can of each, I’m completely willing to believe that the quality control at these FL breweries are much better than I get when drinking the Belgians (though to be fair, there is a lot more room for variation when stuff gets shipped across the Atlantic). The other thing about these beers is they are exactly what is on the label. No “well, it’s kinda sweet, so maybe we’ll call it a porter?” Other people with more knowledge than I have may disagree, but as far as I can tell, the typicality of these ranges from “textbook” to “would win best in breed at Westminster.”
So what beers did Florida Man send me? These beers:
Funky Buddha “Floridian Wheat Hefeweizen” – orangeish yellow, mildly sweet, citrus aftertaste. Great with pizza. Somewhat light-bodied for an unfiltered type. I give it: three beers out of a six-pack.
3 Daughters Brewing “St. Pete Beach Blonde Ale” – pale yellow, cloudy, headless. An odd scent, presumable from some sort of yeast of which I am unfamiliar. The taste is pleasant, sweet, and a little hoppy, with a buttery aftertaste. I give it: thirteen out of twenty-five wafers in a FOUP.
3 Daughters Brewing “Rod Bender Red Ale” – I likes me some red ales, and I likes the heck out of this one. More russet than red, with a malty and yeasty nose, this is one of the beers you should pull out when someone says “balanced malt and hops” to show them one that actually does this. As good as the beer is, I’m wondering about the brewery name. 3 Daughters? Isn’t every woman a daughter, kind of by definition? Why not “3 Chicks Brewing?” I give it: 17 /19 prime numbers.
Tampa Bay Brewing Co. “Last Days of Summer Fruited Sour Ale” – This is one of the ones I can’t verify is true to type, due to my lack of experience. All the sours I’ve had up till now (which has been three I think) have been very tart. This one isn’t. You might call it subtle. When you pour it, it looks like Natty Light, when you smell it it smells like peaches and hops. When you taste it though, it is neither. It’s very mildly tangy, and like other sours and fruited lambics, completely un-beery. If I were to try and bring a fruited sour to the Japanese market, it would be this one. I give it e / pi transcendental numbers.
J. Dubs Brewing Co. “Bell Cow Milk Chocolate Porter” – It’s chocolate. Dark brown, chocolate nose, chocolate taste. I like chocolate. I like this beer, rather a lot. But because they are cramming actual chocolate into this, there’s room to hide mistakes in brewing. So I can’t claim that this is as high quality of the rest here, but I can claim it’s yummy. I give it: 4.5 / 5 Kit-Kat bars.
Crooked Can Brewing Co. “Mr. Tractor Kolch” – Someone who is an actual expert needs to drink one of these so they can explain something to me. People keep equating “bitter” with “hops,” so when I say “I don’t particularly care for IPAs,” that gets translated to “I don’t like bitter beers” which is not true. This beer has a definite hard stop of bitterness to it, which while I don’t think necessarily adds to this particular beer, isn’t a flaw or off-putting to me. What it does NOT have is a flavor equivalent to its nose, which is what I think of as “hops,” a resinous herbal scent (and in other beers, flavor). I can only assume that there are some hops which impart a more bitter taste ,and other cultivars that impart a Pine-Sol taste. It would be good to have an actual beer person either confirm this or explain the difference between this beer’s bitterness and an IPA’s “I am drinking a lumberyard.” (Note to self: name my brewery’s IPA “Hoppy Ending.” Put a picture of an Asian girl in a bikini top on the label.) Anyway, if you offer someone a beer, and they say “yes,” and then you ask “what kind?” and they say “I dunno. A beer.” Then you should give them this one. I give it 55 / 88 degrees Fahrenheit.
Florida Avenue Brewing Co. “Brown Ale” – Brown. Dense head. Nose of roasted malt and hops. Toasty, caramel, really good, buttery aftertaste. lighter body than most. An excellent candidate to be my everyday beer. I give it: 77 / 99 bottles of beer on the wall.
Bold City Brewery “Killer Whale cream ale” – Pale yellow, minimal head, smells like high school. Taste is subtle, muted, sweet. I give it: 90 / 165 beers in a keg
Cigar City Brewing “Florida Cracker Belgian-Style White Ale” – Yellow, hazy, thick head, little smell, lightly fruity. It’s a Belgian White. I give it: 2 / 3 orange peels
*About the numeric scores — the Venn diagram of “thing that are good” and “things that I like” does not perfectly overlap. The scores are how much I like them, not of “how good” they are. These are all quite good, high-quality beers. Also, I am totally not ripping off a particular movie reviewer’s shtick, I am trying to make it a meme.