Brew Biz: Werts and All (Boca)

A Brew Biz Alert: 3 Breweries, Boca Raton, Florida

 Ken Carman is a BJCP judge; homebrewer since 1979, club member at Escambia Bay, Salt City, Clarksville Carboys and Music City Homebrewers, who has been writing on beer-related topics and interviewing professional brewers all over the east coast, for over 15 years.

Written by Ken Carman

 If you’re going to Miami area; specifically Boca, here are three breweries you might consider…
 This was an unexpected trip due to a death in Millie’s family, so no time to interview brewers, or do much in depth study. Plus, we were being brought around by my brother-in-law Dan Jenny and he had better things to do than haul around two beer judges.

Barrel of Monks Brewing
“A modern stop for house made Belgian beer” (Their slogan, not mine.)
1141 S Rogers Cir #5
Cherry Chocolate Quad, Father Christmas, Wild Ale*******

The Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery
2621 N Federal Hwy
Cherry Pie Wheat, Tropical Thunder Berliner, Smoked Stout, Red Dawn, Citra Az Down, Physical Graffiti

Glades Plaza, 2222 Glades Rd, Boca Raton, FL
Black Duke, Tropical Madness (raspberry), Brewzzi Reserve (barrel aged Russian Imperial?)

 We were lucky. One of the original plans was for Millie to fly down, into Fort Lauderdale. She might have come in right about the time of the shooting at the airport that day. But her husband, yup; “me,” wanted to show my support, even though they weren’t that close. It was more “for the family” in the larger sense, and I wanted to be with her for that.
 OK, OK, OK, not that noble. Having toured through St. Augustine many years I knew Kings’ Head was on our way: my fav English pub. Oh, and I also could drop off some recording gear that needs repair in Atlanta.
 The brews listed are only what we tried, via sample boards. There were many more in-house beers.
Our driver was Millie’s brother: Dan Jenny, who was also attending the memorial service.
 First stop was Barrels of Monks. Very small, yet well decorated, the first word that comes to mind is “comfortable.” We did buy a bottle of Father Christmas, a substantial, darker, beer with the usual Christmas Spices. Needed to be more distinctly Belgian, as with any brews they claimed to be Belgian-like, but good enough we bought a bottle. Their wild ale had a hint, at best, of odd funk sense from brett, but it was very mild in that regard, a bit fruity. I believe we may have had their Cherry Chocolate Quad too. I wanted in the bottle, but they didn’t have a bottle left.
 I really wish we had taken better notes, but conversation was the point here, since we get to see Dan once a year, at best.
 The Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery was quite unique. It’s also a homebrew shop. In a small business park, and somewhat strip mall-ish, location, we had to drink in the homebrew shop because the lounge wasn’t open yet. One of the brewers was there and quite busy, yet helpful when he got one of the samples we wanted wrong.
 The Cherry Pie Wheat was a simple pleasure, not that complex: cherry pie with wheat overtones in a glass. I wasn’t a fan of Red Dawn: kind of a typical red ale with nothing special about it. (And its namesake a stupid movie with an inane premise, IMO, not that that affected my assessment.) At a judging table I would credit it for being in style, but not much else. The Vanilla Expresso Porter was impressive, and a must have, but I was beginning to wonder, “What makes any of this “funk?” Maybe we just weren’t there at the right time.
Tropical Thunder Berliner was a delight. Apparently they do many versions of Berliner with fruit added. This was enjoyable for all, and that was quite a trick considering we’re beer judges and Dan enjoys different brews, but seems far less adventurous.
 The brewer just had to bring me his pride and joy, a Citra IPA: Citra Az Down: a name I’ve seen different variations on all across craft beer and homebrew world. He was mostly right: a good solid Citra brew with just a slight too many early additions in my opinion. If you’re going to use something with so much flavor masking it with a tad too much bitter is probably not the best plan. Or maybe it’s just a matter of do you want flavor, aroma, or bitter. My main point is there are better bittering hops, and Citra flavor should be more the focus. However: so slight I could see how someone might think it “just right.”
 The body was a pretty solid medium.
Physical Grafitti was a beer/cider hybrid. Great balance, a tad towards the cider, the Smoked Stout, just a hint of smoke. Quite good.
 Of the two I think we preferred Buddha, but I admit it was a close call. I just wish I could remember more of what we had there.
 Brewzzi was a sudden stop. We had seen it listed and were headed to that thing no one dares call a party after a memorial service. Brewzzi is what seems to be becoming passé’: a brewpub format. I must admit: we were impressed. The brews were solid and the chili was incredible, well worthy of the price. There was a hefty bread bowl and tons of chili with just a hint of heat.
Tropical Madness was a fruit delight. I think we chose the raspberry. There were at least two more and we didn’t get the sense this was just fruit syrup added to each different version: truly part of the brew. The Russian Imperial, Brewzzi Reserve, was probably the best brew of the day we tried. Everything a RIP should be, barrel aged with just a hint of wood, and if I remember right, some wine essence.
 As for my brewpub commentary, check out the last edition of Brew Biz.
 My only big criticism is both breweries that at least hint, either in the literature or outright, that they have a Belgian flair could have had more of a Belgium flair, especially in the brews they so obviously claimed had that character. Also, well, went a brewer calls something “Wild,” well it should be able to be described as mundane and definitely not so wild. But our visit to brew Boca was like a series of one day brew stands: hardly enough to really get to know each other. So I admit this could be unfair. I really wish we had had more time, taken more notes, but family matters took precedence.
 Doubt we’ll ever get back. Considering something other than brews for a moment, we prefer the panhandle. We weren’t fond of the condo city nature to the area, and felt it far too metropolitan. Better than Miami which was worse than this is now, even though our visit was ate least 15 years ago. Can’t imagine it has gotten better. Plus that brew tour was wrecked by a brewpub called Titanic. At the time we joked they sunk the wrong one.
 The only experience we’ve had close to that bad was in Indianapolis; a brewpub with another tragic name. Maybe we should have thought, of both names as warning signs? The other brew-tragedy: Alcatraz. Titanic just had brews that lived far below standards and a staffing problem beyond annoying. The staff was “OK,” but Alcatraz had brews with same bloody defect in every one. It was like we were locked in a cell with a palate abusing cellmate called, “Prisoner 666,” better known in beer judging world as medicinal phenolics.
 There were plenty of more breweries, we even passed a new one in a strip mall. But we didn’t have the time. If you, go we recommend don’t miss Buddha, swing by the other two if you have the time, or if you’re mostly just hungry but want a beer with your food, Brewzzi. We had the chili in a bread bowl. It was great and a great value. While we sat at the bar plenty of dishes being served passed by. They all looked great and well worth the price.
  Buddha for the beer, Brewzzi’s more for the food but have a beer anyway, Barrel if you have the time. Now there’s a plan.

Barrel of Monks

   Brew Biz : Werts and All,` is a column dedicated to reviewing, discussing, and commenting on, beer-related topics including, but not limited to: marketing, homebrewing and homebrew/beer related events, how society perceives beer. Also: reviews of beer related businesses, opinions about trends in the brew business, and discussions regarding all things beer.
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Ken Carman and Cartenual Productions
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