Beer Profile: Florida Swamp Ale

Profiled by Ken Carman for

I had been warned about this one.

“It’s… ‘OK.’ It’s a… contract’ brew.”

Comment at a homebrew meeting in Pensacola.

So I was actually surprised by this at first, but then it morphed into what I had expected. First sips: not bad, but eventually cries out for better hopping schedule. Though my friends in Florida told me this is a vended out beer, the website seems to indicate not. If this were “vended out:” someone comes up with a recipe and then has some company brews it for them. But everything indicates this was brewed by the name on the label: Florida Beer Company in Melbourne, Florida.

I do think what happened here is good intent on the part of the brewer, but a mismatch of hops: too much Citra-like hop sense. Sometimes it’s compared to cat pee. Now I know why, even more than during judging sessions where over excited brewers seem to have used wet kitty litter for dry hopping. Everything else seems right except the hopping, though it’s hard and harder to tell as it warms… hard to get through the pee to the actual beer. And since hopping is crucial to IPAs, well that’s the main reason for the low rating. If I wanted to drink cat pee all I’d have to do is warm a glass of this in the microwave.

Nice pillow head with edge bubbles. Clarity good. Citra cat pee nose, but less in taste. There’s less cat and more spice to this in the first tastes. But as it warms Citra-cat pee dominates taste eventually and becomes annoying. Medium pale malt body with some carmelization in the background. Fairly well balanced but that cat pee keeps asserting itself and becomes annoying. Reviewers on BA thought it “boozy,” but I really think this is the Citra sharpness is what they’re sensing. Says 10% No way. Maybe 8? But, would be hard to sense swimming in so much liquid cat.

My advice: drink very cold or find something else to drink. Warmth doth not do this brew justice, but cold makes it an OK quaff on to the next, more interesting, beer.

According to Wiki (excerpts)…

Florida Beer Company is organized in the state of Florida as a C Corporation. Originally founded in 1996 as Indian River Brewing Company, the 11,000 square foot brewery on South US 1 in Melbourne produced its first beers, Indian River Shoal Draft and Indian River Amberjack in June 1997; production of Kelly’s Irish Hard Cider and a variety of private label beers began in late 1997-1998. In March 2005 the company entered into an Asset Purchase Agreement with Ybor City Brewing Company to acquire the brands, marks, intellectual property, inventory and all business assets of Ybor City Brewing Company and the related entities. The assets and brands included Key West (Key West Brewery, originally of Key West, Florida), Ybor Gold (Ybor City Brewing Company originally of Tampa, Florida) and Hurricane Reef (Hurricane Reef Brewery originally of Miami, Florida). Florida Beer Company is the largest craft brewer in the State of Florida. The State of Florida is the third largest beer market in the country.”

Seems Wiki views FBC as a brewer, even a contract brewery, not one who vends out.

68 “poor” on Beer Advocate, worse on Rate Beer: 41. One reviewer said: “Could not get past smell.”

Two is all I can give it.


Welcome to the PGA beer rating system: one beer “Don’t bother.” Two: Eh, if someone gives it to you, drink. Three: very good, go ahead and seek it out, but be aware there is at least one problem. Four: seek it out. Five: pretty much “prefecto.”

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