Craft beer fans, come Saturday, January 19, get a week’s worth of sick-day excuses ready for the higher-ups: South Florida Beer Week officially begins. Four little words never sounded so good.
For Palm Beach County, the craft beer market has seen marked changes in just these past few years. From brewery openings (Tequesta Brewing Co., 2010; The Funky Buddha Lounge & Brewery, 2010; and Due South Brewing Co., 2012), to festivals like the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival, Treasure Coast Beer Festival and the fledgling Palm Beach Craft Beer Festival have all helped spread the word of artisanal suds. Now for the second year running, South Florida Beer Week consolidates eight days of frothy brews with events ranging from Jupiter to Miami starting on January 19 with kick-off party/pig roast at the Front Porch Café in South Beach and the South Florida Beer Bus tour embarking from the Funky Buddha, culminating on Saturday, January 26 with the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival.
The impetus behind South Florida Beer Week is to celebrate all things craft beer in, well, South Florida. More than 25 events are planned, featuring five Florida breweries (TBC, Due South, Cigar City, Funky Buddha and Swamphead) at 25 of the tri-county area’s best craft brew watering holes. Events range from tap takeovers and tastings to full-fledged festivals pairing some of the best area eats with the best sunshiny beers. The lion’s share of events are going down in the PBC—wire-to-wire eight days of events for you to drink like a local—with the granddaddy of them all, the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival wrapping the party on January 26, starting at 1 p.m., while the coolest event (at least in my mind’s eye), the Field of Beers, takes over Jupiter’s Roger Dean Stadium on Friday, January 25 (sorry folks, this is sold out).
Now in it’s seventh year, the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival has become of the best beer festivals in the Southeast. Brainchild of Fran Andrewlevich, co-founder of Tequesta Brewing Co., JCBF is a celebration of all things hoppy, malty and wheaty. Things begin with the above said Field of Beers on Friday night. Limited to just 375 guests (SOLD OUT!), the dugouts at Roger Dean Stadium opens to sixteen teams of brewers and chefs, where brewmasters and chefs pair craft brews with an array of inventive dishes for an evening under the stadium lights.
“I ask all the brewers to bring something off the cuff, something odd that you don’t really see that often,” says Andrewlevich. “And all the brewers are working their own tables, so if you have any questions, the brewer can answer you directly.” This year (the fifth for Field of Brews), twelve of the brewers hail from Florida: Brewzzi, Tequesta Brewing Co., Inlet Brewing Co., Swamphead Brewery, Bold City Brewery, Big Bear Brewing Co., Florida Brewing Co., Gordan Biersch, Orange Blossom Pilsner, Saint Somewhere Brewing Co., Green Room Brewing and Cigar City Brewing Co.
On Saturday at 1 p.m., doors open to the main event, the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival, and Craftoberfest. With 80 booths of brewers,bars and vendors and more than 100 beers, this year’s JCBF promises to be the largest yet. Set out front of the stadium, guests—all 3,000 of them—can bounce from table to table and sample some of the best small-batch and microbrew beers in the country.
“The quality and selection of beer at our festival is like none other in South Florida,” says Andrewlevich of the brewers and beers that will make up the lineup this year. “A lot of people bring some of their special beers.”
Craftoberfest is more family oriented event, where the good times roll for those of age and younger. Running at the same time as the JCBF on Saturday, Craftoberfest is not 21 and up, and is dog friendly. The free event will take place at the Abacoa amphitheatre with a beer tent, traditional German food and the authentic German band Sonnenschein Express, hailing from Epcot Center. “It is a great weekend and a great time,” says Andrewlevich, who has seen the festival grow from just over 1,000 people six years ago to one of the most talked-about beer festivals in the Southeast. “It is educational if you are interested in brewing, the beer is great, the food is phenomenal and the venue is like no other. Everyone around is into the same thing, having a great time, enjoying food and beer.” What else can you ask for?
- This year, a portion of the JBCF proceeds will benefit the Autism Project of Palm Beach County and the Surfers Healing Foundation.
- Join beer aficionados January 19-26 and try some of the best beers the state and nation have to offer. For more information on times, locations and brewers, visit southfloridabeerweek.blogspot.com