Tag Archives: florida beer

Craft Beer Week Q&A Craig Birkmaier, Head Brewer at Swamp Head

14 May


Well, American Craft Beer Week is right around the corner and I am smiling like a little kid waiting for Santa to bring the gifts. Only my gifts will be alcoholic and I will be buying them for myself. I interviewed head

Courtesy of Swamp Head Website

brewer of Swamp Head, Craig Birkmaier (who makes delicious IPA’s and Stouts)about his plans for craft beer week, expansion and craft beer in Florida.

I was going to talk to founder Luke Kemper as well, but he was off in the Bahamas getting hitched to longtime GF and Swamp Head bartender, Katie Allen.

I also snagged some pics when I was trespassing no one was looking *sneaky sneaky

So what can you say the importance of craft beer week is?

It’s an opportunity for brewers around the country to get people focused on what we’re doing. It gets people thinking.

Where does Florida fall into the craft beer mix?

We were late to the party, but things are starting to take off. The container law change in 2002 helped craft breweries begin.

And was Gainesville responsive to craft beer?

Our experience has been phenomenal because of people going in and asking for our product.People are willing to spend a little more money for a local, higher quality product.

Microbrewing is taking off – a lot has to do with the tasting rooms. They allow brewers to sell out of their establishment and put revenue back into the brewery. It’s helping us grow faster.

What kind of things are you doing for craft beer week?

We’re doing a people’s choice brew day Wednesday. We solicited requests for recipes. People can send them in online. We’re going to brew the best recipes on a pilot system. We’ll be here to talk to people and show them how it’s made.

So what’s next for Swamp Head?

We’re starting to look for a 30-barrel brewhouse. We have a 10-barrel right now. We brew 100 barrels a week, so we would brew 2 times a day, 5 days a week and more than triple the product. We have a couple of places we are looking for.

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Orange Blossom Pilsner – Good Summer Beer But Not Craft Quality(and doesn’t claim to be)

19 Feb

Although, originally I perceived this beer as a craft since I have seen it on draft at places that carry only craft beers and have seen it in a craft festival…I have been mistaken and have had to edit this post.

Thanks owner Tom Moench for the correction and I won’t take into account that you called me a beer nazi.

OBP won the People’s Choice Award at the Tallahassee Beer Festival when I went in 2009. OBP is an okay beer. It is light, crispy and refreshing, it is just nothing special.   I was certainly not jumping up and down signing my “new favorite beer” song or anything.

**Correction. Compared to your typical domestic lager, OBP leaves Bud Light, Miller Light and most other domestic lagers in the dust. Most other beers reviewed on this site cover crafts, which are generally stronger and more full-bodied and much different from OBP.

FYI! Craft beer, refers to a small individually owned beer company, typically producing less than 15,000 barrels, that legitimizes themselves on the quality of their beer and not the marketing/mass quantity sales we see in many companies. Crafts or “microbrews” typically have quality beers that don’t waver in taste for the popular demand. Great craft brew companies include: Oskar Blues, Rogue, Sweetwater, Abita, Cigar City, Lagunitas and Stone.

Appearance

OBP is a golden-honey color. It is clear has a thin layer of thin foam. The bottle is appealing with a bumblebee buzzing around and a claim to infuse this beer with Florida’s own orange blossom honey.

Taste

The first sips of OBP are crisp, refreshing and make you want to go lay out on the beach somewhere. There is a slight orange honey flavor but it is definitely not overwhelming. It’s citrusy but not overly sweet.

It is certainly not void of the classic beer taste you get with Bud or Miller. It is very Blue Moon like, except it is not cloudy and a little less bold. I got distracted at some point and came back to this beer five or 10 minutes later and the beer already seemed to be kind of stale and not 100 percent pleasant. I guess I will conclude that this beer is pretty good if you drink it when it’s really cold. But if you are sipping it and it gets warm you might not be happy with it.

Logistics

This beer is classified as a Pilsner, a form of light Lagers that are generally hoppy, citrus-like and rich. It is uncharacteristic of Pilsner because it is not very hoppy and certainly not rich, however it is quite citrusy. At 5.5 percent alcohol, OBP is a little higher than your average brew, but not strong enough to worry about.

Final Thoughts

This beer is a better alternative to your average domestic lager, but I would not characterize it as a craft or microbrew. Since it is light and refreshing, drink it in the sun when it’s really cold and don’t let it get warm. Another light refreshing beer that I consider to be a better beer is, Magic Hat #9. Also, this beer is brewed in South Carolina despite its claim to be “Florida’s Honey Beer”, however they will be opening in Orlando this year.

Thanks Tom for the commentary. It’s good to see an owner who cares to defend his home brew.