What it is: Pilsner/pale lager
Pale lagers are fizzy, yellow beers that have unfortunately earned a bad reputation due to American macro-brewing. Fortunately, Cigar City Brewing Company in Tampa created a light, crisp, refreshing lager that goes down easy and doesn’t force drinkers to sacrifice taste and quality.
What we got: Cigar City Hotter than Helles. No peppers, just puns – Hotter than Helles isn’t really hotter than anything. On the contrary, throw a couple of cans on ice and this beer will temper any Florida scorcher.
What it is: wheat beer
The perfect beer for the beach, wheats tend to be light and crisp with notes of citrus or tropical fruit. In a land where 80-degree days in December aren’t unheard of, wheat beers are welcome refreshers all year long.
What we got: 7venth Sun Graffiti Orange. Remember Creamsicles, those delicious orange popsicles with vanilla ice cream inside? Well, Florida’s newest wunderkind, 7venth Sun out of Dunedin, makes them in beer form now, and down here in the Deep South, it never goes out of season.
What it is: brown ale
These beers are appropriately named for the deep amber to opaque brown hue. With a mild, bittersweet flavor, brown ales tend to be remarkably drinkable beers, full-bodied but with a mouthfeel that isn’t quite as heavy as a porter or a stout.
What we got: Cigar City Maduro Brown Ale. This oatmeal brown is undeniably more decadent than its British cousin, but don’t let that scare you off. Maduro is an impressively bold and delightful beer that pairs well with a rich, hearty meal or the cigar you’re going to light up afterward.
What it is: stout
Sometimes referred to as liquid bread, roasted malts give a thick, black appearance and dense, creamy texture. The flavor of stouts can range from a dry bitterness in the Irish styles to milkshake-like sweetness. They can range anywhere from a mild 4 percent ABV up through and beyond 10 percent in the Russian Imperial variety.
What we got: Cask & Larder St. Katie’s Stout. This dry, mild, Irish-style stout is a sessionable brew perfect for long beer-guzzling evenings. A few of these and you’ll feel like you’ve kissed the Blarney Stone.
What you mean: Ale is a broad category encompassing a diverse array of beer styles. That said, when most people think of ales, two classics come to mind: the pale ale and the IPA. Bitter hops define their flavors, and they can range in color from tarnished gold to deep red. Though originally developed in England, the American craft movement has made these styles our own, and Florida’s breweries are cooking up some of the best in the market.
What we got: Swamp Head Stump Knocker is hoppy and bitter enough to keep the wimps away, yet unquestionably quaffable any time of year, Stump Knocker is the quintessential American pale, named after the fish because why not? There are no doubt weirder things to name a beer after.
Cigar City Jai Alai IPA: This beer needs no introduction, and no list of Florida brews is complete without it. The intensely bitter Jai Alai has taken our state by storm and made hopheads out of the lot of us.
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