Drink Local Florida Blog

Sharing Our Love for Local Beer

Hi. I’m Justin McDonald, founder of Drink Local Florida, native Floridian and lover of craft beer.

I’m creating this community and source of information because I love craft beer and I love the state Florida. Bringing the two together to support the growth of the industry, as well as tourism and commerce in the state of Florida is my goal. I’ve toured and attended several breweries, wineries and distilleries in the state. As a Floridian, my family and I often like to vacation elsewhere in the state, to see the other coast and beaches as well as Florida’s history. Stopping at local breweries, wineries (my wife’s preference) or distilleries is always on our check list, and at the very least I try local beers from a restaurant on draft or grab a six-pack somewhere.

In 2009 I took a trip through Europe with many stops in Germany. I loved how each location I visited brewed one to several varieties of beer right in town, it was typically 1 Euro per liter, cheaper than beers sold in the United States. In each town I would get the local German bier, and in one stop, Köln (or Cologne), it was the first time I had a fresh, locally fermented Kölsch. This completely changed my perspective and preconceived notion that beer needed to be dark, amber or hoppy to be considered a “good beer.” Früh was the first Kölsch I tried. Here's a picture I took on my visit to the Cölner Hofbräu Früh bierhaus in Köln, Germany:

Fruh Kolsch
After learning in Köln that Kölsch style beer didn’t export well, that it needed to be enjoyed locally and soon after brewing, I thought about whether this beer, that was so fitting for Florida, would be available back home. Florida had some craft breweries at the time, most notably Cigar City, but it wasn’t a hyper-local, brewery-per-town culture like I enjoyed for those 10 days in Germany.

There are of course historical and cultural differences that facilitated the variety of breweries in Germany. While I didn’t expect this in the U.S., I was more than a little jealous. But luckily the craft brew industry in Florida, and nationwide, has enjoyed incredible growth. In the Manatee and Sarasota County area there are 6 notable breweries, along with a major rum distiller and a handful of small wineries. The Tampa Bay and South Florida (Miami/Ft. Lauderdale) are more established with breweries that distribute statewide and into the southeast, with many national awards and recognitions. Meanwhile smaller craft breweries and brewpubs continue to pop up all over the state.

I live in Florida where three of the four annual “seasons” are summer. If you’re visiting there’s a good chance it’s during warm weather as well (even if not expected). While my primary preference in beer is an American IPA; on a Florida summer day when you need to cool off, I must recommend a Florida-brewed Kölsch.

Now there are several places where you can find a Florida-brewed Kölsch, as well as some amazing Florida IPAs, lagers and other styles of beer. Florida’s beer culture is vastly different than Germany’s, but our beer culture, brewers, variety and selection has grown leaps and bounds since that trip several years ago. The craft beer revolution is a truly great thing, both for our state’s economy and our state residents.

This craft beer revolution, along with an interest in distilleries and wineries that stay true to Florida’s history and use of our state’s natural resources, is what inspired the creation of Drink Local Florida℠.
That’s what Drink Local Florida is all about, so Let us share or Love for Local Beer. We’ll start by sharing a list of some Florida-brewed Kölsch style beers. After a day at the beach or doing anything outdoors during Florida's warmer months, relax with one of these local varieties:

  • 3 Keys Brewery & Eatery - Kölsch Me Ousside - Bradenton
  • JDub's - Poolside Kölsch Style Ale - Sarasota
  • Motorworks - Cruiser Kölsch - Bradenton
  • Fort Myers Brewing Co. - Caloosahatchee Kölsch - Ft. Myers
  • Swamp Head - Hydroslide Kölsch Style Ale - Gainesville
  • Crooked Can - Mr. Tractor Kölsch Style Ale - Winter Garden
  • Florida Keys Brewing - Iguana Bait Honey Hibiscus Kölsch - Islamorada
  • Destin Brewery - Emerald Köast Kölsch- Destin

Posted: August 26, 2017

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