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Friday, April 13, 2018

New Beer Friday, Adventures in Key West Edition (April 13)

The Green Parrot
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

Way back in the early 70s when I was pursuing a bachelor’s degree at Michigan State I made annual road trips to Florida with a dozen or so fellow MSU undergrads. Our usual roosting spot was Daytona Beach. We stayed in campgrounds, ate at fast food joints and spent most of our time doing what young males on spring break generally do — lolling on the beach during the day, consuming copious amounts of alcohol at night and trying continuously to hook up with vacationing coeds. One year the weather didn’t cooperate and in an effort to find the sun we motored south down A1A and eventually made our way to Key West. We probably would have gone further but we ran out of road.

Key West lies at the southernmost point in the contiguous 48 states and the island city’s end-of-the-line geography probably has something to do with its infamous laid back mentality and its propensity for attracting eccentrics. Key West is still that way today but I imagine it was even more so in the early 1970s. Back then there were no docks for the cruise ships. There were less waterfront resorts, less tacky souvenir shops and a lot less tourists parading up and down Duval. But Key West is still a good place to get away from it all, to recharge batteries and to rub shoulders with idiosyncratic and invariably loquacious locals.

Most of my memories of that first trip to Key West have been blurred by the passage of time but I do remember being captivated by the wood-framed, pastel-painted houses with their gingerbread trim, louvered shutters and covered porches. The Caribbean architecture was something I had never seen before. I have a distinct memory of walking down a deserted Whitehead Street one evening and pausing in front of the Audubon House to gape at the tropical gardens behind the white picket fence.

I also distinctly remember the afternoon when some of us piled into a VW bus to test the legitimacy of a dime bag of dope. While the hippy dealers drove us around town we passed around a joint and I remember being scared shitless that we were going to be pulled over by the cops. The grass wasn’t all that good but we bought it anyway.

It was probably later that same night that I made my first visit to the Green Parrot bar. Like many Key West watering holes the Green Parrot is an ancient wood structure that someone converted into a saloon. It too was fairly deserted and inside it was dark and a bit grimy. I played pool with a couple of locals while a warm breeze drifted through the open shuttered windows and Al Green played on the juke box.

My next visit to Key West was with my first wife and another couple twenty-five years later. We stayed in a posh hotel next to Mallory Square and when I got bored one afternoon with laying around the pool I told my traveling companions that I was going for a walk. I hit a number of bars and when I returned about three hours later my wife was understandably livid. I apologized my ass off but it put a damper on the remainder of the trip.

My current wife Barb and I have been to Key West three times now. On our first visit we stayed at a rather seedy joint on Truman Street and while walking back to the motel one night we got tired and sat down on a stack of lumber that was piled up next to the sidewalk. We both ended up dozing off for a few minutes but what the hell. When you’re in Key West you tend to do a bit of drinking. It was on that trip that I realized how much Key West had changed from the early 70s. Whenever we went to the Green Parrot it was so packed we could hardly find a seat.

One afternoon on our second visit we stumbled across a clothing optional rooftop bar. The only naked customers were a couple of rotund fellows who had to be north of seventy. We got the hell out of there but the disturbing visual still haunts me to this day. On another afternoon we found a watering hole on the edge of a residential neighborhood a number of blocks off Duval. There were some interesting characters bellied up and a dog was sleeping on the bar. I got in a conversation with an old guy sitting next to me who for some reason thought I was an undercover cop. After I finally convinced him that I wasn’t he invited Barb and me to smoke a joint with him. Come to think of it, maybe Key West hasn’t changed so much after all.

Look for a post on Steve and Barb’s latest Key West adventure in a future edition of The Buzz.

New and Returning Beer

  • Cigar City Jai Alai, $2.19/12oz - "Jai Alai, a game native to the Basque region of Spain, is played on a court called a fronton. Jai Alai players attempt to catch a ball using a curved mitt whilst the ball travels at speeds up to 188mph! Proving they have a sense of humor the Spanish dubbed this game, with its ball traveling at racecar speeds, “the merry game.” Tampa was once home to a bustling Jai Alai fronton but sadly all that remains of Jai Alai in the Tampa Bay area is this India Pale Ale that we brew in tribute to the merry game. The India Pale Ale style of beer has its roots in the ales sent from England to thirsty British troops in India during the 18th century. Pair Jai Alai India Pale Ale with beef empanadas, deviled crabs and other spicy dishes" (source).
  • Central Waters Peruvian Morning, $4.89/12oz - "Central Waters' 10th Anniversary Imperial Stout infused with peruvian coffee and aged in a bourbon barrel" (source).
  • Coppercraft G&T, $3.99/12oz - "For the first time ever, a Michigan distillery has put real spirit, distilled on-site, and placed it in a convenient container. Gin, hand-made tonic and lime. Premium G&T, designed for your active lifestyle" (source).
  • Destihl Wild Sour Blueberry, $2.99/12oz - "Our Leipzig-Style Gose (Here Gose Nothin’®) is often seen being French-pressed through blueberries for a combination destined to be together, so we’ve done the hard work for you with this edition of our Gose by adding the blueberries at the brewery, which unites another layer of fruity complexity in this sour ale already known for its tart, citrusy, lime-like qualities, slight spicy note from added coriander and a noticeable mineral mouthfeel from added sea salt harvested from the shores of France" (source).
  • Ellison Gnomes, $2.59/16oz - "Beautifully colored Amber Ale greets you with an aroma of fruit and biscuits. With your first sip you'll notice the amount of roasted malts and honey malts that went into making this beer. The finish is pleasantly sweet" (source).
  • Evil Twin Soup Superior, $5.49/16oz - "India Pale Ale Brewed with oat and lactose with vanilla and pomegranate added" (source).
  • Evil Twin/Omnipollo Rainbownade, $5.49/12oz - "The beer is an IPA brewed with grapefruit passion fruit, mango, raspberry and blueberry" (source).
  • Great Divide Samurai, $2.19/12oz - "Samurai is the perfect beer for your zen garden after battle, or your patio after a long day of work. The addition of rice gives a slightly fruity, crisp, refreshing element to this hazy unfiltered ale, creating a light, easy-going beer suitable for the peaceful warrior. This may be your first Samurai, but it certainly won’t be your last" (source).
  • Griffin Claw El Ligero, $2.39/16oz - "Mexican lager brewed with fresh lime" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Faux Pas, $2.79/16oz - "While The Traditional Hefs Call For Tones Of Banana and Clove. This Hef Defies That Standard. As A True Faux Pas - This Hef Was Hit With A Hard Dose Of Hops And In Turn This Hazy Hef Is A True Hefe/IPA Hybrid. It Goes Down Smooth But The 8.5% Shines Thru. Sweet Hazy Bitterness" (source).
  • Griffin Claw Simcoenicity, $2.79/16oz - "IPA dry hopped with whole leaf Simcoe hops. With the malty backbone of Norm’s, the simcoe adds a new level of tropical, piney bitterness" (source).
  • Moosehead Pale, $1.49/16oz - "A true top-fermented ale, Moosehead Pale Ale is medium bodied and fermented at warmer temperatures to impart its floral aromatics" (source).
  • Moosehead Radler, $1.39/12oz - "Moosehead Radler is based on our award-winning lager recipe but features hits of natural grapefruit, grape and lemon juices to round out a truly unique taste profile" (source).
  • New Belgium Tartastic Strawberry Lemon, $1.79/12oz - "A delightful combination of strawberry and lemon purees fill the senses with an enticing balance of sweet and sour fruit" (source).
  • North Peak Arch Angel, $1.89/12oz - "A solid American wheat, with a classic nose that transitions to a faint cherry aroma complimenting its rich amber gold hue. As this well-balanced and deceptively light-bodied wheat beer travels across the tongue, the willamette and perle hops hint at bitterness, followed by a crisp, clean wheat flavor that cuts to a subtle tart cherry finish" (source).
  • Port Nelson the Greeter, $2.99/16oz - "Paying homage to a rather (in)famous surf spot/clothing-optional beach in San Diego, Nelson the Greeter is the newest hoppy offering from Port Brewing. Using the brash flavors of Nelson hops to lead the charge, the Greeter has a strong hop supporting cast using Denali, Lemon Drop, and Mosaic varietals to round out this IPA" (source).
  • Prairie Brett C, $10.09/500ml - "A farmhouse ale brewed with cascade and citra hops, and a touch of sea salt. Conditioned with brettanomyces claussenii" (source).
  • Short's ControversiAle, $2.19/12oz - "ControversiALE is an American IPA brewed exclusively with Simcoe hops originally brewed for the City Park Grill in Petoskey, MI. Earthy, citrus and pine laced aromas are instantly delectable. Large amounts of toasted grains and high alpha hops form a perfect union that creates the cool sensation of toasted sourdough covered with zesty grapefruit hop marmalade. ControversiALE has an enchantingly straightforward hop aroma, flavor, and overall intensity through ample additions of Simcoe hops. While this beer is hopped like an IPA, it drinks like a pale ale. The light, refreshing qualities of this beer make it perfect for springtime" (source).
  • Sierra Nevada Summerfest, $1.79/12oz - "Since their invention in the 1840s, Pilsener-style beers have become the world’s most popular style. With a nod toward the original Czech tradition, Summerfest is brewed to feature the best of Bohemian nature. Crisp, golden, dry and incredibly drinkable, Summerfest has a delicate and complex malt flavor and spicy and floral hop character—the perfect warm weather beer" (source).
  • Stillwater Critical Thinking, $3.79/16oz - "Imperial Stout" (source).
  • Tripelroot Pack Light, $2.09/12oz - Pilsner.

Video of the Week | Summer in Michigan


Don't lose hope. Summer is coming!

Cheers!

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