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Friday, April 20, 2018

New Beer Friday, Key West Part II Edition (April 20)

Local iguana expert
Preamble by Steve Siciliano

The first thing you notice when you step onto the tarmac at Key West International Airport is a big red-lettered sign above the entrance to the terminal welcoming you to the Conch Republic. Within minutes of landing my wife Barb and I were climbing into a taxi. “The La Concha Hotel,” I said to the driver.

The La Concha is located on upper Duval Street about six blocks away from Sloppy Joe’s bar, arguably the epicenter of Key West’s alcohol-fueled craziness. The La Concha opened in 1926 as one of the area’s first luxury hotels and Harry Truman, Al Capone, Ernest Hemingway and Tennessee Williams were some of its notable guests.

“It’s supposed to be haunted,” Barb told me shortly after she booked our reservation.

“That’s cool,” I said. “I wouldn’t mind running into a ghost.”

“One of them supposedly hangs out in the elevators.”

“Well, we’ll have to keep our eyes open,” I replied.

While my wife was taking care of the checking in paperwork I looked around and visualized a hulking Hemingway bellied up with a Papa Doble at the lobby bar. We walked to the elevators and as soon as the doors opened Barb leaned forward and took a quick peek inside. “No ghosts,” she proclaimed, sounding a tad disappointed. I smiled and imagined how my wife would react if she ever did see a ghost.

If you like hanging out in saloons, Key West is your kind of town. If you’re walking down Duval or around Key West Bight or the vicinity of Mallory Square you can’t go twenty yards without coming across a watering hole. Barb and I avoid the overtly touristy ones. Sloppy Joe’s is perpetually packed but it’s not our type of joint. It touts itself as Hemingway’s favorite bar but in reality the famous rum-loving writer never tossed back a drink there. The original Sloppy Joe’s where he did drink his daily double Daiquiris was about a block away on Greene Street. The owner moved the bar to its present Duval location in 1938 when the landlord raised the rent. Papa was long gone by then, having moved his writing and drinking ninety miles south to Cuba.

On the other hand Captain Tony’s Saloon, the bar that’s housed in Sloppy Joe’s original location, is our type of joint. It’s a bit touristy but it’s also very much a dive. It’s dark, gritty and smoky (smoking is still allowed in bars in Key West) and is never overrun with tourists even when the cruise ships are in port. I have regularly observed folks take a few hesitant steps inside and then quickly turning and skedaddling. If they overcome their fears and do come in and order a drink you can see the disgust build on their sunburned faces. When they get back home they probably post a scathing review on the internet.

Some of our other favorite haunts are the Bull and Whistle (a good place to sit with your feet propped up on the low window sill and people watch), The Schooner Warf (good raw oysters and steamed shrimp) and, of course, the Green Parrot.

The Green Parrot attracts both tourists and locals but the tourists for the most part are older folks (fifty plus) who are on extended stays in Key West. On one afternoon we got into a pleasant conversation with a couple from Baltimore who told us about a good Beatles cover band that would be playing in the bar the following night. We returned for the show and sat with the very nice couple again. On another night we watched yet another band and sat with some male retirees who were riding Sea-doos the entire length of the Intracoastal Waterway. Not exactly my idea of a good time but hey, to each his own.

There’s a nice cigar lounge about a block from the La Costa where Barb and I spent an hour or so every day for a respite from the heat and the crowds. The fellow who runs the place lost an eye and wears a cartoonish patch (an oversized, bulging caricature of a red-veined eyeball) over his empty socket. After chatting with him for a while I asked how he lost the orb.

“She told me to stay put and I got up,” he laconically replied.

On another day an old salt who could have come straight out of central casting gabbed on for a half hour about how iguanas might eventually inherit the earth.

“The females lay twenty eggs three times a year,” he informed us. “If they ever mutate watch your asses. It’s going to be just like Jurassic Park.”

I’m thinking that the Conch Republic is about the only place you would hear crazy talk like that.

New and Returning Beer

  • Against The Grain 35K, $3.89/16oz - "Not your typical “Jelly of the Month Club” beer. Dark roasted malt and bittersweet cocoa and coffee flavor and aroma burst from this pitch black milk stout. The full body and sweetness are derived from the addition of lactose (aka milk sugar) which is not fermentable by beer yeast. A healthy dose of Nugget and Crystal hops provides a counterpoint to this ale’s rich and complex maltiness" (source).
  • Arbor Pollination Sensation, $2.19/12oz - "Brewed with fresh lavender flowers and wildflower honey, this light bodied ale is fresh and floral with a hint of sugary sweetness to round it out. Pollination is the perfect way to welcome spring" (source).
  • Atwater Street Artist, $3.59/16oz - "A delight for those who are crazy about hops. This Citra IPA is higher on the ABV and sips with a lemon zest" (source).
  • Ballast Point Aloha Sculpin, $2.39/12oz - "With Aloha Sculpin, we used Brux Trois yeast to turn our award-winning IPA into a tropical oasis, with bright and refreshing notes of mango, pineapple, and guava. This yeast also adds a slight haze to the beer, creating a smooth mouthfeel to round out its juicy character. Simply put, this is paradise in the palm of your hands" (source).
  • Dark Horse Sapient, $2.09/12oz - "We brew this trippel with a Trappist yeast strain to hold true to the traditional style. The flavors are incredibly complex with notes of mild fruit that finish with just a bit of clove. Although this beer has a slightly higher ABV, you will find it finishes very smooth and dry on the palette. This makes for a perfect summer sipper" (source).
  • Dark Horse Smells Like A Safety Meeting, $2.19/12oz - "S.L.A.S.M. is our most Aromatic IPA. This India Pale Ale is very reminiscent of the hop’s cousin in the Mulberry family. Lots of hop aroma with just the right amount of bitterness as we like to keep balance around here. Between the secret blend of the most DANK hops we can get our hands on and a "more than healthy" dose of double dry hopping, this beer can be announced to the nose from across the room that someone is definitely having a Safety Meeting" (source).
  • Drie Fonteinen Oude Geuze, $15.59/375ml - "A true Geuze - a blend of 1, 2, and 3 year-old lambic, unfiltered and unpasteurized, and aged in the bottle for at least a year after blending. Refermentation in the bottle gives this Geuze its famous champagne-like spritziness. The lambic that goes into it is brewed only with 60% barley malt, 40% unmalted wheat, aged hops, and water, spontaneously fermented by wild yeasts, and matured in oak casks" (source).
  • Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriek, $16.29/ 375ml - "Oude Kriek 3 Fonteinen is produced by ripening of cherries (both the flesh and the seeds) in young Lambic. This process takes between 6 to 8 months. After bottling the beer matures for at least 4 months in a warm room where the spontaneous fermentation in the bottle is done. The head of Oude Kriek is very sensitive to the concentration of the cherry seeds containing oil and may differ from one year to the other" (source).
  • Drie Fonteinen Oude Kriekenlambiek, $17.39/375ml - "3 Fonteinen (Oude) Kriekenlambik is the result of macerating hand-picked whole sour cherries on young lambic for at least four months, in a proportion of one kilogram of fruit per litre of lambic (and possibly blended with some more young lambic). Fruit intensity ranges from minimum 35% to 50%. Aside some selected bars (e.g. 20th Anniversary of Akkurat in Stockholm, Sweden), this sour cherry lambic is available at given times in the lambik-O-droom" (source).
  • Forbidden Fruit Apple, $2.69/12oz - "Captures the true essence of fresh Michigan apples and cherries! Delicious Montemorency cherries leap from the glass, followed by hints of almond on the palate" (source).
  • Forbidden Fruit Cherry, $2.69/12oz - "Hard Cider w/ Michigan Apples and Cherries" (source).
  • Golden Road Mango Cart, $2.09/12oz - "A light, refreshing Wheat Ale with lots of fresh mango and a pleasant, slightly tart finish" (source).
  • Great Lakes Chillwave, $3.49/12oz - "Inspired by the North Coast’s dedicated (and sometimes chilly) surf community, our Double IPA will melt the ice in your beard and never lose its balance" (source).
  • Grimm Vacay, $12.99/22oz - "Hoppy, hazy, and assertively tart. Vacay finds us in our classic dry hopped sour mode — possibly our favorite kind of beer to brew and drink. We decided to take a vacation from the American hop varietals we use frequently, and instead assemble a blend of exciting, fruit-forward neo-German and New Zealand flavors including Huell Melon, Hallertau Blanc, and Southern Cross. Notes of lemongrass, apricot, mandarin, orange flower, black peppercorn. A juicy, puckering refresher with lightly toasted white oak in the background. This beer has never been boiled" (source).
  • New Holland Dragon Milk Reserve Chocolate Cherry, $4.89/12oz - "Chocolate is a flavor that is already present in Dragon’s Milk when it comes out of the barrel, but we’re able to play that up and really bring out the wonderful chocolate smoothness. Obviously, that just couples extremely well with the cherry flavor" (source).
  • Ommegang Double Barrel Aged Double, $5.69/12oz - "A beautiful blend of traditional Belgian-style dubbel aged in bourbon and brandy casks" (source).
  • Short's Sticky Boots, $2.59/12oz - "Sticky Boots is a triple dry-hopped Double IPA. Copper in color with a substantial white head carrying dank aromas of floral and citrus hops. Leading with strong tropical flavors and a juicy mouthfeel, this beer transitions into highlighting the floral hops. Well balanced and easy to drink, Sticky Boots finishes with huge juicy tropical flavors" (source).
  • Stone Scorpion Bowl, $5.49/22oz - "To create a recipe so tropical and fruity without the addition of fruit was no feat our team of brewers would leave up to the gods. They took floral and citrus notes from Mosaic, Loral and Mandarina Bavaria hops to dish up a mouthwatering fruit punch to the palate. Get deserted on your own island or share with others. One thing is for sure: there is no need to light this one. It is already on fire" (source).
  • Stormcloud Whiled Away, $2.19/12oz - "Belgian IPA brewed with a blend of Columbus, Centennial, Cascade, Amarillo and Citra hops and fermented at cold temps with our house Belgian yeast" (source).
  • Stormcloud Rainmaker, $1.99/12oz - "Our GABF bronze medal winning Belgian-style Pale Ale" (source).
  • Strongbow Artisanal Blend, $1.69/12oz - "A cloudy appearance, reminiscent of traditional ciders. The subtle yet charming aroma of farm-fresh heirloom apples is balanced by the pleasantly refreshing texture. The semi-sweet finish indulges your palate with a velvety and crisp apple kick" (source).
  • To Øl Mr. Blonde, $6.99/16oz - "This beer is a bright 6,5% Belgian IPA, hopped with Citra for that refreshing citrus bite, and then loaded up with Gooseberries to give it a grape like tart finish" (source).
  • To Øl Mr. Brown, $6.99/16oz - "t’s not often we brew bock styles, but the idea of mixing aromatic figs and dates together with a shot of coffee and cacao and wrapping it all together in one hoppy showdown was too tempting" (source).
  • Uinta Lime Pilsner, $1.69/12oz - "Crisp, light-bodied and immensely refreshing, our small batch Lime Pilsner combines a subtle malty sweetness with hints of fresh lime for a little splash of summertime, anytime, anywhere" (source).

Video of the Week | A Storm's a-Brewin'


Select labels from Stormcloud now available at Siciliano's.

Cheers!

2 comments:

  1. Ha ha, seeking out dive bars around the world, love it!

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  2. Really i found this article more informative, thanks for sharing this article.
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