Florida is in such a magical and endearing place in the beer game at present. It holds a checkered past replete with some of the most coveted releases, the lowest bottle counts, and just short of Chicago, some of the absolute worst beer traders in the game. Despite the foregoing, this leaky waterhag filled peninsula has unquestionably pumped the everglades with some of the finest breweries in the game right now.

Since we are painting with sweeping generalizations about a huge swath of land occupied by an equally diverse populace, coveted Florida releases usually go like this:

1) take an existing style
2) add a bunch of obscure fruit, coffee, chilis, or white oak to it
3 release like 120 bottles to the public well knowing that over 1000 sweaty nascar bros will show up.
4) wait nine months and release the barrel aged version to cause a shitstorm of even more pandemonium and butthurt

That’s pretty much how things fly down there, five times a year since always until forever.

So today let’s take a look at an upstart brewery that is concurrently working within the climate of Floridian demands, but also ekeing out their own character: Aardwolf Brewing.



Whiskey Barrel Aged Early Bird Special

Stout aged on vanilla bean, cinnamon, coffee, aged in whiskey barrels

If this particular breakdown looks familiar to you, it’s because every fucking brewery founded after 2012 is brewing this same shit. It’s like dudes saw Founders drop CBS in 2011 and then talked their rich stepdads into buying them a 7 barrel brew house just to make this adjunct banger. Hold onto your hats: a stout brewed with coffee, vanilla, cinnamon, the works.

when FSTOPs go wrong: this fall on Outdoor Life Network

when FSTOPs go wrong: this fall on Outdoor Life Network

The first thing I would like to note is that this is markedly thinner than the traditional foray into this now predictable style. It feels more nimble and svelte coating the glass more like an imperial Porter in a way, leaving nice earthy foam on the glass. The nose dominates with coffee to a staggering degree and closes with a long toasty roast. There is a touch of residual sweetness but the ultra thin body and relatively low Abv don’t give this artist much canvas to paint upon. Sometimes an intentionally restrictive medium lends itself to focusing the performance; that is kinda the case here. The taste is focused and it delivers in the manner it promises without overstaying its welcome or feeling poorly crafted. It is tasty albeit not altering the consciousness of the style. If there is a “crushable” entry in this increasingly crowded realm, this would be it and it is unquestionably well brewed, but perhaps not spec’d to shatter any molds or conceptions.

drive up that content with multiple angles of the same bottle GOT IT

drive up that content with multiple angles of the same bottle GOT IT

I would much rather prefer something be delicious and come in understated rather than the typical under-attenuated execution we see far too often. This is nice but it won’t displace the greats within its ranks.

As a side note, there is a long lingering spice and cinnamon aspect that was borderline cloying.  In what may amount to an incredible amount of irony, DDB is being a bitch about the cinnamon.  There is simply TOO MUCH cinnamon on the finish that artificially dries out the mouthfeel and gives it a lingering spice profile that displaces the delicious coffee like a cup of Abuelita.  FINE.  I GUESS I AM JUST A CINNABITCH AFTER ALL.

They even included a nod to DDB on the label.

They even included a nod to DDB on the label.

Zagreus, Red wine barrel aged Tripel

Last week fuqqqed around and got a tripel dubbel

Last week fuqqqed around and got a tripel dubbel

Ah a barrel aged tripel, the diciest of consumer gambles in beer. This style can fall close to the pin of Curieux if it wants to play it conservatively; or it can aspire to hit the pinnacle of the genre like Sante Adairius’s Always in Life. More often than not, breweries turn out over oaked, over estery adjunct messes like Bruery BA five golden rings or something that becomes too big for its tripel britches.

The hue on this beer is a touch dark and i bunkered down for some mettalic or sweet crystal malt, neither showed up.

The hue on this beer is a touch dark and i bunkered down for some mettalic or sweet crystal malt, neither showed up.

This offering hugs the curieux design so conservatively that you might have a hard time telling the two apart, aside from moderate differences. Now is benchmarking and coming close to nailing the industry standard worthy of derision? Not really, Hyundai bites luxury brand styling all day and makes cars for single parents year in and year out. This beer is dry and doesn’t exhibit the flabby honey and banana issues most Ba tripels fall into: thank god.  In fact it is more oaky than honey, and the red wine barrel gives it this tannic dryness that almost reminds me of Darjeeling or a floral type of chamomile tea.

she's not a shower, she's a grower.

she’s not a shower, she’s a grower.

You certainly should drink this around 50 degrees because it becomes a bit hefty at higher temps and a syrupy mouthfeel develops.  If you see this, you should certainly pick it up, but if this shares the same price point as Curieux it is hard to make a compelling argument for one over the other as they are so similar in scope and execution.  Pretty tasty stuff, nothing you need to slip your Fedex delivery man’s L5-S1 over tho.

Brandy Barrel Aged Mariachi
Stout Made with Cocoa nibs, vanilla beans, and chilis

Wait, this beer, from Florida...I am getting some feelings of Deja Vu

Wait, this beer, from Florida…I am getting some feelings of Deja Vu

Man if you want a textbook definition of the most predictable stout release from Florida, here it is.  This infected Westbrook upwards, and then spread like some Umbrella corp virus to all of the brite tanks around the nation.

If you read DDB, you have already had a billion beers just like this, so let’s parse this down to how it is DIFFERENT from the various iterations of this style.  It isn’t as hefty as Huna, the barrel profile comes across as understated but presents a light caramel sweetness as though it wasn’t racked for a significant period of time or didn’t hit optimum saturation (i.e. basically anything released by a North Carolina brewery.) The peppers aren’t overpowering and if anything this is a bit hamfisted in the cocoa aspects.  I had this side by side with regular ass Mexican Cake and, despite having barrel aging, the two are about comparable in quality.

This could use less sweetness and brownie batter from the cocoa nibs and allow the various other aspects to shine.  This is the best of the three and it is worth seeking out because it presents a novel riff on an increasingly crowded genre.  While it fails to reach the heights established by BA Abaraxas, Brandy Huna, or Double Barrel Mexican Cake, it stands its own and parries blows with admirable speed and dexterity.

In sum, I like where this brewery is headed in terms of marketing, branding, ambition and DDB nods. In jumping headfirst into the foray of the most contested styles they are bold and didn’t fail in any one of their attempts.  It will be a pleasure to see how things progress with these guys in the near future.


Swamp Head Brewery, Saison Du Swamp, It is Harvest Time in the Swamp I GUARANTEEEEEE-


SAISON WEEK FORGES ONWARD. I got this beer in an amazing box donated by Taylor Cox, big thanks for this elusive gem. The first thing that was confusing as a David Lynch movie was the label on the beer, a sticker really, that instructed me how to open the beer. It is caged and corked. I can usually figure these things out, but no, not this time. To open this you seriously have to uncage it, take a blade, cut the cork in half, then use a wine opener to pull the half cork out. I am not shitting you these are the directions right on the bottle. So I got this open finally and shared it with some hippies at the Topange Earth Day festival. Let’s get earthy.

Apparently in the everglades it is common to have a knife and a corkscrew when enjoying beers. Refined people, those swamp dwellers.

Swamp Head Brewery & Tasting Room
Florida, United States
Saison / Farmhouse Ale | 7.60% ABV

A: This beer is a light yellow, straw meets light gold with a faint amber hue in the center, lightens around the edges, moderate carbonation, 1/2 finger head with some lacing lacing. Let me clarify, this beer was an IED at first and detonated with foam, like all these other saisons, this style has fucking self esteem issues and always overcompensates at first.

Put the walez in the glass.

S: There a sweet honey notes with apricot and pear and peach overtones, very crisp, the added hops are faint and overpowered by the lemon zest. This seems like a standard affair, if not a bit wheatier, ya feel me? Daddy gotta get that grist, hustling is a habit, saisons gotta have it.

T: the hops are lightly drying at the outset and followed almost immediately by sweet biscuit honey notes. the tastes have a very seamless interplay, which adds complexity to the usually simple dry refeshing saison. The hops aren’t too aggressive, but present – it’s more of a Belgian pale ale like Petrus meets saison rather than an standard belgian offering. The faintness and/or masking from the dryness of the saison makes it difficult to classify the hops, certainly nothing with ultra-high alpha acids such as tomahawk or warrior, but a welcome addition to old tradition. I must comment on the lovely funk and musk bouquet that takes a bit of a backseat to the chewy wheat profile, but is a welcome addition.

No one will ever find out that I really don’t even drink beer. NOBODY.

M: the mouthfeel is a tiny bit creamy, nothing too overwhelming with the coating but still refreshing and crisp. it welcomes warmer weather and/or working on a TransAm. It is not filling and the initial creaminess subsides pretty quickly into a thinner nature, making the next sip welcomed sooner rather than later. The crispness ultimately reminds me of biting into a Fuji apple, it should be noted that Japanese people will likely never try this saison, though. Sorry Japan, no swamps for you.

D: this is where this beer shines above all. The drinkability gives mundane pilsners and lagers a run for their money, while retaining complexity and great flavor. It is a shame that this is a seasonal and relatively expensive (I am assuming somewhere around $20?) it would easily join the ranks of great warm weather beers. Like the cadre of other saisons, this is a versatile beast that can run in a variety of circles and can serve as a gateway drug to harder belgian drugs or stand on its own for its mild complexity.

At first you don’t know what to make of it, then you realize how awesome this beer is and how badly you need it.

Narrative: “Carrot. Zucchini. God is that all there is? Vegetable medley every Wednesday, lasagna on Thursdays.” She lamented idly while cutting away the vegetables and her Wednesday afternoon. The granite counters were not pedestrian, but nothing to write home about. The routine provided stability yet- “Why hello…” her eyes strayed as a festive Guatemalan man began skimming her pool. “I don’t recall seeing him before” She watched him, pep within his step remove dead frogs from the skimmer basket, an artful spin while he skimmed the weeping willow leaves from the surface of the pool. “Such grace, finding majesty in the menial” her eyes glazed over as she startled herself upon cutting to the end of an overly ripe zucchini. “How could he add such panache to seemingly uninteresting tasks?” The spring heat seemed to lean oppressively upon the task of the ceiling fan, clicking under the stress of its laborious gyrations. “HE FINDS SUCH PLEASURE IN THE MENIAL” Menial to some, a festive retreat to others, he removes the dead leaves of fall with aplomb, casting their black vestiges into the soil. “Senora, la piscina esta limpia” she exhales and pushed the vegetables into a united medley, “work on joyful Pan, the season of the swamp is upon us.”