Hollywood Organic BreweryWe finally ventured over to Hollywood Organic Brewery with some friends. I would have to say that this place has one of the best, if not the best, view of any brewery in the country. They are situated right on sidewalk that runs along Hollywood beach and look out into the Atlantic Ocean. This is also one of the dozen or so organic breweries in the country.

There's the obligatory covered patio seating that looks right onto the ocean as well as an indoor dining room that includes a decent sized bar. Plenty of large tables for get-togethers. The brewing area is visible through windows both inside the dining area and along the outdoor area.

We sat inside because it was a chilly evening and they didn't have any of those patio heaters that are so common in other areas. Fortunately the dining room wasn't that full because the tile floor really amplifies the sound and we had four kids in tow :)

The beer list is really straight forward in that they only serve their own beers. When we were there, they had four beers on tap - a pilsner, a wheat, Belgian ale and a Russian stout. We tried three of the four. Somehow no one ordered the pilsner but it probably had something to do with the waitress describing it as being like a Coors Light. They also have a full bar and have a selection of homemade infused vodkas.

Being someone who leans more towards the darker end of the beer spectrum, I started with the Russian stout. It was really good. With that being said, it's no Cigar City Marshal Zhukov's Imperial Stout, but it still was a really good beer. They served my pint in a cool looking wide-mouthed goblet. My only gripe was that the glass was beyond chilled and I had to wait awhile for it to warm up a bit for the favor profile to really come out.

My buddy loves a good wheat beer and was so infatuated with theirs, he stuck with that one all night and wants to go back for more. My wife preferred the wheat over the Belgian Ale too.

The Belgian ale seemed to be more like a red ale to me. Regardless of what you want to call it, it was another solid beer. It's the kind of beer that you could serve to a group and it'd be widely accepted.

They also offer a full menu. We ordered a few things and they were hit and miss. The soft pretzels were amazing as was the fried shrimp appetizer but the fish dip was a flop. The organic burger was pretty good and both the chicken sandwich and the fish & chips were acceptable. Everyone liked the fires but the chicken in the kid’s meal looked straight out of a school cafeteria meal.

We'll definitely be back again but plan on sitting outside next time.

When you think of Orlando, if you are like me, t-shirt shops, theme parks and chain restaurants are what immediately come to mind but fortunately, there’s a lot more to the city than that.

As you might know, I try to find the places that the locals go to when I’m traveling. After all, these are the folks that live there and know the good spots from the bad. Yeah, they also eat at the Applebee’s and Outback’s of the world but they also know about the hidden gems. I’m not trying to put the chains down but if you eat out as much as I do, you can easily get to where you don’t know if are in the “insert chain name here” in Tampa, Orlando or Tallahassee.

Often I’ll reach out to people I know on Twitter for a suggestion in a particular area and 99.9% of the time they don’t disappoint. This trip to Orlando was no different. Several people had recommended that I check out a fairly new place in Winter Park, Cask & Larder. I am so glad we did! Unbelievable food and really great beer brewed on premise.

A Twitter friend had suggested Redlight Redlight Beer Parlour as a great place to have a pint. Almost 2 dozen taps and a HUGE bottle selection that even included a bottle of Utopia the night we were there. Pair all that beer with an extremely knowledgable staff and you can't go wrong.

Awhile back, I came across Frank & Steins in downtown Orlando through a friend. The boast of having over 300 craft beers to go along with their solid tap selection. Lively, fun place that takes hot dogs to a new level.

We also stumbled upon a couple of other places that looked promising but we didn’t try this time around, a bar named Brews and what looked to be a bar & grill name Hairy Buffalo.

I’ve beer to Key West a number of times in recent years and haven’t really been dazzled by the beer offerings in the majority of the bars in town. Several people have mentioned that I had to checkout The Porch.

The Porch was pretty easy to find. They are located in a big, white house on the corner of Caroline and Duval Street, right across the street from the sign advertising the “clothing optional bar” above the Cock & Bull (it is Key West after all).

There’s a good sized garden separating the building from the sidewalk that provides a welcome buffer from the crowds and makes sitting out on the veranda relaxing. They have about a dozen small tables lining the old-school porch that giving you a sense of what Key West was like 60 years ago.

The air conditioned bar area is located in the front area of the house and provides a welcome break from the early evening heat. The wood floors made me think of my grandmother’s house but the resemblance ends there. A L-shaped bar sits in the corner protecting 18 taps of craft beers as well as bottles of beer and wine. It’s surrounded by about ten stools creating a great spot to sit and converse with the other patrons. An adjoining room has a pair of high-tops along with a TV. There’s also a refrigerated case in the corner full of their selection of bombers or as they like to call them, the “Big Boys.”

There are a couple of chalkboards on the walls listing their wares and the tap selection seemed to include a wide spectrum of both styles and breweries. I believe that there were 17 different brewers represented and the beers ranged from Mile Marker Blonde to Flying Dog Gonzo Imperial Porter. Some of the others were Palm, Chimay, Shipyard, Blue Point, Left Hand, Dogfish Head and a pair of Magic Hats. The bottle selection was pretty good too and I saw a few get poured that I’d never seen before.

The music that they had playing gave the place a lively feel and the crowd seemed to be a well balanced mix of tourists and locals. The bartender was friendly and had a great personality joking and chatting with everyone. One of the owners even came by just to have a beer or two and just hang out.

I plan on spending some time at The Porch again next time I’m on the island. They are worth checking out yourself.

 

Dos Gatos is nestled in the heart of Downtown and one of the most impressive places to enjoy a drink or four. Across from the Florida Theater it’s always a great spot to go before and after you visit a show, or are just enjoying time in Jacksonville’s wonderful downtown scene.

A very classy and hip place it’s hard not to enjoy this place. The owner Jason is a master mixologist who creates his own delicious cocktails but also tweaks original recipes and makes them unique (Try their jalepeno margarita). They also have a few taps available and canned and bottled beers.

Their drink menu is constantly evolving and their drinks are top notch. I’m not really a liquor drinker myself but the few cocktails I’ve had here have made me reconsider that. Everything is freshly made and handled delicately and with such expertise and precision you’d think you were watching an artist at work.

Inside the bar is a wonderfully comfortable lounge which is great for hanging out with friends or just socializing with other people. It has a rockabilly motif with a DJ and occasional live bands. Despite being a bar it’s very clean and inviting and will warm up your soul on a cold sad day. They really redefine happy hour here.

Dos Gatos Cocktails
hand crafted, artisan drinks
pure deliciousness!

For more information go to www.dosgatosjax.com

Review by the diabolical birdie @haikubirdie
For more information on birdie visit www.thehaikulife.com or www.frogvstoad.com

This is the third of our guest reviews by the famous birdie. Yes, I know it wasn't capitized. He prefers lowercase B’s because e.e. cummings made it look cool and if you know birdie, you know that's how he rolls. The reason I say he's famous is, well, cause he is. Without getting into a long and convoluted story, recently when I was in Jacksonville on business, I got to talking with some people in a couple of diferent places and they all mentioned him so if nothing else, he must be at least a local legend.

Birdie volunteered to do guest posts of Dahlia’s Pourhouse, Dos Gatos and one of his favorite haunts, Birdie's with a capital B. I know what you are thinking, no relation.

Here's his review....

Birdie’s in Jacksonville Florida’s historic 5 Points neighborhood is a bar with a lot of character, and a lot of characters who visit. Formerly known as “The Starlite Café.” the bar was known for cheap drinks, and and even cheaper trouble around. Once new ownership arrived the entire place made a facelift in so many ways. Now a quirkier hip spot it still has some of the strongest drinks and the craziest folks you’ll ever see.

A smoker friendly place with a lovely outdoor porch that has a beautiful mosaic on the walls and incredible art indoors. Even the bathrooms are decorated with bottle cap mosaics that are too quaint to ignore. Djs play music ranging from 50s R&B to modern hipster music. You never know what’s going to drag someone on the dance floor but it’s always an option.

Each night brings something fun to enjoy. They also have happy hour and later hour drink specials where you can enjoy filling up on some strong cocktails and not worry about breaking the bank. There are a few taps on hand which carries a few local favorites and other popular beers. Plus it has other beers to choose from and a full liquor bar.

It’s the best local spot to drink, whether you’re a poor college kid, or someone who just got off the late shift at work and need to unwind. Birdie’s is the best place to drink for any occasion, well drinking there is a special occasion in itself!

Drinking at Birdies
quirky, quaint, high quality
coolest bar around!

For more information on birdie’s go to http://birdiesjax.blogspot.com/

Review by birdie (no relation to the bar) @haikubirdie
For more information on birdie visit www.thehaikulife.com or www.frogvstoad.com

Dahlia’s Pourhouse is a brand new bar in the heart of what’s affectionately being called the “Beer District” of Jacksonville Florida. On a street that hosts two breweries, a package store, four other bars and a Gastro-pub (among other great restaurants and places to drink) it’s hard to stand out in a place like this.

With 84 taps Dahlia is trying to change that. Their drink menus is constantly changing and updated and is usually handed to you as a photocopied packet of beers organized by types and given brief descriptions about their style, flavor, and their alcohol content. Reasonably priced as well they also provide pitchers of beer and tons of room to socialize with friends and even play some games.

A well lit and fun atmosphere. Dahlia’s is still young and trying to make an image for herself. The owners are asking for submissions to create original murals on the walls and people who get chosen will receive a $50 bar tab for their trouble.

Most bars in the area are designed for simple socializing or to play the occasional board game. Dahlia’s is set up with a ping pong table, billiards, and darts amongst other games.

This is the first bar I’ve ever visited that has created a drinking version of Battleship. Their oversized game board has notches for shot glasses and a pitcher of beer fills them. Each person takes turn trying to sink the other people’s ships and with each shot received, someone has to imbibe a shot of their own.

Always friendly and inviting Dahlia’s provides a great selection of beer for the beer lover and plenty of ways to occupy your time while you do so. Drinking is rarely this much fun!

Dahlia’s Pourhouse
with eighty-four taps ready
fill your night with fun!

For more information on Dahlia’s Pourhouse visit www.dahliaspourhouse.com

Review by birdie @haikubirdie
For more information on birdie visit www.thehaikulife.com or www.frogvstoad.com

Kickbacks is located in an older part of Jacksonville that appears to have been revitalized. While the business district is a primarily renovated older buildings, the area had a vibrant buzz about it and was pretty busy, especially for a Tuesday evening. The majority of the homes in the immediate area are well kept and look similar to the one my grandparents bought sometime around 1940.

The first thing that we noticed when we pulled up was that all of the outdoor tables on the sidewalk were full. That’s always a good sign. The moment that you walk in the door, you know that you’re in a beer destination, not just a bar or restaurant that happens to have beer. The top of the bar is a wall of tap handles. There are 84 in total.

The interior decor gives the place an older feel with the brick on the walls and the exposed beam ceiling. Beer bottles line part of one of the walls and tap handles hang from about two-thirds of the cieling in the dining area. TVs showing sporting events and trivia games are mounted throughout the establishment and are easy to see with the dim lighting.

The crowd was pretty diverse in age as was the music selection playing overhead. They played tunes from the 80’s as well as recent hits.

There’s a pair of big chalkboards over on a side wall listing the beers. When I asked our waitress it there was a more handy list that didn’t require my walking across the room, she said that “there’s an app for that.” Unfortunately, we had some trouble getting it downloaed and running. Plan B. Go old-school and walk over to the chalkboard. The selection is overwhelming. I wasn’t real keen on standing there in the middle of the aisle reading the small handwriting on teh wall but the great choices made it worthwhile. Heck, they had Crème Brûlée by Southern Tier Brewing Co. Seriously, how could I complain?

Saying that the food menu was pretty diverse would be an understatement. The selection ranges from Spaghetti-O’s (with or without meatballs) to steaks and bacon wrapped pork tenderloins.

Besides the Spaghetti-O’s they have several other ‘vintage” meals that our waitress claims are very popular. These include Ramen Noodles, Hamburger Helper flavor of the day and PB&J with bananas.

Everything that we had was top-notch and I’d definetely go back for dinner when in the area. That being said, we did have one gripe. While the waitress was attentive and kept checking on us, it took just over an hour to get our meals. Maybe it being later in the evening had something to do with it? Next time will tell.

Brewers Pizza in Orange Park, Florida is not only a pizza parlor but also is a brew pub. Besides serving craft beers from all over, they also have several taps from their sister company, Pinglehead Brewing Co. After starting out as just a brew pub, they obtained their brewery license in 2012 and now supply their signature brew, Pinglehead, to other establishments through a local distributor.

We noticed Brewers Pizza while driving by on another visit to the area and mentally filed it away somewhere in the deepest bowels of our minds until one of our Twitter friends, @JaxBeerBitch, recommended it when we asked about places to eat in the area.

They occupy a couple of store fronts in a strip mall along the main drag, right around the corner from the mall. Easy to get into and plenty of parking. The interior is up to date and very clean. The walls are decorated with some cool beer memoribalia and a modern jukebox sits along the wall in the center. There are also some tv screens mounted around the bar area. There’s a variety of seating options between the half dozen stools lining the bar, some high-tops with stools as well as booths and tables.

They have 26 taps pouring craft beers from breweries around the country. When we were there, the selection included brews from Bold City, Cigar City, St. Somewhere, Peak, Ommegang, Anderson Valley, Abita, Brooklyn, Bells, Lazy Magnolia, Pinglehead, and others. Pinglehead had obvious home court advantage with about a half-dozen beers to choose from but other breweries had multiple taps too. Cigar City Brewing was well represneted with Minaret and Jai Alai while Bells was represented by Oberon and Two Hearted Ale.

Can’t read the blackboard behind the bar or the tap handles? No problem. They have a mobile site set up listing what’s currently on tap and have QR codes that make it easy to find.

Besides the great taps, there’s also large cooler featuring about 50 different bottles, none of which can be found in my local grocery store. No yellow-fizzy stuff here.

Since man cannot live on beer alone (trust me, it’s been tried), we ordered some dinner too. We started out with the cheese bread and then ordered a couple of their “Florida Smacker” pan pizzas. They use a beer dough to make these square gems. Nice and thick, just the right amount of crispness and plenty of toppings. Very tasty as well as filling. The leftovers made a great lunch the next day too.

The service was awesome. The bartender made several trips over to make sure we were OK and the mananger, Troy, stopped by the table a couple of times too just to check in, take plates, etc.

Besides leaving with our leftover pizza, we picked up a couple of growlers of Pinglehead Brewing Co. brews for later.

I’ve already thanked her in person but thanks again JBB for suggesting we visit Brewers Pizza. We’ll definetley be visting agian next trip through the area.

Check out their site for more info.

Brewers Pizza in Orange Park, Florida is not only a pizza parlor but also is a brew pub. Besides serving craft beers from all over, they also have several taps from their sister company, Pinglehead Brewing Co. After starting out as just a brew pub, they obtained their brewery license in 2012 and now supply their signature brew, Pinglehead, to other establishments through a local distributor.

We noticed Brewers Pizza while driving by on another visit to the area and mentally filed it away somewhere in the deepest bowels of our minds until one of our Twitter friends, @JaxBeerBitch, recommended it when we asked about places to eat in the area.

They occupy a couple of store fronts in a strip mall along the main drag, right around the corner from the mall. Easy to get into and plenty of parking. The interior is up to date and very clean. The walls are decorated with some cool beer memoribalia and a modern jukebox sits along the wall in the center. There are also some tv screens mounted around the bar area. There’s a variety of seating options between the half dozen stools lining the bar, some high-tops with stools as well as booths and tables.

They have 26 taps pouring craft beers from breweries around the country. When we were there, the selection included brews from Bold City, Cigar City, St. Somewhere, Peak, Ommegang, Anderson Valley, Abita, Brooklyn, Bells, Lazy Magnolia, Pinglehead, and others. Pinglehead had obvious home court advantage with about a half-dozen beers to choose from but other breweries had multiple taps too. Cigar City Brewing was well represneted with Minaret and Jai Alai while Bells was represented by Oberon and Two Hearted Ale.

Can’t read the blackboard behind the bar or the tap handles? No problem. They have a mobile site set up listing what’s currently on tap and have QR codes that make it easy to find.

Besides the great taps, there’s also large cooler featuring about 50 different bottles, none of which can be found in my local grocery store. No yellow-fizzy stuff here.

Since man cannot live on beer alone (trust me, it’s been tried), we ordered some dinner too. We started out with the cheese bread and then ordered a couple of their “Florida Smacker” pan pizzas. They use a beer dough to make these square gems. Nice and thick, just the right amount of crispness and plenty of toppings. Very tasty as well as filling. The leftovers made a great lunch the next day too.

The service was awesome. The bartender made several trips over to make sure we were OK and the mananger, Troy, stopped by the table a couple of times too just to check in, take plates, etc.

Besides leaving with our leftover pizza, we picked up a couple of growlers of Pinglehead Brewing Co. brews for later.

I’ve already thanked her in person but thanks again JBB for suggesting we visit Brewers Pizza. We’ll definetley be visting agian next trip through the area.

Check out their site for more info.

I first became aware of The Filling Station when they competed in The Grind burger competition. I wasn’t able to try their burgers there so they went onto my “someday” list. Soon after, I heard someone mention their great beer selection and I decided that “someday” was going to be soon.

On a recent Saturday evening, I decided to take the family out for dinner and we headed to downtown Miami and The Filling Station. Before you even get the thought of scrubbing any chance of ever going there because it’s in downtown, don’t let that scare you away. They are located right off of I-95 – down the ramp, two lefts around the block and you’re there. Leaving is even easier, just go down the block, through the light and up the ramp. There are several parking lots & garages within a block as well as metered street parking further down the street.

They occupy two store-fronts and the décor gives the place has an old gas station sort of a feel. I kept expecting Frank & Mike from the TV show American Pickers to come walking in. The bartender told us that The Filling Station originally opened about three years ago as a burger joint and that after about 18 months, the adjoining space was added as the Garage bar. Booths line the walls of one side of the space and a bar runs down one side of the other with some booths down the remaining wall. They had a Panthers playoff going on a couple of the televisions and the Heat game showing on another.

There are about a dozen taps that they continuously rotate. As one keg blows, another is tapped. While we were there, Brooklyn Brewery's Mary's Maple Porter ran dry and Blue Point Toxic Sludge took its place. Not a single tap had a NASCAR brand either; you’ll need to stick to the bottles for those. The taps were spread amongst a couple of different styles. While we were there, they had a lager, a rye, a couple of darks and four or five IPAs. The best part was that they were all reasonably priced with most being either 4 or 5 bucks a pint.

Besides the taps, they have a great selection of bottled brews too. Most are traditional twelve ounce bottles but there are a few larger bottles too. The list covered all of the styles and included several ciders too. Had the taps not been there, I still would have been very impressed with the selection. I didn’t dwell on the bottle list too long but I did notice several Dogfish products.

While I would be happy stopping by just for the beer, we were there for dinner. I think that gastropub is a better description than burger joint. While you can get an old-fashioned burger topped with lettuce, tomato, onion & pickle, they have a dozen or so specialty burgers. Various pulled-pork, chicken, philly’s, dogs and salads round out the very reasonably priced menu.

My wife had “Sara’s Super Sport” which is a burger topped with peanut butter, peppered bacon, red onions and lettuce. She was amazed with the way that the peanut butter worked with the burger. I chose “Gabby’s D’ Lorean” which is a juicy burger topped with nutella, caramelized onions and peppered bacon. Unbelievably good. I wouldn’t hesitate ordering it again. My daughter went with the “Cady” which is the regular hamburger and my son had a hot dog with fries. The burgers all came with tater-tots. These were not the tots out of a bag on the freezer aisle but instead were seasoned and cooked to a perfect level of crispness.

This place hit on all cylinders. My wife and I enjoyed both the beer selection and our gourmet burgers while the kids were able to enjoy meals right up their alley too. We’ll definitely be back.

We found the “Ferm” when we were visiting Tallahassee and were meeting a friend who lives in the area. He suggested we meet up there since it’s near his office and is also a favorite of his. We were told that it's a place that came about when the four owners decided to open a place where they would want to hang out.

With only an address to work with, we set off. Our GPS took us down what appeared to be a residential street with three story townhouses down the sides. We figured it was wrong when it told us we had arrived because we were in front of residential buildings on both sides of the street. It wasn’t until we realized that the group of people sitting outside was not on someone’s patio but rather was in the outdoor seating area of the bar. Later in the evening, we were talking with one of the owners, Scott, and he told us that we weren’t the first to tell him that. As a matter of fact, one of the regulars came along and when Scott introduced me to him, he explained how the guy had told him that he would drive by all the time and think to himself that “these people sure throw a lot of house parties.” He said that one day he decided to crash the party only to find out that it was actually a bar. True story.

I don’t know if it was the word “lounge” in their name or what but I expected an old-fashioned bar with some tables and booths and a jukebox. Boy was I pleasantly surprised to find out that I was wrong. The outside area is sort of what you might expect for a patio area, a few small tables with chairs, some benches, etc. It spans the width of about three of the units. There was some sort of a bean-bag toss game set up and a small group of patrons was having a grand time playing. Inside was where I was surprised. The interior theme was an eclectic 60’s-retro look. There were small tables and chairs opposite the bar with some bench type chairs facing a projection screen. The chairs were a collection of all sorts of styles including what looked to be old movie theater seats. Instead of showing sports, they were showing vintage ads and film clips. I took a look at their FaceBook page recently and they had a "movie night" with an obscure vintage film coming up. Definitely not your local sports bar.

The crowd was a bit eclectic, in a good way. There was a good mix of typical college students, local business people and hipsters. Everyone from a guy in a suit to a girl on a Vespa wearing a helmet & goggles that looked like she should be flying a biplane.

The menu listed what was probably close to 100 different beers in bottles plus there was a blackboard with about a dozen draft beers that were on tap. We were there during a Shipyard special so they were well represented with several of their beers on tap. A second chalkboard displayed a listing of artesian wines. Honestly, I'm not a wine drinker so I didn't really pay much attention to the list. I also noticed another list on a side wall discussing cheeses and such. The bartender was very knowledgeable about the beers and was terrific when it came time to suggest a beer for me to try.

Next door to the bar, there is a small store that's the retail arm of the bar. They have an awesome selection of Belgians and other craft beers. Just to give you an idea of their beers, it's all gone now but I was able to score some Hopslam there. No Mike's Hard Lemonade or Miller Lite. This is a place for real beer connoisseurs. The owners are real hands-on and took the time to discuss the various beers that they had on the shelves. They didn't know us nor did they know that we were going to write a review. They're just beer guys who are passionate about beer.

Fermentation Lounge is definitely a place that I have on my to-do list for my next visit to Tallahassee.

Learn more about Fermentation Lounge on their website.

 

I’ve once again I found bliss in my quest for beer. As I said before, it’s hard to find restaurants whose food is as good as their beer. Lake Nona Tap Room is just that place.

Before we relocated to the other side of the Florida–the better side–I worked in the Lake Nona area of Orlando. And because I didn’t need to work at the office all day, I needed a place where I could grab a bite to eat while sipping on a good brew.

Lake Nona Tap Room isn’t a big place at all, but the same can’t be said of their beer selection. They have about 50 rotating beers on tap and another 50 in the bottle. I’m a big fan of hoppy brews. They have their fair share of those too. From light to heavy its yours for the taking.

Now onto their food selection…They have a great sweet potato fries and home made chips, if I remember correctly (It’s been a few months since I’ve been there). Their burger isn’t great, but definitely better than most beer joints.

So, if you’re in the Lake Nona area stop in for a beer and a bite. You won’t be disappointed. Promise.

Submitted by Suwannee Refugee
http://suwanneerefugee.com

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