There have not been many beer festivals these past few months due to the blazing Florida sun & volcanic heat, but yesterday the Florida SMaSH Beer Festival made another trip around the sun!
If you are not familiar with this beer fest, it is held annually every September in Longwood (about 20-30 minutes north of Orlando). The cause for the festival? The Sharing Center, which helps families and people in need of resources to prevent homelessness and hunger. SMaSH stands for Single Malt and Single Hop–the ingredients used to compete for the best beer, voted by the attendees! Brewers must use the malt & hop provided, but have the freedom to use any technique or other ingredients needed to create an award-winning beer.
Everyone starts with the same two main ingredients, and ends in a completely unique way. There were sours, stouts, beers on nitro, bourbon barrel aged beers, barleywines, and so much more!
Here’s a list of this year’s participants:
- Bowigens Beer Co. – Casselberry, FL
- Cask & Larder – Winter Park, FL
- Wop’s Hops – Sanford, FL
- Invasive Species – Fort Lauderdale, FL
- Brew Bus Brewing – Tampa, FL
- Saltwater Brewery – Delray Beach, FL
- Half Wall Brewery – New Smyrna Beach, FL
- Big Top Brewing Co. – Sarasota, FL
- Deviant Wolfe Brewing – Sanford, FL
- Broken Strings Brewery – Orlando, FL
- Toll Road Brewing – Ocoee, FL
- Hourglass Brewing – Longwood, FL
- Central 28 Beer Co. – DeBary, FL
- Ivanhoe Park Brewing – Orlando, FL
- Dirty Oar Beer Co. – Cocoa Beach, FL
- Red Cypress Brewery – Winter Springs, FL
- Intracoastal Brewing Co. – Melbourne, FL
- Hell n’ Blazes Brewing Co. – Melbourne, FL
- Tampa Bay Brewing Co. – Tampa, FL
- Grasslands Brewing – Tallahassee, FL
- Ellipsis Brewing – Orlando, FL
- Redlight Redlight – Orlando, FL
- Tactical Brewing – Orlando, FL
- Walking Tree Brewery – Vero Beach, FL
- Bold City Brewery – Jacksonville, FL
- Dead Lizard Brewing Co. – Orlando, FL
- Sanford Brewing Co. – Sanford, FL
- Ocean Sun Brewing – Orlando, FL
Hopefully I didn’t miss anyone!
I didn’t even get a chance to try everyone’s beer on the list. Not to mention, these breweries also brought a couple or even a few of their other beers currently on tap for you to sample! I wanted to try everything, but I only had four hours and I was focusing all my attention on the SMaSH beers.
Toll Road Brewing had a killer Brut IPA! If you haven’t tried this style yet, you’re gonna want to jump on it. This brut IPA was a refreshingly dry beer, pale in color, and slightly hazy. Its the champagne beer I have always wanted (and didn’t even know until I tried it)! Are you a fan of the brut IPA? Let me know in the comments!
Bowigens Beer Co.’s own brewer set his house on fire for this competition, trying to roast his own malt. Yup. Talk about going down in a blaze of glory! This led to the wonderfully creative beer name, Small House Fire, a bourbon barrel aged American strong ale. It was a smooth, hefty sipper at around 9% ABV and had a nice, dark caramel color. Honestly, it was probably worth setting his house on fire to create this beer. Good job, Bowigens! This landed third place in the competition.
Rockpit Brewing brought the big guns out with their one SMaSH competition beer and three other beers from their brewery to sample! They had a stellar yuzu gose (very sour, right up my alley), a blueberry brown ale, and a smokey pineapple ale for the competition! And another beer that I cannot recall at the moment lol!
Ellipsis Brewing brewed a unique Barleywine with a maple/cinnamon french toast twist! It was very enjoyable and would make a really nice dessert beer. This snagged second place in the competition. They also brought their Sanka You Dead? Berliner which was peachy and fruity and flipped a 180 with a cinnamon, vanilla finish. The disconnect gave it such a unique twist–some would love it, some would hate it. I loved it!
Hourglass Brewing, the brains behind the beer fest, created a Kettle Soured Raw Ale that was nice and tart but had a smooth, bitter finish. I enjoyed this style and really appreciate the fact that they didn’t stick with something more commonly brewed. (Don’t get me wrong, I loved the Berliners, but there were several of them. This beer stood out!)
And last but not least, and also my personal favorite of the day, was Tactical Brewing’s Aztec Death Whistle White Stout on Nitro! And these guys took FIRST PLACE! I admire the fact they got so complex with a single malt & single hop brew by curating it with so many different elements. The cocoa nibs, cinnamon, coffee, ancho chiles, and nitro created a smooth harmony with a little unexpected snap that stole the crowd’s tastebuds! With every voting coin given, they celebrated with a screeching Aztec death whistle that sounds like Kim K losing her diamond earring in the ocean.
So many other breweries attended and performed with excellence. Intracoastal Brewing also had a great Pomegranate sour for the competition. Cask & Larder brewed a beer with lemon & basil that was quite tasty. I can’t even remember any of the others I tried yesterday, I probably should have written them all down… Oops.
Click on these images for a bigger view. 🙂
If you missed out on SMaSH, that’s a bummer. Don’t worry, though. It will be around next year and I am positive it will be just as awesome as it was yesterday!