Mike and Jodi Halker have opened Due South Brewing Co. in Boynton Beach.
Tim Stepien/The Coastal Star
By Jan Norris
If Dad’s still saying, “I love you, man,” maybe it’s time to upgrade his brew. Try a craft beer — one produced without a billion-dollar brewery behind it.
The craft beer movement, prolific in the Northwest U.S., has been slow to catch on in Florida, despite the state being one of the largest beer markets in the nation. But those who appreciate small-batch beers with flavor character have growing options, with a number of individuals brewing and selling their beers.
Pale ales, German porters, wits, wheat beers, stouts and bocks are some of the styles offered by passionate brewers who are stepping out of the mainstream box and hoping drinkers follow.
Just last month, Mike and Jodi Halker opened Due South Brewery in Boynton Beach. Mike Halker had been brewing his own beer for some time, with friends urging him to go into business. A recent move back to Florida from his native North Carolina was the push that took him from amateur to pro.
“The movement was still in its infancy down here; now things are taking a turn,” he said. “There are several breweries in Florida.”
He points to the Tequesta Brewing Co. that started up two years ago — the only other full brewery in Palm Beach County.
Halker’s now on the board of directors for the Florida Brewer’s Guild, and through a number of other brewers in the state, such as Bold City Brewing in Jacksonville and Cigar City in Tampa, he’s helping bring hand-crafted beers to aficionados.
Visitors to his brewery (2900 High Ridge Road) can buy beer and take home a growler — a specially sealed bottle of fresh beer — from his tanks. Caramel Cream Ale and Category 3 IPA are his initial offerings.
“IPAs (India pale ales) are the fastest-growing segment in beers down here,” he said. They’re light enough to be refreshing as a drink in the hot sun and still offer flavor, he said. The Caramel Cream is a nod to his spouse, who doesn’t care for IPAs.
Those who would like to sample unique regional beers will find a hefty beer list at Sweetwater Bar and Grill in Boynton Beach, where unusual finds like the Unearthly Oaked double IPA from Southern Tier Brewery in New York is available with 9.9 percent alcohol by volume. Belgium tripels and quads like the Trappistes Rochefort from Brasserie de Rochefort, or Cisco Island Reserve from Cisco Brewery in Nantucket are on their comprehensive list.
The odd fruit-vegetable ales are represented on the list as well: Morimoto Soba from Rogue Brewery in Oregon and the Banana Bread beer from Wells & Young, a U.K. beer, are hard-to-find samples.
Cuthill’s Backyard Bar in Boynton Beach, where a festive Airstream trailer has been converted to a bar, has a selection highlighting Florida beers.
Look for Cigar City brews from Tampa, Monk in the Trunk from Jupiter, Tequesta Brewing Company’s Gnarly Barley. From the northeast, check out regional Delaware’s Dogfish Brewery’s T’weason Ale, Angry Orchard from Boston, or Magic Hat from New York.
In Delray Beach, check out Tryst’s list. The casual restaurant on Atlantic Avenue lists the ABV (alcohol by volume) on all the beers — and their list has explanatory notes about beer styles, too. We learn from them that only seven breweries in the world can use the verbiage “trappist” on their labels. They feature a number of trappist ales here.
Stout lovers will want to try some of these: Young’s Double Chocolate Stout, Dogfish Head World-Wide Stout, and Oskar Blues Ten Fidy Imperial Stout.
Tryst also has number of beers on draught that change often; in the mix now are Brasserie d’Achouffe Golden Ale from Belgium and Lagunitus Pils from California.
At Boca’s Brewzzi (a brew pub), award-winning beers like Boca Blonde and Brewzzi Reserve are brewed on site and sold in the restaurant.
Boca’s Biergarten focuses on German and Belgian brews on draught and in bottles, and their list is extensive. Check out all the hefe-weisse, dunkels and porters. There are many domestics as well — Sea Dog Blue Paw from Maine, Breckenridge Vanilla Porter from Colorado, Kona Koko Brown from Hawaii and Victory V-12 from Pennsylvania.
The Yard House, newly open in Mizner Park, has a unique beer system. Its center island
has close to 100 beers on tap, fed from a central keg room kept at between 34 and 36 degrees. Samplers are available so brew lovers can try out six beers at once.
Along with the dozens of commercial craft beers from around the world, labeled by styles and flavor, their own branded craft “house” beers are sold.
Belgian strong ales like Ommergang Three Philosophers or Chimay Triple or Trois Pistoles are on tap.
A large selection of amber ales like Alaskan Amber, Lost Coast Alleycat Amber, or Napa Smith Lost Dog will please caramel lovers. Those who love the hops will like Green Flash Hop Head Red, or Heavy Seas Loose Cannon Hop3.
Friends of malts should check out Smuttynose Old Brown Dog or Big Sky Moose Drool.
All of the above serve food except for the Due South Brewery. Most, too, offer happy hours.
If it’s beer to bring home, Total Wine and More in Boca has a good selection, as does Crown Wine and Spirits in Boynton Beach. Lake Worth’s Bx Beer Depot has tastings each Friday night.
Whole Foods in Boca Raton has organic beers as well as a number of craft beers; they occasionally hold tastings there as well.
At your favorite shop, ask if mixed six-packs are allowed; this gives Dad a chance to try several to find one he prefers for Father’s Day.
Where to go for microbrews
Biergarten — 309 Via De Palmas, No. 90, Boca Raton. Phone: 395-7462. Web: www.biergartenboca.com
Brewzzi — 2222 Glades Road Boca Raton. Phone: 392-2739. Web: www.brewzzi.com
Cuthill’s Backyard Bar — 511 NE 4th St., Boynton Beach. Phone: 740-0399. Web: www.cuthillsbackyard.com
Due South Brewing Co. — 2900 High Ridge Road, No. 3, Boynton Beach. Tucked between Sherwin Williams and Boynton Granite & Marble. Park and enter in the back of the building. Phone: 463-BEER (2337). Web: www.duesouthales.com
Sweetwater Bar & Grill — 1507 S. Federal Hwy., Boynton Beach. Phone: 509-9277. Web: www.sweetwater33.com
Tryst — 4 E. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach. Phone: 561-921-0201. Web: www.trystdelray.com
Yard House — Mizner Park, 201 Plaza Real, Boca Raton. Phone: 417-6885. Web: www.yardhouse.com