When in Florida, Grab a Slice of the Local Brew

June 22, 2018|

I grew up thinking that Florida wasn’t really the South. Of course, I understand the basic geography of it all, and I realize that north Florida and south Georgia are basically interchangeable.

The Florida to which I am referring starts around Flagler and goes south from there. The fried chicken is tougher, and the tea is not sweet.

So, for that reason, while on vacation somewhere between St. Augustine and Flagler Beach, I was looking for a beer with something sweet in it — not like a raspberry malt beverage or whatever the youngsters are drinking these days — something not that hoppy but not that heavily malted, either.

Back up a bit and you’ll remember that key lime pie — arguably indigenous to Florida — is tart in and of itself. It’s the graham cracker crust that gives the front of your tongue something to think about. Extrapolating all of this into a beer seems quite difficult to achieve. However, I found one that came pretty close.

Conch Republic Key Lime Wheat

Big Top Brewing Company has done a nice job of balancing this wheat beer, which pours a bit darker than you might think, while including the finer aspects of such a dessert.

The nose consists of the first thing you should smell in a piece of key lime pie: limes. However, there’s a tad of malt in there, creating an almost sweet contraire to the sour aroma. An expected hint of grass is also evident on the nose.

The first element of the sip also mirrors the first bite of key lime (as much as a sip of beer can mirror a bite of pie). When you finish the sip, however, a slight but definite tinge of graham cracker crust makes its way around your mouth. There really isn’t any significant suggestion of sweet, but there’s a balance in this brew that rivals that of many of the citrus brews I’ve had over the years.

So, if you’re in the neighborhood and in the mood for more of a session beer rather than a piece of pie, I say this one deserves your attention.


Ben Casella and his family did stop at Sally’s Ice Cream in Flagler Beach one night after dinner. He ordered chocolate-covered key lime pie, which turned out to be an actual slice of key lime pie dipped in chocolate and frozen. You’re welcome.

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