Monday, June 21, 2010

Big Bear Brewing Company; Coral Springs, Florida

While returning from the Keys we took a slight detour to Coral Springs in order to sample the many beers produced by the Big Bear Brewing Company. Greg Wentworth opened the brewpub almost fifteen years ago and named the facility after the dwindling Florida Black Bear population. In fact there was once 12,000 black bears living throughout Florida; but now the 1,500 remaining black bears are isolated in remote pockets. By using the Florida Black Bear as a mascot, the Big Bear Brewing Company hopes to raise awareness to this threatened animal.

During our visit we sampled seven brews, five standard beers and two seasonal. We dined outside so the samples warmed nicely to express their true aromas and flavors. The Polar Light is a golden lager and is targeted to consumers of the big brewery domestic beer market. And its quite refreshing - even marketed as "light" it had plenty of flavor - could of used this one in the Keys, would have been perfect after snorkeling. Next was the one I didn't care for, the Grizzly Red Ale. Its supposed to be an Irish Red Ale but I felt there was too much caramel and maltiness and not enough hops. It was just too sweat with no balance. The Hibernation Pale Ale is the American Pale Ale for hop lovers. Plenty of Cascade hops here - this is a beer that pairs well with food. Very palate cleansing. Not bad. It was nice to see A Belgium style beer on the menu and the Kodiac Belgian Dubbel does not disappoint. It provides a mouthful of flavor that you expect from an Abbey Ale; to me plenty of raisins. Nicely done. But my favorite was the Brown Bear Ale, and English style brown ale that has a nice balance between malt and hops. Its very smooth with just a hint of hops on the tail. Usually the brewery provides three seasonal beers, a seasonal fruit ale, a seasonal dark, and a seasonal brew - which was not available for our visit. The seasonal fruit was a Peach Ale which displayed a nice peach aroma, but the peach didn't overwhelm the palate. There is no doubt on a future visit that I would swallow my "manly" pride and order this beer - its good. But the real "manly" beer was the Mocha Stout, a silky smooth milk chocolate styled stout. Even with a 90+ degree day, this beer went down quickly and easily. Nice. Not only will these beers entice us to return, but the food was just as good. No fried pub food here - expect gourmet offerings, many using organic produce. The Turkey Meatloaf was awesome.

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