I recently spent a good part of my "spring break" reading Florida Breweries by Gerard Walen. I first met Gerard a few years back at an event where we both interviewed Widmer Brothers co founder Kurt Widmer for our respective blogs. I've had tremendous respect for him as both a beer writer and as an ambassador for promoting Florida's craft beer culture ever since.
Florida Breweries serves as an excellent resource for both locals and beer travelers alike. The book takes an in depth look at each of Florida's 66 breweries both large and small. The brewery chapters include some basic information about each brewery as well as a rundown on the current portfolio of beers they offer. Walen even takes it a step farther by making a recommendation of a "must try" brew at each of the breweries.
So how in the world did he know what to recommend at each of these breweries? Walen spent about a year visiting each of the 66 while spending time with each brewery's owner and sampling their beers. I have to admit that I was green with envy when I read about this "research". Who wouldn't want to spend a year touring and sampling craft beers from some of the Sunshine State's finest.
In addition to the information on the breweries, the book also delves into the history of beer in Florida and offers commentary on Florida's beer container laws, beer chains, beer in theme parks, beerfests, beer weeks, and beerwebs. Pretty much everything you ever wanted to know and then some about Florida's relationship with the world's most widely consumed alcoholic beverage.
I enjoyed everything about Florida Breweries. It would make a great addition to any beer enthusiast's coffee table. After reading it, I now have a number of new craft breweries that I want to visit that I didn't know about. The one minor downside to the book is that several new breweries have opened in just the short time since the book was put into print. To compensate for this some 40 breweries in planning are listed near the back of the book. Some of those have already opened.
** In the interest of full disclosure I received a complementary copy of Florida Breweries from the book's publisher in exchange for writing a review on Orlando Beer Guide. I received no payment (or free beer) for writing the review and the opinions expressed here are entirely my own. It really is a great book!
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