This week, I find myself in sunny Florida.
As a kid, I used to live in Florida. I hated every minute of it. I was in seventh grade, which probably didn’t help. But I also didn’t like the heat, the bugs, and the general lack of excitement. One summer I made a deal with the universe: if we moved, I’d never touch the next food I ate ever again. At my next meal I ate bacon and a week later my parents announced that we were moving. So I kept my word; for the better part of two decades, I haven’t touched bacon.
Returning to Florida as an adult, I’ve realized that the Sunshine State has a lot to offer. Citrus fruit, beaches, and Disney World, which is infinitely more fun now than it ever was…I suppose that’ll change when I have kids of my own. Until then, I can roll up my sleeves, grab a turkey leg the size of my head, and smugly laugh at the tears of other people’s children. And I haven’t even mentioned the beer.
Once a liquid wasteland for anything but orange and grapefruit juice, Florida has been hard at work stoking the boilers of the catch-up train for the last several years. Cigar City has been brewing since 2009, but more recent standouts include Tampa’s Coppertail and Angry Chair, Jupiter’s Civil Society, Oakland Park’s Funky Buddha, and Miami’s J. Wakefield. Even the sleepy island town where I used to live has two breweries, and one of them isn’t even that bad.
As I walked into Civil Society yesterday, it truly struck me how far Florida’s craft beer revolution has come. When I was a kid, Civil Society — and places like it — didn’t exist. Or perhaps they did, but certainly not near me. And yet the brewery, located just behind Florida Atlantic University’s stadium, looked as natural in its upscale shopping district as the nearby coffee shop, yoga studio, and women’s clothing boutique.
And the beer is good. Out of a pool of 6,500 new breweries registered around the world, RateBeer recently ranked Civil Society amongst the ten best. I loved Fresh, a NE IPA (In Florida! Another sign of the times.), as well as Pulp, a Pale Wheat Ale, and Juice, an American Double. I assumed that the brewery’s French Bulldog mascot meant that dogs were welcome, but it was great to see friendly pups of all shapes and sizes chilling on the couches. “Family first” is the motto of many breweries, but it’s particularly evident in the way that the brewery treats its guests.
I can only hope that as we move forward, more and more breweries continue to transform the fabric of Florida’s communities and economies. If I can change my mind about the state, anything can happen.
Stay strong, stay true, stay fresh, stay fly,
Editor in Chief
What We’re Reading
“When things are simple, fewer mistakes are made. The most expensive part of a building is the mistakes.”
— Ken Follett, The Pillars of the Earth