Wrapping Up the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival

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John Linn
Check out the full slideshow here.
The Third Annual Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival took place on Saturday, and in case you missed out on what was a perfect day of beer sampling and cavorting, check out our slide show here. What made the fest so "gee, shucks" great? For starters, the festival area - the amphitheater and park at the Abacoa Town Center - was large enough to accommodate the 3000-plus folk who showed up. Plus, the organizers opted for a non-enclosed area, meaning you were free to come and go from the festival grounds as you pleased. All you needed was your pass, your wristband, and your mini-beer glass, seen in the pic above. Those who didn't end up getting tickets - and they were many - could still hang with their friends who did by simply buying beers at the for-sale vendors just outside the site.

Secondly, the beer selection was stellar. Yes, the Budweiser Clydesdales showed up and trotted through the fest, but that was the only instance of "Bud" around (well, maybe the only instance *cough, cough*). At almost every booth you had the opportunity to try a beer that you've never had before, which is pretty incredible. The homebrew presence was also quite large, with BX Beer Depot and their Lagerhead Brewers Club each holding a table, sampling out hand crafted Hefeweizen and India Pale Ale.

In short, our Beerfest - that would be the New Times Beerfest, now in its eighth twelfth year - COULD LEARN A LOT FROM THIS FESTIVAL, HINT HINT (limiting the number of tickets, getting more DIY and micro brew beer, encouraging a more communal vibe). Gee, were did that come from? Oh, well!

After the jump, my top three beers of the fest.
3. Bell's Amber Ale: Bell's Brewery, in Kalamazoo, Michigan, is well known in the beer community as a constant innovator. Its Amber Ale is a very smooth, easy-drinking beer with a a hefty amount of caramelization, which as their pourer described to me, makes it a great compliment to food. Bell's only ships with distributors who agree to keep their product cold from truck to case in order to preserve its integrity, and drinking this nutty ale you can see why. You can pick up a pack of Bell's at some Publix Supermarkets as well as Fresh Market.

2. Selin's Grove Organic Baltic Porter: Selin's Grove, a small brew-pub from Pennsylvania, is widely regarded as a destination for hand crafted beer. Their Organic Baltic Porter is not as unanamously loved as some of their other varieties, but hey, this is my list, bubba, and I'm a sucker for porter. Granted, this is a syrupy sweet beer, full of coffee and raisin flavors with a very malty undertow, and thus it's not one you'd likely drink more than two of at a time. But I still found it extremely enjoyable, and one of the best dark beers at the fest. I wanted to split this position as a tie between the porter and Big Bear's Double Bourbon Barrel IPA, but I've touted that beer plenty in the past. PS - It's still great, even though Big Bear hasn't made it in over a year. So good, it ran out rather quickly.

1. Left Hand Sawtooth Ale: OK, this is a homer pick. Longmont-based Left Hand Brewing has always been a big favorite of mine, being that I'm from Colorado and I'm slanted towards beers made there. But Sawtooth Ale is really all that, folks. It's slightly hoppy, rich and full bodied, and has the perfect amount of sweet-to-bitter ratio. It's never cloying, but it also never leaves that bitter aftertaste on your tongue like a mouthful of socks. It's a beer you can drink over and over again and it surprises you each time. You can get Sawtooth Ale at a couple establishements around these parts, including Ye Olde Falcon Pub in Davie. 
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