Fran Andrewlevich Talks About the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival

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John Linn
The beer monks will be back in full force next Saturday.
There's going to be a whole lot of drinking going in Jupiter come January 29 and 30. That's when the Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival transforms Roger Dean Stadium into a sudsy paradise just this side of heaven. With over 100 rare beers from Florida-based and national brewers, the fest is sure to have something you haven't tried before. And thanks to a limit on attendance and an attention to detail, this is one beer fest that's as relaxed as the brew.

Tickets are still available at the time of this writing for both the fest (1 to 5:30 p.m., January 30) and the Field of Beers event (6 to 9 p.m., January 29), where brewers will pair their goods with food from talented local chefs.

With the fest coming up next weekend we sat down with the guy behind it all, Brewzzi brewmaster Fran Andrewlevich, to get the inside scoop on the weekend's events.

Also check out last year's coverage of the event here.

NT: What's your goal with the festival?
Fran Andrewlevich: The immediate goal is just to do the best possible festival we can do. One of the keys to that is we limit the amount of people coming in so it's not overcrowded. Also, I hand select every beer that shows up here.

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John Linn
Brewzzi will have a strong showing at the Brewers Fest.
NT: How is it different from other beer fests?
FA: It's the little things. I've been to a million fests as a brewer and guest and I just find goods and bads in all of them. When Jamie (Meholic) and I started this three years ago I said to her, 'Yeah, this fest is new to the area, but as long as we do the best one we'll always be successful with it.'

NT: How do you make that happen?
FA: I've been a brewer for over 15 years now, so I know a lot of people and have a lot of connections in the industry. And thankfully I've made a lot of personal relationships over the years, people who come down and participate and really be a part of it. Plus, it has a great reputation among brewers. A lot of them come down and make the weekend of it. And the majority of my friends volunteer here, whether that's pouring beers or collection tickets. So the whole experience is relaxed. There's no soliciting, no sponsors, you can just pay your money come in and forget about the world for a few hours.

NT: What's new for this year?
FA: Well for starters, we're expanding it across the street. Last year we were in the amphitheatre at Abacoa, but this year we're moving to Roger Dean Stadium. We're going to gate off the area coming in, plus we'll have the mezzanine and concession area and restaurants inside. There will be about the same amount of people, too. We'll let it get to 3200 or 3300 and then cut it off. Last year we couldn't gate off Abacoa, so in the stadium you won't have that extra 1000 people just wandering through. Plus we have eight more breweries involved. The whole experience is going to be phenomenal; more facilities, more beer, more everything.

NT: Will Brewzzi be doing any special beers for the fest?
FA: It's great you asked. As a matter of fact, my car smells like coffee right now because in (the) West Palm (Beach Brewzzi) we're doing an Imperial Coffee Porter. The story behind it is I ran into a guy at a beer dinner who roasts his own coffee in Jupiter. He gets those huge sacks and roasts it 20 pounds at a time in his grill's rotisserie, it's amazing. I said to him, 'Do you mind if I come over and roast with you?' So we had a few beers and roasted coffee and he told me all about the sugars and what happens when it gets roasted. It was really cool. So the coffee in my porter is the stuff I roasted with this guy. The porter has been going for about a month now and it's like 8.5% and just smells like unbelievable coffee. It's all chocolaty and roasty and really big, but well-balanced.

Also in West Palm we're doing a traditional German Pilsner that's very hoppy, and a double rye pale ale in (the) Boca (Raton Brewzzi) that's about 9%. We've also got a 9.5% Belgian trippel that has 100 pounds of candy sugar in it that's just off the charts! It's our best line up of any fest we've had, no doubt.

NT: What about other local breweries and brewpubs?
FA: Matt from Corner Cafe is doing a bourbon barrel oak stout which is going to be at the beer pairing event on Friday (Field of Beers) and paired with an ancho chile and chocolate rubbed beef brisket cooked over cedar. There's going to be a sauce over it made out of the beer as well; it's going to be incredible. Big Bear is doing a ginger beer that will also be at the pairing, done with a poached oyster and his beer so it's like an oyster shot. I think Matt (Cox) is also doing a really big amber.

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John Linn
Larry Bell of Michigan's Bell's Brewing will be back again this year.
NT: Florida's gained a lot of craft beer presence over the past year. What can we expect from in-state breweries?
FA: There's a ton. The guys from Inlet are doing a seven keg batch of Belgian with whole hops that's absolutely phenomenal. I think it's going to be done Wednesday and the fest is on Saturday. That's going to be out of control. SwampHead Brewery from Gainesville... those guys opened only six months ago and have a real nice brewery up there. They sent some samples and they have some tasty, killer beers. One they'll have at the fest is a cranberry wit (wheat) beer, like a really nice, balanced traditional wit with that little zing.

Also, Gordon Biersch is coming up from Miami, and Orange Blossom Pilsner from Orlando is coming. Cigar City out of Tampa is getting rave reviews and they're binging four kegs. Saint Somewhere from Tarpon Springs are all over the place. They're in like 30 states right now and brewing this totally unique saison-style beer from a 7 barrel system.

NT: Anything else you want to add?
FA: Online sales are over 1000 two days ago, so by Monday all sales will probably be over. And we have like 50 to 60 spots left for the pairing (Field of Beers). The menu should be online and the beer pairings up shortly. We've got some really neat beers coming down for it. After all the hard work and stuff brewers are actually calling us asking to be in and premier their beers here and stuff. Anchor Steam is going to do one called Humming Ale that's a phenomenal beer. They sent samples in unmarked bottles, the whole nine yards. It has this hop called sauvin in it that's named after sauvignon blanc. They described it like as having gooseberry and lemon. I was never more shocked in my life. It has to be one of if not the most unique hops I've ever tried. It actually tastes like sauvignon blanc and then goes back to beer. It's incredible.

The Field of Beers takes place January 29, 6 to 9 p.m. at Roger Dean Stadium. Tickets cost $73. The Jupiter Craft Brewers Festival goes down January 30, 1 to 5:30 p.m., also at Roger Dean Stadium. Tickets cost $26.50 in advance, $30 at the door. Visit jupitercraftbrewersfestival.com.

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