Over the Weekend: Funky Buddha Brewery Grand Opening
The Funky Buddha Brewery, South Florida's newest brewpub, arrived with a bang Saturday night. The long-popular lounge added 13 homespun beers to its repertoire -- creative and inspired interpretations on craft brews that leveraged rum and brandy as well as Florida oranges and honey. The celebration, which included live music and, of course, hookahs, drew a sizable crowd to East Boca.
Owners Jim Bast and Ryan Sentz went above and beyond their opening-day expectations, showcasing more than a dozen brews. I had the opportunity to try each of them as part of a series of samplers (five beer shots for $5, essentially). All were great, but I definitely had some favorites among the bunch.
The Buddha's beer list was smartly set up from light, smooth-drinking beers up toward bigger, darker brews. At the top of the list was Missionary Ale, an everyday drinker that was light and crisp. Moving down, we loved the Florida Hefeweizen, a brilliant take on an orangey wheat that was infused with Florida honey, oranges, and Madagascar vanilla beans. The result tasted like an adult Creamsicle. Hop Gun, which Bast and Sentz have been perfecting for a few years now, was a mild and hoppy pale ale with surprising crispness.
A red ale appeared on the menu twice, first as a sweet and malty red and again as an aged version infused with coconut rum, affectionately called Red Rum. The coconut flavors actually paired perfectly with the sweet malt -- an interesting and highly drinkable brew.
A trademark Piiti Porter made with lactose got two extra treatments as well: one with a hefty dose of espresso and another aged two weeks on brandy barrels for a rich, cherry-like flavor.
The brewery really shone in the bigger, high-alcohol beers. Its Don't Try Amber was a supermalty double amber with tons of floral, honeyed New Zealand hops. The Kluster Fuck Rye IPA brought a spicy/citrusy take on hoppy Imperial pales, while the Funky Buddha Stout combined rich flavors and high drinkability in a dark brew. A pair of barleywines, one aged six weeks on oak, were killer. At 11.5 percent alcohol and plenty of deep, ripe, dark fruit flavor, these sweet and hoppy barleywines were absurdly good -- and very dangerous.
Overall, I can't wait to get back to the Funky Buddha Brewery again. The inexpensive pints coupled with the chilled-out setting make for a great place to hang and drink. Some visual overhauls like custom-designed tap handles and a series of mad scientist photographs depicting the brewmasters at work add to the fun.
For more on the Funky Buddha, read our preview here or check out our new slideshow from the evening.