It wasn't even close to fall but Rapp Brewing Co. in Seminole definitely had an oom-pah-pah Oktoberfest feeling on Friday night. The jovial crowd spilled from the tiny tasting room into an adjacent storage area and then to the parking lot where artisan sausages were browning on a grill.
Brewmeister Greg Rapp worked the room like the consummate host, apologizing for long lines and announcing which of his 20 beers on tap were out and how long it would be until they would start flowing again. Two lines of at least 15 people flanked the bar, where glasses of all shapes and sizes were piling up.
The wait for Rapp's Chocolate Hazelnut Porter was well worth 15 minutes of anticipation and people-watching. "Like drinking a candy bar," someone said. And it was. Another favorite was the Roggenbier, a Bavarian specialty made partly of rye malt, had a silky mouthfeel and a sweet spiciness that cut through the fatty, richness of the sausages.
Brothers Travis and Lane Justen of Great Bay Distributors in Largo grilled three varieties of their specialty sausages: hand-cut smoked pork with what seemed like chunks of ham in each piece, mild Bavarian weisswurst and a Thai curry laden with coconut milk accompanied by a nice bit of heat. Distributing beer is the Justens' business but making sausages is their passion, and as soon as the links came off the grate and were sliced, they were gone. The wait for those was worth it, too.
Which of Rapp's beers went best with the meaty links? "All of them," said Travis Justen. Who were we to argue?