Although I try not to get into the bad habit of getting my day started before noon, I decided that I didn't want to miss a good spot in line at Peg's Cantina in Gulfport for the Cycle Barrel-Aged Beer Tapping on Friday. Like last year, Cycle tapped a slew of its highly regarded barrel-aged beers at noon to a line of patrons wrapping around the block. Many were there for the beer and food, and some were also there to get a 16-ounce growler of Cycle's Nooner Batch 2, a version of its RareR D.O.S. Imperial Stout aged with vanilla beans ($20; limit one per person), a beer that holds a very high value for people involved in the beer trading scene.
I sat with a large group organized by a friend of mine who's very active in the beer trading scene. I sampled several of the Cycle beers on tap, including the Nooner itself, RareR D.O.S. (aged in rum barrels), Rare Chili (spicy), and Rare Coconut, the latter ultimately being my favorite of the day. In addition, I had the fortune to sample several extremely rare and highly sought-after beers brought for sharing at this gathering of beer traders. Peg's was slammed, with every outdoor space occupied.
Later in the evening, I attended the Best Florida Beer Championships Leftover Party at Southern Brewing & Winemaking in Tampa. The purpose of the event was to allow guests to finish off as many of the literally hundreds of leftover bottles of beer submitted for competition in the BFBC. The beers were all self-serve and were arranged in a fashion similar to the way they would be presented to judges in a blind tasting: separated and categorized by the styles they were each submitted as, and then further categorized by a unique entry number. For example, you may decide that you want to try the entries into the Straight, Unblended Lambic category (17D — and good luck, because I got the last bottle), you would simply find the category number and then try the different entries. There were several great beers among the bunch, and we ended up with several take-home bottles as well. As one volunteer put it, "we're not having a leftover leftovers party."