Monday, May 21, 2018
Bars & Spirits

Belgian-style beer brings Brussels' bubbles to Tampa Bay bars

I almost gave up. It was hot. We were lost. The map didn't match Brussels' streets. My husband and I could not find Cantillon brewery.

Finally we stumbled upon this famous, 113-year-old Belgian brewery, known for its sour gueuze and cherry-flavored kriek lambic. It was one of the best beer experiences of my life. The next day De Halve Maan in Bruges poured a delicious Belgian blond ale that was packed with fruity esters yet lighter than its cousins, the dubbles and tripels.

Back in Tampa, I began to go through Belgian beer withdrawal. Sorry, but Blue Moon is not an exceptional representation of Belgian beer, a group of about 18 styles that feature unique Belgian yeast, sometimes use open fermentation and often play with fruit and intense carbonation.

I wanted something with a dry sourness like I tasted at Cantillon, something honey-colored and delicately fruity like I got at De Halve Maan.

My mission started at Mr. Dunderbak's, a German restaurant in New Tampa long known to have one of the best beer lists in the bay area. On a recent Friday night, their draft menu contained an entire section devoted to Belgian beers.

I ordered the one I had not heard of — the De Proef Flemish Primitive Wild Ale. It was slightly sweet, grassy and a little funky from the wild yeast, but, you know, in a good way.

Next, I headed to one of my favorite neighborhood spots: Tampa's Independent Bar and Cafe, the source of happy memories. During this year's Tampa Bay Beer Week, the Indie hosted "Cheers to Belgian Beers," which featured lots of unusual Belgian beer.

Sure enough, on this visit, the Independent's black chalkboard promised the De Ranke XX Bitter, a Belgian IPA. Most traditional Belgians are not hop-forward, though brewers recently have been taking notice of the U.S. West Coast's experimentation with bitter beers. This one maintained its Belgian character with fruity esters and distinct tartness.

Later, I hit the road for the always entertaining Lagerhaus Brewery & Grill in Palm Harbor, owned by Austrian brewer Franz Rothschadl. On this visit, I ordered the Wild Berry Imperial Lambic and Kathatina's Apfel Blond, both brewed in-house.

The sweet-yet-tart lambic reminded of the readily available Lindemans Framboise. But I had never tasted anything like the Apfel Blond, an apple-flavored Belgian. The hints of apple in this straw-colored ale was so subtle. It was very bubbly and the sour notes clung to the tip of my tongue. The beer left behind its foamy white as I emptied the glass, leaving a pattern called Belgian lace.

Finally, I headed to the mecca of the Floridian-Belgian beer experience: Saint Somewhere Brewing Company in Tarpon Springs. Years ago, longtime home brewer Bob Sylvester decided to focus solely on farmhouse ales, mostly for the challenge and variability of using wild yeast.

Sylvester doesn't completely seal his fermenting beer, allowing wild yeasts that make each batch slightly different. His warehouse is not a bar, but it's open from 6 to 8 p.m. on Thursdays and Fridays for tours and tastings.

On this particular Friday, he poured three beers: a dark farmhouse ale, one brewed with elder flower and my favorite, the Caitlin, a bubbly farmhouse ale brewed with dried orange slices and late-hopped with Citra.

He also pulled out a bottle of last year's Patte de Singe, a farmhouse ale he made for Zwanze Day, a special release event for a Cantillon beer in the United States.

The Patte de Singe was incredibly effervescent and dry, like champagne. It was nothing like what I had tasted in Belgium, perhaps because my quest had taken me further in Florida. And surrounded by beer devotees in this off-the-main-drag warehouse, it felt like a celebration.

— What's your favorite Belgian-style beer? Tell us at [email protected], or tweet us at @tbtnewspaper with the hashtag #tampabaydrinks.

     
Comments
Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

Taste test: new (and very sugary) cereals

My addiction to sugar began as a child. I loved sugary breakfast cereals as a morning meal or an evening snack, the sweeter the better. We used to joke in my house that I even added table sugar to Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Lucky Charms. Thankfu...
Updated: 9 hours ago
Restaurant review: Baytenders Oyster Bar & Steamer is a low-key, friendly spot to gather

Restaurant review: Baytenders Oyster Bar & Steamer is a low-key, friendly spot to gather

ST. PETERSBURG Brian Storman has had a long and colorful career in the Tampa Bay area. In the 1980s he had the insanely popular Storman’s Palace in Feather Sound, which in 2008 became the grownup playground "ultralounge" called the Venue (25,0...
Published: 05/21/18
Walt’s Fish Market, a Sarasota institution, to celebrate its 100th anniversary

Walt’s Fish Market, a Sarasota institution, to celebrate its 100th anniversary

A Sarasota seafood fixture is celebrating its 100th anniversary.Walt’s Fish Market, Restaurant and Tiki Bar, 4144 S Tamiami Trail, will host a party at noon on Sunday complete with a mechanical shark, live music, live auctions, silent auctions, an al...
Published: 05/18/18
Oldsmar ice cream shop opens right in time for summer

Oldsmar ice cream shop opens right in time for summer

Ice Cream Theory, a new ice cream shop in Oldsmar, offers cool and tasty treats to help beat the summer heat."We wanted it to be fun," said co-owner Jessica Weintraub. "We wanted it to be a place for kids to just hang out and enjoy some ice cream."Hu...
Published: 05/17/18
Updated: 05/18/18
Terra Gaucha opens on Dale Mabry

Terra Gaucha opens on Dale Mabry

A new Brazilian style steakhouse is now open in South Tampa and upholds the traditional Southern Brazilian barbecue "churrascaria" dining experience- Gauchos (Southern Brazilian cowboys) roasting large pieces of skewered meats over an open flame.Terr...
Published: 05/17/18
McDonald’s giving away free food to military members today

McDonald’s giving away free food to military members today

TAMPA— All current and former military service members in central Florida can stop by their local McDonald’s and grab a free burger today.In celebration of Military Appreciation Month, McDonald’s is giving away a "Taste of Thanks." All veterans and c...
Published: 05/17/18
tbt* local craft beer of the week: PB and J Brown Ale, Palm Harbor Brewery

tbt* local craft beer of the week: PB and J Brown Ale, Palm Harbor Brewery

There’s a decent chance you’ve never had a beer from Palm Harbor Brewery. Its tiny taproom can seat no more than half a dozen folks at the bar, and that includes guests coming for wine from the brewery’s on-site sister business, Two Lions Winery. You...
Published: 05/17/18
Bar review: Champagne, whiskey and caviar? Yes, please, at luxe Flute and Dram

Bar review: Champagne, whiskey and caviar? Yes, please, at luxe Flute and Dram

I have a rocky relationship with Champagne.If I could drink it every day, there’s a good chance I would. But I can’t often stomach the thought of paying more for a name than the product itself, which, as a non-expert, has been my experience. I’ve had...
Published: 05/17/18
Food events this week: St. Pete Taco and Beer Fiesta, Brunched 2018, Sweet Corn Festival

Food events this week: St. Pete Taco and Beer Fiesta, Brunched 2018, Sweet Corn Festival

TACOS: AND BEER You can get the weekend started Friday evening at the St. Pete Taco and Beer Fiesta from 6 to 11 p.m. at Albert Whitted Park. It’s a serious all-star cast of food trucks: St. Pete Taco Lady, I Wanna Wok, Fiesta Bowls, Boom Boom...
Published: 05/16/18
Updated: 05/17/18
McDonald’s has ditched frozen patties for fresh beef, and we tried them

McDonald’s has ditched frozen patties for fresh beef, and we tried them

LARGO — Ray Kroc, fast food’s founding father, was a quotation machine. One of his doozies was, "We’re not in the hamburger business. We’re in show business." This month, McDonald’s show got a little more sizzle. In the...
Published: 05/16/18