Eye patch? Check. Fake hook? Check. Gaudy, puffy clothing and beads? Check. Sounds like you're all ready for Gasparilla, but you've missed one crucial detail: pirate-themed beer! No self-respecting swashbuckler would be caught without a mix-and-match of his or her favorite craft grogs. Here's a few to get you started:
Cigar City Hopped On The High Seas IPA: This new series of floral "Caribbean-style" IPAs are brewed by Cigar City staff at Cervezas del Sur in Ponce, Puerto Rico. The beer is then shipped by sea to Florida; during the voyage it's dry-hopped with a single hop variety. Once the beer arrives in Tampa, it's canned at the Cigar City brewery. Previous entries have showcased Simcoe and Ahtanum hops, while the current release is dry-hopped with Citra, a fruity, tropical-flavored hop.
Mission Brewery Shipwrecked Double IPA: This San Diego brewery's double IPA employs large quantities of classic West Coast hops and finishes relatively dry, despite the heavy malt bill. In the event of an actual shipwreck, you'll want to drink this one fresh, so as to preserve the big, piney hop flavor. Either way, keep that Jolly Roger-adorned label facing out to terrify onlookers and friends alike.
Ballast Point Tongue Buckler Imperial Red Ale: This one only comes in a 22-ounce bomber, so the clerk may look at your bulging mix-and-match six-pack funny, but you're a pirate, and the rules don't apply to you. To illustrate your point, gesture menacingly to the picture of a pirate on the label who has just cut out someone's tongue. The beer itself takes a more subtle approach, instead removing your tongue via "more hops and more malt than any land lubber can handle." At 10 percent alcohol by volume and 108 on the International Bitterness Unit scale, it's hard to argue. This is a beast, with spruce and licorice notes from the copious hop and malt bills.
Heavy Seas Peg Leg Imperial Stout: Fortunately for you, all of the Heavy Seas beers, produced by Clipper City Brewing in Baltimore, are pirate-themed. While Loose Cannon, the brewery's flagship (hey, how about that — "flagship?") IPA is the most common of the bunch, keep an eye out for Peg Leg, a Russian imperial stout with thick notes of roasted barley, cocoa and coffee. At 8 percent ABV, it's strong enough to keep you warm during a storm on the high seas, but it won't knock you off your balance too much, even if one of your legs is just a crude, wooden peg.
Brouwerij Van Steenberge Piraat Ale: According to the makers of Piraat, this Belgian pale ale is similar to the kind that pirates in the 17th and 18th centuries would have enjoyed while at sea. Like most Belgian ales, this beer is bottle-conditioned (refermented in the bottle), giving it a rich, foamy head to support the extra dose of hops contained within. Hops also act as a natural preservative, so while it's still best to drink this one fresh, it can very easily withstand a long voyage across treacherous waters.
Cigar City Invasion Pale Ale: If you're looking for a better Gasparilla beer, you won't find it — this one was tailor-made for the occasion! Invasion was crafted by the folks at Cigar City specifically for "crushing at a high rate," which seems just about right for the Gasparilla festivities. And since this classic American pale ale clocks in at a modest 5 percent ABV, you may be able to give your parrot a taste, as well.