Sample nearly 200 beers and ales during the 10th annual Key West BrewFest, while also discovering the flavours of the continental United States’ southernmost city
Running from Thursday, 29 August until Monday, 2 September, the festival kicks off with an early evening party at Key West’s Waterfront Brewery, home to Crazy Lady blonde ale and other house-crafted favourites. Subsequent festival events include beer-focused brunches, pool parties featuring specialty beers, daytime tap takeovers and dinners pairing each course with brews that complement the cuisine. Featured beers range from the intriguingly named Monk in the Trunk, Funky Buddha and Andygator to local favourites from the Florida Keys Brewing Co. and Islamorada Beer Co.
The undisputed festival highlight is the BrewFest Signature Tasting Festival on Saturday, 31 August. Featuring nearly 200 beers from around the world, the tasting extravaganza is set for 5-8 p.m. on Key West’s South Beach, overlooking the Atlantic Ocean. General admission costs $40 per person (around £32) in advance or $45 (around £36) at the door. Lager lovers can also choose to pay $90 per person (around £72) in advance for admission to an afternoon VIP tasting with appetisers from the Southernmost Beach Cafe. VIP attendees also receive exclusive 10th anniversary BrewFest memorabilia.
On the Saturday evening, a Second Line March led by the New Orleans band Water Seed is scheduled to depart South Beach. Participants dance down Key West’s legendary Duval Street to a party at the funky Green Parrot Bar. The festival continues over Labor Day with events including a beer dinner at the Southernmost Beach Café, and a lively evening of bingo at the Green Parrot.
For event information, schedule and ticketing links, visit keywestbrewfest.com.
Visitors to the Florida Keys can quench their thirst year-round with samplings of local beers, ales, meads, rums and vodkas. Here are five spots not to miss:
- Keys' Meads: Located in Key Largo, the Keys' very first meadery opened in order to offer visitors an alcoholic beverage alternative to beer, wine and hard liquor. The company sells traditional mead made using honey acquired from apiaries or beehive collections including 40 hives in the Upper Keys. The facility includes a separate room dedicated to tasting the unique brew. The meads are dry, semi-dry, semi-sweet or sweet and flavours added include strawberry, blueberry and lychee. com
- Florida Keys Brewing Company: Locally owned and operated with on-site brewing, this craft production outfit in Islamorada’s Morada Way Arts and Cultural District produces tasty seasonal and barrel-aged beers including light, reds, ambers and browns. Beers include Iguana Bait, Flakeys, Queen of the South and Grapefruit to be Alive. Holidaymakers can stop by to sample the ‘Keys crafted’ products. com
- Islamorada Beer Company: The local brewers at the Islamorada Beer Company are proud to call the Florida Keys home. Their Sandbar Sunday ale exudes the Keys’ weekend lifestyle of wading in the water with a cold one, and other offerings include Islamorada Ale and Channel Marker IPA. The brightly coloured tasting room has served some of the top-selling craft brews in the islands since 2014. com
- The Waterfront Brewery: Located in the Key West Historic Seaport, the Waterfront Brewery offers American cuisine, homebrews – including the highly-regarded Key Lime Gose and Crazy Lady honey blonde ale – and a variety of other beers brewed on-site. Free brewery tours are available. com
- Key West First Legal Rum Distillery: Opened by local chef Paul Menta in 2012, the Key West distillery is housed in a former Coca-Cola bottling plant and pre-prohibition-era bar. Despite its colourful past, the Keys didn’t have a contemporary legitimate rum distillery until Menta created a new chapter in the island chain's history with his Legal Rum brand. Guests are invited to tour the plant, open daily, and enjoy free rum samplings. keywestlegalrum.com