Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Beer Travels: Pensacola Bay Brewery - Pensacola, FL

Side bonus to going to Pensacola for a bachelor party?  Checking out new beer places! I recently ended up at Pensacola Beach to celebrate a friend about to tie the knot and while we were there my brother, Jay Ducote of Bite and Booze took a few hours to check out a few of the local beer hot-spots.  After a quick cab ride we made it to the first stop of the afternoon, the Pensacola Bay Brewery.  The brewery (facebook - twitter) is located in an older (or at least seemingly older) building near the water in downtown Pensacola proper.

After paying the cabbie (cabs >>> DWI, folks!) we stepped in and found ourselves in a pretty cool bar/tasting room at the front of the brewery.  There was some glass so we could see the brewing operation going on behind, and all the beers lined up on tap.  The deal they had going was a 9-beer sampler for free if you bought a glass... um, sounds good to me!

The sampler came with 9 of their standard-run beers, and as typical of any sampler we started off the tasting going light to dark.  Up first were the DeLuna Extra Pale Ale, 1845 Pilsner, and the Sawgrass Wheat.  All were decent beers but none stood out as extraordinary for the style, in my opinion.  The 4th beer on the sampler was Pensacola Bay's ESB, and this was a really good beer.  It was exactly what you would want from an ESB and definitely a step above the first three beers.  The Riptide Amber and Banyan Brown followed... both solid beers but not quite as good as the ESB.

Following the Banyan Brown it was time for the Lighthouse Porter, which had been recommended before and was a two-time gold medal winner at the Florida Brewfest.  This one lived up to the hype, a very good porter!  And it was followed by another winner, the Li'l Napoleon IPA.  A very nice hoppy 70 IBU IPA with a respectable 6.7% abv.  Up last on the tasting was the Conquistador Doppelbock, 8.1% and lightly hopped.  Unfortunately the doppelbock disappointed me, just not enough roasted malt character and rich tones to this one.  Oh well... can't win them all.  After the tasting Jay and I each had a sample of the Blackbeard Stout on nitro, which was right up there with the porter, IPA and ESB as winners of the day.  

One day I hope Louisiana breweries will be able to have a bar in the front to serve their beers directly to customers, it was really cool to drink them straight from the source with the brewing operation in the background.  As typical with a lot of smaller breweries, Pensacola Bay's brews were only available on tap (or growler from the brewery!) so if you find yourself in Pensacola and see them listed, it's worth giving them a try!

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