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Photo by George Schiavone

Beer Here!
Florida's new role as oasis for quality beer

by Matthew W. Beale

The first beer was produced by
accident 10,000 years according
to some anthropologists. A
container of barley and wa-
ter, which had been left
uncovered, in the open,
was introduced, by
chance, to wild yeast
carried by the winds.
This is a critical mo-
ment in World his-
tory. It has been
said that it was
something of a
beer quest that
led early man
from the caves.
So says Alan D.
Eames, in his
book The Secret
Life of Beer,
was the appetite
for beer-making mat-
erial that may have led
to crop cultivation, settle-
ments, and agriculture, what
we refer to today, for lack of a
better word, as 'civilization.'"

Clink below for the top
Florida Thirstquenchers

he taste and aptitude for creating beer has been discovered in cultures across the face of the planet, including those of the Inca, African, Chinese, Babylonian, Egyptian, Assirian, Hebrew, Saxon, etc.

And such passages from the pages of the Egyptian Book of the Dead as "beer of truth" and "beer of eternity," exhibit a reverence for this fermented beverage that continues strongly today in our own world culture, pervading the information superhighway as brewers, distributors, experts, investors, and so forth, have posted information on the Internet relative to the business of making beer.

"You can't be a real country unless you have a beer and an airline--it helps if you have some kind of football team, or some nuclear weapons, but at the very least you need a beer."

-Frank Zappa

The United States certainly has a beer, myriad at that. In fact, the U.S. has experienced something of a revolution recently; the phenomenon of Microbreweries, which are small, independently run operations with a focus on craft, tradition as well as innovation. It is not as though these small breweries are a new concept, however, it is simply that their popularity has suddenly increased exponentially. The Anheiser Busch purchase of The Redhook microbrewery in 1994 served as an announcement that the large American beer companies had taken notice of the market share their smaller, talented counterparts were steadily seizing. The same year, the Boston Brewing Company released their Samuel Adams Triple Bock-- a heavy ale brewed with maple syrup, and served in a cobalt glass bottle with a cork-- which cost over one hundred dollars per case. A new age in the art of American beer making had arrived.

The recent Justice Department's announced probe into anti-competitive practices of Anheiser Busch merely underscored how precious and wondrous an asset Microbreweries, with their creativity and integrity, are to both the consumer and the business community. Moving in that same region of success are Brew Pubs, which are, for the most part, establishments that offer a fine selection of beers brewed on the premises, often behind immense glass walls such that the visitor can enjoy watching the process whilst savoring the product. Whether it is through a more recent trend towards out of state producers of craft beers opening up establishments, or home-grown enthusiasts becoming entrepreneurs, brew-oriented businesses continues to grow.

Florida's community is a diverse group of brewing companies that reflect both the return to tradition, and the willingness to expiriment. And whether the move is toward something a little more unusual, and indeed unexpected, such as the First Coast Brewing Company's Mango Ale, or a solid old world standard, brewed with excellence and devotion to quality, such as the Sharkbite Papa's Porter, the brewpubs and microbreweries around the state of Florida offers a spectrum of beers to please both the palate and the spirit.