Author Archives: ShadowAdmin

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Inspired by Margarita Wars


Jesse Babbitt of Surfside Taphouse mixing “The Florita” margarita

This past Saturday was Creative Loafing’s annual Margarita Wars, an event I find very inspiring.  At this event bartenders from around the bay area dream up their most creative margarita, and everyone attending gets to vote for the best.



Pineapple peppered rims offered by Jake Hiller of the Tampa Marriott Waterside.


Random attendees enjoying the flavors…

The 19 entries this year included cocktails for every palate, and tequila was probably the only thing all had in common.  Flavors varied from the traditional lime juice to ginger, sun-dried tomatoes, and coconut, fruits included watermelon, blueberries, and mango, and garnishes included  persimmons seeds, blueberry caviar and citrus foam.  Traditional salted rims gave way to  toasted coconut, habanero pineapple, and chipotle sugar.  Many of these cocktails were outstanding, and all were creative and worth trying.  As someone always looking to push the flavor boundaries in beer & hard ciders, it’s exciting to see what flavors mixologists are combining to create new taste sensations.  Cheers!




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Upcoming Tasting Events

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We’ve been working on some new ShadowWerkz cider and beer recipes, and we’ll be debuting these at two upcoming events.  Come on out, taste some new flavors, and be part of the fun.

BadA** Beer Fest Saturday, April 23 at TBBC  7:00 PM

We’ll be serving our Symphony Cider, and our new Slightly Spicy Bock Beer, a traditional German bock spiced with rye and mixed peppercorns.  Could one of these be your new favorite?

Get tickets for BadA** here

The Art of Beer Saturday, May 21 at the Clay Center of St Petersburg 6:00 PM

This event is raising money to support LARC, The Heart of PARC.  It is also a homebrew competition so come on out and vote!  We’ll be pouring a new cider inspired by a wonderful gelato made in Sorrento, Italy.  This new cider has an intriguing blend of flavors from, ahem, uh, this is a competition, so I’m not going to announce the flavors just yet. 😉 Check back here as the event gets closer.  We’ll also have a keg of our ever popular State Secret Stout.  Don’t miss this great event in St. Pete.

Get tickets for Art of Beer here

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Brewing Inspiration

CombininGlass_2g centuries-old brewing traditions with modern-day culinary creativity is what makes the craft beer industry so exciting to me.  Classic styles, combined with new flavors and techniques, make the possibilities truly endless.  Sometimes the results are just OK – a combination that sounds better than it tastes.  Other times, however, the results are spectacular.  Finding which is which is part of the fun.



Last September I attended Art with a Twist, a cocktail competition and fundraiser for the Morton Plant Mease Foundation.  The premise was captivating: top-tier mixologists from restaurants around the bay area were asked to pick a piece of art from the Chihuly Collection, a series of beautiful free-blown glass sculptures.  Each selected piece of art then became the inspiration for a new cocktail.  At the event, mixologists were set up near their inspirational artwork, served samples of their cocktail creations, and judged on several factors.


It was a lot of fun viewing the collection and sampling fancy cocktails as you made your way through each room.  As a brewer, however, it was even more candied_Flowersfun to see how these people translated the visual impact of the art into the taste experiences of their cocktails.  One mixologist served original takes on margaritas, letting each person choose from a variety of salts and sugars, each a different color & flavor representing the colors in the art, to add to the drink & decorate the rim.  Another brought custom hand-blown glasses, and made candied flowers to garnish each drink.

The tastes of the cocktails ranged from tart to sweet, and traditional to exotic.  Some were more interesting, others were more delicious.  Overall, it was very inspirational.


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When Life Gives You Lemons…

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… make lemonade.  At least that’s the common wisdom.  As a brewer and cider maker, I’m often lacking that common wisdom.  I might consider making lemonade, at least briefly,  but my very next thought would be “Why make lemonade when I can make HARD lemonade?”  It doesn’t end there.  Oh, no, not by a long shot.  I mean, hard lemonade is so, you know, Mike.  (No offense to Mike’s.)  What about making limoncello?  What about making lemonade just to mix it with beer & make a shandy?  What about a limoncello witbier? A limoncello cider?   A lemon cupcake cider, lemon-raspberry cider, lemon-mint cider, or even a lemon meringue pie cider?  The possibilities are endless, and endlessly exciting.  It’s the challenge: How do you capture the essence of meringue in a cider, or the sharp balance of a limoncello without the vodka?  Which one would taste the best?  Which one would pair best with seafood?  It’s time to get to work, and start experimenting.  These questions won’t just answer themselves.  Life, for a brewer and cider maker, is rarely that simple.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.

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Fall Tasting – Dec 10 at Poblano’s!

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Don’t miss our very special Fall 2015 Tasting

We’ve teamed up with the chefs at Poblano’s to create some great food pairings to go with some of our most popular hard cider & beer flavors, as well as a few exciting new flavors.

Thursday, Dec 10, 2015 @ Poblano’s Mexican Grill 6:00 PM

All attendees must be 21 or older.

Get Tickets Here 

Get More Details Here



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Bad A** Beer Fest 2015 – Tomorrow Night

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Hi Folks – If you’re planning on ignoring the weatherman’s threats and coming out to the Bad Ass Beer Fest 2015 in the Oldsmar/Westchase area on July 31, be sure to visit us at booth #74, all the way on the East end of the festival – that’s to your right as you enter.  It’s at the site of TB Brewing’s new brewery.  Stop by and taste these tasty beverages before we run out:

  • Belgian Explosion 5 Grain Amber Ale – Made with barley, oats, rye, wheat, and just a bit of corn.
  • Symphony Margarita Hard Cider – Our almost famous not-too-sweet 6.7% hard cider, flavored with fresh fruit & herbs.  Yes, it tastes much like a margarita.
  • Double Agent Double Chocolate Ale – A light bodied, dark colored ale, fermented with milk sugar, and flavored with a proprietary blend of roasted cacao nibs (the beans they use to make chocolate)  from 2 countries – Ecuador & Peru.

Hope to see you there!

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Grodziskie – Old Style New Again

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Grodziskie beer made in New York

Grodziskie is a Polish beer style that was almost lost when the last production brewery making it closed their doors during the 1990’s.  It is a filtered, wheat beer made with mostly oak-smoked wheat, and thanks to a group of Polish home brewers, the style is making a comeback.

 It took some searching, but I finally found an example of the style at Tap Room No. 307 in New York City.  This interpretation was a bit cloudy with a nice smokey flavor, a sharp wheat bite, 4% ABV and a pleasing hop bitterness.  It’s made in Germany by The Monarchy, who uses 100% smoked wheat, local Polish hops, and claims it is the only authentic version of a Gordziskie available.  Overall it was an enjoyable beer and one I would order again.

If you like trying unique beer, this is worth seeking out.  I hope you enjoy it.  Prost!



Tap #33 – Monarchy’s Grodziskie


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See us at Cider & Mead Festival, Jan 31

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We’re getting ready to pour 2 new hard apple ciders at the upcoming Cider & Mead Festival at the Cajun Cafe on Jan 31.  Come on out to try our (not too) sweet, fresh ginger based Uncle Hank’s Gimme Rail and our CPA.  CPA is the not your tax accountant, but rather the hard apple cider version of an IPA. See you there!



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Beer Research…in Italy?

I’m about to leave on my beer research trip in Europe, and I could not be more excited! While I won’t make it to Belgium on this trip, I will be visiting three very cool beer destinations. The first two destinations are pretty obvious while the third, not so much.

Germany, our second stop, has a centuries old brewing tradition, and is a country that not only gave the world such beer styles as bocks, kolsch, schwartzbier and berliner weisse, to name just a few, but also is the birthplace of the 500 year old Bavarian (beer) Purity Law and one of my favorites, Oktoberfest, both the beer style and the celebration.

The third stop, Czech Republic, is home to Plzen, the hometown and namesake of the pilsner beer style, inventors of the famous Bohemian Pilsner beer style, and creators of the Budweiser brand name, long before Anheuser Busch stole the name for use on their American beer. Perhaps most importantly, however, the Czech Republic is world renowned for their mild & spicy Saaz noble hops, used in many beer styles around the world.

So you may be wondering how Italy fits into such a beer-focused trip.  Sure, Italy is better known for its wine and food than for its beer, but that doesn’t mean Italians don’t know how to brew.  In fact, about 15 years ago I discovered Birra Moretti La Rossa on a beer menu at a Macaroni Grill in Denver, CO, and I’ve been hooked ever since.  More importantly, however, is that Italy is in the early stages of a craft beer revolution that started a few years ago in the Nothern part of the country, around Milan.  Combine the Italian’s new-found zeal for craft beer with their centuries-old reputation for fresh, high quality flavors, and this should be an exciting experience indeed.  Salute!


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Proposed Legislation Attacks Craft Beer in FL

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By now many people have heard of SB1714, the Florida Bill that seeks to hamper the growth of Florida craft breweries.  However, not everyone understands the issues at stake and why this bill is such a big issue.  Joey Redner wrote a very good article explaining the bill and why many oppose it, and I urge you to take a few minutes to read it:

5. Our Founder/CEO Joey Redner on Senate Bill 1714 | Cigar City Brewing
Association compares the number of craft breweries and the quantity of beer produced at those brewer…