Merry Christmas!
Yes, I know I’m more than a week late with that particular season’s greeting, but the truth is I am only now fully appreciating the bounty that Christmas offered this year.  For this was the year I turned my sweet, longtime-retired father into a degenerate, beer-hoarding craft mule, hauling a cooler full of some of Florida’s best beer to my home in North Carolina.

The corruption of my dad was remarkably easy – I simply needed to ask.  In addition to several six-packs of Jai Alai IPA and Maduro Brown Ale from Tampa-based Cigar City Brewing, I received a special allotment of a sentimental favorite – Category Five IPA from Due South Brewing in little ol’ Boynton Beach, Florida, which also happens to be my childhood home.

I stumbled on Due South just a few Christmases back, shocked to find it in an industrial area a little over a mile from my parent’s house.  According to Jodi Halker, Vice President and Co-Founder of Due South Brewing Company, I was not alone.   

“When people come to visit relatives in South Florida, they all come to the brewery for the afternoon and appreciate the casual atmosphere we offer,” Halker said. “Every day we have first time brewery visitors. We may have four generations visit at once.”

Returning to spend time with my parents took on a decidedly different tone with the opportunity to visit Due South and its signature Category 5 IPA – an 8.5% APV citrus-forward tropical IPA with just the right balance of malt and hops.  Not surprisingly, Category 5 took home the gold medal in the 2014 Florida Beer Championships in the Imperial IPA division. It is one of six beers in the brewery’s Core Series, all well-made and worth the trip to the somewhat out-of-the-way taproom.   

“Because of our location, we aren't really a place you can stumble upon,” Halker said. “People who come to the brewery are definitely looking for us.”

For those unfamiliar, Palm Beach County is a sometimes strange hodgepodge of retirees, sun-drenched natives and newly-relocated young families. It is an environment that is remarkably well-suited to craft beer, giving those who live in the well-manicured suburban planned housing developments a chance to imbibe something authentic and fiercely local. 

In 2015, Due South will be joined by Coppertop Brewing and Devour Brewing in Boynton Beach, making for an enjoyable brewery hop all within a few miles of each other.  And it is a tour I will not likely undertake as my parents plan to relocate to North Carolina later this year. All the more reason to put my pops to work in what could have been a great new holiday tradition – beer muling.

Approved Gift Theme

If social media is to be trusted, 2014 was the year of craft beer and Christmas was no exception.  Those known to be the craft beer fan in their households no doubt received a fair share of beer-related gifts this past year.

Type in any permutation of “craft” “beer” “gift” and “Christmas” in to Google, and you are apt to find yourself visiting the Craft Beer Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide, an online shop managed by Brian Devine and Maria Scarpello. These traveling beer scribes are behind, chronicling the state of craft beer from a 29’ RV named Stanley.

“We started doing the Craft Beer Lover’s Holiday Gift Guide in 2011 because we kept running across cool craft beer related products during our travels, many of which were made by passionate individuals who just love beer,” Devine said. “We change it up each year both with the product selection and the design of the page.”

So what were the biggest sellers?

“Consistently the Hydroflask stainless steel growlers and Spiegelau Craft Beer Glass Sets are the most popular,” Devine said. “This year the surprise hit was the Bear + Deer = Beer Holiday Sweater which I imagine is benefited by the popularity of ugly Christmas sweater parties.”

Having aged into a time of ho-hum when it comes to unwrapping gifts on Christmas morning, I experienced newfound excitement this year.  “Beer stuff” has become the gift theme that has replaced “anything Beatles related” for my extended family, and I’m glad for it. There are only so many Yellow Submarine lunchboxes a guy needs.

“We’ve seen the traffic grow each year, but this year had a huge jump in traffic over past years to the point where we were getting 1,000+ hits a day,” Devine said. “I think the general public’s understanding of the craft beer movement has grown where it’s no longer weird to admit your brother-in-law is ‘really into beer.’”

Would You Wear These Socks?

Those are my brand new beer socks to the right, gifted to me by a relative who will remain nameless. While Sock Smith is a respected name in men’s fashion, I’m not sure which is worse – that I actually had a slight thrill of wearing these suckers to my next bottle share, or that I realized I would be embarrassed by the glassware depicted.

Whether you were traveling this holiday season or played host to relatives near and far, I hope you had a great one.  Happy New Year.

Josh Jacobson has an intense love of craft beer, the people that make it, and the community that supports it.  Though he works professionally as a strategist to nonprofit organizations, he has a profound desire to tell the compelling stories of the craft beer sector, and is a proud contributor to Craft Beer Gut.

Based in Charlotte, NC, Josh’s primary focus is on the burgeoning craft beer scenes of the Southeast, from Florida to Virginia, with particular passion for happenings in his own North Carolina.  You can find him on Twitter at @JoshCFRE.



02/03/2015 7:54pm

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