Florida Beer Company
Style: Brown Ale
As is standard practice, I’m always aiming to “go native” when I’m on the road, so a trip to Tampa was no exception. Ybor City is known as an entertainment district, with a blended heritage of Cuban & local influences… and home to a number of historical breweries, including Florida Brewing Company – which had been the first brewery in the state in the late 19th Century, and Ybor Brewing, which ceased operations about a half dozen years ago. The latter’s brands, including Ybor Gold, Key West & Hurricane Reef, were purchased by Florida Beer Company, located in Melbourne, Florida, on the other side of the state.
Their Ybor Gold Brown Ale is their fall seasonal, and includes a cute little diagram on the side of the bottle for idiots to identify it’s nature before actually trying it. It includes a little scale of color – ranging from light to dark, taste – malty to hoppy, and body – light to full. This was supposedly a dark (4/5) and full bodied (4/5) beer of malty taste (2/5).
It pours a hazy orange in color with almost no head. The nose is malty sweet, with a trace of hop bite to finish. It’s non-offensive, but does possess a tinny malty finish with slight medicinal notes. As a session strength beer, the body was relatively light and very drinkable. Admittedly, this beer was probably six months old and no longer in its intended state, but still, this is a brew with an identity problem.
While it’s not lousy – I had a couple of them to be sure – it certainly isn’t any of the things indicated by the little graphic chart or the label. It would more closely resemble a märzen or Vienna style, if it were a lager, which it may well have been, but it’s certainly not what the label implies.
I can imagine that a Florida brew, being sold primarily in a warm, humid climate, would have trouble if it truly were dark, heavy and malty, but I would hope that craft breweries would slowly end the practice of misinforming consumers and leave that nonsense to the marketing departments of the big guys, such as Miller Lite’s “triple-hopped” and “true pilsner” campaigns, Coors’ “coldest taste,” and AB’s “beechwood aging” and “brewed longer for a smooth taste.” This is likely intended to be a training wheels beer, but I would implore the company to please not call it a brown ale when it isn’t as it wavered from style without any real benefit.
At least my my accompanying Cuban sandwich was awesome.