No Direction Home

This humble blog was started to document our travels around the country during the summer of 2006, We have opted to continue updating it due to the requests from family & friends. Enjoy!

Friday, October 23, 2015

Key West Brew Fest

September 6, 2015

 photo 093_zpszli5fshn.jpg

 photo 129_zps3gnawhzx.jpg

 photo 091_zpsiriewros.jpg

 photo 033_zps1monishn.jpg

 photo 067_zpsp0ykpxn2.jpg

 photo 020_zpsnxzyzzid.jpg

Key West Brew Fest

This year marked the sixth anniversary of what has become one of the best events in Key West all year, the Key West Brew Fest. I have been fortunate to attend every year and watch as the event has exploded in popularity, attendance and quality over the time it has been held. The brainchild of Matt Babich from Southermost Hotel Collections in partnership with the Key West Sunrise Rotary Club, the fun event raises funds for the Rotary Club and the charities that they support.

 photo 031_zpsl1pplgnl.jpg Debbie and Matt

 photo 056_zpsjy2vkj23.jpg

 photo 112_zpsgnrpcq57.jpg

 photo 027_zpstoni8wlp.jpg

 photo 001_zpsf180g5jm.jpg

Having fun for a good cause is pretty much the Key West mantra, but this event is wonderfully entertaining, especially to craft beer lovers like myself. The main event is held on the beach at the Southernmost Café but there are seemingly more and more ancillary events such as pool parties, tap takeovers, special releases, beer dinners, parties and even seminars on the brewing process and home brewing.

 photo 028_zpsw4aobv6p.jpg

 photo 017_zps5grp6env.jpg

 photo 081_zpsfrpl6vdt.jpg

 photo 069_zpsbwy35ygx.jpg

 photo 094_zpsismjt9ny.jpg

 photo 007_zpsuwdcvs4v.jpg

Every year more and more Florida Breweries send representatives and where they once had to practically beg some to come down, now there is a line of breweries trying to get access to what has become one of the premier craft beer events in Florida. The signature tasting event now features over 150 beers from multiple breweries and it is something to behold.

 photo 024_zpsfr1lzucn.jpg Wynwood Brewery Crew

I had purchased, as I always have, a VIP ticket for the event which allowed early entry by two full hours this year. This is a great way to avoid the massive crowds that file in once the event is opened up to the public. You are able to get around and sample just about any craft beer available with no lines and there are some breweries which unveil specialty beers during the VIP section that are not available during the general session. Also there is free food during the VIP hours which is a nice bonus.

 photo 062_zpsvubdztit.jpg

 photo 085_zpszhitjdzo.jpg

 photo 014_zpsd68tvati.jpg

 photo 011_zpsqdcrnmbk.jpg

 photo 042_zpsfrnc5dmu.jpg

It was as per usual, incredibly hot at the beachfront location, but the sweltering heat was tempered somewhat by the icy cold beers that were being offered from every one of Florida’s finest breweries. All the best were on hand from Cigar City to Funky Buddah to the Wynwood Brewery and more. The Keys were well-represented as every brewery in the Keys was there including a great booth by the newly opened Waterfront Brewery.

 photo 038_zpsrxwe3tae.jpg

 photo 057_zpslmaev6gc.jpg Amanda and Effie

 photo 088_zpsue2jk9ym.jpg Andy, Robyn and Johnny

 photo 048_zpssrkbmsic.jpg

 photo 086_zpsbn3cldix.jpg Casey

 photo 025_zpsikbyey49.jpg Livi and Chris

One of the other things that I really love about the Brew Fest is how it really brings out the local crowd to enjoy the Labor Day weekend party. You see so many friendly and happy locals and it almost reminds me of the old Cayo Carnival days or classic Goombay Fest. Everyone is in a good mood, one enhanced by the beer of course, but this is not a drunken party, which is another pleasing aspect. It is all about quality not quantity.

 photo 039_zpsnwem0fxk.jpg

 photo 059_zpssehbgr0t.jpg Suzanne and Marilyn

 photo 116_zpsz1kr0zjp.jpg

 photo 114_zpsvf6zbigg.jpg

 photo 120_zpssbihwko2.jpg

It was another fantastic event, and this year something new and exciting closed out the fest as the New Orleans based band Waterseed led a traditional Second Line March from South Beach, down Duval Street and over to the Green Parrot bar, where the party continued late into the night. It was a classy and cool new addition and people really seemed to get in to it, with hundreds of people marching behind the band down the street.

 photo 122_zpsylb77sak.jpg

 photo 128_zpsj7veeu1c.jpg

 photo 133_zpsg6hcdoda.jpg

 photo 125_zpsjoxmj5hi.jpg

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Waterfront Brewery

September 4, 2015

 photo 008_zpsyikhlimn.jpg

 photo 024_zps75yenofi.jpg

 photo 022 2_zpsju4gluh7.jpg

 photo 036_zpsp6slsjn2.jpg

Waterfront Brewery

Key West has long needed a quality microbrewery. Over the years we have has various hits and misses with Kelly’s Caribbean being the most well-known small batch success story. But their beer is nothing to shout about and with exception of the wonderful yet small operation Bone Island Brewing behind the restaurant store, we have experienced a serious lack of quality local beer.

 photo 025_zpsikbyey49.jpg Livi and Chris

 photo 034_zps6eh8klxv.jpg

 photo 009_zpsnczof6vm.jpg

 photo 022_zpsvgrxtsfb.jpg Sarah and Gae

Even Key West lager is no longer brewed in the Keys and the breweries that have opened such as the ill-fated Hammerhead Brewery formerly on Duval Street have quickly shut down. The upper Keys have had more success with the successful opening of the Islamorada Brewing Company and Florida Keys Brewing Company, but Key West has had to be content with a few craft beer bars rather than breweries themselves.

 photo 027_zpsx8osvedf.jpg

 photo 005_zpsciyakwh0.jpg

 photo 013_zpsmfi6cvxt.jpg

Until now that is, as the labor day weekend saw the opening of the Waterfront Brewery which is now open in the former space of the Waterfront Market where I spent many years working when I first came to Key West and where I actually lived in one of the former upstairs apartments in the early 90s.

 photo 041_zpswfssizhz.jpg Richard and Bethany

 photo 002_zpse8bogcdn.jpg

Since the sad closing of the Waterfront Market and a brief run as a different grocer, the building has sat empty without any tenants deciding to take on the massive structure until some business partners including the owners of Fogarty’s bar and the Porch joined to open the Waterfront Brewery, a massive operation that at long last brings true craft beer excellence to Key West on a large scale. They brought in a brewer who previously worked at the fabulous Cigar City Brewery in Tampa and the magic was on.

 photo 036 2_zps18qb5lxt.jpg

 photo 045_zpsanan6a6p.jpg

 photo 032_zpshhkabaqk.jpg

The first official events at the Brewery coincided with the annual Key West Brewfest which has grown into an amazing event in just a few short years and the events at the Brewery included an opening night party and a Friday night Florida Brewery Tap Takeover with over sixty brews from across the state of Florida and the ever growing population of craft breweries.

 photo 019_zpssblznlvs.jpg

 photo 001_zpsjsngryjz.jpg

 photo 043_zpsaiucukyp.jpg Matt and Debbie

They were both fantastic, packed events as locals crowded in to see what all the fuss was about and came away mostly satisfied that this was an excellent choice for the property. I admit that it was a bit nostalgic since I had spent so much time in the place, but I can’t think of a better use for the place and am thinking that I will once again be spending some time there.

 photo 028_zpszhoncwuc.jpg

Kathy was away as she has headed up to Massachusetts to visit her father and prepare for her big 50th birthday party there, but there were plenty of familiar faces at the Brewery to hang out with and it was a great way to kick-off the Brew Fest weekend. In addition to the Waterfront Brewery parties, there were also Brew Fest parties that I attended at Dante’s (a party hosted by Islamorada Brewing) and at the new Marker Resort Pool (hosted by New Belgium Brewery).

 photo 016_zpsgx6kx0wx.jpg

 photo 008 2_zpspcspcmv6.jpg

 photo 012_zpsl6xsnvu2.jpg

 photo 013 2_zps3qvzpdie.jpg

Nothing like spending an afternoon at a pool party sipping delicious craft beer under the bright sunshine. It was a relaxing and fun start to Brew Fest weekend, which has quickly become one of my favorite Key West events.

 photo 004_zps3wyndqnn.jpg