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  • Writer's pictureLiz Dala

Editorial: Crafting a Better Brew

Updated: Mar 15, 2019

Crafting a Better Brew: Craft Beer Trends on the Rise in SWFL

A cold one, a brewski, and liquid bread are all names for one drink- a beer. Beer is one of the oldest alcoholic beverages enjoyed by people everywhere, but in the last few years some interesting changes have occurred with this go-to drink. Craft beer has been on the rise and local businesses have catered to the need for new tastes. The craft beer community is growing within SWFL with the editions of new businesses such as Cape Coral Brewing Company, No. 3 Craft Brews and Beer Bar. Nice Guys Pizza has been serving up craft beers since May of 2013 and the owner, Greg Gebhard, said he does not feel any competition with the arrival of the new businesses. Instead, Gebhard welcomed them and said craft beer is a tight knit community where everyone can come together to enjoy a great beer.

“The local breweries around here lately have been awesome,” said Gebhard.

Gedhard said he tries to stock local beers from the SWFL area, but he also likes to travel and do online research to find new beers. Gebhard’s customers are always looking to try something new and his draft beer list changes daily. Gebhard does stock some domestic beers and they are labeled under a section of the beer list called “crap.”

“We price our Bud Light at $5.50 because I don’t want you to buy that beer. If you really want it, then you’re going to have to pay a little more for it. It doesn’t give me any joy to sell that beer,” said Gebhard.

Gebhard suggested Fort Myer’s Brewing Company’s “Gateway Gold” as a bridge for non-craft drinkers. Gebhard said it’s called “Gateway Gold” because it is like a “gateway drug” into the craft beer world once you have one you’ll be hooked on trying something new.

Nicole Kay and her boyfriend Luke Vidal are regulars at Nice Guys Pizza as well as No.3 Craft Brews and Beer Bar on Cape Coral Parkway. Kay and Vidal plan their vacations around beer tastings and brewery tours. They never like to try the same beer twice. Kay and Vidal enjoy beer so much they even started making their own home brews.

Kay said Blue Moon was the first beer that got her interested in trying something different, from there she went on to try India Pale Ales (IPAs) and microbrews. Kay said she doesn’t have a favorite beer, she just likes to find the perfect beer for the time of year.

“On a hot summer day, you might want a shandy or something light like a wheat or a fruity raspberry wheat. In the colder seasons I tend to lean towards darker warmer beers like porters,” said Kay.

Kay and Vidal said they enjoy No.3 Craft Brews and Beer Bar because not only can you try the different beers they have on tap, but they are also a package store so you can take something home with you as well. Kay and Vidal already had five different bottles selected to take home with them. No.3 also has a fast-chilling can and bottle machine, so if you see something you like on the shelf they can cool it for you in about two minutes.

Craft beer isn’t just appearing in specific venues such as breweries or beer bars. Vidal is a beer distributor in the SWFL area for Miller Coors and he sees a trend in the ordering of more craft beers by vendors.

“When I look at rap sheets in the morning, I see we are distributing to these tiny little restaurants and they’re looking for something different like Dog Fish Head or Lagunitas. Everybody is starting to serve it now,” said Vidal.

Kay and Vidal said they like to stay local and check out the breweries in the SWFL area such as Cape Coral Brewing Co., Point Ybel and Fat Point. Kay and Vidal enjoy seeing and meeting the people who make their beer and hearing the passion behind their products.

Chris Hart is the brew master and one of the owners of Cape Coral Brewing Company that opened in 2015 as the first brewery In Cape Coral. Since opening, Hart has created eight different beers that they serve on tap. You will find a few other craft selections from other breweries, but their house brews remain the most popular amongst guests. Hart said he brews his beers about two or three times per week and it takes about 11 days to get the finished product.

“The medium-bodied Kolsch is our best seller. It’s a lighter beer that goes perfect with the SWFL weather,” said Hart.

Cape Coral Brewing does daily tours where Hart walks visitors through the brewing process, and takes guests behind the scenes to their brewing room. Customers can see that the beer they are drinking is made fresh from the malts. Hart said he also partners with local vendors to do events such as “Food Truck Fridays” and “Meat Raffle Thursdays”, where patrons can buy raffle tickets for fresh-cut meats from Pasesano’s Italian Market.

Although some people have remained loyal to beers that have been around for over 100 years, there are definitely some changes happening in the beer world. Consumers can see the difference with the appearance of these new businesses in the downtown Cape Coral area. With the summer heat coming in fast, it might be nice to try something new and refreshing.

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