Part of what makes visiting a local brewery's taproom so special is the draft lineup: There's usually something on tap you can't find in stores — or in many of the local craft beer bars, for that matter.
But what about when you want to take some of that uber-limited specialty brew home with you (and of course there's no growler/crowler fills)? That's where bottle releases and new product cans make life so much better. Bottle releases don't happen often, but when they do, it's usually for something super-special, be it a seasonal release that only happens once a year or that one-off, barrel-aged brew meant to celebrate a holiday or even the brewery's anniversary.
If you're thirsty for something different, below are just a few of the upcoming South Florida beer releases you won't want to miss.
Fans of J. Wakefield Brewing's (120 NW 24th St., Miami) Florida Weisse bottle releases have no problem lining up for the February Dragon Fruit Passion Fruit and early fall Miami Madness mango Berliner drops, but stout lovers get just as excited for the brewery's annual Big Poppa release. This year, the coconut-and-coffee-infused imperial stout — made in collaboration with San Diego's Abnormal Beer Co. and brewed with San Diego-based Mostra Coffee — clocks in at 16 percent ABV. It will be released at noon Saturday, June 10, alongside two additional one-off bottles. They are Boss Tycoon, an imperial stout brewed in collaboration with Kyle Harrop of Horus Aged Ales, using honey, macadamia nuts, coconut, vanilla, cocoa nibs, coffee, and marshmallows; and Boutit Boutit, an imperial stout brewed with chocolate and vanilla in collaboration with Three Chiefs Handcrafted Ales homebrewers.
MIA Beer Company's (10400 SW 33rd St., Doral) newest craft creation, HRD WTR, isn't actually beer. Instead, it's just as the name implies: hard water — or, more accurate, a malt-based hard seltzer that's about 5 percent ABV. Made by fermenting sugar with champagne yeast, the resulting sparkling alcohol is flavored with fresh juices to create several sparkling flavors, including lemon/lime/cucumber, blueberry, and grapefruit. Although you can find HRD WTR on tap at the Doral-based brewery, the product will soon become available in four-packs of 16-ounce cans ($9.99) for distribution and in-taproom sales beginning in July. Fans of some of MIA's more popular core brews can also rejoice when the brewery begins canning six-packs of 305 golden ale ($8.99), expected to hit distribution in June, as well as Neon white IPA ($11.99), which will be available for sale in the taproom beginning in June while also being released to a limited number of select local accounts.
Bangin' Banjo Brewing Co. (3200 NW 23rd Ave., Pompano Beach) has been open for only two years — the anniversary is in July — but has already found a fast following for its seasonal specialty bottle releases. In addition to the Candy Cane porter each November and the Johnny B. Gourd coconut pumpkin American ale in August, that includes one of the brewery's most popular releases so far: co-founder and brewer Adam Feingold's Chocolate Banana Milkshake. This weekend, the imperial milk stout will be released for the second time in 22-ounce bottles beginning at noon Sunday, May 20, in honor of National Craft Beer Week. Brewed with real banana and milk chocolate, the stout is smooth, sweet, and offers a satisfying balance between both. Close your eyes, and it's like you're sipping on a boozy banana milkshake. Just be sure to get there early. A limited number of bottles ($15) of both the brewery's Coconut Creamsicle (a tart and creamy sour ale) and the Chocolate Banana Milkshake will be available, with no bottle limit. Both beers will also be released on draft in the taproom.