The bar at Lokal was three deep at 8 p.m. yesterday. Filled with people wearing beer branded T-shirts, the little Coconut Grove restaurant that specializes in grass-fed beef burgers and craft brews was hosting Miami's first tap takeover by Funky Buddha Brewery.
The Oakland Park brewery presented seven brews last evening, and all of them were fresh and delicious -- although there were two standouts.
See also: LoKal: Funky Buddha Tap Takeover Tonight
"The PB&J No Crusts is mind-blowing," said Josef Diago, a self-described beer enthusiast from South Miami. Diago had heard about the tap takeover and stopped in on his way from work to sample some Funky Buddha selections. "I've been here since 6 p.m., and I've gone through most of the beers. The standout is the No Crusts." Diago also enjoyed the Last Snow, a coffee porter with coconut, white chocolate, and caramel notes, which received a 98 from ratebeer.com. "As far as quality is concerned, that's the one to go on."
Diago wasn't alone. The room was filled with people trying, and being pleasantly surprised by, the beers this local brewery turns out. "Beer geeks," wearing their favorite brewery's T-shirt, and casual beer drinkers alike found a brew they could fall in love with -- some preferring the light tropical notes in the Piña Colada wheat, others smitten with the homey apple and cinnamon-tinged Bonita Applebaum.
Funky Buddha brand manager John Linn was pleased with the crowd's reaction. "I really hope that our beers spark a movement in South Florida. I think we're ready for it. I think there was a perception for a long time that imported beers were better. But now people are finding that local breweries are making quality craft beers."
There is a vast difference in freshness too. Pressed for an answer, Linn estimated that the time it takes for a major import to go from brewery to your glass in Miami is at least three weeks. The time it takes to get the Funky Buddha we were drinking from brewery to glass? "I'd say about 27 hours."
We asked Linn about how the brewery makes the PB&J No Crusts taste so much like our favorite childhood sandwich. "We use real nuts. But the jelly? That's top secret."
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Though readily available at the brewery in Oakland Park, right now Funky Buddha is available only at two Miami locations -- Lokal and OTC. Linn explains, "Lokal and OTC are huge supporters of us. They've visited the brewery and demanded our beer. Our philosophy is to give these guys as much as they want to sell. We've also got to make sure we have enough for our tap room. We're going over the numbers now, and if it works, we'll slowly introduce our beer to more places."
For now, Lokal and OTC will both have taps of Funky Buddha available on a regular basis, with the selection rotating. And there's always a weekend trip to Oakland Park.