Tuesday, January 8, 2013

Swamp Head Brewery

After the speed visit to Cigar City, we got to hang in Gainesville for several days and relish all that it had to offer. And this included sampling the the wares of new addition to town Swamp Head Brewery. Sure, Swamp Head was around prior to our arrival, but it wasn’t here the last time we were in town (when I convinced a certain someone to abandon Gainesville for Dayton), so we’re treating it as brand spanking new. Historical revisionism is always like this: arbitrary and subjective. Plus, since I miss Gainesville, I get to be nostalgic and no one can make fun of me.

Our first taste of Swamp Head actually came when we were out on the town; we had the Big Nose IPA on tap a couple of times prior to our visit to the brewery itself. And since their saison has gained some online traction, I was excited to sample it, since I hadn’t seen it during our earlier perambulations. Sadly, that dream was not to be fulfilled, for while they had recently brewed the Saison du Swamp, it wasn’t yet on tap at the Wetlands, their tasting room. Trust me, I asked. And snooped around, as later pictures will attest. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves.

Elli and I met Anne, Elli’s sister, at the brewery for a drink or two. The taproom is narrow and deep, and there are several small tables located next to the brewery that are located by open roll-up doors. Thus we went for the almost outside seating. One nice thing about Florida in the winter: outdoor seating is pleasant and enjoyable. Take that crappy Ohio winters! I went for Cottonmouth, their Belgian wheat beer, while Elli went for Stump Knocker, their APA. I think Anne went for the Big Nose, but I’m not certain; you can look at the picture and try and sort out the colors. We all ended up passing around and tasting all of them anyway, so not like it makes much of a difference. All were good; the Cottonmouth still tasted a little too much like an American Wheat to me—the Belgian yeast wasn’t doing enough to cover over the wheat gumminess. But I persevered and finished it. Can you taste the dedication?

We also got to walk around the corner and look at the brewing equipment. A lot of pretty copper. They also has a small enclosed room that contained several barrels and a couple of kegs—I know, since the room had a nice glass window I could take a picture through. If you are reading this, you’re already probably something of a beer voyeur, so don’t look askance at me. I visit breweries to examine how things are set up and organized—what’s your excuse? The beer? Please. After we finished our first round, we grabbed a pint of their Midnight Oil to sample, and I bought a 750 ml bottle of Batch 300, their Belgian Tripel, to take home with me. Don’t worry, you’ll hear about it soon enough. The coffee stout was roasty and clean; the coffee had none of that artificial coffee flavor you find in many beers, which was a distinct pleasure.

I also took the opportunity to visit the restroom, which since it was located back in the brewery, meant I took small license in poking about on the way. It was during this excursion that I found several firkins of Saison du Swamp with various Brettanomyces strains listed in blue painter’s tape. I also got caught by Dan Wade, one of the brewers, taking pictures of those said firkins, which led to a quick albeit very pleasant conversation, during which I found out that I would not be getting any of the Saison du Swamp during this visit to Gainesville. The horror! At least I got it straight from his mouth. And this also gives us a reason—not that we actually need one—to return to Gainesville in the near future. I want to hang out more at the Wetlands!  


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