Funky Carolina? North Buddha?

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North Carolina has been the fortunate recipient recently of a number of breweries who have expanded their distribution footprint into the Southeast.  Cigar City and Firestone Walker have started sharing their lineup and the next one sharing their bottles, cans, and taps is none other than Funky Buddha Brewery from Oakland Park Florida, just north of Fort Lauderdale.  In the Stout world I live in, Funky Buddha is known for their tasty Stouts and Porters:

…..and a few others that make a guest appearance from time to time!  They have a 2017-09-02_15-00-03_348great Barrel-Aging program and have a great knack for dialing in their adjuncts to perfection!  I’ve been fortunate enough to take most (but not all) of the above and I’ve been very impressed with the entire lineup!  I’ve had to trade for most of these and I’m thrilled to know that many of these will find their way to my local bottleshops and taprooms!  My guess is that FB will start with sending Maple Bacon Coffee Porter and Last 2017-12-09_15-10-02_608Snow up north to us (as well as some of their non-Stout/Porter lineup) and will expand to their Barrel Aged Stouts and Porters depending on sales and volume.

I just enjoyed the 2018 vintage of Maple Bacon 2018-03-17_15-21-45_473Coffee Porter and it truly is a memorable beer….the maple aroma lasts for a good while and it’s truly deserving of all of the accolades it has received over the years!  The Funky Buddha brew crew appears to have the recipe down just right!

I hope that Funky Buddha makes a splash in North Carolina and puts it’s best foot forward in their market introduction.  Tap Takeovers, tastings, and other special events will be critical in the fight for shelf space in what is a very competitive marketplace in North Carolina.  Local, 2017-03-25_15-16-14_075 (2017-07-09T19_02_26.169)regional, and national brewers are all vying for our wallets and cellar space and Funky Buddha certainly has the Stout/Porter lineup to grab a healthy share!

Here’s to a successful launch for Funky Buddha in North Carolina!  The Stoutwhisperer is looking forward to seeing MBCP and Last Snow on the shelves in North Carolina….but make sure and bring some Morning Wood and Last Buffalo as well!

What breweries are you hoping would expand into your market?  Let me know the brewery and where you are at and perhaps we can reach out and see what can be done!

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Nothing but Infinite Wishes at Smog City!

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There are many positives associated with east coast living but one of the negatives is
not getting exposure to many of the west coast Stouts.   There are only a few Stouts that regularly make the cross-country distribution journey – Speedway Stout from Alesmith Brewing comes to mind – while many other Stouts make it past the 2018-02-24_15-47-54_788Mississippi River via UPS and FedEx via the lively trading community.  One brewery that I’ve kept my eye on has been Smog City Brewing out of Torrance, California (just outside of Los Angeles).  Through social media, I would see posts praising Infinite Wishes, their Bourbon Barrel Aged Imperial Stout and The Nothing, a Double Chocolate Imperial Stout.   After doing a bit of research on their website, I became a fan.  They started in 2011 by brewing using another brewery’s excess capacity.  Business took off and they opened a brewery/taproom in 2013 and haven’t looked back!  A couple other reasons that attracted me to Smog City – the owners are Jonathan and Laurie Porter (Porter, get it?) , they refer to their annual releases as “vintages” like I do, and they have a Barrel Whisperer on their staff!   Yes, on their website, Cesar Alfaro’s title is Barrel Whisperer!  Any brewery with a Barrel Whisperer on their staff is a fan of the Stoutwhisperer!

I reached out to Smog City via an Instagram Direct Message (DM) and who but Laurie Porter responded!  A few emails back and forth and before I knew it, a bottle each of Infinite Wishes and The Nothing made the cross-country trip from Torrance to Raleigh!  I usually plan my tasting and blogging schedule for the next month, but when I saw these bottles at my doorstep, I knew my schedule would change!

Infinite Wishes is an Imperial Stout aged for a year in bourbon barrels and it’s annual release has become a highly anticipated event for Smog City and Infinite Wishes fans!  2018-03-03_15-30-13_386For the 2018 vintage, Smog City bottled approximately 1900 bottles which is about 800 less than last years vintage.  What’s new this year is that they are releasing two variants, Cinnamon Vanilla Infinite Wishes and Hazelnut and Cocoa Nibs Infinite Wishes!  After tasting Infinite Wishes, I can only imagine how incredible these two variants taste!

My time with Infinite Wishes was too short…..it started as it poured beautifully into my Stoutwhisperer tulip glass.  The first aroma notes were intoxicating scents of bourbon, vanilla, and chocolate.  The taste was sublime….rather than overriding the stout, the bourbon notes complimented the stout.  That takes a keen sense of brewing skill and barrel whispering!  The swallow was smooth and clean, with no burn or heat that some BA Stouts can give.  I finished it too soon and I wanted more….a great recommendation in itself!  Just count me a member of the Infinite Wishes fan club!

2018-03-04_15-06-37_591 (2018-03-05T01_18_55.304) After my Infinite Wishes experience, I couldn’t wait to dive into The Nothing, Smog City’s Double Chocolate Imperial Stout.  I enjoy dark chocolate and the label descriptions and the reviews really intrigued me.   Upon opening The Nothing, the escaping aroma was one of dark chocolate cocoa – not the sweet sugary kind, but the wonderful scent of dark unsweetened cocoa.   Brewed with “darkly roasted chocolate malts” and 2 types of cacao nibs, The Nothing is the darkest, blackest Stout I’ve ever seen.  The pour of The Nothing is a sight to behold!  The taste closely followed the
2018-03-04_15-08-32_964aroma, as the chocolate flavors really come forward from both the cacao nibs and the malts.   The Nothing is really something!  The Imperial Stout base with the chocolate malts combined with the cacao nibs create a luscious, alluring, black as night elixir that the Smog City Brewmasters should be proud of.  As the phrase on the label states, “Don’t be afraid of the Dark!”

After tasting Infinite Wishes and The Nothing, I’m a Smog City fan!  Those living in the LA/Torrance area, you have a gem of a brewery in your backyard and you need to patronize this brewery and their taproom.  For people like me on the other side of the country, I’ll have to settle for the occasional #beermail from the west coast…..but I’m applying to be the Smog City brand ambassador for Stouts in North Carolina, so when Smog City begins to distribute to the east coast, I’ll be in a prime position for Infinite Wishes and The Nothing deliveries!  How about it, Smog City?

Have a great Stout week!