If you follow any part of the South Florida beer community on Instagram or Twitter, more than likely over the past couple weeks, you may have noticed pictures of these fun blue-labeled bottles from the Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park for its Founders Club members:
Like most in the aforementioned beer community, I am a big fan of the Funky Buddha. This brewery is chiefly well-known for its “No Crusts” PB&J brown ale, and its Maple Bacon Coffee porter – two of the beers that really best express the culinary-driven philosophy to which this brewery adheres. However, the people behind the Buddha were also among the pioneers of the now famous, and widely debated, sub-style known as Florida Weisse. This is essentially an uncompromising tart, sometimes all-out sour, wheat beer brewed with fruit, frequently tropical fruit. Given the nearly tropical climate of peninsular Florida and the relentless experimentation of our local brewers, it’s not surprising that fruits like Key lime, guava, passionfruit, guanabana, black sapote, dragonfruit and a whole host of others have helped carve out this unique niche for Florida beer. Let’s face it, you’re not growing starfruit or mamey in Chicago…that’s only happening south of Lake Okeechobee.
So, with that in mind, back to the beer at hand. The name “Veruca Snozzberry” blatantly alludes to Willy Wonka, which makes perfect sense to those who have visited the Buddha’s Oakland Park facility and seen the large Wonka-inspired mural – they are fans of the nutty candymaker of classic books, and let his imaginative ethos inform and guide their brewing. That, more than anything, is what we all love most about the Buddha. We love that it doesn’t just brew a good straightforward IPA, but that it also brews beer that tastes exactly like a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a slice of apple pie, a Mounds bar, or a square of blueberry cobbler. That’s channeling Wonka.
What is a Gose? Wow, I’m all over the place with this one today. Gose is an old, obscure style of ale indigenous to the German brewing tradition. It’s somewhat similar to the lactic, tart Berliner style in body and flavor, but with curious additions – coriander and salt. This may sound odd to the uninitiated, a beer brewed with salt, but believe me, this can work out very well. Don’t worry, the Gose experience is not akin to drinking seawater. Typically, the salt just provides a mild note at the back end that dovetails well with the upfront lemony tartness, and coriander provides a little peppery flavor.
Analogous to what Florida brewers have done with Berliners, the same brewers are also adding tropical fruits to Gose. This one is brewed with Snozzberries, or at least what the brewers imagine a snozzberry tastes like. Apparently, a snozzberry tastes a lot like guava and passionfruit This beer’s aroma is very round and full of those two tropical standbys, with perhaps a hint of pineapple as well. Maybe it’s the power of self-suggestion, but I’m also getting a jasmine note that recalls one of my favorite Buddha Berliners, their Guava Jasmine.
Flavor is also very full, making use of sweet, tart and salt sensations on the palate. It’s a little sweet guava/passion/pineapple up front, then that typical Berliner sour rushes strong on the back and top, then a salty finish – a bit saltier than I would have expected, actually, but here the salt works…kind of how those salted dried mango slices you buy as snacks work.
I was hoping that the first Founders Club bottle would be something like a sour tropical fruit beer, and clearly, this one didn’t disappoint. It’s worth noting that per the brewers themselves, this one should be consumed fairly fresh. Like now. As much as I want to save “The First Founders Club Bottle, Ever,” doing so would be utterly pointless – this one isn’t a good candidate for aging. Drink it.
Cheers to the Funky Buddha’s first year of operation in Oakland Park – I’m looking forward to what the future brings.