When an abrupt revelation wakes you from your sleep, you make that revelation a realty.
Alcatraz Brewing launched earlier this year with the release of its first brew, Alcatraz 2x IPA. This West Coast meets East Coast brand caught our attention with its audacious IPA, centered around one of the most iconic islands located in San Francisco Bay, Alcatraz, known for its infamous, abandoned prison. With our interest piqued, questions flooded our minds about how this exclusively-Florida brewery ended up with the name Alcatraz. And how did they pull off successfully brewing a craft bicoastal-style beer? To find out more about this mysterious brew, we picked the brain of Steve Morgan, founder of Alcatraz Brewing and avid swimmer.
As we chatted, he reminisced about his love of the water from a young age. He shared with us that this brand came to fruition through a sudden epiphany in his sleep, at a time when he was training for his annual Alcatraz Sharkfest Swim. He woke up with a sudden thought that Alcatraz would be an amazing name for a craft beer, specifically a double IPA – just as cold, iconic, and bold.
Steve relocated to Palm Coast, Florida, joined with two expert brewers, Don Barkley and James Costa, and went on a cross-country search for a suitable brewery to make his dream a reality. Ultimately landing in Lakeland, Florida, Steven told us, “When we visited the Brew Hub facility in Lakeland I was extremely impressed. It’s probably the nicest facility for someone to come in and brew anywhere in the county. Modern equipment, centrifuge filtration, whirlpools, and a full lab onsite right next to the brewhouse.” They then began crafting a beer that brought their West Coast style to the East Coast.
The goal was to develop a robust IPA with smooth California flare, that easily paired with food – unlike a lot of 2x IPAs on the market.
“Our thinking is, when a beer is balanced it pairs better with food. We are trying to make a craft beer that should be invited to the dinner table just like a fine wine.” Harmony was key to make their goal possible.
Incorporating the heavy bitters and powerful hops of a classic IPA was a must, but their secret ingredient, Vienna malt, was fundamental to balance out the intense notes.
Steven explained, “The Vienna malt creates a perception of sweetness, it doesn’t actually make the beer sweet, just like when you cook an onion, it starts to taste sweet because of the caramelization. This perception of sweetness brings all the hops back into balance.” The malts, through their high roasting levels, give the beer its unique ability to cohesively pair with food.
The earthy undertones and copper-colored double IPA sips smoothly and finishes with bright hoppy notes. It pairs perfectly with meats that have been grilled and spiced to perfection, such as prime rib or smoked bacon. It is the ideal craft beer for IPA enthusiasts with a desire to challenge their senses. Beer and meat, how could you go wrong with that combo?
“The beer that is in the market now is from the very first batch, and they nailed it. Which is a testament to what a good brewing facility and what a good team we have,” he said.
Looking to broaden your local brew horizons? Check out more Florida brews by clicking here.