Cajun Café’s owner, Paul Unwin, is a beer enthusiast. This is apparent at first glance of the cafe bar, but Paul is a fan and a proponent of sour beers, or beers whose flavors become sour by use of various bacteria or wild yeasts. These beers are not as widely-loved as beer styles like India Pale Ales or Imperial stouts, so there are no beer festivals in Florida that celebrate sour beers. So Paul decided to host a sour beer festival at the café and in particular Cajun Café fashion, he is set to host a festival with lagniappe.
Cajun Café’s First Annual Sour, Lambic, and Berliner Weisse Festival will showcase the ingenuity of American brewers alongside their Belgian forebears in an afternoon on the bayou. As is par for any Cajun Café Festival, Paul has sought out beers that are not available in Florida and tantalized Facebook friends into eager anticipation. “Three more bottled beers for the upcoming Sour, Lambic, and Berliner Weisse Festival…” with a picture of Danish brewer Mikkeller’s Funky Star and It’s Alive next to Sand Diego’s The Lost Abbey’s Red Poppy (see photo below). It is worth noting that the Mikkeller beers are rare in the Tampa Market and The Lost Abbey does not distribute in the state of Florida. Not to be outdone, Unwin later posted a picture of a keg collar of New Belgium’s La Folie, the venerable sour brown ale from New Belgium Brewery of Fort Collins, Colorado (also unavailable in Florida).
Sour beer styles originate from a Belgian tradition that is now being embraced by American brewers. These American brewers are adding all manner of fruit and using different yeasts to impart these flavors in order to produce sour beers. At times, brewers will also age these beers in wine barrels to impart a tart wine-like flavor on their beers. The individual flavors in each beer can range from the mildly fruity and tart to a glass of vinegar to a fine wine to anything in between. As with most beer styles, sour and tart beer styles are best experienced first-hand, and a festival provides for sampling without purchasing an entire bottle.
Local and state brewers will also be on hand pouring their sours, lambics, and Berliner weisses. Funky Buddha from Boca Raton, Wakefield Brewing and Gravity Brewbar of Miami will be making the trip across Alligator Alley for Saturday’s festivities. Bay neighbors Peg’s Cantina from Gulfport, 7venth Sun and Dunedin brewery of Dunedin, Cigar City of Tampa, Rapp Brewing of Largo, and Saint Somewhere of Tarpon Springs will all be on hand pouring sour libations. For more details on the other-worldly draft list, see Cajun Café’s events page. Homebrewers will also be on hand to pour their sours, as well as Dunedin Doggie Rescue, who will be hosting a fundraiser for their organization, selling off pours of rare and vintage Cantillon sours from the respected brewery in Brussels, Belgium.
Cajun Café’s First Annual Sour, Lambic, and Berliner Weisse Festival will happen at Cajun Café on the Bayou 8101 Park Avenue in Pinellas Park from 2pm until 6pm this Saturday, June 16th. Advanced tickets are $45; gate tickets (if any are left- remember that Cajun Café limits admission for smaller lines) are $55 on the day of the event; and Designated Driver tickets are $15. Each ticket comes with a plate of Cajun food and a commemorative glass. If no designated driver is available, then the Tampa Bay Brew Bus is also going to the festival, and $55 bus fare includes festival admission. See the Brew Bus’s Facebook page for more information.