With those warm breezes and killer sunsets, Florida Keys weather usually comes with a 50% chance of fruity cocktails. (The better to grow your mini-umbrella collection.)
But the other half of the time, it’s a cold beer we crave to slake our thirst. Don’t turn up your nose: We’re not talking about those watery, mass-market suds that give “beer” a bad name. Craft brewers around the country are leading a malts- and hops-fueled renaissance that highlights how excellent (and varied) well-made beer really is. And at Cheeca, we’re lucky enough to have one of the best craft brewers as a neighbor: Islamorada Beer Company.
Islamorada Beer Company’s brewery and tasting room is less than one mile away from the resort, so it’s a popular destination for guests who want to learn about how beer is made — and, more importantly, sample the fruits of the brewery’s labor. (For scientific research purposes, of course.) But because we love to support our local producers — and we happen to love great beer — Cheeca also keeps our bars stocked with Islamorada Beer Company brews too. In fact, we thought we’d offer this handy guide to some of the brewery’s signature styles, alongside food pairing ideas from Cheeca restaurants that will help you get maximum enjoyment out of every sip.
This signature wheat ale (named for a famous nearby boozing spot) is a local legend, and you’ll find most like to garnish it with a slice of Key lime. (You know, the way you’d drop in a lemon to a Corona.) It’s an amber beer, light and crisp with only slight spice and a hint of citrus. It’s refreshing and very easy to drink. Ahem, very. Pair it with: Sandbar Sunday goes great with fresh, light seafood, so sip some while noshing on a pound of Key West Peel & Eat Shrimp at our oceanfront Tiki Bar.
The hops and citrus flavor get kicked up a notch with the Islamorada Ale, a blonde that skews a little sweet. The natural citrus notes make this a must-drink on especially hot days. It’s a sweat-saver. Pair it with: The slight sweetness nicely complements spicier foods, like the stuffed taz sashimi (salmon and spicy scallops with pickled red onion and jalapeno masago) at Cheeca’s Nikai Sushi Bar. (If you’re not already sipping from our sake selection, that is.)
CHANNEL MARKER IPA SUNDAY
India Pale Ales can be intimidating to beer drinks that aren’t used to hoppy styles, but Islamorada’s Channel Marker will be a pretty good entry point to IPAs. The malts and hops are well balanced and not overpowering, simple and straightforward with a faint herbal quality. It’s complex but pleasant. Pair it with: This deserves something with equally thoughtful, refined flavor. We vote for the local snapper a la plancha (with sweet plantain puree and a citrus coriander sauce) in Cheeca’s picturesque Atlantic’s Edge restaurant.
NO WAKE ZONE
For something with a bit of body, Islamorada’s No Wake Zone is where you want to land. This brown ale has bold malt and flavors of roasted caramel. It’s smooth — not too heavy — but definitely for beer lovers who don’t balk at a fuller style. Pair it with: Hearty and meat-driven dishes go well, like the filleto (seared beef tenderloin with salsa olivas) at Cheeca’s family-style Italian restaurant, Limoncello.