2 O'Clock Tasting: Funky Buddha Brewery
Before becoming a brewery, Funky Buddha was a hookah and tea bar on the West Side Highway in Boca Raton, Florida. When owner, Ryan Sentz began exploring the world of craft beer and serving it at the lounge, word began to spread about Funky Buddha's penchant for unorthodox beers. By 2010, Sentz had purchased a larger space for his business on the West Side Highway, and the Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery was born.
Then, the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter happened.
While Funky Buddha had, quite quickly, earned a solid reputation with brews like rum-soaked, barrel-aged red ale, it was the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter that solidified their place as a respected craft beer brewery. Shortly after the sweet and salty porter hit the shelves, it skyrocketed to the number one porter on BeerAdvocate.com, turning the fledgling brewery into one of the highest-rated beer producers in the nation.
Since then, Funky Buddha hasn't slowed down—the brewery has stepped up its brewing game with nine year-round release beers and more than 40 limited releases. Although, next to more time-tested craft breweries (the Anchors, Shipyards and Goose Islands, for instance), Funky Buddha Brewery is still a bit wet behind he ears, with just five years under its belt, the Florida-based operation has established itself as the largest brewery in the state's southern region. From the company's humble beginnings to topping charts online, Funky Buddha's brief history is a beer-maker's Cinderella story.
We here at Brooklyn Brew Shop love a good story, and even more so, we love a good drink. So, we sampled some of Funky Buddha's brews to see if we could reach beer Nirvana. From hops to blood orange to blueberry, Funky Buddha kept things interesting, to say the least, so keep reading to find out how we felt about the brews.
5.2% ABV It is with a profuse candied banana nose that Floridian, Funky Buddha's year-round Hefeweizen, greets drinkers, unabashedly broadcasting itself as the lone German-style beer in our tasting. Emerging from this hulking wave of banana are notes of sweet vanilla and clove, promising a savory, if not at least a bit sweet, drinking experience. Yet, Floridian, which pours a pale, hazy gold, is a bit two-faced—rather than typical wheat beer esters, tasters found themselves facing a toast-like, citric beer betraying its initial fruitiness with Corn Pop-esque maltiness and a subtly roasted body. Though, this isn't to say that the sweetness vanishes. Rather, it lurks in the background, lingering after each swallow, trailing the notes of cereal that will likely define this beer on the palate.
More Moro IPA
7.0% ABV Funky Buddha has opted to crank up fruit flavors with this blood orange-infused IPA, pairing the style's characteristic hoppiness with big, citrus flavor. More Moro wears its color with pride, pouring a golden-red that's somewhere between cheddar cheese and honey cough drops, topped with a smattering of foam. With a nose described by one taster as "the toy section" of a department store, More Moro offers up punchy notes of Luden's Cough Drops and hops, foreshadowing a bitter orange flavor. Faithful to its titular fruit, the IPA is a tart, powerfully citric beer that flirts with more acidic Belgian-style sours. While the hop flavors may take a back seat to fruity infusion, those looking to explore acidic brews may find this beer a decent point-of-entry.
Hop Gun IPA
7.0% ABV The second IPA of the tasting, Hop Gun ditches any fruit additions for straight-up hop flavor. Pouring a clear, dazzling dandelion, this American-style IPA hits the glass and promptly develops a thick, ivory head. In true IPA fashion, hop aromas jump right out of the glass, as blueberry and grapefruit mingle with tremendous pine aromas. The pine punch doesn't let up on the palate, delivering a piney, bitter bite of hops that cling to the back of the tongue with each sip. That being said, it would be tough to designate Hop Gun as a "hop bomb"—there are surely some strong hop notes throughout, but Funky Buddha has managed to hold them back from oppressing. Hop Gun finishes smooth and drinkable, likely to find a place in any beach cooler.
Blueberry Cobbler Ale
5.4% ABV Let's get it out of the way right now: This beer is purple, and we mean purple. Big, Barney the Dinosaur purple. Grape Kool-Aid purple. Grimace purple. Funky Buddha's Blueberry Cobbler Ale is all of these. That's what happens when a brewery uses real blueberries in the brewing process, which is exactly what Funky Buddha did. As a result, one whiff of this beer offers huge notes of the stuff, joined by raw cinnamon and vanilla. The nose is, admittedly, a bit baffling; this beer truly reeks of blueberry cobbler. The taste, however, is a bit farther off. This isn't necessarily a bad thing. Rather than being decadently sweet, this ale is surprisingly sour, tickling the sides of the tongue with notable acidity. Cinnamon and vanilla follow a tangy opener, leaving drinkers with a lingering flavor that is as savory as it is unique. While fans of flavored beer will rejoice in Funky Buddha's strange foray into dessert beer, drinkers who prefer a more orthodox palate should at least take a sip—they will likely never forget it.