THIS WEEKEND: 2ND ANNUAL FLORIDA KEYS BREW BQ – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

The 2nd annual Florida Keys BrewBQ will be at the Marathon Community Park on Saturday and Sunday, July 16-17 to celebrate great craft beer and BBQ, live local music, fellowship and much more! 

The Jams
Saturday, July 16
Noon – 2 p.m.: John Bartus and Adrienne Z
3 – 6 p.m.: The Original Lady A Blues Band
6 – 9 p.m.: AJ & Southern Stampede

Sunday, June 17
11:30 a.m. – 2 p.m.: Brain Roberts
2 – 5 p.m.: Sucker Punch

The Brews
Over 20 craft beers from companies like the Islamorada Beer Co., Goose Island, Funky Buddha, Cigar City Brewing and local favorite Florida Keys Brewing. 

The Amateur Competition
The Brisket winner will be announced on Saturday at 8 p.m. Ribs, People’s Choice and Best Overall to be awarded on Sunday between 4 and 5 p.m. The team with the most tokens will win the People’s Choice award.

The Little Ones
Kids’ activities and games will keep the youngsters busy – most free of charge or with proceeds earmarked for a good cause. 

The Tickets & Cabbage
Entry: $5, kids under 12 free
VIP: $50 gets ya (4) entry tickets, (4) beer tickets and (2) complimentary beer cups. 

Only available online at keysbrewbq.com.

Merchandise including hats and commemorative T-shirts will be available near the front entrance. Guests will need tickets for the beer tastings ($5 each, or deals for multiples), samples for the amateur competition ($2 each or 11 for $18). All vendors will accept cash and/or credit cards. 

The Scene
Marathon Community Park, 200 Ocean, 36th Street

The Hours
Saturday: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Sunday: Noon – 5 p.m.

A mango mead is Keys Meads’ newest concoction available this weekend. CONTRIBUTED

There will be no shortage of beer at the 2022 Brew BQ. But for attendees looking to get a bit of a buzz in other ways, look no further than the Keys Meads booth.

Based out of Key Largo, Keys Meads got its start in 2017, when a group of friends wanted an alcoholic beverage alternative to beer, wine and hard liquor.

“We were a bunch of people who couldn’t really process beer well,” said Keys Meads manager Christina Bramblett. “We just wanted a way to drink with our friends without feeling bad at the end of the night.”

Since then, the meadery has grown in leaps and bounds, opening a separate tasting room in November 2017 and moving the entire operation to a larger facility in 2020. In February 2021, the crew opened Lost Viking Distillery to add a selection of spirits and liquors to its offerings. Today, they’re an understandably popular fixture at various Renaissance festivals – and our own Florida Keys Brew BQ.

As one of the oldest forms of alcohol in the world, mead is made by fermenting honey, yeast and water for six to eight months. Shorter fermentation will still yield an alcoholic product, but the six-month version makes it possible to fully infuse the beverage with a chosen fruit or spice flavor.

“The longer it sits, the better it gets,” said Bramblett. “It’s smoother and more refined. Otherwise it just tastes like straight alcohol.

“It’s one of those drinks that’s very versatile,” she continued. “It can go in almost any type of cocktail drink, and it’s also gluten free. You can heat it up, you can chill it or just drink it at room temperature, depending on your choice.” 

For those looking to pair their barbecue intake with an appropriate mead, Bramblett suggests the meadery’s Jamaican cherry beverage, one that she says won’t lose its flavor beneath the taste of the barbecue. And if you’re looking for a standalone beverage, Keys Meads will have their newest mango-flavored concoction on hand, as well as their traditional Key Largo wildflower and orange blossom beverages.

Visit Keys Meads at booths 1, 2, 11 and 12 at this weekend’s Brew BQ, pay them a visit in person at 99411 Overseas Highway in Key Largo, or visit keysmeads.com to learn more. Most meads run between $16 and $40 per bottle, depending on the difficulty of obtaining the ingredients and brewing the final product.

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Alex Rickert made the perfectly natural career progression from dolphin trainer to newspaper editor in 2021 after freelancing for Keys Weekly while working full time at Dolphin Research Center. A resident of Marathon since 2015, he fell in love with the Florida Keys community by helping multiple organizations and friends rebuild in the wake of Hurricane Irma. An avid runner, actor, and spearfisherman, he spends as much of his time outside of work on or under the sea having civil disagreements with sharks.