Island Fishmonger

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florida stone crab claws

Local Beer + Local Sea Fare = A Match Made in Heaven

During a recent weekend getaway (or as we call it in Florida a "staycation") I realized that this month’s Island article was staring me right in the face.  As I sit on a beach in Islamorada, Florida in the Florida Keys (a place I often visit for seafood inspiration), this time the inspiration was local beer. I sit here with my good friend and foodie mentor Jack Hodges as we begin to solve the world’s problems while sipping on a variety of local beers. As our conversations often do, we drifted away from life and politics and began to talk about our true passion…seafood. Soon into the conversation it dawned on us that very often foodies like us often compare and pair wine with food but not often enough do we hear of a beer and food pairing conversation. 

florida stone crab clawsMy first thought was if you’re going to have a fish and chips meal, nothing goes better with that than a cold pint of Guinness. Then I decided to think a little more local. So we get our beer master, Chad Sherk, into the conversation which begins a week of experiments in the BWFM Lab as we pair our local beers with our local catch. We called this experimental time a “meeting of the minds” but those of you who know us may call it a meeting of the half pints! Fair enough, but the way I see it, our three pallets together and years of seafood and beer consumption make us as good as any food expert in the country. We matched our local hops with our local sea fare and this was our conclusion. 

JDub’s Poolside is brewed right here in Sarasota. It is very smooth, crisp and refreshing with a mild lemon flavor. Poolside is the perfect name for this beer as I can definitely suggest that when you’re relaxing poolside you do it with JDub’s Poolside beer and pair it with Siesta Key Stone Crabs as seen here in the accompanying photo featuring our beer master, Chad. This is the perfect combination of two of the best local products Sarasota has to offer. Poolside beer + fresh cracked Stone Crabs = a match made in heaven. 

Big Top is also a local Sarasota brewed beer made by Big Top Brewing Company. Big Top is a brew inspired by the history of our city. These brew masters are crafting beer that celebrates the heritage of Sarasota, Florida and Circus City is one of their core beers. This beer sets the bar for local IPA's with its eye catching, unfiltered, hazy hue and amazing head that lasts. It is a great taste with a bold hoppy finish that will absolutely stun your palate and your mind with its 6.8 % alc.  We paired this IPA with Pompano as this fish is just as local as Big Top Brewing. As I said earlier, IPA's traditionally go well with a spicy citrus like fish and Pompano is a great fish to blacken and serve with citrus. Circus City IPA + spicy Sarasota Pompano w/ citrus slaw = an explosion of local flavors. 

Islamorada Beer is brewed in the Florida Keys and offers a variety of Ales and an IPA. We find the Islamorada Ale and the Sunday Sandbar, which is an American Wheat Ale, to be an easy drinking beer similar to a Corona only with a hint of citrus and a bit of a bite. The Channel Side IPA is enjoyable even if you’re not a big IPA person as it has more of a milder taste than most other IPA'S. “IPA'S pair well with a spicy recipe such as a blackened fish," says beer master Chad. We paired this Islamorada Beer with a local Hogfish and Yellowtail Snapper…both are indigenous to the Florida Keys. Like the beer, these fish are easy on the palate. They are a mild, white & flakey fish that pairs perfectly with this beer. Islamorada Sunday Sandbar Ale + Hogfish = the perfect Sunday Funday lunch.

Tampa Style Lager is brewed by Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida. This is not an aged brew. It is recommended that you drink this beer as close to the brew date as possible. It is designed for beer drinking in the heat of Florida. This is a light, tan colored beer that you simply pour into a chilled beer glass and enjoy with any shellfish. We actually paired this Tampa Lager with Shrimp and Tripletail fish. The smooth chilled beer would go famously with some Gulf Pink peel and eat shrimp or even a Tripletail filet that boasts of a crab like flavor. Cigar City brewing also produces Jai Alai Indian IPA and a Brown Ale that has a hint of a chocolate flavor and is almost an after dinner beer that should be enjoyed with a good Ybor City Cigar. 

Beach Blonde Ale is brewed in St. Pete by 3 Daughters Brewing Company. Beach Blonde Ale is easy on the tongue with a citrus taste. It doesn't say it on the can description but we definitely taste a hint of grapefruit. We all agreed without a doubt that this Ale is a great pairing with the ever so popular local Grouper. St. Pete is one of the Grouper capitals of the world offering an abundant amount and variety of Groupers including Red Grouper, Black Grouper and Scamp. Further offshore you will find the Warsaw and Kitty Mitchel Groupers. Beach Blonde Ale + St. Pete Grouper = another day in paradise. 

All of the above mentioned local beers and seafood are available daily at Siesta Key’s Big Water Fish Market including Stone Crabs.

In Florida, Stone Crabs are traditionally eaten cold. A good fish monger will crack your Stone Crabs for you when you purchase them. It is always recommended that you eat your Stone Crabs the day they are cracked. Here is a homemade Stone Crab sauce recipe for your enjoyment. You can adjust the recipe amount according to the number of Stone Crabs you are eating. 

  • 1 cup mayonnaise

  • 1 cup yellow mustard

  • 1 tbsp. spicy brown mustard

  • 1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce

  • Fresh horseradish and brown sugar to taste  

Combine all ingredients and chill. Serve with your chilled cracked Stone Crabs along with an ice cold Sarasota Poolside beer. 

To sum it up…Live Well…Drink Local…Eat Local…and Eat Fish! 

Scott Dolan
Big Water Fish Market
6641 Midnight Pass Rd, Siesta Key

Siesta Sand
Author: Siesta Sand

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