Beers of Paradise


From Key West to Hawaii, craft beers are veering to tropical and fruity flavors that are light enough to be enjoyed throughout long summer days.

Key West, Florida, is a very particular kind of paradise. It’s a place where people seek an escape from the confines of everyday life, a place where equal parts creativity and hedonism come together with an always-sunny climate to create one of America’s most fun-loving and colorful subcultures.

With the weather getting warmer and days growing longer, Key West serves as a model for the kinds of fermented beverages to offer customers who are looking for a little break from the ordinary.

Travis Doll is the general manager and tends bar at The Porch, a craft beer bar on Key West’s legendary Duval Street. The Porch makes its home in a building that was constructed in 1838, a well-preserved island house with a generous front porch that overlooks Key West’s main thoroughfare.

“The Porch opened about three and a half years ago, at a time when the closest thing you could get to a craft beer in Key West was a New Castle or a Magic Hat,” Doll says. “We have 18 tap lines, and about 80 beers in bottles and cans, so we have a lot of the beer lovers come down.”

While Doll says the bar has an eclectic beer selection, a few offerings stand out as warm-weather favorites.

“My local customers tend to like a nice light IPA, with those wonderful citrus notes they carry,” he says.

A customer favorite is Founders All Day IPA, which has most of the flavor of a full-bore India Pale Ale, but with less alcohol and a lighter body so people can enjoy more than one without getting bogged down. It has an ABV of 4.7 percent, closer to that of a Red Stripe or a Pabst Blue Ribbon than a Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA.

“Most people are on vacation when they come to Key West—and the locals work and party like they’re on vacation—so a lot of people are drinking all day long,” Doll notes. “You can’t drink a regular IPA all day, but you can drink this.”

Stone Brewing Company recently released its own lightweight ale called Go To IPA, which features Stone’s signature West Coast hop profile, with big juicy notes of grapefruit, peach, and orange, and a low ABV of just 4.5 percent.

Outside of the IPAs, Doll says ciders and meads are becoming more and more popular at The Porch.


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