If the craft-beer community in Fort Lauderdale has a town square, it is on the couple of hundred feet that separate the ultra laid-back Riverside Market and Café and its new offspring across the street in Riverside Park, Craft Beer Cartel.
It is a place one of the owners of the two beer stops, Julian Siegel, calls “a judgment-free zone,” where an $8 billion mogul can sit anonymously on a couch and offer slices of his pizza to a stranger seated next to him, where a college kid “who doesn’t even know who the mayor is” might be lounging next to the mayor, where folks mystified by craft beer are welcome.
“That’s why there’s Yuengling and Michelob Ultra in Door No. 1 at the bottom,” Siegel says of the Riverside Market, which serves more than 500 craft beers. “We’re not going to make you feel embarrassed. If you’re not a craft-beer drinker, it’s OK. Go with what you know.”
The same attitude prevails at Craft Beer Cartel, a chummy homebrew retail shop that opened in December, offering equipment, classes and casual counseling sessions for small-batch brewers of all levels. On Saturday, Craft Beer Cartel will offer its inaugural Virgin Homebrew event, a competition for closet brewers who have never entered a competition.
Brewers will set up in the parking lot, where seasoned judges will give them vital feedback. Spectators can take part in the tasting and vote in a people’s choice category.
Riverside Market holds three or four beer competitions a year, with past winners going on to become professional brewers at Funky Buddha Brewery, LauderAle, MIA Brewing and Big Bear Brewing Co. in Coral Springs.
But this one is strictly for newbies. Again, no judgment.
“We want to nourish people, nurture new brewers,” says Siegel, who owns Craft Beer Cartel with wife Lisa and Adam Fine, self-proclaimed “director of hoperations” at Native Brewing Co. and the man Siegel credits with creating the original craft-beer scene in South Florida with his distribution company called Fresh Beer.
“What you really want is the feedback,” says Fine, who brews small batches of beer at Craft Beer Cartel and offers free samples. The small batches are a prelude to creating his own brewery in a location to be determined.
Personal community engagement is nothing new for the Siegels, who have lived in the Riverside Park-Sailboat Bend area for nearly 20 years, and owned the convenience store that now houses Craft Beer Cartel almost as long.
The repurposed 7-Eleven that beer cognoscenti nicknamed Julian’s was renowned for its exotic beer collection when such a thing was remarkable. But the Siegels also carried staples such as milk, bread and vegetables for customers ranging from yacht crews to residents of Section 8 housing. They let neighbors pay on credit, the ledger kept in a spiral-bound notebook.
Siegel says he and his wife originally bought the store with the idea of building townhouses, “but I fell in love with running the store. We wanted to make a store for the community.”
The Virgin Homebrew will begin 7 p.m. Saturday at Craft Beer Cartel (557 SW 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale). Entry fee for brewers is $20. Spectator tickets, which include sampling of the entries and a vote in the people’s choice category, cost $5. Info: Facebook.com/CraftBeerCartel.
HAPPY HOUR OF THE WEEK
Perez Art Museum Miami and the scene stirrers at Poplife have joined forces for PAMM Third Thursdays: Poplife Social, 6-9 p.m. every third Thursday of the month through September, with music, food, drink specials ($5 beer and wine, $8 cocktails), art-making and gallery scavenger hunts. The March 19 gathering features a rare live performance by trailblazing DJ Arthur Baker, best known for his work with hip-hop acts including the Beastie Boys and Afrika Bambaataa (including the great "Planet Rock"). Info: PAMM.org.
Jack Daniel's Tennessee Honey and similar abominations (what’s with all the “hard” apple juice?) that contribute to the general softening of America demand an explanation. We’re hoping to get it from Lee Wisnioski, a Palm Beach Gardens doctor and member of the Palm Beach County Beekeepers Association, who manages 20 hives at Running Water Farm, when he discusses “The Buzz on Bees” at Science on Tap, the South Florida Science Center’s “science café” happy hour at O'Shea's Irish Pub in downtown West Palm Beach at 7 p.m. Thursday (March 19). Admission is free. Info: SFScienceCenter.org.
HE’S GOT THE SPIRIT
Comic actor and bluesman Dan Aykroyd is serious about his drink, Crystal Head Vodka, a “gluten-free spirit ... filtered seven times, of which three are through layers of semi-precious crystals known as Herkimer diamonds.” Plus, it comes in a bottle shaped like a skull. Aykroyd will do two bottle-signing meet-and-greets on Friday: 2-4 p.m, at ABC Fine Wine & Spirits (2611 NW 124th Ave, Sunrise, 954-846-2414) and 9:30 p.m. at Stache (109 SW Second Ave., Fort Lauderdale). The latter appearance coincides with a performance by the South Florida-based Blues Brothers Soul Band. Doors open at 8 p.m. Tickets: $9 via Ticketmaster. Call 954-449-1044, or visit StacheFTL.com. Hit the link for a Dan Aykroyd interview.
MUDBUGS & MUSIC
Hard to say what’s more authentically Louisiana at Saturday’s CrawDebauchery Food & Music Festival, the 5,000 pounds of crawfish they are flying in or the lineup of bands. The second annual gathering at Pompano Amphitheatre Park (650 N. Federal Highway, Pompano Beach) has headliners the Soul Rebels joined by Chubby Carrier, Maggie Koerner (from Galactic), Amanda Shaw & the Cute Guys, Johnny Sansone and South Florida’s own torchbearers the Lee Boys. Tickets are $25 advance at CrawDebauchery.com and Ticketmaster outlets, $35 at the gate (kids 10 and younger free).
Reminder: Tickets go on sale 10 a.m. Friday for the “History of the Eagles” tour stop on July 10 at Miami’s AmericanAirlines Arena. Sure, it’s the same tour, same venue and likely the same set list offered when the Eagles rolled through South Florida at the beginning of the tour in 2013, but reliability is part of their brand now. Tickets cost $46.50-$176.50 via Ticketmaster.com and 800-745-3000.
PALM BEACH BREW
The sure-to-sell-out Brew at the Zoo craft-beer festival has put tickets on sale for the third annual event April 11 at the Palm Beach Zoo. Entry to the festival, which includes sampling from more than 25 craft breweries, live music and food, is $35, $65 VIP at PalmBeachZoo.org/brew.
No Peter Buck, but yes to his R.E.M. collaborator Mike Mills, when the Baseball Project performs at Stache in downtown Fort Lauderdale on Wednesday, April 1. The band formed by Scott McCaughey (the Minus 5) and Steve Wynn (Dream Syndicate), who then enlisted Buck, Mills and drummer Linda Pitmon, last year released the album “3rd,” which includes Wynn’s angry blast about a certain Yankee called “13.” Bring your own lyric sheets for the sing-along. Tickets are $16 at the Revolution Live box office next door (no fees), at LiveNation.com and via TicketMaster. Info: StacheFTL.com.
I would pay real dollars to hear a live version of the title track from “The Muse,” the 2014 album by the Wood Brothers (guitarist Oliver and his brother Chris, also a member of Medeski, Martin and Wood). But I (we) don’t have to: The Wood Brothers will perform for free 7-11 p.m. Saturday during the Hollywood ArtsPark Experience. Rachel Goodrich is the thoughtfully chosen opener. Info: VisitHollywoodFL.org, RhythmFoundation.com. Hit the link for an Oliver Wood interview.
The Spam Allstars, part of the vanguard of South Florida’s now-ubiquitous musical mash of Latin music, hip-hop, electronica and soul sounds, will celebrate their 20th anniversary with a free all-ages show on Wednesday, March 25, at the North Beach Bandshell (7275 Collins Ave., Miami Beach). The 5-10 p.m. show will include performances from Guitars Over Guns, Rumberos de la 8 and special guests. If you just can’t wait, you also can see them Thursday (March 19) at the place they had their breakout performances, Hoy Como Ayer in Little Havana, and Friday at Blackbird Ordinary in Miami. Info: SpamAllstars.com.
The only acceptable reason to miss the Spam Allstars is that you want to be home getting your game face on for the premiere episode of “Big Time in Hollywood, FL” on Comedy Central at 10:30 p.m. Wednesday. Set in an unremarkable city that represents our Hollywood in name only, “Big Time” is the serialized saga of two jackass 30-ish brothers (played by Alex Anfanger, also a writer, and Lenny Jacobson) and their plan to turn the bad short films shot in their parents’ garage into Tinsel Town stardom. It goes ridiculously, insanely awry. Carrying the imprimatur of wise-guy actor Ben Stiller (the show’s producer, who also makes a great cameo in the premiere), this comedy is relentlessly dark, unapologetically vulgar and, sorry, for me, wickedly smart and extremely funny. Info: CC.com.
YOUR WEEKEND MOVIE
“Hysterical, horrific and highly relatable” is a description that might apply to “Big Time in Hollywood, FL,” but is a snippet from Los Angeles Times’ film critic Betsey Sharkey’s recommendation for the Oscar-nominated “Wild Tales,” a compilation of six tragicomic revenge fantasies set in Argentina by writer-director Damian Szifron. It opens in South Florida theaters this weekend, including the Regal Cinemas Shadowood 16 in Boca Raton and the Coral Gables Art Cinema.
YOUR WEEKNIGHT MOVIE
The Blind Monk in downtown West Palm Beach will be feature “The Big Lebowski” for its Tuesday, March 23, movie night. The wine and tapas bar also will have plenty of refreshments available. The movie starts at 7 p.m. Info: TheBlindMonk.com.
You’ve no doubt been wondering whatever became of “Teen Mom” and sex-tape star Farrah Abraham, so you will be happy to know that a new version of her show, “Teen Mom OG,” featuring the original four cast members, will premiere Monday, March 23, on MTV. Because we are South Florida, Abraham also will make a special appearance to host Saturday’s official grand opening of the Crazy Horse “upscale adult-entertainment” nightclub in Pompano Beach. Info: CrazyHorseFlorida.com.
In case you’ve forgotten, Coastal Living magazine has narrowed the field down to 10 finalists for the title of Happiest Seaside Town in the country, and, no surprise, Delray Beach is one of them. Balloting in the fourth annual contest continues through March 31 at CoastalLiving.com.