There's a good chance you'll want to try all the craft, import and big-label domestic beers at Friday's BeerFest. But try to start out with the following six, so you can taste like a pro before your beer-geek skills are impaired by alcohol.
Cigar City Jai Alai IPA: It's called an India pale ale (IPA) because the British used the hops abundant in this style as a preservative for beer shipped to India in colonial times. But it's called Jai Alai because Tampa's Cigar City Brewing represents Floridian culture across the United States with Latin-inspired beer names. Citrus notes finish the hoppy taste of this beer, ranked "world-class" on the beer rating site BeerAdvocate.com.
Drink it because: It's one of the most-popular craft beers to come out of Florida.
Dogfish Head 60 Minute IPA: Dogfish Head's IPA series starts at 60 and goes up to the 120 Minute, available rarely and priced highly. The number comes from the amount of hop additions the beer gets: The 60 Minute IPA receives 60 rounds of hops in a 60-minute boiling time. Hops are basically a bittering agent added to beer to counter the sweetness produced by malts at the start of the brewing process. Dogfish Head's best selling point? The IPAs are crisp and well balanced, so even hop-haters can enjoy a sample.
Drink it because: It's the closest you'll get to the 120 Minute IPA.
Cisco Indie Pale Ale: Cisco makes this IPA in the East Coast, but using summit hops from Washington brings West Coast flavor to Eastern craftsmanship. The fruit notes here are more apricot than citrus, and the body is rich and amber-brown.
Drink it because: The head — the froth that forms atop the beer after pouring — is like solid sea foam, showcasing all the beer's aromatic ingredients.
Boulder Beer Hoopla Pale Ale: This fruity pale ale was brewed with creative help from String Cheese Incident keyboardist Kyle Hollingsworth, who is also a homebrewer. Because living in Boulder, Colo., is nearly synonymous with homebrewing, Hoopla represents beer culture in the outskirts of the Rockies. American pale ales are not as bitter as IPAs.
Drink it because: It's a one-time offering from the home state of American craft beer.
Harpoon UFO White: There's a reason Harpoon's fastest-growing beer style is the Unfiltered Offering White: Its easy-drinking, citrusy-sweet notes are not just palatable, they're nice to look at. The "unfiltered" in the name comes from the coriander blend of spices strewn through the body, giving the beer a hazy look. It's a Belgian-style wheat beer good for our South Florida climate, and it goes great with apple cider.
Drink it because: Belgian-style beers are some of the best, and Blue Moon has nothing on this.
Southampton Double White: This specialty Belgian-style wheat is a reconstruction of the traditional style. It's called "double white" because it's heavier, more full-bodied and more alcoholic than a regular wheat beer. Still, it's light and fizzy, with a bit of sweetness beer critics compare to lemon custard and banana bread.
Drink it because: The brewery is obscure, but the beer is light.
The BeerFest will take place 6 p.m. Friday at Huizenga Park in downtown Fort Lauderdale. See SouthFlorida.com/beerfest for more info. I'll be there to give out SoFla.com swag and take your picture for a cash prize from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. Come find our booth!Copyright © 2015, South Florida