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Basel Biergarten: A very first look

Everyone on the local blogosphere is raving about the Basel Biergarten operating since Thursday, Dec. 6, at the Wynwood Cigar Factory.

The pop-up took over the Factory's backyard to counter the strong smell of cigars with a modest selection of craft beers, all brewed in Florida. It's a partnership between Drink Like A Local and chefs from Aaron's Catering, who will be providing candied bacon through the weekend.

Some of the local beers on tap Thursday night included Cigar City's popular Jai Alai IPA, the same brewery's Florida Cracker white ale, Inlet Brewing's Monk In the Trunk and Michael's Genuine Food and Drink Home Brew.

This is the only non-brewpub drinking venue offering solely local -- think state-wide -- beers. Serving these names at Art Basel exposes breweries such as Due South (Boynton Beach) and Tequesta (Tequesta) to Euro-tourists, out-of-town art lovers and unaware locals, widening the scope and recognition of our swamp-beach in the craft-beer leagues.

Chef James Bowers says the Biergarten will focus on bringing Florida beers that aren't widely available this side of the Okeechobee. The place's Facebook page will announce the specialty brews to be tapped the rest of this weekend.

Bowers mentioned to me that the group behind the concept will try to find a place to permanently "pop-up" during Second Saturday Art Walks.

This weekend will be a trial run, in a way, but if we're to judge by the success of Wood Tavern, Basel Biergarten could easily become Wynwood Biergarten (my extrapolation).

My only qualm about this otherwise genius idea is the staff's knowledge of beer. During opening night, I ordered "the Belgian witbier" and a server brought me Monk In the Trunk amber ale. Witbier is another name for Belgian white ales, such as the Cigar City Florida Cracker.

The style is a pasty yellow color, and Monk In the Trunk is an amber-brown. When I noticed the color I asked the server what type of beer it was, but she said, "I'm not sure." I asked her what else they had on tap, but she had trouble telling me.

I understand the differences between similar craft beers can give the average person a headache. But a server at a beer bar should know what's up.

I didn't notice any male servers around, so I wonder if the organizers think hiring women to sell beer will fare them well. It might, but as a beer-loving woman I would much rather have a server who can spout off about Belgian whites and IPAs regardless of gender.

Besides, craft beer is not at all about marketing women to men, it's almost a polar opposite of that Corona mentality. Craft beer is about drinking good products made with carefully chosen ingredients, and teaching people how to enjoy new flavors.

Prove me wrong about your servers, Basel Biergarten. South Florida needs more local-beer love.

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