There’s a Buddhist proverb that says, “The jug fills drop by drop”; here, the drops are delicious, exotic beer.
Ryan Sentz didn’t set out to build a brewery, let alone one that would raise the stakes for conceptual beer. He wanted to open a bar as relaxed as his living room; a chill lounge with comfy chairs where locals could hang out, drink some craft beers, smoke a hookah and listen to music. But in 2010, three years after launching the Funky Buddha Lounge in Boca Raton, Fla., Sentz’s down-tempo vision changed forever when he installed a brewing system and unleashed the sweet-and-salty Maple Bacon Coffee Porter. “That’s when the insanity started,” he remembers. “What the eff was going on?” In a flash, the brewery went from quirky to nationally buzzed-about, as draft-only brews modeled after apple pie and peanut butter cups (and a few “safer” styles like IPAs and blondes) put Funky Buddha on the beer map. Last summer, Sentz opened a new production facility in nearby Oakland Park; a bottling line will push year-round beers and six seasonals onto Florida shelves as early as May (the brewery’s first bottle release of Maple Bacon Coffee Porter debuted in January). Beer geeks aren’t the only ones noticing the rising star: Dogfish Head tapped Sentz to brew a collaboration beer—an imperial porter with chocolate, salt and grilled habaneros—for Boston’s Extreme Beer Fest in March, and an invite from Danish beer whiz Mikkeller will bring Funky Buddha to the Copenhagen Beer Celebration in May.
SENTZ ON THE BEERS DRINKERS CAN’T GET ENOUGH OF:
Floridian Hefeweizen: “Florida is warm—11 months of the year—so we wanted to put out something refreshing. I love wheat beers on hot days, and I love the flavors our yeast provides. It’s light-bodied with nice citrus and banana notes.”
Hop Gun IPA (in bottles this summer): “It’s over 7% ABV—higher than most standard IPAs—but we think it’s balanced nicely. We use honey and caramel malts, and a ton of great citrusy hops. There are a lot of ’80s movie references in our names.”
No Crusts PB&J Ale: “I came up with this during a time when the only thing my daughter would ask for lunch was a PB&J sandwich, with the crust cut off. The aroma and flavor really do taste like the sandwich, so it takes you right back to childhood.”
Maple Bacon Coffee Porter: “Before people even tasted it, they were chanting ‘Bacon! Bacon! Bacon!’ at festivals. This milk porter has flavors of oats, maple, coffee and bacon—every part of a well-balanced breakfast.”