MankerBeer Meets: Pre-GABF: Ryan Sentz/Funky Buddha

The time has come, the time is now. Right here and right now we present our first MankerBeer Meets-interview for Great American Beer Festival 2013. The MankerBeer Meets-series has been around for a while with portraits of brewers attending Stockholm Beer and Whisky Festival 2011 and 2012, Copenhagen Beer Celebration and much more. All you long-time MankerBeer’ians  will recognize the format, a short introduction to the brewer and brewery followed by a Q&A.

feature_ryan_sentz_tastemakersFirst out in our Pre-GABF series is Ryan Sentz. Ryan started Funky Buddha Lounge in Boca Raton, Florida which along with his passion for beer some years later got the addition of & Brewery. The popular brewpub had its grand opening in September 2011 and has since then received lots of attention in a state otherwise rather scarcely populated with craft beer breweries and their high rated beers have been sought after on most online beer trading forums. At the end of 2012 the first showels touched the ground for the new brewery in Oakland Park which now let Funky Buddha distribute outside of Boca Raton. So far I have only tried two Funky Buddha brews, a special pineapple version of their famouse Hop Gun IPA and their signature sweet stout Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, both evidence that Ryan and his team of brewers have a bright future. All beer lovers at GABF will be able to sample the porter as well as some other great beers which Ryan presents at the end of the interview.

Time to stop talking and start the interview. Here’s Ryan.

MankerBeer (MB): The instant success of Funky Buddha have presented the brewery for many American beer lovers, for those who haven’t – what is Funky Buddha Brewery?
Ryan Sentz (RS): We are a 30bbl production brewery located in Oakland Park, Florida. We are heavily culinary influenced and love experimenting with new flavors and styles. However as proud and excited as we are to do something like No Crusts PB&J Brown Ale, we are equally proud to make tradional styles like our Floridian Heffe or Hop Gun IPA. That is my canned answer. The real one is that we are a couple of beer geeks that got really lucky to “work” every day in something we are so passionate about.

MB: It didn’t take that many years until the demand outgrew the production capacity of the old Lounge location and the new brewery opened in May. Will it be easier now to handle the demand for FB beers or do you think you need to expand again
RS: We had such a tiny system when we first started, that it was really impossible to meet any demand. The fact that we got any attention blew our minds. It will definitely be easier with the new system but we hope to continue to grow. I think you see it with most breweries now that they can’t seem to brew enough beer. We’ve built in some growing room at the new facility, so we should be constantly adding new tanks for the near future.

MB: What are the production goals of 2013/2014, will it be possible to go national or international or is the focus on the regional market?
RS: I think our main goal is to produce good beer. I don’t like the idea of getting tied to numbers because that could lead to cutting corners or making sacrifices on quality. It is humbling and incredibly exciting to even to be asked about the possibility of going national, let alone international. I’m having a hard time getting my head wrapped around that! Our first goal will be to satisfy the local market, then hopefully grow outside.

FunkyBuddha1MB: Will it be possible to buy bottled Funky Buddha beers?
RS: We are currently looking into a bottling line that again we can grow into. We have a small 4 head filler that will allow us to do small releases, but I’d like to be working the larger line early next year.

MB: The Florida beer scene has given bloom to several of the most sought after breweries right now (Cigar City, Johnathan Wakefield, Peg’s Cantina/Cycle Brewing etc) – why is it all happening now?
RS: Good question. Easiest answer would be breweries like CCB and St. Somewhere helped to put Florida on the map for beer lovers. I think people started paying more attention to us. You probably have 4 or 5 hot breweries in just about every state, but we have been so starved for so long that the locals are really supporting us strongly.

MB: Funky Buddha experiment a lot with flavors and beer styles and are not afraid to use spices or fruits with all kinds of beer styles – how do you come up with all these sometimes crazy ideas?
RS: I grew up with parents that liked to cook and did it well. I treated brewing the same way. We are so lucky in brewing to be able to incorporate so many cool ingredients. Most of my ideas are just quick thoughts that I end up trying to work out. Some do and some don’t. Our bonita applebum was created when I had a piece of apple pie chewing gum. I thought, hmmmm, I could make this into a beer.

MB: Berliner weisses seems to be an appreciated beer style, brewed by more and more breweries – why do you think it is gaining popularity?
RS: I think sour beers in general have gained a ton of popularity in recent years. Berliners are kind of like that gateway style into sour beers without being too over the top. I love them, especially in sweltering South Florida.

MB: What other beer styles or trends do you think we will see over the next year?
RS: I see sessionable beers making a huge resurgence. My favorite style is probably an Imperial Stout, but sometimes you just want one type of beer you can drink 4 or 12 of.

MB: So, GABF. What are you looking forward to with GABF and how important is the festival for breweries and the American beer scene?
RS:
Last year was my first time at GABF so I was just taking it all in. It really is a well run festival, especially considering how many thousands of people attend. I enjoy catching up with a lot of brewery friends that I don’t see very often. Denver and the surrounding areas has such an amazing beer scene. The festival gives us a chance to gain exposure to thousands who might have never heard of us.

MB: For all GABF-debutants, what should one think about and/or not miss at GABF?
RS: Make a plan but don’t expect to stick to it. Unless you are going to every session, I think it be impossible to hit every brewery. That and I think you would get liquor poisoning first. Also, I would check out what events the local breweries are hosting. They know all of us beer geeks are flying from around the world to be there, so they are breaking out their big guns!

MB: Could we get an idea of what cool Funky Buddha brews will be poured at GABF?
RS: As for us, we will be pouring (hopefully!) Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, No Crusts, Floridian, Last Snow & Passionfruit Berlier.

Thanks Ryan for answering our questions. Beer lovers, if you miss out on Funky Buddha beers at GABF it’s your loss and not something we can recommend. Seek them out ant sample some Florida goodness! Meanwhile follow Funky Buddha on Facebook or check out their website!

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3 Responses to “MankerBeer Meets: Pre-GABF: Ryan Sentz/Funky Buddha”

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  1. […] this, the second interview from our pre-Great American Beer Festival we move from Ryan Sentz, Funky Buddha and the east coast to the west coast and San […]

  2. […] Närke och Alpha State nämligen Funky Buddha och Hopping Frog. Vi pratade med Ryan Sentz både innan och under Great American Beer Festival och efter att ha blivit inbjuden till de båda tidigare […]

  3. […] andra måsten uppskrivna på listan som t ex Funky Buddha, som vi pratat med tidigare (läs om det här och här) och även träffat ett par ggr på Great American Beer Festival och på Copenhagen Beer […]


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