May 15, 2019

Florida Keys Brewing Co.
Resistant Strain beer will help raise money to battle stony coral tissue loss disease.

Florida Keys Brewing Co. Resistant Strain beer will help raise money to battle stony coral tissue loss disease.

ISLAMORADA — A quaff for coral at a May 17 event in Islamorada may help preserve the Florida Keys reef tract.

“This is something that strikes home to me as a Keys native,” said Cheryl McBay, co-founder of the Florida Keys Brewing Co. “I loved being out on the water every weekend growing up, and I want my kids to be able to experience that.”

Florida Department of Environmental Protection
Efforts to save coral from a deadly disease on the Florida reef tract get a boost from a May 17 benefit at the Florida Keys Brewing Co. in Islamorada.

The brewery and pub in the Morada Way Arts and Cultural District joins with Mote Marine Laboratory staff to launch Resistant Strain, a new craft beer created to raise money for the fight against a deadly coral disease.

“The stony coral tissue loss disease has basically ravaged the Keys reef,” said Allison Delashmit, communications manager for the Mote Marine facility on Summerland Key. “We need to do restoration with science-based resistant corals on the reef tract.

“At this point, the coral cannot naturally recover on its own. We know that we have to help — and help quickly.”

From 4 to 6 p.m. Friday at Florida Keys Brewing Co., Mote researchers and reef experts will be on hand to answer questions about the loss of boulder and star corals that play an essential role in creating and nourishing a healthy reef. Branching corals, like staghorn and elkhorn, appear to be immune.

“We’re trying to raise a little bit of money for those who are trying to fix the problem and improve the coral,” said Craig McBay of Florida Keys Brewing Co. “Obviously the reef is very, very important for the ocean, for tourism and for a lot of things.”

GREG McFALL/NOAA 
Efforts to save coral from a deadly disease, like this coral head at Looe Key, get a boost from a May 17 benefit at the Florida Keys Brewing Co. in Islamorada.

“We do a ton of events but we have a standard for the ones we do as a company: seas or fleas,” Cheryl said. “If it’s about pets or our waters, we’ll almost always try to help out.”

Resistant Strain, the new brew, is “a honey double-hibiscus kolsch,” Craig said. “It’s a German-style beer that’s clean and crisp, and very refreshing.”

“This beer is very similar to Iguana Bait, one of our bestsellers,” Cheryl said. “The extra dose of hibiscus gives it an almost red coloring, and the taste is delicious.”

“This beer stands out on its own,” Delashmit said. “We want to really highlight the beer at the event, enjoy ourselves and have others come enjoy it with us. The [coral disease] message is kind of sad, but there’s also a hopeful message about gaining more knowledge and returning the reef to health.”

Florida Keys Brewing Co. plans to keep Resistant Strain on draft for at least a year, with a portion of the tab (or the purchase of a four-pack of cans) going to help support Mote Marine, which works with local agencies including the Coral Restoration Foundation and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to stem the spread of the stony coral tissue loss disease.

The May 17 event takes place at Florida Keys Brewing Co.’s taproom and beer garden at 81611 Old Highway in Islamorada.

kwadlow@keysnews.com