Best beer in Florida? I'll be the judge of that.

As I walked the dusty path toward the front entrance of Skipper's Smokehouse, the festive sounds of Johnny Sketch and the Dirty Notes mingled with the heavy aromas of cigar smoke and Cajun spices.

The occasion — 10th Annual Best Florida Beer Championships Brewer's Ball. It's kind of a big deal in the beer community, like a twisted version of prom for brew aficionados. This IS the most important day of my life. After being outfitted with hand stamps, food tickets, and plastic cups, myself and the rest of the eager crowd was set free to graze among the taps, filling when necessary. Yes, that's right; a beer fest where you pour your own beer — one of the few shared fantasy worlds of beer nerds and kegger meatheads. No separation from the tap; just walk right up there and give it a pull. Pour a little splash or overflow the cup. It's your world, champ; everyone else is just living in it.

For this glorious occasion, all cups were filled with beer that was brewed in Florida — 24 works of genius in total, all gold medal creations chosen by Beer Judge Certification Program judges and members of the professional brewing community, during blind taste tests that were held weeks prior to the event. With the exception of a home brew variety, all the beers offered are also commercially available in Florida. But I am getting ahead of myself.