Matt Djerf still sees him, still hears him. He still turns his head, waiting for his friend and his boss, Shannon Yates, to march down the hallway at Nevermind Awesome Bar & Eatery, wearing his trademark clogs. Yates, the former owner, and head chef, unexpectedly passed away in August. Now, Djerf will build on Yates’ legacy as the new head chef at the popular downtown restaurant.

Djerf recently started his new duties, continuing a journey in the restaurant business that Yates inspired.

“I worked with Shannon for nine years,” Djerf said. “These are surely big shoes to fill. It is strange to be here, and he is not there.”

The Cape Coral native started as a dishwasher at Nevermind when Yates opened the business nine years ago. Djerf had zero interest in the food industry, but he needed a job, and Yates needed kitchen staff. At the time, Yates wasn’t sure how his fledgling restaurant would fly, and to start, he paid Djerf in beer.

Soon, Djerf was preparing food, operating the frier and then the grill. Then came a life-changing trip with Yates to New York over the Fourth of July holiday.

Djerf and Yates visited famous eateries, dined on the works of world-renowned chefs. It was the experience of a lifetime for Djerf, who left there knowing food was his destiny.

“It was my best four days ever,” he said.

For a brief time during the pandemic, Djerf left Nevermind to work for Lee Richardson at LeRoy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar in Punta Gorda. Now, the Ida Baker High School graduate looks forward to continuing Yates’ vision of providing unique dishes and his legacy as a community and business supporter.

“We will keep the same lamb burgers, crab rolls, and wings, but we will bring in some salads and different pasta dishes,” the 32-year-old Djerf said.

They also will introduce flatbreads to the menu. “That was something (Shannon) wanted before he passed.

“It’s his energy and his passion. He knows that quality. He feels it, he loves it,” said Yates’ close friend, Dewey Sanders, about the new chef. “That was Shannon’s biggest thing – that passion. “(Matt) is going to take Nevermind where (Shannon) wanted it to go.”

Djerf also wants to continue Yates’ tradition of bringing in guest chefs from other restaurants.

“Shannon was a genius when it came to marketing,” Djerf said. “He would market other people because he wanted their businesses to do well. He put Cape Coral on the map with good food.”



Bars in Florida will now be allowed to operate at 50% capacity beginning today, said Halsey Beshears, secretary for the Florida Department of Business & Professional Regulation.

The state rescinded the governor’s March emergency executive order affecting the way bars can operate in the state during the coronavirus pandemic.

Bars and other alcoholic beverage vendors may resume sales of alcoholic beverages for consumption on premises provided that their operations comply with the parameters of Florida’s Phase 2 recovery plan. These vendors may operate at 50% of the facility’s indoor capacity, allow bar service to seated patrons and permit outdoor seating and service with appropriate social distancing. 

For more information, visit the Florida Department of Businesses & Professional Regulations.

Deaf Life: Get to Know It

Deaf Life: Get to Know It

Event planned Sept. 21 at Old Soul Brewing in Fort Myers during International Deaf Awareness Month

Mike Schmidt, 57, is constantly aware that he is probably missing something.

Talk too fast, and he might misunderstand you, turn your head, and he most likely will miss part of the conversation.

Schmidt, who opened Old Soul Brewing in Fort Myers with his sons six years ago, is nearly deaf.

“Sometimes we’ll have a band and a hundred people in here, and I miss a lot,” he said. “I’m deaf, but I read lips and hear a little; it helps.”

When he was in his 30s, his ears started ringing. By age 40, he had hearing aids. At age 51, he had a cochlear implant in his right ear, a small, complex electronic device that can help provide a sense of sound to a person who is profoundly deaf or severely hard-of-hearing. Now he says testing shows he has about 4% hearing in the ear without the implant, and goes from deaf to hard of hearing on a daily basis.

“I’ve met people who went deaf instantly,” he said. “My hearing degraded, and I was able to deal and adjust.”

Schmidt thought shooting guns in the Air Force and as police officer may have damaged his hearing, but audiologists have told him that was not a factor. “Some people are just genetically destined to have poor hearing, like some people have a bad heart,” he said.

Even though he can hear a little with the implant, he’s an advocate for use and teaching of American Sign Language (ASL).

On Thursdays at Old Soul Brewing, deaf and hard of hearing patrons and people who know, teach, want to learn ASL are invited to gather informally. He spread the word about the casual weekly meeting through meetups and social media.

“By word of mouth,” Schmidt says, chuckling. “I guess that’s something we don’t often connect with deaf events.”

During International Deaf Awareness Month in September, Old Soul Brewing is holding a first-ever event called Deaf Life: Get to Know It on Sept. 21 with the Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center, an organization working to improve the quality of life for deaf and hard of hearing citizens and their families through services, education, advocacy and community involvement.

Face painting, awareness activities, speakers about deaf culture and ASL classes are planned at the event. Anyone of legal drinking age who learns how to sign their name in ASL will get one free beer. A beer release is planned for a bourbon barrel aged stout called Grateful Deaf.

Donations will be taken for the Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center, where Schmidt has been taking ASL classes.

“It’s really an event for hearing people so they can understand the nuances a little bit,” he said. “I would like hearing people to see what it’s like to be deaf and understand the benefits of learning sign language. It’s difficult to empathize with something you don’t understand.”

When he first started losing his hearing and told people, they would laugh it off saying they were couldn’t hear well, either. “The biggest challenge is getting other people to understand,” he said. “It’s hidden. I don’t have a cane or something visible.”

When people do understand, it makes life less challenging.

For example, when Schmidt checked-in for a doctor’s appointment, he notified the front desk that he was deaf so they would physically send someone to get him from the waiting room. During his exam, the nurse made sure he could see her face when she spoke.

“It was the best experience,” he said. “When people have some training, it’s great.”

Yet, sometimes not even hearing family members understand. Shockingly, 70% of hearing family members with deaf family members don’t learn sign language.

“It not the deaf person’s responsibility to communicate. It’s our mutual responsibility to communicate with each other,” he said, “Even if you only know just a few signs, it’s a start to communication.”

Deaf Life: Get to Know It begins at noon, Saturday, Sept. 21 at Old Soul Brewing, 10970 S. Cleveland Ave. in Fort Myers. The event is free and open to the public. Donations will be accepted for the Sally J. Pimentel Deaf & Hard of Hearing Center. For information, call 239-334-4334 or visit Old Soul Brewing’s Facebook page.



As the long days and heat of the summer begin to take over Southwest Florida, you may begin reaching for lighter, more refreshing styles of beer. A style that fits this bill perfectly is the German Hefeweizen. This style of beer has long been a popular and refreshing beverage for the hot summer days of Bavaria. Hefe, meaning yeast, and Weizen, meaning wheat.

In 1516, Bavaria adopted the Reinheitsgebot or German Purity law, which strictly regulated what could be used in the production of beer. The three ingredients allowed were water, malted barley, and hops. You may notice the absence of yeast. It wasn’t until Louis Pasteur identified this microorganism in his work “The Dieseases of Beer, Their Causes, and the Means of Preventing Them” in 1859, that we began to understand fermentation and its vital role in beer production.

The purity law was put in place to ensure enough wheat and rye was available for local bakers. Although, in reality, some suggest the restriction was actually enacted by the Wittelsbach family in Bavaria, so they could profit by selling special wheat beer brewing rights. During this time, there was one brewery in the village of Schwarzach near the Czech border that was allowed to brew Wheat beers. This brewery paid hefty fees for the privilege, until 1602, when leadership changed.

The new man in charge, Duke Maximilian I, quickly allowed other breweries to begin production of wheat beers. During this time, the sales of wheat beers accounted for one-third of the revenues for the state of Bavaria, with the Wittelsbachs owning all of the breweries. This style of beer continued to see success through the Thirty Years War (1618 – 1648), purportedly funding the Bavarian Army with brewery profits.

In the late 1700’s, dark lagers began to come back into style and, in order to improve the popularity of wheat beers, the law was amended in 1798 to allow any monastery or burgher to brew the style. However, by 1812, there were only two wheat beer breweries left and, in 1856, the Wittelsbachs sold to George Schneider I. As the style came back in the mid 1950’s, Schneider Weisse became one of the most popular breweries in the world.

Wheat (or Weisse) beers encompass many styles, however, Hefeweizen is one of the most popular. It is an unfiltered wheat beer which has a distinctively hazy appearance from the low flocculating yeast and wheat. The yeast produces incredibly unique esters of cloves, banana (isoamyl acetate) and bubble-gum during fermentation. The wheat malt used gives the beer higher protein levels, which leave it with a thick, pillowy, white head when poured.

The flavor should be close to the aroma with notes of banana and clove being prominent; there should be some breadiness from the wheat and low hop characteristics. It should be highly carbonated, with an almost chewy texture and it should be incredibly thirst quenching.

If you’re looking to give this style a try, Schneider Weisse still produces a fantastic hefeweizen and can be found at most bottle shops. Weihenstephaner is the oldest brewery in operation, since 1040, and their HefeWeissbier is also highly recommended and easily obtained. The only issue with imports is that it is often hard to find fresh examples. With the craft beer boom in America, you can find very fresh examples of this style, which is meant to be consumed young. Scotty’s Bierwerks often has a refreshing example on tap, as do other local craft breweries and beer locations.

Berliner Weisse

Berliner Weisse

Berliner Weisse is an enigmatic style of beer that originated in the early 1700s. It still takes many different forms, flavors, and appearances today. In 1809, Napoleon dubbed this style the “Champagne of the North.” As the name suggests, Berliner Weisse hails from Berlin, a city that began its brewing tradition in 1572, and its wheat beer brewing tradition in 1642.

Initially, these beers were brewed with up to 100% wheat malt, however, something between 50% and 70% was more typical. The grains used were under-modified, which would leave less starch to be converted to sugar for the yeast to consume and more proteins in the beer, which act as foam stabilizers, giving the beer good head retention.

Typically, Berliner Weisse would be low alcohol, 3% abv. This allowed them to be consumed in place of water, which was typical in many areas of Europe at the time. The beer was also brewed using wooden barrels. Brewers would take fresh hay and lay it inside the barrel in order to act as a filter when extracting the sweet wort from the mash. The hay worked well, leaving the wheat behind. Now, you typically don’t see a grist profile above 50% wheat malt. That is because with the advent of new brewing technology, the typical mash tun is unable to filter the wheat as well as fresh hay can.

From the mash, brewers would typically skip the boil, and thus skip the addition of hops, which as you may know act as a preservative and inhibit certain types of bacteria. Because Berlin in the 1700’s was a relatively new brewing town, they would have yeast brought in from other brewing towns. Although, it wouldn’t be until 1857 when Louis Pasteur outlined the role of yeast in brewing.

Brewers at this time knew that adding the “left over” slurry from a previous batch would help make a new batch. The yeast was typically transported in baskets and would be checked, via smell method, to see if it had soured or developed unpleasant odors.

After mashing out, brewers would run the sweet wort down copper pipes filled with cool water in order to cool the beer. Some of these cooling mechanisms are still in use or are still part of traditional breweries today. Brewers would also employ something called a coolship, essentially a large, shallow, copper pan. Because of the increased surface area of coolships, brewers were able to cool large batches overnight. From here, it was typically transferred to fermenters and yeast was pitched.

Traditional Berliner Weisse is unique. It is a wheat beer, like many styles of German beer, however, it has a reserved lactic sourness. This is likely due to the lack of hops, which often work as an inhibitor for lactobacillus, the main souring agent in beer.

Along with the lack of hops and multiple opportunities of long-term exposure to air, this beer was known as being tart, bone dry, highly effervescent, with a long lasting white head. It often had the essence of peach or apricot from the alternative yeast Brettanomyces that was found in the beer.

The fermentation of this beer was usually pretty quick. From there, it was bottled in champagne bottles to high levels of carbonation and served. During the 1800’s, this style became high-class in Berlin. It was common to have 9-year-old bottles that had been buried and aged in clay available. Typically, higher-end locations would offer fruit liqueur along with the beer. Because of the co-fermentation with Brettanomyces and souring bacteria, some have suggested it is similar to a young Lambic style beer.

With the advent of Lagers in the early 1900s, this style almost became extinct. By the 1980s, all but one Berliner Weisse brewery had closed. Kindl Weisse is the only surviving historic example, however, it does not represent the majority of historical Berliner Weisse. It is back sweetened and not fermented with a mixed culture.

With the brewing renaissance, many American breweries began to research and revive this style of beer. Unfortunately, even now it is difficult to find a true historic example of a Berliner Weisse beer. Many of the breweries that make this style utilize a souring method patented by Otto Francke in 1906. This “kettle sour” method employs souring for 24-48 hours in a boil kettle, then boiling to kill off the bacteria, and finally pitching typical brewers yeast. This method gives the beer a clean lactic sourness but typically misses the head retention and peach and apricot essence of co-fermented Berliner Weisse.

Tasting Notes

Berliner Weisse should have a thick, long lasting white head. Typically it is clear due to the acidity level. Peach and apricot should be present, along with lactic acid, sometimes a lemon quality.

The beer should be subtly tart with no bitterness and finish bone dry. It should be well carbonated, up to 4 bars of pressure, low abv, and very drinkable.

It pairs well with fruit such as cherries, strawberries, or melon. Havarti and aged ham or pretzel work as well.

Vienna Lager

Vienna Lager

The Vienna Lager is a crisp, clean, and incredibly drinkable beer first brewed in Europe in the 19th century. When we talk about a Vienna Lager, we’re diving into a history of malted grain. It gets its name from the Vienna malt that is used as the primary source of sugar for the production of this style of beer.

Vienna malt came about after new kilning technology came to England. Kilning is the process of malt production where the grain moisture content is reduced, stopping the germination process. This is done by passing heated, dried air through a shallow bed of malted grain.

Previously, all malt was kilned over a fire, which tended to produce a darker and sometimes smoky malt. The new technique used circulated, heated air instead of direct heat.

The Maillard reaction, which is a chemical reaction between amino acids and reducing sugars that give browned food its distinctive flavor (think seared steaks, toasted marshmallows, or malted grain), was not as intense and lighter-malted grains became available.

Around this time, Anton Dreher was traveling with his friend Gabriel Sadlmayer II of Spaten Brewery to learn about the brewing process in order to take over his family’s brewery, Klein-Schwechat Brewery. During his time in England he learned about this new process of kilning grain. There are even reports that they went as far as stealing samples of wort and yeast from breweries they visited to take back for analysis.

Once back in Vienna, Dreher began to experiment with this new English process. He started creating very lightly kilned grain. Eventually, he settled on an amber malt that is just slightly caramelized. Not surprisingly, this new malt became known as Vienna malt. Subsequently, he combined this lightly kilned malt with lager yeast and in 1841, the reddish-copper Vienna style lager is born. This revolution in beer led to Anton Dreher becoming known as the “king of beer.”

Unfortunately, the Vienna lager did not last long. World War I left the entirety of Europe in tatters and the already waning Vienna Lager almost completely disappeared.

However, thanks to an earlier migration from Europe to Mexico, this style of beer was able to make a comeback and thrive once more. In 1861, when Napoleon III invaded Mexico, a new regime was established there and Maximilian I, from the Austrian Royal House was brought in to rule. Although, his reign was short, it brought an influx of art, food, and craft from Austria, including brewers.

Vienna Lager, the beer of choice at the time, led to various iterations of it being produced in Mexico. In Mexico, the Vienna Lager had an easily available adjunct, flaked Maize, added to its grain bill. This adjunct allowed it to be lighter and more easily drinkable than the original produced in Vienna. In 1926, Cerveceria Modelo opened in Mexico City and began producing an adjunct version of the Vienna Lager, Negra Modelo, which is still produced today. Now, with the boom in American Craft beer, it is possible to find the Vienna Lager on tap in your local brewery or in bottles at the store.

This style of beer is very similar to the Marzen or Oktoberfest style, which reportedly came about from Sedlmayr’s experiments with the new kilning method. He developed a Munich malt, which is kilned to a slightly higher degree. He then used lager yeast to create what we know today as Marzen. It is thought that Sedlmayr decided to market his beer as “Marzen gebraut nach Wiener Art” or “March beer brewed in the Viennese way,” suggesting he was copying Dreher’s Vienna Lager.

Tasting Notes

The Vienna Lager should have a thick, long lasting off-white head and should be orange copper and clear. Malt aromas of toast and bread come through predominantly with a light floral or spicy hop character. The beer should be creamy with a complex toastiness and bitter hop balance. It pairs well with bratwurst, chicken wings, or just about any grilled meat. Vienna lager can pair well with a mild Gruyere, Pepper Jack, Emmantal, or Stilton.

A Local brewery from Bradenton FL, Motorworks Brewing Company, won a bronze medal for V Twin, a Vienna Lager at the Great American Beer Festival in 2014 for their rendition of the style.

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