People are staying indoors, businesses are closed or operating on limited hours, and finding toilet paper is like finding a gold nugget. We are in a very unique time in history. The current coronavirus pandemic has shown how delicate our globalized economy really is but it has also showed me the strength of our local craft beer community. The craft beer community, especially the one here in Tampa Bay, never ceases to amaze me. Not only have the local breweries and distilleries stepped up in a time of need but the patrons that support them have too!
With the novel coronavirus spreading like crazy around the world, a lot of health supplies have been in high demand and short supply. Besides toilet paper and paper towels, hand sanitizer has been nearly impossible to find. For any of you "It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia" fans out there, I have been picturing everyone being like Frank in "The Gang Gets Quarantined". For those of you who aren't fans (yet), Danny DeVito's character shaves all the hair off his body and covers himself in hand sanitizer when a bad flu breaks out in Philadelphia (check out his dissent to craziness HERE).
With hand sanitizer nearly impossible to find, some of our local breweries and distilleries decided to shift gears and produce hand sanitizer for their local health professionals and communities. This was a win-win because most of the breweries have had to close their taprooms due to "Safer at Home" orders and social distancing policies. This production switch has allowed some establishments to keep making some additional money in addition to beer-to-go sales. Breweries and distilleries found it quite easy to make the switch to hand sanitizer as their equipment setup was perfect for the production. Here's a list of our local breweries and distilleries that have stepped up for our locals (click links to go to original articles):
Since a lot of the craft breweries and distilleries have stepped up to support their community it's only fair that we reciprocate. A lot of craft beer enthusiasts in the area have come together (while staying at least 6 feet apart) to support our local watering holes as best as we can! I have seen Instagram and Facebook posts of people braving the world and purchasing beer-to-go from breweries while they are still able to. I, myself, made a tour around Dunedin and hit every brewery that was open last week to purchase beer and gift cards! These small businesses need all the support they can get right now because, unfortunately, I don't think all of them will make it through this economic downturn... especially if we turn our backs on them when they need it most.
If you have the means and ability then please consider going to your local brewery and support them now because they may not be there when the dust settles.
Creative Loafing Tampa has also put together "Living Local Certificates" that allow you to order gift cards online for businesses around Tampa Bay without having to leave the comfort of your home! Check out their WEBSITE to see what is available. The businesses will receive all of the money from the gift cards purchased through CL Tampa.
It's been amazing seeing this community come together when so many feel afraid and alone.
***If you do decide to venture out then please, please, please follow all state and local ordinances and practice social distancing!***
Less than 5 years after Brian and Kate Hahn established Bonita Springs' first (and currently only) brewery with Momentum Brewhouse they are on the move! But fear not as they are staying true to their roots and remaining in Bonita Springs, just a few miles from their original location. Today (May 1st, 2019) will be their opening day at the new address! You can check out opening day details HERE.
The 2019 Tampa Bay Beer Week is about to get tapped! The annual celebration of all things craft beer will see a host of events held a local breweries and bars around the Tampa Bay area. TBBW will run from March 2nd through March 10th.
With numerous events being hosted I've compiled a list of the "Can't Miss" events of the week! (You can find a complete calendar of events HERE.)
Where will you be for TBBW??
The Great American Beer Festival has just concluded in Colorado and Florida continued it's tradition of bringing home medals! Six Florida breweries combined to bring home seven medals:
Name: Troubled Waters Brewing
Owners: Steve and Kevin Shanks (Father/Son)
Where: 670 Main Street in Safety Harbor, FL (former Copperheads Taphouse)
When: End of 2018
About the Brewery: Troubled Waters Brewing is the collaborative efforts of father/son duo Steve and Kevin Shanks. With many years of experience in the craft beer industry between them and five generations of family ties to Safety Harbor it only made sense to setup shop in the quaint little Florida Gulf Coast town. Once they decided to start their own brewery everything has seemingly fallen into place better than they could have hoped for!
So, as you know, or hopefully know by now, I focus on the FL Gulf Coast breweries from the Tampa Bay Area down to Naples. These breweries are proving to be some of the best in the country and the state of Florida!
Back in October, I wrote about seven FLGC breweries that brought home medals from the Great American Beer Festival which is a national competition with over 8,000 entries. In early March the Brewer's Ball was held in Tampa to award the winners of the Best Florida Beer Competition which had 815 entries from across Florida.
Over the last month a bunch of new breweries have hit my radar in the Tampa Bay Area. These breweries range from being in the planning stages to being just recently opening their doors to the public! This post is going to focus on one particular brewery opening at the end of this week in Riverview, FL (you can find a list of the other new breweries at the bottom).
Welcome to the community, Leaven Brewing Co.! (pronounced like Heaven but with an "L")
Leaven Brewing Co. is the brain child of KJ and Jillian Lynch and when I say child it is almost literal! They fell in love over a beer, got married at a brewery, and are now only days away from opening their very own brewery on the east side of the Tampa Bay. Not only do they love each other and beer but they also love their local community! It shows as they were more than happy to welcome me to their brewery a few weeks ago to snap some pics and chat with them about their new venture while they were in the midst of renovating their brewery & tap room.
Since 1982 the Colorado Convention Center in Denver has hosted the Great American Beer Festival which is presented by the Brewers Association. The three day event celebrates craft beer from across the US. GABF awards Bronze, Silver, and Gold medals to the top three beers in each of 98 different styles of beer. This year there were 7,923 entries across all of the beer styles and only 294 medals were awarded. That means less than 4% of beers that were entered went home with hardware! So, needless to say, it is a huge deal to win an award at GABF.
Of those 294 awarded medals, 7 Florida breweries collectively brought back 8 with Brew Hub in Lakeland earning two Gold medals! Florida collectively earned 4 Gold, 3 Silver, and 1 Bronze medals.
3 Gold and 2 Silver medals call the Florida Gulf Coast their new home! So we are in a prime location to try some of the best craft beer in the country!
Here is a list of the Florida breweries and their medals:
If you read the most recent issue of CRUSH Magazine then you saw that it featured interviews with some of the local brew masters in SWFL. Among those interviews was Momentum Brewhouse's Brian Hahn. Brian gave very insightful answers to the questions asked but he hit the nail on the head with his response to "Next Style Trend?" Most other brewers responded with something along the lines of "If I knew that, I'd be rich/brewing it now." Brian, and I agree with him, says that sour beers are on the up and up across the country. IPA's are still the king of beers at the moment but I have noticed a steady incline in the supply and demand of sour beers.
Brian, and his Head Brewer Tom Gambino, are getting ahead of that curve here in Southwest Florida. They have been brewing a Berliner Weisse called "The Machinist" since June 2016 as a small batch offered occasionally. The Machinist grew a large following so quickly that by January 2017 it was given a permanent home on the tap list at Momentum Brewhouse.