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.
Jillian was a former teacher and KJ was a Jack of all trades and both are soon to be masters of beer. KJ's journey took him along a winding path from being a restaurant manager, to having a dry cleaning pick-up/delivery route to selling knives door to door to a few online businesses to real estate with his last non-beer related gig being photography. It was his photography business that lead him to Fort Myers Brewing Co in Fort Myers, FL. He showed up to take pictures during their Grand Opening event and he never left. After helping out around the brewery for nearly a year he became their first full-time employee! He continued to work at Ft Myers Brewing Co. for three more years before leaving for a brewing position at Brew Hub in Lakeland, FL.
Why locate the brewery in Riverview, FL? KJ and Jillian are filling a void in the craft beer scene around the Tampa Bay. You can see from the map below that there aren't any other breweries near by for the local community. (Leaven Brewing Co is the red marker while other local breweries are blue)
They are in a prime location as they are just off of Boyette Road, a six-lane highway. When it comes to the brewery's name they could have easily gone with Riverview Brewing Company but they wanted something unique and reflective of their passion. After reading an issue of Zymurgy (magazine published by the American Homebrewer's Association) which is Greek and is an applied science which studies the biochemical process of fermentation and its practical uses, KJ decided to look up other root words related to brewing. That's when he came across leaven which as a noun means "to modify or transform something for the better" which then lead to their motto: "Changing Grain for the Better".
KJ and Jillian will change their grain into ten different beers that they will have on tap as well as a couple guest taps. They will keep five flagship beers on tap including a blonde ale, kolsch, red ale, IPA, and an oatmeal stout with the other five taps reserved for rotating small batches and a seasonal style. Though they will be brewing beer their tasting room will be reminiscent of a coffee shop vibe as it will be laid back with communal tables, some comfy chairs, and plenty of outlets if you want to finish up work there. This will be the ultimate community gathering place and I cannot wait for them to open their doors!
In the mean time, if you are not following Leaven Brewing Co on Instagram or Facebook then get on it! Jillian has been chronicling their journey for the last six months. So get to know them before you meet them!
You can help welcome Leaven Brewing Co to the community on March 30th, 2018 during their Grand Opening starting at 5pm!
Other New Breweries on the FL Gulf Coast: