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.
The results are in and Southwest Florida has brought home seven medals (1 gold, 2 silver, 4 bronze) from the Best Florida Beer Competition, the most prestigious professional beer competition in Florida!
There were 110 breweries from Florida that submitted over 850 beers which were all competing for only 93 beer-style medals. That means that only around 10% of the beers submitted head home with some hardware. Any brewery going home with a medal should be proud especially when competing against the likes of Cigar City, Big Storm, and Funky Buddha!
A month ago a Senate Bill 554 was filed in the Florida Senate by Senator Dana Young. This bill is moving quickly through the Senate, would greatly help the growth of new breweries in FL, and has an effective date of July 1, 2017.
SB 554 would ultimately allow smaller breweries to act as their own distributor by giving them the power to deliver their beer directly to vendors. This is a huge change to the Three-Tier System that has been in place since Prohibition. Being able to self-distribute for small breweries would cut out the cost of the middle man and help them save much needed money as they are in their growing stages.
Palm City Brewing
Owners: Ryan (Head Brewer) and Marianne Bowen
Where: 7887 Drew Circle Suite 130 Fort Myers Alico Commercial Park (2 miles west of I-75, exit 128)
When: Plan to open doors in spring 2017
What Got You Into Craft Beer?: Chimay Red was Ryan's first "WOW" moment in craft beer
Favorite Style of Beer to Drink:
With a slogan of "Pints in Paradise", I instantly think of the song "Toes" by Zac Brown Band...got my toes in the water, ass in the sand. Not a worry in the world, a cold beer in my hand. Life is good today! Can't wait to leave my worries behind when these doors open up!
Since mid-2015 there have been four bills written to reform the federal excise taxes paid by brewers in the U.S:
(chronological order of referral to Committee)
Current Beer Tax Info (Information from the Alcohol & Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau)