We are fast approaching the big celebration. The Third Annual Tampa Bay Beer Week. Naturally, everyone is talking about the events: over 200 as of yesterday, and many more to be added I have no doubt. And so I have been getting the inevitable question form everyone: What are you most looking forward to?
I will be honest, it is really hard to choose. This year, not only are there more events, but they are even better. It’s not just pint nights and tap takeovers anymore. The craft beer scene has not only expanded, but it has matured. So, while I love the big events like Florida Brewers Guild Festival, Brewer’s Ball, and Hunahpu Day, I think there are some truly interesting and fun events to look at. I wish i could go to all of them, but alas, I have not yet figured out how to be in more than one place at one… maybe I can borrow that Foeder TARDIS from Green Bench…
Saturday, March 1
The kick-off event with the Florida Brewers Guild is fun, and there will be the ceremonial first tapping with Mayor Buckhorn whacking the cask of beer that combines beer from most of Tampa Bays breweries. You will get to try beers from all over the state. Its fun and totally worth checking out. But it is not the only event! Another great option is the Brew Bus Pinellas Brewery Tour. I got to do one of their trips last year and had a blast. Not only do you get to travel with a bunch of other beer lovers, drink some great Brew Bus beer (yes, their have their own!), but you get to visit some of the great breweries in town. This trip will take you to some of the newest in Tampa Bay: Green Bench Brewing Co. 3 Daughters Brewing, Pair O’ Dice, Cycle Brewing, and Rapp Brewing. You will have a great time, and do not have to worry about driving anywhere!
Sunday. March 2
If you have never been to the Brewer’s Ball, you really should go. It is amazing. That said, tickets are hard to come by, and there are lots of other options for those who can’t get a ticket or want something a little different. How about a morning you will not forget? Eggs & Kegs has become a favorite of many, featuring food from LOKO Cuisine and brews from Cigar City, Angry Chair, 7venth Sun, Cycle, Green Bench, and Motorworks. A 4-course “Latin and Hunahpu-inspired” menu, and a souvenir snifter glass. Need to be more active? How about Brews and Boards at the Getaway in St. Pete. Do some stand up paddling, enjoy some Florida Beer Company brews, kick back on the water, and enjoy some great food trucks!
Monday, March 3
Time for some shameless self-promotion here. I will be joining a panel of beer bloggers at the Pour House for the first TBBW Beer Bloggers Summit, talking about the current state of craft beer in Florida, beer blogging, writing, and craft beer in general. I will be joined by Tom Barris (Florida Beer Company), Jeff Houck (Tampa Tribune), Carol Dekkers (Tampa Bay Tapped), and the man who literally wrote the book on Florida Breweries, Gerard Walen.
Want to get schooled on beer? On the Pinellas side, check out one of the newest breweries in town: Pair O’Dice. They are offering “Intro to Craft Beer Experience“, a primer on the history of beer, the process of brewing, and some tips and tricks for tasting. Over in Hillsborough, one of the oldest breweries in the state – Tampa Bay Brewing Company – is holding “Beer 101 – Understanding How to Approach and Taste Craft Beer”. The brewers of TBBC will hold the event in the brewhouse, and the event includes a branded tasting glass and beer!
Tuesday, March 4
In what has becoming one of my favorite events each year, Tampa Bay Brewing Company is once again holding their Beer Dinner. This year, TBBC has joined forces with Thomas Creek Brewing from South Carolina, and has planned another amazing looking, six-course menu. If it is anything like the past two years, guests are going to have their worlds rocked. You can check out my reviews from 2012 and 2013 if you are curious.
Sweet Sesame Short Ribs at last year’s beer dinner at TBBC
Looking for some rare releases? Head over to Luekens Liquors Barrel Release and grab the inaugural bottle of the store’s exciting program. Working with 7venth Sun Brewing, the folks at Luekens took Booty Wax barley wine and aged it in Buffalo Trace Bourbon barrels. This will be a very limited release, and most likely amazing.
Wednesday, March 5
Beer. Bacon. Is there really anything else that needs to be said? Three Palms Brewing in Brandon is keeping it simple with their Beer & Bacon Night.
In St. Pete, come join the folks from All About Beer Magazine and Florida Beer Company at the Brewers Tasting Room for a “Beer 201” presentation as well as to brew a collaboration beer together! Sample brews, and get a style guide, a tasting book, and a commemorative glass!
Thursday, March 6
Southern Brewing & Winemaking is bringing back Moonraker Imperial Stout (a beer I love, by the way), and with that release, some variations on this rich, delicious brew. Barrel-aged, raspberry-chocolate, and a few others to tempt the palate. And you can even get growlers filled from these special releases! There will also be live music and a BBQ food truck on site.
The Ale & the Witch in St. Pete is partnering up with 7venth Sun Brewing for a unique event: Reflections of Craft Beer. For the first time each tap at the brewery & the bar will be pouring the same lineup, 10 taps in total. There will also be a rare beer release during the evening.
There are also a couple more bottle releases going on… OMG at Rapp Brewing, and the second Luekens Barrel Release (this time with Barley Mow).
Friday, March 7
This is one of those days where I wish i could be in many places at once. Starting at noon, Cycle Brewing kicks off its 3rd Annual Barrel Aged Beer Day at Peg’s Cantina in Gulfport. The lineup of beers is ridiculous. The food at Peg’s is amazing. This has become one of the signature events of Beer Week.
Over in Brandon, we will welcome the newest addition to the Tampa Bay brewery family with the official grand opening of ESB Brewing. Food and music all day.
Green Bench Brewing in St. Pete has the distinction of being the only brewery in town with a foeder. What is a foeder, you ask? Well come down to the first ever Foeder for Thought and find out! For this event every beer on tap in the tasting room will be fermented in Oak Foeders from Green Bench Brewing, Anchorage Brewing, Allagash, Jolly Pumpkin, Crooked Stave, and more. Outside there will be more oaked sours, live music, and food trucks all part of a big block party.
Now for some more shameless self-promotion…
Every year, the Best Florida Beer Championships holds a homebrew competition, selecting the best brews from homebrewers around the state. When the tastings and judging are done, there is a lot of beer left over. And if that is not enough reason for a Leftover Party, I don’t know what is. Southern Brewing & Winemaking, one of Tampa Bay’s premier homebrew supply shops (as well as a great brewery in its own right) is hosting this party, complete with music and food trucks. In addition, I have once again been asked to join some other craft beer folks on a panel to talk about the industry. I’ll be joined by several other beer folks, including John Holl, editor of All About Beer magazine, and Christine Montague, organizer of Cleveland Beer Week.
Saturday, March 8
Yes, it is Hunahpu Day. It will be an amazing event, as always, with a ridiculous selection of beer. That said, this year saw the implementation of a tickets-required rule, and a limited number of admissions. So what is the unticketed to do? Fear not…
Dunedin House of Beer, one of Pinellas County’s best beer establishments, is hosting Craft Beer Fest 2014 in Edgewater Park. This is a free event with live music, arts and crafts, food, and samples of 50 local craft beers for purchase, including some newcomers like Brooksville, Big Top, Motorworks, Stilthouse, and Soggy Bottom. It will run all day, with an after-party over at the House of Beer until the wee hours of the morning. This should be a lot of fun in a great town with great people.
Love the dark beers, but want to avoid the hugeness of Hunahpu Day? Head over to Rapp Brewing for the Porters & Stouts Evening, and taste some “unique” variations on the styles. Greg Rapp has become one of the local favorites around the bay area in a very short time with his blend of traditional – and sometimes obscure – styles with innovative and creative experimentations.
Sunday, March 9
Yes, we are still going! Hang in there… stay on target…
Dunedin Brewery & 7venth Sun have again collaborated under the designation “The Sun & The Sword”. This time, both breweries have brewed 2 unique beers each for a total of four #MixedTapes brews. Bottles will go on sale at each respective brewery when they open on this day.
While you are in the neighborhood, why not participate in the “TBBW Wrap-Up” around town, including a Founders beer brunch at the Dunedin Smokehouse, the Nelson Sauvin Dry-Hop Tap Takeover at Dunedin Brewing, and of course the Hunahpu Hangover day at 7venth Sun.
For me, the week will end close to home at the Ale & the Witch with the “Grande Finale“. Good beers for only $4, an amazing BBQ buffet for $8, and the awesome music of Applebutter Express.
So… anything catch your interest? There are more events being added every day still, and you can see them all at the official Tampa Bay Beer Week Events Page. This week celebrates beer, and especially the Tampa Bay community that loves it. I hope to see you out there!