Skål! Swedish Glögg in the Nordquist tradition continues, 2020 be damned…

•December 7, 2020 • 3 Comments

Let’s face it: 2020 has been – for the most part – decidedly unpleasant. Pretty much top to bottom. We are now in the final stretch, and Winter is Here. I’d be willing to bet few of us are spending these holidays the way we imagined. The lack of parties and gatherings and meals with friends and so on takes a toll on those of us who look forward to winter-time festivities and the people we love.

But some traditions are eternal, and will not be stopped or slowed by pandemics, social strife, political chaos, or anything. And it is in these certainties that we can wrap ourselves for even just a moment of normalcy and comfort.

Holiday traditions are as varied as the people that celebrate them. Ask any person what evokes that holiday spirit in them, and you will be given answers across the spectrum of sights and sounds and smells and tastes. For some it is that first cold day, or the first snowflake. For others it is the sound of carols being played on the radio or the decorations going up around the neighborhood. In our home, we always celebrated Christmas, and the real indicator that the holiday was close was when my father made his traditional Swedish meatballs and cooked up the family Glögg. To fully explain what Skål! Swedish Glögg in the Nordquist tradition continues…

Glögg is and means to those that participate in the tradition, I have to defer to my father’s own words on the subject.

I post this every year, usually right around the time I make my own batch… which was last night, in fact…

Glögg, with an umlaut over the “o”, and unpronounceable until imbibed, is a Swedish mulled wine drink that has been served in my family since the dawn of creation. I am told that “Glögg” means “glow” and comes from the traditional way of heating it by plunging a glowing poker from the fire into it. Like reality, Glögg is constructed, and like reality, mutable from one iteration to the next. The origins of the recipe are lost in the fog of Swedish woods, but this is how it goes today:

Take a big pot (size depends on how much you are going to make – multiply the following quantities to increase the volume) and put in a cup of water and a handful of raisins. Make several cheesecloth bags of spices containing about 5 cardamom seeds each (shell cracked) and 5 whole cloves each, as well as a large pinch of orange zest. Fling it in the pot along with 5 or 6 sticks of cinnamon. Over time you can experiment with spice proportions to mutate the taste to suit yours – a variation of “survival of the fittest”. Cover and simmer for 15 minutes, add a cup of red wine, and simmer for 15 more minutes [to absorb the concentrated flavors of the spices]. Add a bottle of red wine, cheap but flavorful, and a bottle of port – I use tawny. Cover and heat until steaming, but not boiling. Simmering it uncovered and/or boiling it removes the alcohol, thus altering the fabric of space-time, and wasting everyone’s time.

Glögg can be drunk at anytime after completion, but it is best if it sits in the refrigerator for a few days before serving. Be careful when you reheat not to bring it to a boil. Keep it covered when hot. Serve it in a small cup, being sure to include a few raisins, along with a small spoon.

Part of the tradition is to reserve a small portion from year to year to add to each new vintage. This has all manner of metaphoric virtues. I like to think that I am drinking the same Glögg that my dad and I drank 50 years ago, and his father (“Far Far”) before him, and my son and daughter after me.

– John Nordquist (my father)

I have been making Glögg now for most of my adult life, having begun with the addition of a “starter” from my father. The aroma of the spices and wine filling the house have come to symbolize what the holidays mean to me: family, friendship, and an open home to all passers-by.


Madness?! THIS. IS. FLORIDA!!

•July 17, 2020 • 1 Comment

So for those following along at home, we are still mid-pandemic, a pseudo-statewide-shutdown, and it is like the damn Wild West out there. There are so many topics that could be discussed, but I will try to stay beer-focused here for now.

Today I posted this on Facebook:

Fifteen days ago, the Florida Brewers Guild (of which I am the Executive Director) sent a letter to the Secretary of the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Halsey Bashears, asking for help for our member breweries. We felt that breweries were being unfairly punished for the actions (or inactions) of other bad actors in the hospitality industry. We looked for compromise. We looked for discussion. We looked for uniform enforcement of rules, as opposed to arbitrary ones based on license type. We were told – multiple times – that all would be reviewed in two weeks. Again and again, members were told “July 16th”.

During that time, breweries that had the audacity to speak out against the unfair orders were harassed and threatened by armed agents of the ABT (they fall under Beshears’ purview as well). It is no coincidence that the breweries targeted were the same ones making public statements.

Well, yesterday came and went. And there has not been a peep from Beshears or his agency. I will let you draw your own conclusions from that.

Here is my personal view (not that of the Guild as a whole): The lack of professional courtesy shown by the agency’s head, and the disdain shown for our industry is unacceptable. Halsey Beshears has shown that he does not serve the craft breweries of Florida in any kind of good faith. I question whether or not he even knows anything about or understands the economic impact of breweries in the state.I suspect he is focused elsewhere. And he should be reminded, very loudly, that he works for all the businesses of Florida, not just those run by his friends and supporters.

Not long afterwards, Governor Ron DeSantis went on the air during a speech/update and made the erroneous claim that pubs were open in south Florida and drove the cases up, when we know bars have been closed for months. This does not help our cause.

So, now that you are sufficiently outraged, the natural question is “What can I do, Sean? How do we affect change in this situation?”

So glad you asked. Here are things you can do right now:

  • Call out Halsey Beshears and the DBPR on social media. We were patient and waited for answers, and they opted to ignore us.
  • Call out Governor Ron DeSantis. Beshears was appointed by and works for him.
  • Email and call your state representatives. Tell them what you think of the actions of the DBPR and Secretary Beshears. Not sure how to find your representative’s info? Go here.
  • Keep buying to to beer from your local breweries. I will never stop saying that.
  • Support the Florida Brewers Guild by buying merch. We have a new online store with some rad new threads. Check it out here.

Looking ahead, keep these things in mind:

  • Elections are coming up. And while everyone is focused on the big national elections for President, Senate, etc. And these are important, no question. But your state and local elections are equally as important, and in the case of our industry, probably even more so. Where do the candidates in your district stand on brewery-related issues? Self distribution, free market franchise, delivery and shipping, tax and license reduction? Are they even aware of these issues? Find out. Engage with the Florida Brewers Guild if you want to know more about your candidates and the issues.
  • After the elections, keep the pressure on. Tell your representatives what you expect from them. Join us for our Hill Climb in Tallahassee in March when we go talk to legislators about these issues.
  • Ask for Florida beer at your local retailers, bars and restaurants. Don’t be fooled by macro, crafty offerings. Demand local. The more people ask, the more the message gets out there.

This is just one more battle in the ongoing fight for Florida Craft Beer. It is one that has been waged for decades, and will continue long after I am gone, no doubt. But each battle we fight and win is one step closer to a stronger and healthier industry.

Stay tuned, folks… we’re just getting started.

Beer in the Time of COVID-19 – part II

•June 30, 2020 • 1 Comment

So we are a little over 3 months into this thing now. The last time we spoke, we had the following statistics:

  • 220,000 confirmed cases and nearly 9000 deaths spread over 169 countries around the world.
  • In the United States, there are over 10,000 cases with around 150 deaths spreading over all 50 states plus DC and 3 territories.
  • In Florida, there are 520 cases with 10 deaths.

And now, 102 days later, we are at:

  • 10,117,687 confirmed cases, 502,278 deaths spread over 216 countries around the world.
  • In the Unites States, there are 2,545,250 cases with around 126,369 deaths spreading over all 50 states plus DC and 3 territories.
  • In Florida, there are 152,434 cases with 3604 deaths.

The curve has not flattened.

102 days ago, we saw restrictions go in to place designed to slow the spread. And then we saw re-openings.

I’ll leave the politics aside for now (that’s a TL;DR post for many). The reality is we are back to where we were on March 20th: Florida has closed all bars and nightclubs. This time, there are no exceptions being made for breweries unless they are doing 50% or more of their business in food (which is not many of them). Just as we were starting to see a slow comeback, this could very well be the death knell for many small, independent, locally owned businesses in your community.

Set aside for the minute that breweries are being treated as though they are the same as bars and nightclubs (news flash: they’re not). That’s another discussion and a separate fight.

Now, more than ever, our breweries need your help. The only revenue for most of them right now is going to be their to-go sales. And so i ask you, on behalf of all of the small, independent craft brewers of the state of Florida, to swing by your local taproom and pick up your beer to go. Retailers are still open during this time, but every penny you spend directly at the brewery is an investment in their survival. It is supporting their staff and their families. It is keeping the dream alive for these outrageous entrepreneurs facing even more uncertainty than they did 102 days ago.

Buy their beer from their taproom or their website. Buy merch. Buy a gift card to be used at a later date when you can hang out in the taproom with friends. Get yourself one of these awesome shirts that the Florida Brewers Guild, Tampa Bay Beer Week, Best Florida Beer, and Hopcloth made to support brewery workers.

And when the times comes, let your legislators know that we need some very real change in the way our industry is regulated.

Beer in the Time Of COVID-19

•March 20, 2020 • 2 Comments

beer to go

So it seemed like an appropriate time to dust off and un-retire this little space on the internet. How the world has changed.

For those just tuning in,we are in the middle of a global pandemic known as COVID-19, or “coronavirus”.

As of today, there are nearly 220,000 confirmed cases and nearly 9000 deaths spread over 169 countries around the world.

In the Unites States, there are over 10,000 cases with around 150 deaths spreading over all 50 states plus DC and 3 territories.

In Florida, there are 520 cases with 10 deaths.

All of these numbers are going to go up, without question.

Nationwide, restrictions are being put in place to stem the spread of the virus and mitigate further infection. “Social Distancing” is going to be the phase of the year, for sure. Large gatherings are mostly banned, and there is a very real economic threat looming.

Like many states, Florida has essentially closed all bars and nightclubs for at least 30 days. Restaurants have heavy restrictions on operating hours and capacity. Public beaches in many areas are now closed. With Florida’s dependence on tourism for revenue, you can see how catastrophic things could be.

It is especially challenging for Florida’s small and independent craft breweries. Most of them operate a taproom which makes up the bulk of their revenue. Some also have on-premise food so they can operate like a restaurant, and there are those that also have beer in distribution. But all derive the majority of their cash flow from tasting room sales. The executive order from Governor DeSantis on March 17 that closed bars and nightclubs was also blanketly applied to breweries at first, creating a lot of confusion about whether or not they could continue to-go sales of beer (like growlers, crowlers, and other packaging). The Florida Brewers Guild worked directly with the Department of Business and Professional Regulation (DBPR) to get clarification on this, ultimately confirming that breweries could, in fact, sell their goods to go.

This is where my call to action comes in.

Now, more than ever, small businesses need you. My focus is on the breweries, but this goes for the small, local restaurants, bottle shops, and stores as well. I know most people are practicing “social distancing” and avoiding large groups, as well you should. I also know people still need to go to the store to buy the things they need, and that people still want their beer. I would suggest that by swinging by your local brewery for your beer purchase you are not only helping keep these small independent businesses afloat, but this is far less exposure to other people than the grocery store.

While my immediate concern is Florida breweries, this is true in all states. So no matter where you live, please do what you can to keep our industry alive. These are unprecedented times.  Check with your state brewers guilds for resources on how to help, as well as find your local breweries and see what they are doing and making available.


Please support your local breweries. They are a critical part of our community and the economy of our cities.

For folks in the Tampa Bay area (and hopefully the rest of Florida soon), please check out my friend Geiger’s site. He is doing this for the love of the industry. Kick him a few bucks if you can, too.


Stay safe out there, folks. Be smart. This is not a joke, it is not a hoax, and it is not “under control” yet. Together, we can get through this. As a community we can help keep our neighbors safe and businesses open.


Bartender is pouring beer into glass

Godspeed, Greg Rapp

•April 29, 2019 • 2 Comments

Last month, the Florida brewing community lost one of the greats. Greg Rapp passed away after a hard-fought battle with cancer. This past weekend, we celebrated his life at Rapp Brewing Company with great beer, delicious German fare, and people that loved him. I had an opportunity to speak a few words in Greg’s honor, so I figured I would share them here as well. And as it happens, today is Greg’s birthday.


Legend. The word gets thrown around a lot these days. Sometimes deservedly so: Wayne Gretzky: changed to game of hockey forever; Mikhail Baryshnikov elevated ballet to a whole new level; Janis Joplin: in a time of singers with pretty voices, that chick decided to rock. But many of those that we passingly refer to as legends, when their time has come and gone, they just leave behind a memory. A legend is more than popularity or being the “it” guy or girl. It isn’t being famous. It means that what you did meant something. It means that what you created took on a life of its own, and inspired others. A legend creates a legacy.

Greg Rapp is a legend. In our industry, he inspired and mentored and befriended countless people. It is because of him that many of us are brewing they way we do, and making the decisions to reach back to some of the traditions of old. We learned names like Lichtenhainer and Dampfbier, and he introduced most of us to the now ubiquitous Gose. But his impact was not just the beer we are enjoying. We also remember Greg as a man of integrity. A man of dry wit and humor. A loving husband and father. A man you counted on and looked up to. The kind of person we wished there were more of. A true Legend.

Greg and I talked history and legend a few times over the years and how drink often plays a role. Wine and beer and mead are frequent players in many of the great epics and sagas of history. Many stories from Scandinavian and Saxon mythology cross over in variations of the same tale. In Norse legend the stories tell of Ægir, the giant. He was commander of the sea, but also the brewer for the gods, assisted by his daughters. Odin – Allfather and wisest of the gods – declared Ægir’s beer to be the best in the Nine Realms. Ægir’s brew kettle was a mile deep and a mile wide, and in his feast hall the drinking horns magically refilled themselves. He refused to serve a feast without beer, and his Great Hall was the one place where gods and giants came together peacefully to enjoy the hospitality.

We are here today to celebrate Greg. His life, what he meant to us, and his legacy. Today we are in his Hall, surrounded by friends, feasting, and some of the best beer in the Nine Realms. Please join me in raising you drinking horn – or glass if you neglected to bring yours – in a toast.

To Greg, our friend, our mentor, and our own legendary brewing giant.

And of course, Prost!


I Am Not Throwing Away My Shot

•May 1, 2017 • 4 Comments

I have been a lover of microbrews, as we used to called them, since the early 1990s. We sampled everything we could find, discovering new flavors and styles that we never knew existed. I first homebrewed back in California, making a serviceable brown ale from an extract kit I bought. When I moved to Florida, it was somewhat of a beer wasteland, so I subsisted on pints of Guinness and the few-and-far-between locations that served up great beers from Europe. When the bottle laws changed, so did the beer scene.


I started writing about beer in 2009 when I started this blog. It opened up my world yet again, and I started to meet people in the industry who were making things happen. Joey and Wayne at Cigar City, Bob Sylvester at Saint Somewhere, the Bryant family at Dunedin Brewing, and the Doble family at Tampa Bay Brewing Company. As the scene grew, so did my involvement. I wrote for a few publications, was asked to write for more websites, and started doing television appearances to talk about beer. With each new brewery, and each new craft beer bar, my circle grew wider. I learned more.

Pouring great beers last year

I was brought in at the beginning to help start Tampa Bay Beer Week, and soon found myself on the first board of directors, ultimately becoming Chair. I have had the pleasure of working with some truly amazing people in that time. Representatives from breweries, distributors and wholesalers, retailers, and some other “unaffiliated” folks like me. Some have become close friends now, and I have watched them get married, have kids, change careers, and so on. It has been incredibly educational and immensely rewarding. I am very proud of the events we developed and put on, the representation we made for the beer community, and the benefit we brought to the industry here in Tampa Bay. As of last month, I relinquished the gavel and, for the first time since 2012, I am no longer a voting member.


Years ago, I wrote a post titled “I Want to Work in the Craft Beer Industry”. I can’t seem to find it anywhere… maybe I deleted it because, as I recall, it was pretty naive and silly. So much so, in fact, that a year or so later, I wrote another post titled “I Do NOT Want to Work in the Craft Beer Industry”, mainly citing my enjoyment of being free and independent and whatnot. Again, fairly silly. But fate, the universe, or whatever you want to call it has a funny way of pulling the threads of life.

I am happy to announce publicly today that I am beginning my new career as the Executive Director of the Florida Brewers Guild.


I am beyond excited to start this new chapter of my life, and I feel like everything I have been doing over the past nine years has led to this, not to mention the years of just being a fan. I look forward to working with the breweries in Florida and helping the state move forward towards laws and attitude that better serve the industry and its customers.

This is an incredible opportunity to work with and in an industry that I have come to know and love.

And I am not throwing away my shot.




One Day More…

•March 2, 2017 • 1 Comment


Another day, another destiny. We are just over 24 hours from the official kick-off of the 2017 Tampa Bay Beer Week, and another opportunity to show what an amazing beer community this area has become. From the first drops pours at The Ultimate Brewer to the last head-pounding sighs at Hangover Day at 7venth Sun, beer lovers will know they have participated in something special.

Still not sure what do do during the week? Let’s try a few of these on for size…


European Rare Beer and Cheese Paring
Mr. Dunderbak’s, Tampa
Wednesday, March 8th – 7pm
$35 per person, call for Tickets 977-4104
For over 40 years, Mr. Dunderbak’s has been doing beer culture right, and long before it was cool. With an incredible selection of European beers, fantastic German food, and now their very own brewery, this Tampa stalwart never fails to impress. This cheese and beer tasting will be no exception. The very limited number of attendees will get to sample seven exclusive and unique beers from Europe paired with cheese from their corresponding region. Don’t expect barrel-aged stouts or “whalez, brah”. Expect an evening filled with Cantillon, Drie Fonteinen, J.W Lees, Schorschbrau, Schlenkerla, and more. And maybe a house-brewed Dunderbrau sample as well.
For updates and more information, check out the Facebook event page.


Night of Wood
Tampa Bay Brewing Company – Ybor
Thursday, March 9th – 6-10pm
Join TBBC YBOR for the annual night full of special release Wood & Barrel Aged brews!
With three different flight options (pay per flight) – you don’t want to miss the variety in flavors encompassed with aged craft beer in historic Ybor.
Tap List:
Dixie Dirt – Imperial Stout – Heaven Hill Rye Whisky Barrel
Grand Raisin – Belgian Strong Ale – Various Whisky Barrels
Grand Raisin – Belgian Strong Ale – Port Barrel Aged
BA Iron Rat – Imperial Stout – Unknown Barrel
Moosewood – Barleywine – Buffalo Trace Barrel
Spitfire – English Barleywine – Red Port Barrel
Col Bleu Cru – Belgian Amber – White Wine Barrel
Ground Level – Solera – Layered in Bourbon Barrel
Tripple Wood – Blended Bourbon Ale – Blend of 3 Boubon Barrels
Destroyer Annihilator – Doppelbock – Fresh American Oak
Get Off My Lawn – Smoked Amber Ale – French Oak
Streaking on the Quad – Belgian Quad – American Oak


TBBW Beer Dinner
Farm Table Kitchen, Locale Market, St. Petersburg
March 9th, 6:30pm
Tickets $45 per person
I love beer dinners. Probably my favorite type of event to attend. So I am really excited about the collaboration between Barley Mow Brewing, Motorworks Brewing, St. Pete Brewing and Cigar City Brewing with Chef Jeffrey Hileman and Farm Table Kitchen at Locale Market in Saint Petersburg. They are bringing you a 4 course beer pairing dinner in honor of Tampa Bay Beer Week. Each course will be paired to a beer from each of the four breweries, celebrating the uniqueness of the Tampa Bay brewery scene.

I am counting down the hours now…

One more dawn….

One more day…

One day more!

So Many Events…

•March 1, 2017 • 1 Comment


…and so many beers!

Obviously, if you want to find an event during Tampa Bay Beer Week, all you have to do is check the official Events page. So many to choose from, there is definitely something for everyone. Here are a few more that I would recommend checking out!


Didn’t get tickets to Brewers Ball? Fear not, there is still plenty to do. As Brandon’s only Brewery, BrewworX is launching four new hand crafted beers! There will be live music all day, headlined by Zebron & James, and a new beer launched every 90 minutes. There is not cost for the event, just whatever you want to drink or eat.
Go try:
-Lushable Crush (IPA)
-Trippel Trappezoid (Belgian Tripple)
-Vienna Vixon (Vienna Lager)
-Ice Cream Sammich (Milk Stout)
For more info, check out the Event Page on Facebook.


Cheers to Belgian Beers – Mini Belgian Beer Fest
Independent Bar & Cafe, Tampa
Tuesday, March 7, 7-9pm
$30, reserve your spot by emailing
The Independent has made a name for itself over the years for being simply one of the best when it comes to beer culture. Join them as they celebrate the wonderful Beers of Belgium during the annual “Cheers to Belgian Beers” mini-Belgian beer festival. Brewery representatives from Belgian breweries will be on hand to discuss the history and brewing process of the various Belgian beer styles such as Saisons, Blondes, Dubbels, Tripels, Trappist ales, Sours, and Witbiers while you taste your way through the styles. A limited amount of Cantillon will be available for tasting while supplies last. Includes commemorative tasting glass.


Stout Smackdown
Pair O’ Dice, Clearwater
Tuesday, March 7, 3-10pm
Can you smell what Pair O’Dice is cookin’? Get your Roody-Poo Candy Asses down to the brewery and give your tastebuds The People’s Elbow. They are hosting a Stout SMACKDOWN to celebrate Tampa Bay Beer Week! Don’t think you can handle it? IT DOESN’T MATTER WHAT YOU THINK! Free to attend and just pay for what you want to drink.
Stouts on Tap:
– Coconut Stout
– Espresso Imperial Stout
– Smoked Serrano Stout
– Chocolate Cherry Imperial Stout
– Vanilla Bean Stout
– Sugar Maple Wood-Aged Imperial Stout
– Little Joe Stout
– Hobo’s Delight Imperial Porter
More info on the Facebook Event page.


Fantome Takeover
Brasserie Saint Somewhere, Tarpon Springs
Wednesday, March 8 – 6-1pm
“Saint” Bob Sylvester recently opened the Brasserie, and there was much rejoicing. The patron saint of Tampa Bay beer finally has not just a tasting room for his amazing beers, but a place to truly appreciate the art of brewing. Bob more than earns his reputation by putting on top notch tastings like this one. They will be pouring 7 different Fantome saisons by the glass, one draft AND a special toast live from the man himself, Fantome founder and owner Dany Prignon at 6pm. Some of the beers available will be:
Saison (Draft)
Bris Bon Bon
Coffee Ruby
Dark White
Artist #2
Plus the usual stellar lineup of Belgian, French and of course Saint Somewhere offerings!
For updates and more info, check out the Event Page.

I just can’t wait! Hope to see some of you out there!



It’s Coming…

•February 28, 2017 • Leave a Comment


Mere days. Can you hear the thunder on the horizon? Can you sense the shift in the air? Like something is coming…

Beer Week approaches.

I am very excited about this year, as I am every year. We have a record number of breweries in the state of Florida now. New places are opening up all the time. There are new faces, new beers, and new approaches that are growing the industry in breadth as well as depth. And much of that will be on display during Tampa Bay Beer Week.

As always, people ask me what events I am most looking forward to or what they “should not miss”. I am wary about giving a one-size-fits-all answer, but here are a few that I think are pretty special.


I have already told you about this one, but it bears repeating. This is a totally unique and fun event, and tickets are selling quickly. What better way to kick off the week than trying the truly out-there stylings of some of the best breweries Tampa Bay has to offer?
What: Tampa Bay Beer Week presents The Ultimate Brewer II
When: Friday, March 3rd
Where: Crooked Thumb Brewing, Safety Harbor
Time: Doors open @ 7:30pm
Tickets: $25 in advance, $35 day of at the door.


This festival has been going on for many years, and it used to include breweries from outside the state. Now, it is a true celebration of how amazing Florida’s beer industry has become. This is the opportunity to sample some of the best beer Florida has to offer, especially those that have not made it to your local market yet. It is also a chance to meet the actual brewers as they pour their beers for everyone.
What: Florida Brewers Guild Craft Beer Festival
When: Saturday, March 4th
Where: Cotanchobee Park, Tampa
Time: VIP Entry @ 1:00 PM (one hour early access), General Admission @ 2:00 PM
Tickets: Purchase here


I love beer and food pairings, and this one looks like a lot of fun. South Tampa’s 81Bay Brewing has planned a pop-up four course pairings dinner in the production facility to let Chef Lee Aquino from Pith and Pally will play with your senses and perfect pair 81Bay beers to each exciting dish.
What: Flights and Bites II: A TBBW Celebration
When: Monday, March 6th
Where: 81Bay Brewing Company, Tampa
6pm -7pm: Reception and Mingling
7pm – 9pm: Dinner is served
9pm -10pm: Brewery tour, taproom games and more BEER!
Tickets: Limited to 48 diners and are $45 each. Get them here.

In the coming days I will throw out a few more suggestions and ideas. So many great events, and I just can’t attend them all!


It’s Time! The Ultimate Brewer II…

•January 20, 2017 • 1 Comment

We are a month and a half away from Tampa Bay Beer Week, and once again, it is kicking off with a rumble. On Friday, March 3th, twenty-seven Tampa Bay area breweries will go head to head in the second annual Ultimate Brewer competition. Held at Crooked Thumb Brewing in Safety Harbor, this will be the official Tampa Bay Beer Week kickoff party.

So what is this battle about? Are we going to see a title defense from Brew Bus Brewing? Will newcomers Flying Boat and Cueni shock the world? We will finally get to see who the real Khris/Chris Johnson is? Well, as entertaining as those scenarios might be, this one will actually be much cooler.

On Thursday, January 12th, representatives from all 27 participating breweries – doubling last year’s participation – gathered at St. Pete Brewing. The reason: to select their ingredients for a special brew. How would you feel about a beer made with sea salt and bananas? Or butterscotch and thyme? What about pickles? Each brewery had a blind draw for one of 30 ingredients or ingredient combinations.

The selection event itself was a veritable who’s-who of Tampa Bay brewing royalty. It was even asked is we had selected a “designated survivor” in the event of some kind of catastrophic tragedy at St. Pete Brewing that evening! A grand time was had by all, and it is always fun to have the chance to chat with industry folks in a casual, social setting. Kudos to Casey at St. Pete Brewing for organizing the event and hosting a fantastic gathering.

The breweries that will be participating are:

  • Southern Homebrew and Winemaking
  • Big Top
  • Calusa
  • Mastry’s
  • Rapp
  • Flying Boat
  • de Bine
  • Big Storm
  • Stilt House
  • 3 Daughters
  • Green Bench
  • Marker 48
  • Tampa Bay Brewing Company
  • Cigar City
  • Brew Bus
  • 81Bay
  • Motorworks
  • Mad Beach
  • Hidden Springs
  • Crooked Thumb
  • St. Pete Brewing
  • Pair O Dice
  • Six Ten
  • HOB Brewing
  • Cueni
  • Tampa Beer Works
  • Barley Mow Brewing
  • Pinellas Ale Works

And the ingredients? What would you do with these?!

  • Beets
  • Black pepper and Strawberries
  • pickles
  • cucumbers and vanilla
  • wasabi and ginger
  • grapefruit and caramel
  • apples and rosemary
  • sweet potato and bacon
  • sage and peaches
  • dark chocolate and lemongrass
  • seat salt and bananas
  • lavender and pineapple
  • basil and tomato
  • curry and figs
  • garlic
  • guava and hazelnuts
  • passion fruit and nutmeg
  • cranberry and chili peppers
  • butterscotch and thyme
  • hazelnuts and pears
  • curry and watermelon
  • mint and oranges
  • kiwis and cinnamon
  • plums and coriander
  • carrots and blueberries
  • lemon peels and celery seed
  • fennel and oranges

Who drew which ingredients? What will these creative crazies do with them? To find out, you’ll have to join Tampa Bay Beer Week for the second annual Ultimate Brewer championship!


Come and sample these crazy-brew creations and vote for your favorite! In addition, there will be several breweries in attendance pouring a more traditional fare, and food trucks to round out the evening.

For tickets and additional information, click here.


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