TBBW Presents – The Ultimate Brewer!

•February 4, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The Ultimate Brewer Logo

By now you have heard about the throw-down. You know who’s stepping up. You know you want the beers. But did you also know about what ELSE is going on at Rapp Brewing on March 4th? Do you even know what time to be there? No… because i have not told you yet. But fear not! All shall be revealed…

Along with the competition several breweries are participating and giving out samples of their delicious offerings! JDubs of Sarasota, Lost Coast Brewing of Eureka, California, Anderson Valley from Boonville, California, Weyerbacher from Easton, Pennsylvania, Lagunitas from Petaluma, California, and Smuttynose from Hampton, New Hampshire, just to name a few.

The event begins at 8:00pm, and tickets will be available for purchase online very soon, so keep checking the Event Page.

Also remember that this is the big kick-off event for Tampa Bay Beer Week. It is gonna be a party, for sure. Music by DJ Massiv, food trucks, and did I mention some really great beer?



‘Tis the Season…

•January 21, 2016 • 2 Comments

No, I am not confused. It really is the season… for Beer Events!

Now is the time of year when the weather is nice, the holidays are sufficiently celebrated (and recovered from), and the Bay Area begins to celebrate the culture of beer by holding a plethora of festivals and events. 2016 looks not only to continue the tradition, but to do it bigger and better than ever before. Remember, Tampa Bay Beer Week is only six weeks away.

Six. Weeks. Time to start training.

The last weekend in January is going to test your resolve, to be sure. You have some choices to make. The good news is, any of these would be the right choice!

Jan. 30 – Useppa Limited Edition Launch at Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Ybor City, 9amuseppa

Kick off the party early and grab a bottle of this special treat from one of the oldest breweries in Florida. As the story goes, Jose Gaspar took what his heart desired, but could not force a princess named Useppa to desire him. Driven by unrequited love and bitterness, Gasparilla killed her in a fit of rage. Out of remorse, he buried her body on an island we call Useppa to this day. Useppa Raging IPA embodies the myth mith delicate layers of floral notes, hints of the tropics, and a raging amount of hoppiness. Limit 2 bottles per person and only 350 bottles available. $10 each.

For more information, check the Event Page.

Jan. 30 – Local Fresh Beer Festival at The Ale & the Witch, St. Petersburg, 2pm-10pm

Celebrating their 5 year anniversary week, the Witch will be hosting a small beer festival inside the DEN. Broken up into 2 sessions (2-5pm) and (7-10pm) this event features 21 Florida breweries. Each session has only 100 tickets for sale, so it will be a fun, intimate beer gathering of friends celebrating the local fresh beer community. Each brewery will be featuring 2 rare selections and will be operating their own tables for conversation. This event is also a fundraiser for Tampa Bay Watch who works hard every day to protect and educate about local Tampa Bay waterways. Proceeds from ticket sales as well as a membership drive and a raffle will occur during each session.

For details and tickets, visit their Facebook Page.

Jan. 31 – Hops for Heroes Craft Beer Festival at St. Pete Shuffleboard Club, St. Petersburg, 2pm-5pm


This is the second year for the Hops for Heroes festival, and it is for a great cause. The Road Warrior Foundation works to providing adventures to improve the lives of veterans and empower them through challenges that honor their service. Come join over 25 breweries and honor our veterans who have served. There will be food trucks, music, a silent auction, and of course shuffleboard! Tickets are only $35 online, $40 at the door. All proceeds benefit the Road Warrior Foundation.

Tickets and additional information is available at www.RoadWarrior.org.

Feb. 6 – Cider & Mead Festival at Cajun Cafe on the Bayou, Pinellas Park, 2pm-6pm


If you have never attended a festival at the Cajun Cafe, you have missed out in a huge way. They know how to do it right. The beer festivals are the stuff of legends, and the Cider & Mead fest is no different. Come taste over 100 of the best ciders and meads from around the world, all on the banks of the bayou. Delicious food, live music, and a souvenir tasting glass will round it out for a great day among great people.

Get more details and a link to tickets on the Event Page.

Feb. 27 – 15th Annual Stogies and Stout at Dunedin Brewery, Dunedin, 7pm-11pm


This is one of my favorite festivals every year. If you love all things dark and roasty, you cannot miss this event. Florida’s oldest microbrewery brings an amazing lineup of stouts and porters each year from around the world, kicks some amazing jams with talented bands, and if you want to enjoy a good cigar, you will be in heaven. Even if cigars are not your thing, there is plenty of space inside away from the smoke, so don’t let that scare you away.

This event will sell out. There is no question. It does every year. So get your tickets well in advance and come celebrate the darkness. $50 includes commemorative tasting glass, choice of cigar, Oaxacan Street Food & Tasting of 30+ Local & National stouts on draft.

Taplist (ever evolving) and tickets are available on the Event Page.


Are you excited yet?


It’s Time! The Ultimate Brewer…

•January 12, 2016 • Leave a Comment

The Ultimate Brewer Logo

We are a month and a half away from Tampa Bay Beer Week, and this year, it is kicking off with a rumble. On Friday, March 4th, fourteen Tampa Bay area breweries will go head to head in the inaugural Ultimate Brewer competition. Held at Rapp Brewing in Seminole, this will be the official Tampa Bay Beer Week kickoff party.

So what is this battle about? Are we going to see Wayne Wambles and Jon McCracken throw down in the Octogon? We will finally get to see Khris Johnson perform his devastating MLF finishing maneuver and send a message to nemesis Devon Kreps? Well, as entertaining as those scenarios might be, this one will actually be much cooler.

On Thursday, January 7th, representatives from all 14 participating breweries gathered at St. Pete Brewing. The reason: to select their ingredients for a special brew. How would you feel about a beer made with toffee and bananas? Or cinnamon and lemon peel? What about onions? Each brewery had a blind draw for one of 16 ingredients or ingredient combinations. The results will be kept secret until the event when there will be a blind tasting at The Ultimate Brewer on March 4th.

T.U.B. 3 T.U.B. 11

The breweries that will be participating are:

  • Southern Homebrew and Winemaking
  • 7venth Sun Brewing
  • Cigar City Brewing
  • Pinellas Ale Works
  • Green Bench Brewing
  • HOB Brewing
  • Rapp Brewing
  • St. Pete Brewing Company
  • Crooked Thumb Brewing
  • Barley Mow Brewing
  • Stilt House Brewing
  • Mastry’s Brewing
  • Brew Bus Brewing
  • 3Daughters Brewing

The possible ingredients or ingredient combinations are:

  • Onions
  • Real Bacon and Habanero
  • Cinnamon and Lemon peel
  • Orange and Old Bay
  • Thyme and Peaches
  • Oysters and Hot Sauce
  • Maple Syrup and Pears
  • Vanilla Bean and Pomegranate
  • Dark Chocolate and Mango
  • Coffee and Curry
  • Vanillas bean and Jalapenos
  • White Chocolate and Pistachios
  • Horseradish
  • Toffee and Bananas

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 first ever Ultimate Brewer championship!

More details will be coming soon, but mark your calendars. You won’t want to miss this one for sure!



Acquisition, Attrition, and Evolution

•January 6, 2016 • Leave a Comment

Not that many years ago, the beer scene in Florida was just beginning to coalesce. What had been known for so long as a craft beer wasteland was finally coming into its own. New breweries were popping up around the state, festivals were drawing larger and more beer-savvy crowds, and the rest of the country was starting to take notice. There was a definite feeling of camaraderie between all of the brewers and emerging beer bars, and it felt like we were in a golden age of a warm-fuzzy-sudsy beer Camelot.

Welcome to 2016.


Florida is now a beer destination. The beer culture here is internationally recognized, as evidenced by the awards won, the reviews around the globe, and – in the specific case of St. Petersburg – by the honor of hosting the incredible Shelton Brothers Festival in 2015. Florida is home to over 150 breweries, with a whole slough of “breweries-in-planning”. Last year, the state legislature finally approved the sale of 64 ounce growlers (if you were not following that saga, it was an incredible tale of lies, cronyism, and lobbyist influence in Florida politics… but I digress). It is safe to say that the Sunshine State has fought its way into a rightful place among the best beer states in the country.

Nationally, we saw the number of breweries blow past the previous record, with over 4100 breweries now operating in the United States. We also began to see more of what many of us knew was coming. The Big Brewers have seen the writing on the wall, and they want a piece of the action. So they are buying it up, piece by piece. You may remember the big kerfuffle when the rumors spread that Cigar City Brewing was being acquired by AB/InBev. While that didn’t happen, there were some surprising pick ups in 2015.


And we have seen breweries close. Even locally. One of the most frequent questions I get is “Can we sustain this growth?” and “How many breweries can the Tampa Bay Area support?” There is frequently reference to a “craft beer bubble”. My answer has never changed. Yes, we can sustain the growth. We can support more breweries. And we are not on the bubble. HOWEVER… it has been something I have said for years. The brewery business is just that: a business. And sometimes businesses fail. There are a whole myriad of reasons why any business might have to close its doors, from lack of customers or funds, to increased competition and even health issues. Sometimes you just don’t have a good product or there is a lack of professional acumen to make things work. It is no different in brewing.

We have also seen some fracturing of the Circle of Love between brewers in our state. While many believed every brewery and brewery owner was buddy-buddy with the next, it is easily forgotten that underneath the titles lie real people. And some people are just nicer than others, and some can be serious assholes. Sometimes publicly. And as with any fanhood, divisions emerge, and #teamthisguy starts to bash #teamthatguy for no other reason than “their” brewery is involved. I just don’t have the taste for that kind of childishness…


So what is 2016 going to bring us?

First off, a hell of a lot of great beer coming out of Florida breweries. From the old guard to the new, there is some truly spectacular liquid being conjured up here, and I expect that to continue. And with that will be a increase in the number of events and festivals, some of which will be amazing, while others will simply be targeted as mass consumption and making some quick cash.

I expect to also see more and more tap handles and shelf space dedicated not just to craft beer, but specifically Florida-brewed beer. There is no reason that the usually homogeneous and generic tourist locations should not be offering a taste of Florida at their bars and restaurants. It is already starting to happen, but I really think it will expand.


On a more personal note, I am approaching 2016 as a chance to evolve this site and my involvement in the beer community. I have been doing this a (relatively) long time; I have focused almost exclusively on beer. And don’t get me wrong, I still love beer. And I will continue to participate and contribute to the beer community of Tampa Bay and Florida. But I am also going to evolve this space to be more. I am a beer lover, yes, but I am also an educator, a traveler, a father and husband, food lover, books and music, movies, science, and so on. I think I can bring more to the table than just the beer. But don’t worry, I’ll still bring the beer.


Skål! Swedish Glögg in the Nordquist tradition continues…

•December 19, 2015 • 1 Comment

Oh, did you think I would forget?

Holiday traditions are as varied as the people that celebrate them. Ask anyglogg person what evokes that holiday spirit in them, and you will be given answers across the spectrum or 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 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 made tonight, 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.


Halfway There 2015

•August 11, 2015 • Leave a Comment

Halfway There 2015

For the third year in a row, Tampa Bay Beer Week presents Halfway There: A Rare Beer Festival. For 2015, we are heading back across the Bay and into Ybor City, taking over the historic Cuban Club for an evening a beery bliss.

If you attended in 2013 or 2014, you know what an amazing festival this has turned in to. In fact, we have been nominated for Creative Loafing’s “Best Beer Festival” in their Best of the Bay edition (go vote here!).

So what is Halfway There? It is a beer festival featuring rare and one-off beers from your favorite local breweries and breweries around the globe. Beers you have most likely never had, and some you may never have again. This event is not run by a single brewery, a distributor, or anyone else. It is put on by Tampa Bay Beer Week to celebrate beer culture in Tampa Bay. You do not want to miss this festival. Trust me.

Photo by Megan O'Boyle

Photo by Megan O’Boyle

Here is what you need to know:

TICKETS ARE LIMITED. We will NOT oversell this event. We aim to keep crowd level at a comfortable level with short as possible lines.

General Admission $50
– tasting glass
– general entry, 5pm

VIP Admission $75
– tasting glass
– early entry, 4pm
– TBBW shirt

Designated Driver $15
– NO Alcohol Consumption

– The Cuban Club, Ybor City

Participating (More to come)
7venth Sun Brewery
Abita Brewing Co.
Anderson Valley Brewing
Angry Chair Brewing
B Nektar Meadery
Ballast Point Brewing Co.
Barley Mow Brewing Co.
Bastet Brewing Co.
Best Florida Beer
Brew Bus Brewing
Brew Hub
Brooklyn Brewery
C2 Imports
Cigar City Brewing
Cigar City Brewpub
Cigar City Cider and Mead
Coppertail Brewing Co.
Crown Valley Brewing Company
Engine 15 Brewing Co
Florida Beer Company
Four Stacks Brewing
Global Beer Network
Green Bench Brewing Co.
Intuition Ale Works
J Dubs Brewing Co.
Late Start Brewing
Lazy Magnolia Brewery
Left Hand Brewing
Lost Coast Brewery
Mad Beach Brewing Co
MicroMan Distributors
Odd Breed Wild Ales
Orange Blossom Brewery
Pair O’ Dice Brewing Co.
Pinellas Ale Works
PUB Guild
Rapp Brewing Co.
Samuel Adams
Sea Dog/Shipyard
Sierra Nevada Brewing Co.
SixTen Brewing
Smuttynose Brewing
Special Hoperations
St Somewhere Brewing Co
St. Pete Homebrew Club
St. Pete Brewing Co.
Suncoast Barley Mashers
Swamp Head Brewery
Sweetwater Brewing
Tangent Brewing
Tampa Bay B.E.E.R.S.
Tampa Bay Brewing Co.
Terrapin Brewing Co
Three Palms Brewing Co
Tomoka Brewing Co.
Two Henry’s Brewing Co
Wetten Importers
Weyerbacher Brewing Co.
Wild Rover Brewery

More information on participants and taplists coming soon!

TBBW glasses


Love Wins

•June 26, 2015 • Leave a Comment

I made a decision a while back to mostly avoid political commentary on this page, other than beer-related things.

For today, though, I am going to break my self-imposed rule.

I can’t express enough how happy I am at the Supreme Court’s decision today regarding marriage equality. I have had friends in the LBGT community since before I even knew what that was. I lost friends to AIDS, and wept over their names on the Quilt when it was on display in DC. I have learned what it meant to be a straight ally, and am proud to count among some of my closest friends and mentors people who are gay and lesbian.

Today, finally, they have received acknowledgement that they have the right under the law to love who they love, just as any citizen of this country should have.

If you believe that – because of your so-called “faith” – that somehow their love or marriage somehow undermines yours, you need to take a deep look at your own relationships. This decision does not require you like or approve or all marriages, just as the abolishing of mixed-race marriage bans didn’t stop those bigots from continuing their hate. Nor does the decision require churches to perform marriages they do not approve of (like the Catholic Church’s position on divorcees). What it says is that in the United States of America, everyone has a legal right to marry the person they love. Period.

We still have a long way to go in this country in regards to equality, justice, and love, but today was a seminal moment of moving forward, and I for one am going to applaud it and start looking for some wedding invitations in the mail.

Love wins.

Huge Pride Flag


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