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 independentbeer@gmail.com
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.


Holiday Cheer at the Pier, in Prose Form

•December 7, 2016 • Leave a Comment


Hopefully you enjoyed yesterday’s attempt at some literary calisthenics with a beer-y twist on Clement Clarke Moore’s “A Visit From St. Nicolas”. All in good fun, of course. But for those who prefer straight, to-the-point information about such matters, let’s talk about Tampa Bay Beer Week‘s upcoming Winter break beer festival and fundraiser: Holiday Cheer at the Pier. Here are the need-to-know details:

Date: Friday, December 16th
Time: 6pm-10pm (VIP gets in at 5pm)
Location: Hops & Props, 335 2nd Ave NE, St. Petersburg, FL 33701
General Admission: $50
VIP Admission: $75
Tickets available at: http://stpetecheers.brownpaperticket.com/

So, what do you get for your ticket? Let’s talk beer, first. Here is just a small sample of what will be poured:
Barley Mow Brewing Co. – Tinsel Holiday Spiced Ale
Rock Brothers Brewing – Rebelution IPA
Proof Brewing – Creatures in the Dark
Weyerbacher Brewing Co. – Sunday Mole Stout
81Bay Brewing – Goliath Double Chocolate Porter
Intuition Ale Works – Regal Rapture
Coppertail Brewing – Cryptid Imperial Stout
Dunedin Brewery – 2016 Holiday Phruitcake
JDUB’s Brewing – Cranberry Saison
Darwin’s Brewing Co. – Charapa Spiced Porter
Crooked Thumb Brewery – Dark Chocolate Peppermint Bark Stout
Cigar City Brewing – Hunahpu Imperial Stout
Draai Laag Relic
Fantome Saison
Ritterguts Barentoter
…and more!


Feeling a bit peckish? Need to nosh on something while you imbibe these great liquids? Fear not, revelers! Food trucks will be on hand to satisfy.

To help set the mood, there will be live music playing for your enjoyment, spreading holiday cheer and merriment.

Speaking of spreading cheer and merriment, all attendees are highly encouraged to dress festively! Show off your most awesome, most special, and most epic holiday outfit. Show everyone that the spirit of the holidays lives in you!

What’s that? You are waiting for me to talk about the VIP tickets? Wanna know what you are getting above and beyond the General Admission, the amazing beers, delicious food, seasonal music, and great company?  Well scoot in closer, kids… Beer for the Daddy has a story for you…

On a cold* winter night, the magic elves at Hops & Props are closing their doors to the outside world and creating a place of magic and wonder. Only those sprinkled with magic winter dust** will be allowed inside, and what to their wondering eyes should appear, but all special taps, and bottles of great beer! (Sorry… sneaking in a little more C.C. Moore there…)


VIPs (and there will be a very limited number of tickets available) will receive – in addition to all the aforementioned awesomeness, the following:

  • one hour early admission to the festival
  • access to the inside bar at Hops & Props, and all of the goodies inside (including the air conditioning and bathroom facilities)
  • special hors d’oeuvres from the Hops & Props kitchen
  • special taps and bottles (here is a small teaser… more to come soon)
    • Saison DuPont Bons Voeux
    • Corsendonk Christmas
    • Barley Mow Dark Track
    • Motorworks Datil
    • Weyerbacher Brunicorn
    • CCB Bourbon Barrel Zhukov

Are you excited yet? Do you feel that old Christmas (or Kwanzaa, or Hanukkah, or just some quantum fluctuation…) magic flowing through you yet?  Of course you do.

So go buy your tickets now. It is that simple. Heck, buy one for a friend, and ensure your place on Santa’s “Nice List”. It can’t hurt, right?

*  cold is relative. the average temperature in St. Petersburg for December 16th typically varies from 60°F to 69°F and is rarely below 51°F or above 78°F.
** a.k.a. VIP wristbands

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