Tampa Bay Beer Week – Florida Brewers Guild Festival

Well, the first day is in the books, and if this is any indication of how the week is going to go, we are in for a real treat.  The day was beautiful and sunny, a nice breeze blew through Centro Ybor.  Tampa mayor Bob Buckhorn was on hand to tap the first cask, then hung out for a bit and had a pint of Old Elephant Foot IPA with a group of us outside the Tampa Bay Brewing Company.  A class act, through and through.  I took some time before the official opening of the festival to walk around and check out the tables.  I was surprised and very impressed at the number of new Florida breweries on hand.  Some I had never even head of, which was wonderful.

Some of the standouts for me were:

  • Barley Mow Brewing – I don’t recall the names of the beers, but they were a Black IPA, a Vanilla Stout, and a Cranberry Scottish Wee Heavy… all of which were incredible.  I am really looking forward to having their beers available around town.
  • Funky Buddha Brewing – Last year was the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter.  This year is the Bonita Applebum.  Like a slice of pie in a glass.  And their Daywalker ginger IPA was amazing as well.
  • Pensacola Bay Brewing – Their 1845 Pilsner. Such a hard beer to brew well since there is nothing to hide behind, flavor-wise.  But Mark Robertson has nailed this one.  So crisp and flavorful.  I could drink this one all day, for sure.
  • Rapp Brewing – As he put it, Greg Rapp is probably the oldest of the new brewers around.  A homebrewer for decades, and finally now making the dream come true, his beers are nothing short of fantastic.  From the old, obscure style (Lichtenheiner smoked sour) to his “OMG” strong ale with vanilla, every single one of his beers were top notch, and people were taking notice.

Despite the huge crowds (I heard one estimate of 2100 people), I would rank the 2012 Florida Brewers Guild Festival as the best I have been to.  A great collection of some of the best beers in the state, all gathered in one place.

Sunday is the Brewer’s Ball, and there will be more time for socializing and tasting.  This was the perfect kick-off to what is sure to be an unforgettable inaugural Tampa Bay Beer Week.


~ by Sean Nordquist on March 3, 2012.

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