American Craft Beer Week 2013: The Growing Scene in Florida
It is difficult to keep up with any industry that is suddenly exploding with growth, even if it is your full time job. It is nearly impossible when you do it for fun and a hobby. Ever heard the term “drinking from the firehose”? But I suppose that is better than the alternative.
First, the bad news. The growler bill in Florida died a quiet death at the hands of lobbyists and their lackeys in the state legislature. It is simply shameful the way that our elected representatives – and especially Representative Debbie Mayfield – ignored calls from the people and bent the knee to the lobbyists. I hope people are paying attention come election time.
But, the craft beer spirit in Florida is not so easily put down. It seems like almost every day I am hearing about another brewery, brewpub, or brewing venture somewhere in the state. You are probably already seeing Florida beers you didn’t even know existed six months ago (unless you are active in the scene here) like Pinglehead, Proof, Green Room. Before long, you will be hearing about Motorworks in Sarasota, Tomoka Brewing in Ormand Beach, Grasslands in Tallahassee, and Angry Chair in Tampa. And there are more being schemed out even as I type this. Remember the names V-Twin, Sunburn, and Archangel. Every time I go to a beer event, there is something new and exciting.
I have had people ask me if Florida is becoming over-saturated with breweries. If there is enough demand to warrant all these new startups. I say
without hesitation: absolutely. If a town of less than 500,000 people like Asheville, North Carolina can support a dozen or more breweries, Tampa Bay certainly can. In 2011, North Carolina had 58 breweries, one for every 160,000 or so. Florida had 44, or one for every 427,000 people. I think we have a lot of room for growth and expansion. Are all of them going to be good? Of course not. Will all of them succeed? Nope. No business has 100% success rate. But with continued innovation and talent, solid business plans and practices, and a thirsty craft beer community, I would be willing to bet that more will succeed than fail.
Sarasota Herald-Tribune writer Alan Shaw has done a great job of putting together an interactive map of Florida breweries. You should check it out here.
Finally, I wanted to say happy American Craft Beer Week to everyone! There are going to be several “official” ACBW toasts going on tonight around the country. So grab a pint or bottle or can or growler of your favorite and celebrate the renaissance we are in now.