Tampa Bay Beer Week is in Full Swing
Tampa Bay Beer Week kicked off on Saturday with the Florida Brewers Guild Beer Fest, and in my opinion it was the best one in recent memory. A new locale at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park in Tampa (if you have never heard of it, don’t feel bad… many of us hadn’t!) allowed for a lot more space, and a much better flow of people. Because it was at a stand alone venue – instead of smack in the middle of Ybor City as previous years – there was no pass-though traffic, and no one was competing for space. The mood was excellent, the weather beautiful, and the beer plentiful. It was thrilling to see so many Florida breweries on display, and I loved the fact that I had not even heard of some of them!
As in previous years, Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn tapped the ceremonial firkin to officially open the week, and he read the Proclamation declaring March 1st through 9th Tampa Bay Beer Week. The firkin was a combined effort from most of Tampa Bay’s craft brewers, and the general consensus was that the beer “didn’t suck”, which is an impressive feat, considering how many different additions there were.
I got a chance to talk to some old friends and make some new ones, and taste some beers that I not had before. Some new breweries I am excited about are Oyster City from Apalachicola and Tomoka Brewing from Ormond Beach. Both are new, but already getting a lot of well-deserved attention.
All in all, it was a great day. Some of my favorite beers were:
- Oyster City Brewing Hooter Brown
- Green Bench Brewing Colliding Galaxies Double Sour IPA
- Due South Brewing Category 5 IPA
- Pensacola Bay Brewing De Soto Beliner Weisse with Rasberries
Sunday was more of the same. Warm, clear weather, great beers, and even more old friends as well as new ones. The awards for the best beers in Florida were handed out, and the big winner of the day was – unsurprisingly – Greg Rapp of Rapp Brewing. Also worth mentioning is the Best of Show Gold Medal award to Swamp Head Brewing for their 10-10-2010 Barleywine, and Due South Brewing was named best brewery over 2000 BBL.
More great beers were poured, and I got to sample a few more excellent offerings including:
- Darwind on 4th Charapa
- Due South Brewing Mariana Trench Imperial Stout
- Fort Meyers Brewing Citra Double IPA
- Proof Brewing Guru IPA
- Pinglehead Brewing Mind Drive Imperial Porter
I feel honored and proud to be part of the Florida craft beer scene these days. With so many great breweries and beers to choose from, we are in the middle of a brewing Renaissance, in my opinion. I am looking forward to the rest of these week for sure!