“Funk and sour is the new hops,” or so I’ve heard. Lots of local breweries are working on a funk or sour program, and both Coppertail and Green Bench have foeders of their own for oak-aging their beers. Hype or not, most of the worlds great breweries maintain these programs and some of them for hundreds of years. Tangent Brewing, one of Tampa’s up-and-coming breweries, intends to lead the bay area in the production of sour and Brettanomyces beers. I asked Rodney to write up an introduction to some funky and sour beers in an easily accessible manner – and what better way to do that than with cheese and dessert pairings? Enjoy the pairing suggestions, and if you have a chance, look for Tangent at an upcoming beer fest. They’re pouring at the best of them, including during Tampa Bay Beer Week.
I’ve been here before. The first time I visited though, it was more of a vision: a big brewhouse here, a bottling line there, a tasting room too. That vision has morphed and changed a bit over the years – and mind you it has almost been two years since I first met Kent Bailey. Since then they have started brewing and distributing their beers and have maintained a temporary tasting room – but the biggest part of the vision remains incomplete. Once that vision becomes reality, Coppertail will be the destination that Bailey has all along planned.
It’s not hard to see how Coppertail is different than other Tampa Bay breweries. For one, it’s not located in a strip mall or industrial park. It’s an enormous ex-mayonnaise factory with the remnants of a rail spur running through it. Also its brewing and fermenting capacity is just … massive. I’m not going to repeat numbers here, but their purpose built system is massive, automated, and so full of stainless-steel that grown men have wept in its presence. It’s also all built in such a way that what happens here is kind of a spectacle.
It’s a sort of a temple to brewing. The two-story tasting room wraps gently around the brewery and bottling line. There’s a balcony which is planned to actually open into the brewery – letting the sounds and smells gently waft into the tasting room – and countless windows looking out on rows of fermenters, hop infusers, a bottling line, and of course the unstoppable ballet of kegs moving about.
The second time I visited in May 2014, nearly a year after they took over the building, they still hadn’t brewed their first full batch on the new system. The tasting room was still a parking lot. The temporary tasting room hadn’t even opened yet. The beer was still a relative unknown outside of beer-geek circles. But the vision was still there. And so was Kent, shepherding it all through the legal and regulatory hoops required to open a brewery.
He stood right in front of that window and cast his vision for a tasting room that people would come from far and wide to visit. “They’ll come to Tampa to try Cigar City, then they’ll hear about us and maybe come see us.” Kent’s so modest.
The tasting room’s warm and welcoming finishes stand in stark contrast to the brewery’s polished steel and machinery. Coated in rustic charm, the tasting room will welcome visitors with hand stained wood floors, polished concrete, rustic wood bars, exposed steel beams, and of course those windows. Natural light will pour through those outdoor windows and into the tasting room. Patrons will gaze through the interior windows as Coppertailers whip up new brews.
Coppertail’s opening comes about in a time when the State of Florida is actively reexamining the laws which make this precise combination possible. Organizations seeking to “clarify” the tasting room rules have sued the state of Florida’s licensing division, requesting clarification on the rules used to grant licenses to breweries with attached tasting rooms. It’s a risk for new breweries – Coppertail already has its licensing and is brewing beer. None of this would have existed if the situation was like that of our neighbor, Georgia who prevents breweries from having such elaborate tasting rooms. I can’t help but wonder what other destinations would be stymied if things changed in Florida.
Coppertail’s tasting room will open on March 6, 2015. That’s my prediction at least (I have it on good authority), and who knows how right I’ll be since I’m pretty sure this is the second March 6th in as many years that they’ve planned to be open. But destinations take time to build.
BEE-B-Q is a series of dinners focusing on meals paired with ciders and meads made from Cigar City Cider and Meadery. A recent menu included “Cowboy Dan’s Baby Back Ribs”: baby back pork ribs served with Cigar City Cider’s Cowboy Dan caramel cider-based BBQ sauce, crushed peanuts, and smoked sea salt; orange blossom chicken: chargrilled chicken thighs with Cigar City Cider’s Orange Blossom Mead honey mustard BBQ sauce. Typically includes beer/mead paired specially with the menu.
See also: Eggs and Kegs events; a brunch series hosted by Cigar City Brewery.
Check out the Loko Cuisine website at: http://www.lokocuisine.com/
- When: usually the last Friday of the month, dinner-time
- Where: Cigar City Cider and Mead
- How much: $25/head
Egg and Kegs is a beer-based brunch served at Tampa’s Cigar City brewery on the third Sunday of every month. A recent menu included: country ham and espresso red-eye gravy made with CCB’s Cubano Espresso brown ale; southern cajun shrimp; jalapeno cheese grits; baked french toast with CCB rum barrel aged Caffe Americano double stout caramel sauce. The meals usually include pours of well-paired beers and additional related beers are available on draught.
Tampa chef-cum-entrepreneur John Loscalzo created the Eggs and Kegs series in 2009. John writes:
In 2009, I needed a creative outlet for my love of food, cooking, and community. Being a special education teacher, I knew it was nearly impossible to add a full time cooking gig to my plate.
My motivation was to create social events and dinners that were designed to showcase unique businesses and incorporate local ingredients and beverages while providing an awareness of sustainability within the community. After talking with local business owners about my concept and researching shared kitchen spaces, LOKO Cuisine was created. I was able to support local businesses through food featuring my culinary creations. I have collaborated with businesses such as Cigar City Brewing, Yuengling Brewery, Bells Brewery, Highland Brewery, The Wild Rover Brewery, Late Start Brewing, Brewers’ Tasting Room, Jonathan Wakefield Brewing, Florida Avenue Ales, Rock Brothers Brewing, Hideaway Café, Felicitous Tea & Coffee Shop, World of Beer, The Florida Aquarium, Exalted Warrior Foundation & Yogani, Mr. Empanada, Cappy’s Pizza, Cork & Olive, Lit Lounge and Tampa Street Market.
John’s Eggs and Kegs events are a staple of local Tampa beer culture. Look for them on the third Sunday of each and every month, usually at Cigar City.
See also: BEE-B-Q events; a 4-course dinner series hosted by Cigar City Cider and Meadery.
Check out the Loko Cuisine website at: http://www.lokocuisine.com/
- When: usually the third Sunday of the Month, brunch-o’clock
- Where: Cigar City
- How much: $25/head
I’ve started collecting events for 2015. You may start to see some on the calendar. I’ve also introduced a new “event descriptions” set of pages – these pages contain high-level overviews of the event and links to the annual event pages and reviews.
Here are the events I have so far, in no particular order. Let me know if you can think of anything else! Thanks to Bob Lorber for helping fill the list out.
1. Halfway there
2. FBG beer fest
3. Tampa bay beer week
4. Stogies and stouts
5. Brewers ball
6. Cajun cafe events (Spring, Fall, Sour, Cider)
7. Oktoberfests (many!)
8. Hunaphu hangover day
9. Brewery anniversary parties (many!)
10. 97x party
11. Sarasota beer fest
12. Eggs and kegs (every 3rd Sunday)
13. Fruit in the room
14. Occupy events
Dunedin Brewery has been hosting beer events for longer than some people have been drinking beer. Stogies and Stouts is one of Dunedin’s annual events – started in the year 2000. Admission typically includes a tasting glass, beer samples from local, regional, and national breweries, and of course a cigar. The lively event includes live music and entertainment. Food is included for an additional fee.
- Who: people who like cigars and stout beers
- When: Mid-February
- Where: Dunedin Brewery
- How much: $35-45, depending on food
- 2015 Event: February 28, 2015 19:00-23:00; Review TBD
TBBW describes themselves the best:
Tampa Bay Beer Week started in 2012 and hosted over 400 events throughout the Bay Area. Events included large scale festivals, beer dinners/brunches, beer tastings, food truck events, special bottle releases, limited tap releases, educational events and meet the brewer gatherings. The week is kicked off with Mayor Bob Buckhorn tapping the first firkin at the Florida Brewers Guild Festival in Tampa and “ends” with Cigar City Brewing’s Hunahpu’s Day festival. The week features hundreds of events on both sides of the bay and officially ends on Sunday of the first full week of March.
- Who: most open, some closed events.
- When: the first full week in March. Held annually since 2012.
- Where: across the bay! Lots of events all over the place.
- How much: many free, some expensive.
Florida Brewers Guild throws a number of beer fests each year, but most would say that the Tampa fest is the best. Look for lots of brews from Florida breweries as well as some non-local stuff that the local beer folks prefer.
- Who: open to the public
- When: Coincidental with Beer Week, usually the first week in March
- Where: Downtown Tampa, typically Cotanchobee Park
- Cost: Typically $35
2015: March 7
A massive event put on by the Tampa Bay Beer Week group. The event marks the “halfway-mark” between beer weeks. Notable for its high quality brewery list and festive atmosphere, this one is not to be missed. Started in 2012.
Watch out though: typically there is very limited seating and food options are sparse.
- Who: open to the public
- When: typically the first Saturday in September
- Where: probably Saint Pete – previously was held in Tampa but 2014 marked the first year in a Saint Pete venue.
- Cost: typically about $50 a ticket; generally includes a tasting glass, unlimited samples, and memories. Lots of memories.
Florida’s legislative session doesn’t begin for another few months, but the noise is starting. From those I’ve spoken with over the summer, the discussions have been ongoing and what we’re seeing here is the result of those meetings. It’s interesting to see that the people talking this time are the MillerCoors distributors rather than the ABInBev distributors.
I think it’s a bit disingenuous to claim that the beer industry is “united” over this. Winning 64 ounce growlers is not the big issue any longer – people have moved on. Now its about keeping tasting rooms. Growing self-distribution. Including beer-drinkers in the discussion.
The next group to join the fight: retailers. Why? Check this quote: “What we don’t want to see is a return to the bad old days when totally unrestricted breweries sold to the public and even delivered to the home.”
Here’s the video from the BIF: