This is what I’m talking about. It’s about the community, family, and the “Big G“, not just great beer. Three Palms has all of that it in spades.
When I walk into Three Palms with little notice on a Wednesday afternoon, there’s Randy, holding his little girl and welcoming us with open arms. I had a little time off from my day job, so I took my wife to the movies and then over to Three Palms Brewing and tasting room for a quick meet up. It was perfect timing, too. Mick from the Beer Box in Sarasota was on his way up. A two-fer. New friends, good beer, and my wife at my side. What could be better?
Randy immediately offered me a sample – his Imperial Stout. “I turned up the temperature on the cooler to get a little extra flavor out of it.” It worked – a nice mouth feel that comes from beer served at just the right temperature, and plenty of flavor to this one. It’s a great representation of the style. As Randy’s futzing with the CO2, he startles his darling daughter who’s just getting ready to take a nap – a baby taking a nap in a brewery: I love it. He stops and gently snuggles her back to sleep. Then it hits me: here’s Randy, micro-brewer extraordinaire, being an awesome dad AND brewing fantastic beer. This is what its all about.
As we talk about his experiences growing up from homebrewing, Randy’s prepping for his tasting later that night – fresh kegs of Imperial Stout, Milk Stout, Saison, and his Sour. The glassware is clean and sanitized. Everything’s just right.
Randy started home brewing about five years ago. He’s been a member of Tampa Bay BEERs and Brandon Bootleggers. It didn’t take him long to realize that he wanted to make a career out of this. Fast forward to July 4, 2012 and here’s Randy brewing Three Palms’ first batch of beer: Queen of Wheat, his take on the traditional German Hefeweizen.
Three Palms has been in its current location on the Northwest side of Brandon, about half-way between Brandon and Tampa for about a year, and like other brewers around here, he’s growing – but his vision is not just for his beers. “I want to have beers from other Florida breweries, too.” He’s got big plans for 16 more taps in addition to the four he currently operates – 20 in total. When I ask him what’s missing in the Tampa Bay beer scene, his only response: “more breweries with more tasting rooms.” He’s right – there’s something about having beer in the place it was made. It’s the epitome of local.
As we’re talking about future plans, I bump into a fermenter holding a hundred or so gallons of his latest brew, his Saison. What’s coming up for Three Palms aside from the growth in the number of taps? That’s easy. More beers on rotation. When I ask Randy if he has a vision of Three Palms being known for a particular style, he gives me the quote of the year, and a little insight into the challenges that up-and-coming brewers face: “Every beer I put out there can be good enough to be someone’s favorite beer.”
The problem he faces is the same one that brewers throughout the ages have faced: if one of his styles becomes so popular that his customers start demanding it, he’ll have to dedicate more of his tiny 3 BBL brewhouse capacity to delivering on that style. And he’s not ready to do that, just yet. There are so many more styles to explore! With just of 300 BBL of production planned for 2013, Randy’s still tiny in the craft beer scene volume-wise. But he’s hanging in there.
Randy’s not just about trying out new styles, he’s a mentor to homebrewers in the Bay area too. In April Randy chartered a Belgian Dubbel competition and invited area homebrewers to participate. The winner will collaborate with Randy in the development and naming of a new style for Three Palms. He received over 20 entries, just what he was hoping for. The winner of the competition will see his or her beer on the taps in Three Palms’ new tasting room after the expansion later this year.
Randy’s meeting with the Hillsborough County Commissioners on July 22nd to seek a zoning variance that would allow him to expand to the 20 taps he has in his vision. “I’m looking for community members to come out and support Three Palms – anyone that has anything positive things to say will help our cause.” Even if the scheduled hearing doesn’t go well, Randy is still planning a brewery expansion.
Mick Cohn from the Brew Box in Sarasota ambles in about this time. Mick’s an affable guy with a sharp wit and a great sense of humor – and he loves this beer. And Mick’s love of the beer is just one of the reason’s for Three Palms’ expansion. Everyone loves it.
Randy’s got a barley wine brewing this week. It should be done in about 6 weeks. I know where I’ll be then. If things keep going well for Randy, I don’t think he’ll have a problem with the variance he’s seeking. I think his only problem will be how long it takes to get bigger equipment.
Three Palms Brewing is located at 1509 Hobbs Street in Tampa. It’s really between Tampa and Brandon, east of Falkenburg near the new Taco Bus. Check out their Facebook page: Three Palms Brewing.