The Tampa Craft Beer Scene

Full disclosure: This is a sponsored post by the Tampa Limousine Company. I have been compensated for this post appearing on my website.

Tampa can certainly be considered a craft beer destination. With time-tested classics as well as new breweries opening periodically, it’s easy to spend a lot of time discovering all of the different choices available to you here. We’re here with some of the newest and most popular places to visit with friends, as well as a suggestion to make your trip run more smoothly.

Tampa Craft Beer

Cigar City Brewing

3924 W Spruce St

Tampa, FL 33607

Tourists and locals love Cigar City Brewing, and for good reason. Not only do they have an impressive selection of beers in their tap room, but they also sell hand-rolled cigars that can be enjoyed outside. For only five dollars you get a pint glass to take home, your choice of beer to fill it, and a tour of the brewery if you so desire. The Jai Alai is a grapefruit IPA that’s sure to get your attention. There isn’t food available here, but there’s often a food truck outside the doors.

Tampa Craft Beer

7venth Sun Brewery

6809 N Nebraska Ave

Tampa, FL 33604

This is 7venth Sun’s second location following the first which is located in Dunedin. This one specifically boasts a large outdoor patio, hip atmosphere, and a range of beers available from fruity to heavy. The Graffiti Orange is a pleasant orange creamsicle wheat brew that has a lot of people talking! There’s potential for great live entertainment here, and they plan on collaborating with other brewers in the area, so this is definitely a business that you’re going to want to watch.

Tampa Craft Beer

Rock Brothers Brewing

1901 N 15th St

Tampa, FL 33605

This brewery, cocktail bar, art, and music venue are a hip hang out in the Ybor City area. Upstairs is where all of the music and improv shows happen, while downstairs offers a delightful assortment of drinks to choose from. There isn’t food offered here, but you can bring your own from one of the local eateries. This is an interesting space that’s sure to host some great memories for yourself and your friends.

Tampa Craft Beer

Enjoying new brews in different Tampa craft beer destinations is a great way to spend a night with friends, but be sure to do it responsibly! Accounting for your transportation as you prepare to go out for a brewery tour in Tampa is the best way to settle all of the inconvenient details like traffic, designated drivers, parking, and finding directions with a simple reservation. The Tampa Party Bus Company is perfect for this type of get together because the space and amenities on board allow you to socialize with friends like you can’t do when you’re in an Uber or taxi.

Hunahpus Day 2017

To Hunahpu’s Day and Back

To Hunahpu’s Day and Back

Cigar City Brewing’s Hunahpu’s Day took place on Saturday, March 11th, 2017 at Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park in Tampa, Florida. This internationally attended craft beer festival is built around the once a year release of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout. The beer itself has an 11% abv (alcohol by volume) and is aged on cacao nibs, Madagascar vanilla beans, ancho chiles, pasilla chiles, and cinnamon. Hunahpu’s enjoys a top rating of 100 on both beeradvocate.com and ratebeer.com. The festival pulls in people and breweries from around the world. The day made for one hell of a party with an estimated 4,000 festival goers, brewery representatives, and volunteers, 146 breweries, and 386 different beers, meads, and ciders.

Hunahpu's Day 2017
The Cattle

The second Saturday in March has come and gone and in the craft beer world, that means you have either enjoyed the hell out of Hunahpu’s Day or you sat home wishing you hadn’t made the decision to skip it. Personally, I was lucky enough to attend for my fourth year in a row. Every year I tell myself I’ll head to Tampa for more than just Hunahpu’s Day and every year I do more or less the same thing. In a parallel universe, there’s a single version of me crashing at a buddies house. Waking up hours before first light to start the day by sitting at Cycle Brewing for their daily bottle release. Hopefully, the alternate me is smart enough to grab breakfast and take a nap before hitting the next release, tap takeover, ticketed event, or bottle share. I can see his (or is it my?) shit eating grin now as he’s sitting in line after line all week. Building up an arsenal of bottles just for that one big beer haul pic to post on Instagram. Let the trade offers pour in, he’s thinking. Back over on my side of the parallel I do everything I can to stay away for the shortest amount of time possible from my wife and two and a half-year-old son, but I think next year I’ll expand my trip by at least a day so I can experience an early morning line and Cycle Brewing’s BA Day.

Hunahpu's Day 2017
Burnt Hickory Breweries own Touchy the Clown.

Unlike last year, I decided to leave the night before the festival so I could get a decent nights sleep instead of facing a three-hour drive at five in the morning. After getting an overly rambunctious kiddo to sleep, kissing the wife goodbye, and double checking that I had everything, I headed out the door around 10:30 pm. I’ve been rather lucky on these cross-state trips when it comes to traffic and was once again given clear roads. I pulled into Jason’s driveway around 1:20 am and unloaded. I spent about an hour unwinding from the drive by playing Mobile Strike on my phone. Damn is that game addicting! We woke up at 7:00 am, had a quick breakfast, and shot the shit for a bit before getting on the road. We parked at IKEA and took Uber to the general vicinity of the festival. A walk of a minute or two brought us to Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park, where we quickly saw the major difference in the festival set up from last year. The park wasn’t fenced in this year like it was the year before. This was done so food trucks could be brought in and lined up on the road running alongside the park. Also, the four sets of tents were in a single line with Cigar City, mixed throughout, instead of having its own tent at the far end of the park. I think it was a great change as it spread people out a bit more and there wasn’t a mass of people in a tangle of lines all in one area for what Cigar City had to offer.

Hunahpu's Day 2017
Food Truck Heaven

After a quick walk through the park, we started to search for the end of the line. The arena where the Tampa Bay Lightning play was ground zero and across the street from the park. We kind of wandered aimlessly for a bit looking for any indication of a line. After a few minutes, we discovered where we needed to be and at about 8:30 we were officially in line. The line itself moved surprisingly fast and soon enough we had our souvenir snifter in hand and were headed through Thunder Alley. Once through, we joined the rest of the line as a single mass of people. We were herded like cattle into a somewhat enclosed area to await the oncoming storm of nectar. After a phone call, I located the rest of the crew and headed their way. Like last year they had a plan worked out to hit all of the must-have breweries and meet back at a designated place. Unfortunately, I was nursing a back injury and decided running through the park with everyone else wasn’t the best plan of attack for me. To be honest, I hadn’t really set a plan of attack for myself knowing I wasn’t going to be overly quick on my feet.

Hunahpu's Day 2017
Thunder Alley

The line holding the hordes of craft beer loving animals, who had come from near and far, was finally cut and the stampede commenced. I heard calls of “man down”, but couldn’t see the poor soul who had eaten dirt all in the name of craft beer. Since I had no plan, I more or less followed the crowd walking past Tent C and the massive line for 3 Sons Brewing. No, they are not just Florida hype folks! Tent D held the likes of the Voodoo Brewery, Mazurt Brewing, Garagiste Meadery, Bottle Logic Brewing, and J. Wakefield Brewing, which meant it was hit hard. The line for both Voodoo and Mazurt, who were side by side, were extremely long, so my first beer of the day was Westbrook Brewing’s ‘Willet Barrel Aged Mexican Cake’. They were right next to Mazurt and had absolutely no line. I decided then and there that my plan of attack was to not wait in a single line all day. The next few beers were good, but nothing really blew me away. They were Deciduous Brewing’s ‘Lambent’ Berliner Weiss with raspberries and passionfruit, Southern Brewing’s ‘Southeastern Berliner’, and Highland Park’s ‘Griffith J. Griffith’ Coffee Imperial Stout.

Hunahpu's Day 2017
Ready, Set, Go!

Somewhere around this point, I met up with my buddy Michael from North Carolina. He pointed out ‘Buckley’ Imperial Breakfast Stout from Transient Artisinal Ales and said I should try it and I’m extremely glad I did! I also tried Foeder #2 with De Chaunac Grapes from them as well. Both were damn good! Pinellas Ale Works and their 1888 Russian Imperial Stout aged on coconut was next. It was the first beer I have had from them and it showed me why Jason had mentioned, a few months back, that I should review them sooner rather than later.

Hunahpu's Day 2017
As far as the eye can see…

August Schell Brewing brought two Berliner’s. ‘Tidal Disruption’, which was aged on blackberries and ‘Electrik Empress’, which was aged on plums. Pipeworks Brewing brought their barrel aged Milk Stout, ‘The Jones Dog’, which was one of my favorite beers of the day. A friend of mine was volunteering in the brewer’s tent and offered to grab me a pour of ‘ManBearPig’ from Voodoo Brewing. Since there was no way I was going to wait in Voodoo’s insane line I happily accepted. That’s a beer with a lot of hype behind it and I think it lived up to the hype. I tried ‘Citra High’, a Double IPA, and the white wine barrel aged ‘Levanto with Peaches and Lemon Peel’ from Madtree Brewing. Both were great beers and I really enjoyed how the barrel came through in ‘Levanto’. Devour Brewing Co., which is local to me, was next. I was telling Michael about their small brewery setup and how good some of their beers were so he was intrigued. We tried ‘Chocolate Coffee Fear Is NOT An Option’. It’s a Russian Imperial Stout aged with coffee, cocoa nibs, and Madagascar vanilla beans. It was a bit thin but turned out very nice. Surprisingly, I somehow missed almost all of the international breweries. The one I didn’t miss was Beavertown out of the U.K. I tried their Berliner Weiss called ‘Moonshiner’. It was aged for three months in Woodford Reserve Bourbon barrels and infused with lime zest. I don’t tend to see many bourbon barrel aged Berliner’s and this one turned out to be pretty damn tasty. The rest of the breweries I hit, in no particular order, were Sun King Brewing, Lord Hobo Brewing, Max Lagers Wood-fired Grill and Brewery, Modern Times Beer, Firestone Walker Brewing, Edmunds Oast Brew Pub, Jackie O’s Pub and Brewery, Ocelot Brewing, Central 28 Brewing, Melvin Brewing, Stillwater Artisanal Ales, Rapp Brewing, Haw River Farmhouse Ales, 18th Street Brewery, Black Project Spontaneous and Wild Ales, The Answer Brewpub, and Wild Heaven Beer.

Hunahpu's Day 2017
From left to right: Steve (all around good guy), Jonathan Wakefield (J. Wakefield Brewing), and Evan Miller (Civil Society Brewing)

The biggest mistake I made was not starting at Põhjala Brewery. They are from the country of Estonia and were my favorite brewery last year. Unfortunately, I missed out on two of their barrel aged beers, which I was excited to try after what they brought last year. Luckily, they had two other beers still on. The first was ‘Must Kuld Colombia’ a delicious chocolate covered raspberry coffee Porter. The second was one of my favorite beers of the day. Scotch Ales are a favorite style of mine, so I was pretty excited to try their barrel aged version. ‘Mel Gibson’ was aged for months in Highlands and Islands Scotch Whisky barrels. It is one of the best barrel aged Scotch Ales I’ve had to date. It was so good I had a couple more pours. Hell, I even started directing people to their tent as they walked past. I had met their Managing Director, Enn, last year, so I was happy to see him again. Unfortunately, their Head Brewer, Chris who happens to be Scottish, wasn’t able to make the trip again. In his place was their Sales and Marketing head, Peeter. I spent the rest of the festival shooting the shit with them. What can I say? I’m a fanboy of the brewery. Next year they will be my first stop without a doubt. I won’t miss another of their offerings again. I’ll also try to plan out the breweries I want to hit because I missed a lot by not venturing to both sides of the tents.

Hunahpu's Day 2017
From left to right: Peeter, myself, and Enn from Põhjala.

Jason eventually located me at the Põhjala tent and after a bit, we headed to the opposite end of the park to see the awards ceremony for the best breweries and beers of the day, which were voted on by the festival goers. First place for best ‘brewery’ went to Garagiste Meadery (Tampa, Fl) and best ‘beer’ for ‘Goober Vitis’ a peanut butter and jelly mead. Second place went to 3 Sons Brewing (Davie, Fl) and second best beer for ‘Double Barrel Summation’. Third place went to Proof Brewing (Tallahassee, Fl) and third best beer for Bourbon Barrel Aged ‘Grandma’s Goodies’. Typically I don’t miss Proof Brewing at a festival, but this time I did. Once the ceremony was over we headed to the Marriott to pick up our bottles. Just like last year, the process went smoothly. We walked away from the crowded area and ordered a Uber. Once back at Jason’s I took a much-needed nap. Around 7:00 pm we met up with Jerry for a quick in-person trade. Jerry brought bottles down from Canada and in exchange, I unloaded a couple of my Huna bottles to him. We then headed to The Stein and Vine to meet Jason’s good friends and owners of Garagiste Meadery, Chad and Sarah, along with their two kids. It was nice to talk to them about their big win earlier in the day and even nicer to discover how good the food was. I had a Caesar salad and a burger with fries. I’ve heard good things about the place, but now that I have the first-hand experience I know what I heard is true. The burger was about as perfect as a burger could be. After dinner, we headed back to Jason’s house and vegged on the couch for a couple of hours before calling it a night.

Hunahpu's Day 2017
Chad and Sarah with their winnings.

The next morning I headed out the door at 8:30 and located the nearest Dunkin Donuts. I ordered an apple fritter and large hot coffee with cream and sugar. I lucked out again on the way home and didn’t hit a single bit of traffic. I pulled into my driveway around 11:30 am and carefully unloaded. Once in the house, I said hi to my wife and patiently waited for my son to come home from his grandma’s house. There’s nothing like a hug from my son in general, but especially after I haven’t seen him in over 24 hours. It’s just one of those things that can’t be understood unless you’ve experienced it.

Hunahpu's Day 2017
There’s nothing like meeting great people at a festival. From left to right: Juan, Dale, Thomas, Steve and his wife.

There it is folks. Another Hunahpu’s Day goes down in history as an absolutely kick-ass time. I’ll most certainly be back next year and maybe, just maybe for a day or two longer.

Hunahpu's Day 2017
The Canadian haul.

Did you attend Hunahpu’s Day? What were your favorite breweries and beers?

Cheers!

 

 

Coppertail Brewing Company

The Coppertail Brewing Company

Florida Craft Brewery: Coppertail Brewing Company 

Established: August 20th, 2014Coppertail Brewing Company

Location: 2601 East 2nd Avenue, Tampa, Florida 33605

Known For: The Coppertail Brewing Company tends to brew their beers on the drier side. They brew a lot of, and some of the finer, Berliner Weiss in the state. They also focus on darker beers like porters and stouts more often than other styles. In 2015 they brewed a Dunkel (German style dark lager), which was the official beer for Tamp Bay’s Oktoberfest. It was a great representation of the style!

Current Beer Menu: My first flight consisted of Coppertail’s four core beers, which are all bottled. First up was an American style Trippel called ‘Unholy’. It was easily the hoppiest Trippel I’ve ever tried and I loved it. The ‘Free Dive’ IPA was filled with dank hops giving a lovely pine and citrus aroma. Following the hop parade was ‘Wheat Stroke’, a hoppy wheat ale meant for the hot and humid Florida summer. The 4th core beer was ‘Night Swim’, a porter boasting dark chocolate and roasted coffee. It was a nice way to end the hop fest I had just sampled. The ‘Passion Fruit HRIS’ is a Belgian style rice beer with the addition of passion fruit. This beer was all about the passion fruit for me. It came through marvelously. Hris is an Old English surname that means brushwood, which eventually became Rice over time. ‘Allusion’ was yet another deliciously hopped beer. It’s an unfiltered Pale Ale with both Amarillo and Victoria Secret hops. The only Berliner Weiss on tap was brewed with Kumquats and named ‘Quats Up’. Coppertail Brewing CompanyThe Kumquats came through effectively finishing with a very light tartness. ‘La Chasse’ is a generously hoppy Farmhouse Ale. The hops actually almost overpowered the feel of the Saison, but I was still a big fan of it. ‘Double Barrel Unholy’ takes the base Trippel and ages it separately in both rum and white wine barrels. The two are then blended together to form a blasphemous blessing for your taste buds. The white wine and rum went together surprisingly well. ‘Sometimes You Don’t’ is a Porter brewed with coconut, cacoa nibs, and vanilla. This was a Mounds liquefied into a flight glass. It was my favorite of the day alongside the ‘DB Unholy’. ‘Silver Bar’ is a hoppy Pilsner. Pilsners are definitely not a go-to for me, but this one stepped up its game. I thoroughly enjoyed it! ‘Seasonal Relief’ is a Baltic Porter brewed with both Elderberries and Goji Berries. Both berries are known anti-inflammatories so this beer must be good for you. I enjoyed the hint of berries that came through. ‘Captain Jack’s Stone Crab Stout’ is brewed with three hundred pounds of Key West caught Stone Crab claws, which are added to the brewing process in the last 15 minutes. Those few minutes are just long enough to add a bit of a salty brine to the brew. Coppertail hosts a Stone Crab dinner using part of the day’s catch that didn’t go into the brew. The Shift Manager, Jeff, mentioned the claws were absolutely delicious after being removed from the beer. That’s a beer pairing I would love to have been privy to.

Price Range: Flights are offered in four 4oz glasses. The large majority of offerings are $2.00 per, but a limited release such as the ‘Double Barrel Unholy’ will run you $3.00. A 12oz pour will range between $4.00 and $7.00. A 16oz pour available for the bulk of Coppertail’s offerings will run you $5.00. Growlers in both 32oz and 64oz are available. The growler pre-pour will cost you $4.00 and $6.00 respectably. On my visit, the pour for a 32oz ranged between $7.00 and $8.00 while a 64oz was between $13.00 and $15.00. Six packs of ‘Free Dive’ ($11.00), ‘Unholy’ ($11.00), ‘Night Swim’ ($9.00) and ‘Wheat Stroke’ ($9.00) are available along with 750ml bottles of both ‘Seasonal Relief’ ($12.00) and ‘Captain Jacks’ ($13.00). The rotation on 750ml bottles changes as their seasonal bottle offerings change.Coppertail Brewing Company

Wine Menu: Wine is only offered during private events in the upstairs loft/event space.

Food Menu/Food Trucks: Coppertail allows patrons to bring food from home or food to be delivered. They also have food trucks Tuesday through Friday from 5:00 – 10:00pm as well as Saturday and Sunday from 1:00 – 5:00pm. Coppertail has also partnered with local favorite Stein & Vine to open their second location within a 1,000 sqft space in the brewery to be called S&V Kitchen at Coppertail. The opening is tentatively scheduled for Spring 2017.

Ambiance: When pulling into the parking lot a hulking two-story 34,000 sqft building gazes back at you. There is outdoor seating on both the ground and second floors (private events only) and a mural containing two of their beer labels. Coppertail Brewing CompanyA welcoming feeling washes over you when you walk inside. I’m not sure if it’s the red brick or the natural light that was pouring in through the windows, but the warm feeling is certainly there. I’ve always loved when the time is taken to refurbish a building while still keeping the history intact. There are a number of pieces of art on the walls that were created by the same artist who designs the bottle labels. The old-time style pieces help to bring the building to life. It has certainly become one of my favorite taprooms.

Bar Seating: The bar area held 18 seats while the main floor consisted of 15 tables of various styles and seating as well as a very comfy looking L-shaped leather couch.

Staff: The Shift Manager, Jeff, handled the bartending duties while I was in-house. He has been with Coppertail for two and a half years. He was a pleasure to chat with and definitely knew what he was talking about when it came to the brewery. Bartender/Tour Guide, James, gave me a quick tour of the brewery, which gave me a chance to snap a few pictures.Coppertail Brewing Company

Brewing System: Coppertail brews on a four vessel 50 bbl Brewhouse, which was fabricated by the German company Rolec. It consists of two 50 bbl fermenters, four 100 bbl fermenters, one 50 bbl brite tank, and one 100 bbl brite tank.

Merch: Men’s and women’s t-shirts are available for between $20.00 and $22.00. Hats range between $20.00 and $25.00. They also offer a number of other products from beer soap to beanies. All of which can be seen here.

Membership offered: Nothing is offered at this time.

Coppertail Brewing CompanyBest days or time of year to go: If you’re looking for a quieter experience earlier in the week before the work crowd begins to file in for the evening should be your plan of attack.

Regular Hours: Monday – Thursday: 12:00pm – 11:00pm, Friday – Saturday: 12:00pm – 12:00am, & Sunday: 12:00pm – 7:00pm

Happy Hour: Happy hour is not offered, but for those in the biz, both Sunday and Monday nights will garner you a 20% off discount.

Coppertail Brewing CompanyFun Facts:

-President, Kent Bailey, credits his then five-year-old daughter Sophia for coming up with the Coppertail name. In conversation one evening she had mentioned a Coppertail sea monster that lived in Tampa Bay. The name stuck in his head and the rest is history.

-Head Brewer, Casey Hughes, worked with the now shuttered Key West Brewing on their bottling line while working his way up to a brewing position before the age of 21. He then moved to New Jersey to take the head brewing position at the Flying Fish Brewery where he won a number of Great American Beer Festival (GABF) medals. Eventually, the sunshine and Coppertail’s head brewer position lured him back to the great state of Florida where he belongs.

-Coppertail’s building was once home to Hellman’s Mayonnaise, an olive cannery, and a refrigeration repair shop.

The confessional located in the taproom is a play on ‘Unholy’, a seriously hopped up Trippel that would make a Trappist monk lose sleep. It’s so sacrilegious you’ll need to confess your sins after drinking one.

Coppertail Brewing CompanyOverall Rating (1-5): I have been looking forward to visiting Coppertail for a long time. Everything I tried from them before my visit from a bar or beer festival was spot on and I’m happy to say they did not let me down. The beer, staff, and atmosphere of the taproom were delightful. I’m happily rating them a 4.75.

What was missing: Coppertail had the majority of beer styles on tap with literally something for everyone. If I had to get nitpicky though they didn’t have a Barleywine or a Scotch Ale available, which are two of my favorite styles. Of course in saying that I’m just being greedy. It’s not my fault, though. It’s the ‘Unholy Trippel’!

In closing, with so many breweries to choose from in Tampa and the surrounding areas, the Coppertail Brewing Company certainly stands out. It will be hard not to stop by when I’m in town for another brewery review.

Is there something else you would like to know about the Coppertail Brewing Company? Please don’t hesitate to leave me a comment below.

Cheers!