Tampa Bay Beer Safari Weekend March 19th & 20th 2010
The Tampa Weekend Beer Safari was a great time! We visited 2 brew pubs, 2 breweries, a great craft beer bar, had a 4 course gourmet beer paired meal at a really great steakhouse and actually saw a few local sights beyond the beer!
We started out Friday evening getting to know each other during Happy Hour.
We all got a chance to sample Samuel Smith’s Nut Brown Ale, Southampton Beer de Garden and Brasserie Lefèbvre’s Blanche De Bruxelles
After the happy hour we walked into the heart of Ybor City to meet our paranormal and haunting expert, “Miss Prudence Fipwhistle”.
She entertained us during a one-hour ghost walk tour of Ybor City, one of North America’s most interesting – and haunted – neighborhoods. This tour ended at the Tampa Bay Brewing Co. where we had our evening meal.
Tampa Bay Brewing Company was founded in 1996 and is a family business, with mother and son serving as general manager and brewmaster respectively. Their on-site brewery is equipped to produce up to twelve tap beers and several cask-conditioned ales on a 10bbl step-infusion brewing system.
As a matter of fact, 12 of their 16 serving tanks used to hold the beer at the famous Bass Ale Brewery in England. Before dinner we were given a beer tour of their brewing facility by Dave, the brewer.
Here, you can see some of our guests enjoyed a pre-dinner brew.
After the tour we had a tasty beer inspired dinner. For the 1st course we had a choice of either their famous Beer Cheese Soup or the Onion Porter Soup; both were paired with their Red Eye Amber Ale.
For the main course we had the choice of the Iron Rat Stout Shepherd’s Pie or the Brewhouse Barleywine Meatloaf; this course was paired with the Iron Rat Stout. For dessert we had the Beignets served with Moosekiller Anglaise paired with the MooseKiller Barleywine– yummy!
After dinner, some of our guests were ready to return to their room to relax and get a good night sleep, while some were raring to go on a small beer hunting expedition to New World Brewing Co. In the courtyard of New World Brewing, there was a great acoustic guitarist playing. This made for a perfect backdrop to enjoy our beers.
After discussing everyone’s favorite style of beer, as the beer guide, I suggested Harry & Robert order a Victory Prima Pils and Debbie an Old Rasputin. I had an Allagash White & I’m not sure what Ray ordered, but as you can see, he apparently enjoyed it!
On Saturday morning our first stop was Tarpon Springs. Tarpon Springs is known as the Sponge Capital of the World,
so we visited the Famous Spongeorama to see the Sponge Diving Museum….this is a totally kitsch stop for those into old Florida tourism type stuff. And we mean OLD Florida, this place could really use an update, but then again, that would take the fun out of it! Nothing to be taken too seriously, that’s for sure! Tarpon Springs is also Florida’s own Greek heritage village, so we stopped by Hellas, an authentic Greek restaurant for some of their mouth watering pastries!
We then took a stroll along the waterfront and specialty shops, where –hey, what do you know they were selling authentic Greek beers!
What a way to start the day!
Then we were off to meet our friend Bob Sylvester and see his brewing set up at Saint Somewhere Brewing Company.
Boy did we luck out! We were fortunate enough to be visiting Saint Somewhere on the day they were bottling Saison Anthene! Here, they bottle the old fashion way, by hand. It was a thrill to watch them first sanitize, and then fill the bottle, cork it, add the cage, put on the label and finally watch them box it.
Before we watched them bottle, Bob showed us around his facility and explained his brewing process and told us a little about his beers.
Lucky dogs that we are- he also opened up two special kegs for us to try! One was a Flemish Red, which he does not bottle for sale. Too bad! This was a blend of 2 different year beers, one a year old and the other fresh. While drinking his Flemish Red it reminded me of a Rodenbach Grand Cru, it was delicious!!! His other beer on tap was a “hopped” up version of his Saison Anthene, again this is a version of the beer which is not bottled so na na if you weren’t with us! (Sorry, couldn’t resist!!)
We also got a chance to taste the “regular” version of Saison Anthene and a special bottle made only for Redlight Redlight in Orlando with Brettanomyces Claussenii. This is a different stain of Brett than used in their normal bottle, which gives it a bit more tartness. Bob was also generous enough to share with us his latest creation, Pays de Soleil, which should be hitting the South Florida market any day now.
Everyone had a great time & didn’t want to leave,
but we had to let Bob get back to bottling. So we left Tarpon Springs to head over to Florida’s Scottish heritage town, Dunedin. Here we visited Dunedin Brewery for a beer tour, a tasting and lunch.
Fermenting since 1996 and still going strong, Dunedin Brewery handcrafts all of their own ales from their Piper’s Pale Ale to their Apricot Wheat.
They also have a great menu including the most awesome Pacific Coast Fish Tacos you will find east of Baja! With great atmosphere, great food and 9 ales brewed year round as well as 5 or more seasonal offerings throughout the year, this was one great lunch stop!
Travis, the general manager, gave us a lesson on the brewing process & showed us around the brewery
including introducing us the beer tanks named Ginger, Mary Ann & Lovey, which of cause are the females of Gilligan’s Island. After our tour we were all thirsty and Travis was prepared as he offered us all samples of their Wheat, Apricot Wheat, Red Ale and I.P.A.
After the tasting we all had lunch, I chose to have the famous Pacific Coast Fish Taco and paired that with their delicious Double IPA “the Rock”. Before we left I made sure I had a chance to try their Bière de Café, which was an extremely smooth brew & you could easily mistake this beer for an iced coffee, boy was it good!!!
Having fortified ourselves, we set off to Cigar City Brewery
(who, incidentally, just added 5 gold medals along with a silver and bronze to their growing collection of awards!)
for a tour and tasting in their new tasting room.
Cigar City Brewery was founded by beer columnist and Tampa native Joey Redner in the summer of 2007. Since its inception CCB has been guided by Joey’s passion for both great beer and the city of his birth.
With the creative input and expertise of Great American Beer Festival and World Beer Cup award winning brewer Wayne Wambles, Cigar City Brewing endeavors to make world class ales and lagers which celebrate the rich heritage and traditions that make Tampa one of the world’s most unique cities.
Joey showed off the new tasting room to us in addition to our brewery tour.
He explained their brewing process and showed us the “cedar” chips they use to make their Humidor series beer.
He also gave us some insight to the future expansion of their facilities, told us about their new “hopless” beer and informed us that the Humidor series Jai Alai will now be a yearly brew instead of a one time only brew. After this tour Joey offered us a tasting of their Bonita Brown Ale & Jai Alai IPA,
then he surprised us all with a bottle of Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout to share.
I ended up buying a glass of Marshall Zhukov’s so I could compare the taste of that to Hunahpu’s . All 4 brews I had were extremely delicious.
We all could have hung out in the tasting room all night, BUT we had to get back to the hotel to get ready for our big night out at Fleming’s Steakhouse.
Fleming’s is reknowned for their stylish contemporary dining, awesome steaks, and their fantastic wine list…but boy, they can do some magic with good brews as well! We had the good fortune of having a 4 course beer paired gourmet dinner created especially for our Beer Safari by the chef at Fleming’s, who, as luck would have it, is a beer enthusiast himself! Just look at the menu we had!!
Triple Sec scented Lobster Flatbread paired with Southampton Double White
Malheur’s Spring Salad with Julienne pears and apples, tossed in Orange Siracha vinaigrette paired with Malheur 10
Dijon Parmesan Crusted Filet over Porcini Dusted Asparagus with a Shitake “Celebrator”, demi-glace paired with Ayinger Celebrator Doppelbock
Bell’s Java Stout cake, succulent chocolate cake coated in a Bell’s Java glaze and topped with a whiskey ganache served with Chantilly cream and fresh raspberries paired with Bell’s Java Stout
Between Courses we had a brief overview of the beer we were drinking by our 2 beer connoisseurs. Chef Alec Cheak also joined us to explain how he paired each course to the different beers.
After Dinner some of us still had the energy for one last
beer hunting expedition to New World Brewing Co. We ended the night here playing foosball and enjoying a few brews.
A great time was had by all and plans are in the works for another Tampa Beer Safari on our 2011 Itinerary! Hope to see you there!
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