By Walt Belcher and Bob Ross
With two big beer events this weekend and the annual Wazoo beer fest, benefiting Lowry Park Zoo, being moved up to May 7, the Beer Knights are keeping busy this spring — not to mention the chance to savor a few Mexican pours during Cinco De Mayo.
But first, we raise our glasses to toast the new “Terminal,” the tasting room in Seminole Heights where The Brew Bus crew is now based.
Located in the former Florida Avenue Brewery on 4101 N. Florida Ave., the spiffy new 15,000 square-foot headquarters for The Brew Bus opened last week. There was a big “Move That Bus” party on April 16. It featured an impressive array of creatively concocted brews served in spacious newly remodeled bar and lounge area.
Take the Earmuffs, for example, that’s a mint-blueberry-lime wheat beer blend. And there’s the hazelnut spread porter, a chocolate peanut butter stout; a Mandarin spiced red ale, a vanilla and jalapeno white ale, and a peach-mango wheat ale. Brew Bus founder Anthony Derby is letting his brewers run wild with craft ideas.
The tasting room features 20 rotating taps that also include the popular Brew Bus brands including the Rollin Dirty Irish-Style Red Ale, Last Stop IPA, You’re My Boy, Blue! Blueberry Wheat, Are Wheat There Yet? (a hoppy wheat brew); and the Double Decker Porter. All are award-winners in state beer competition.
Derby, who started the rolling pub tours five years ago, says the Terminal is a dream come true — a fixed location from which to expand. The company offers public tours in Tampa and St. Petersburg on weekend nights and private party tours any night.
The Terminal is open daily with food trucks stopping by and special events planned. Check the website at www.brewbususa.com
BIG TAMPA: The annual Big Tampa Beerfest opens tonight and continues Saturday at the Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa. More than 100 breweries are participating so there are more than 200 different craft beers available.
Early admission begins at 6 tonight and 1 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $45 to $55. A list of the brews and breweries can be found at www.bigtampabeerfest.com.
This festival, run by Ohio-based Festivals Unlimited, launched last year at the Tampa Convention Center and drew about 3,000. More are expected this year. The beers come from throughout the United States from San Francisco to Burlington Vermont.
Many Tampa/St. Petersburg brewers are represented, such as The Two Henrys, St. Pete Brewing, Six Ten Brewing, Sea Dog Brewing, Rock Brothers, Hidden Springs, The Brew Bus, Cigar City, Coppertail, Crooked Thumb, Big Storm, 3 Daughters, Angry Chair, Cycle Brewing, Rapp Brewing, and Pair O Dice.
BAD A** BEER FEST: People are still flocking to the new Tampa Bay Brewing Company digs out in Westchase for the food and brew (it’s across from the Oldsmar Flea Market).
The Doble family’s second location, which opened last summer, is a hit. The other location in Ybor City is still going strong after 20 years. Also a hit are the Bad A** Beer Fests, like the one set for Saturday at the Westchase location.
The festival, BAB III, runs from 7 to 11 p.m. and features 5 brews created by collaborations between TBBC and Southern Brewing with brewers Green Bench, St. Somewhere, Angry Chair, Six Ten and 7venth Son. And, of course, there are all the TBBC brews such as Reef Donkey and Old Elephant Foot.
There also will be live music from the Kings of Denmark and the Black Honkeys as well as a special brewers’ band jam session. There will be food trucks, too. Admission is $35. Get more information at www.tampabaybrewingcompany.com.
BLOOD ORANGE BREW: Master Brewer Bobby Baker, a Safety Harbor native, created the new Shipyard Florida Brewed Blood Orange beer that went into national release this month. It’s the first Shipyard beer to be created in Florida,
Baker, who is based at Shipyard Sea Dog Brewery and tasting room on U.S. 19 in Clearwater, says it’s a refreshing Belgian style Wit made with sweet Florida orange peels.
“I used the Florida blood orange to give it a citrus tang and the peel for sweetness and the result is a one-of-a-kind ale,” says Baker, who grew up in Safety Harbor and earned a degree in Aeronautical Science from Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University in Daytona Beach before joining Sea Dog, based in Bangor, Maine, in 2012.
Shipyard’s Sea Dog expanded into Florida in 2013 opening pubs in Clearwater and Orlando. The Shipyard Florida Brewed Blood Orange is being bottled and can be found in stores such as Total Wine and ABC Fine Wine & Spirits. The beer also will be available on draft, and can be found in the Clearwater taproom.
The brewery has already produced 500 barrels, equaling 15,500 gallons. The beer will be available in Florida year-round, while making its debut as a seasonal product in other states.
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