Has Tampa Bay’s craft beer scene developed enough to earn it national accolades?
Gerard Walen thinks so. The editor of BeerInFlorida.com is so confident Tampa has earned its stripes he’s launched a social media campaign to help the Bay area take the BeerCity USA title away from three-time champ Asheville, NC.
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“The Tampa Bay area’s craft beer scene has exploded in the past few years while under the radar of the rest of the country,” Walen explained. “Most people I talk to at beer festivals and other events have at least heard of Tampa’s Cigar City Brewery because of its reputation, but many are surprised when I start ticking off the list of other breweries here that are producing world-class brews.”
Walen points to “stalwarts Dunedin Brewery and the Tampa Bay Brewing Co. being joined by such craft brewers Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Saint Somewhere in Tarpon Springs, Seventh Sun Brewing in Dunedin and in Tampa” as his reasons for fronting the #BeerCityTPA campaign to win the BeerCity USA title.
Just What is BeerCity USA?
The BeerCity USA poll is now in its fourth year. It’s staged by Charlie Papazian, author and founder of the Brewers Association in Boulder, CO. The unofficial poll is conducted by Papazian in his capacity as National Beer Examiner. Winners in the poll gain bragging rights for the year.
Exposure: It's What Tampa Bay Stands to Gain
While Walen wants to bring the title home to the Bay area, he has nothing against Asheville or any other cities famed for their craft brew scene.
“I’m not trying to put down Asheville, or any of the other nominees for that matter,” he said. “I’ve been to Asheville, Portland, Denver and some of the other cities, and they all have great craft beer communities. However, I’ve seen what Asheville has done with the BeerCity USA title, and it would greatly benefit the Tampa Bay area to bring it home.”
Bruce Talcott, managing partner of Seminole Heights’ Cold Storage Craft Brewery, agrees winning the title would be a great boost for the Tampa Bay area’s craft brew industry. He cautions, however, that the industry is still growing here.
“We’re (Tampa Bay) kind of new in the business, but we’re making great strides.”
Talcott pointed to the recent Tampa Bay Beer Week as evidence for the growing microbrew trend. He also said craft brewing is an interest that hits many Tampa Bay communities from Tampa proper and Clearwater to New Port Richey and beyond.
“This whole industry is growing here and we’ve certainly got some high quality breweries that are putting out a great product,” he said. “When you compare (us) to other parts of the country, we’re fairly new.”
Getting the Word Out
“The thing is, it’s not just the ‘beer geeks’ who will bring the BeerCity USA title to the Tampa Bay area,” Walen said in a media release. “We want the entire community to show its support for these small businesses that contribute to the local economy and attract beer tourists – and their leisure spending – to the area.”
The poll remains open until Sunday, May 13. To show your support for Tampa Bay, vote here.