It’s no secret that cities transform themselves over years of careful planning, but none has been more dramatic than that of St Petersburg FL over the last five years.
Formerly known as “God’s waiting room,” the new moniker for St Pete should be “God’s tasting room” – we’ve just gone through a major Brewformation. Pop into any downtown establishment and you’ll find that hipsters and millennials (with craft beer in hand) far outnumber snowbirds in St Petersburg.
“Craft beer is liquid art, and Tampa Bay is Beer Heaven”
St Petersburg’s Brewformation placed us definitely on the NY Times list of 52 places to visit in 2014– one of only 10 North American mentions (along with my hometown of Calgary!) The article attributes this prestigious honor to our craft breweries and gives a shout-out to our Green Bench Brewing and Cycle Brewing.
All told in the Tampa Bay area, we now have over 25 professional craft breweries, a dozen local distributors, hundreds of restaurants and retailers featuring craft brews on tap, a half-dozen homebrew clubs and thousands of craft beer enthusiasts! Craft beer has so transformed our local region that craft beers are now a staple at weddings (custom brews are casked for the occasion!), festivals (at least a dozen throughout the year), Tampa Bay Beer Week (March 1-9, 2014 featuring hundreds of craft beer events) and even our traditional celebrations.
In fact, the Tampa Bay Times featured a pirate-themed craft beer six pack (two of the brews were specially brewed by our local Cigar City Brewing Company) in celebration of our annual pirate invasion Gasparilla (click on the photo to link to the article):
What makes St Petersburg and Tampa Bay unique in the exploding craft beer industry?
It’s the incredible collaboration and passion for the industry. While our brewers are truly talented craftsmen and craftswomen (no pun intended,) co-operation trumps capitalism here in our corner of the Sunshine State. From collaboration brews and guest taps in our tasting rooms, to USF interns working alongside of professional brewers at local breweries; to three(!) local chapters of “Barley’s Angels” (a national women’s organization); to our Tampa Bay Beer Week not-for-profit consortium of brewers, distributors, retailers, homebrew clubs, media and charity supporters; we’ve figured out how to rapidly Brewform (as opposed to transform) our area successfully.
Further proof that St Petersburg is God’s Tasting Room:
- At least 40% of craft beer drinkers on any given night are women under 40 (based on frequent personal observation,) and the region is home to 3 chapters of Barley’s Angels;
- Fox TV and Bay News 9 often cover craft brew events and breweries in Tampa Bay;
- Tampa Bay Beer Week is incorporated as a not-for-profit organization with our third year coming up March 1-9, 2014 (there will be over 400 events);
- Florida breweries are part of mainstream publishing (Florida Breweries by Gerard Walen);
- St Petersburg brews are featured in major craft beer websites and industry journals (Beer Advocate; Rate Beer; DRAFT, etc.);
- Awards are amassing for local brewers (both professional and home based) at The Great American Beer Festival and BJCP competitions;
- Local “support the arts” events like LOCALTOPIA feature a diverse craft beer garden.
This is hardly your father’s St Petersburg – no longer will people come down to retire in God’s waiting room – no, sir! St Petersburg is now home to God’s tasting room – so bring your palate and your dollars – we’re waiting for you!