April was already a busy and notable month for Craft Brewing in the Tampa Bay area – and we’re only 1/2 way through!
We’ve toasted two new brewery openings in Pinellas County just last week (Sea Dog Brewing in Clearwater and St Pete Brewing Company in St Petersburg) – along with celebrating National Beer Day on April 7.
And, after much fanfare and anticipation, the new book FLORIDA BREWERIES, by my friend and author Gerard Walen, was published.
Gerard is now on a book signing tour all over Tampa Bay (see details below) and beyond, and I caught up with him last week to ask him a few questions about his book-writing “research” behind FLORIDA BREWERIES:
1. Where are you from and how did you come to call Florida your home?
Tampa, and I believe that answers the second part.
2. You’ve just written THE book about Florida breweries – what inspired you to write it?
On my Road Trips for Beer site, I reviewed a few of the other state brewery guidebooks published by Stackpole Books. Through the writing and research for my Beer in Florida site, I realized that the state’s brewery scene had grown large enough that it deserved a similar guide. I pitched it to an editor, and it was accepted. When I pitched it in spring 2012, there were about 50 breweries in the state.
The book has chapters on 66 (one has closed) and a list of more than 40 that opened past deadline or that are on
their way to opening.
3. What was the best and the worst thing you discovered in your travels about Florida breweries?
Most breweries across the state were not producing enough beer to meet demand in their local areas, not to mention the state. Forget the country. That is also the worst thing, but fortunately new expansions have been completed, and that is starting to change: We’re seeing more regions of the state getting beer shipped in from others.
4. What surprised you (or continues to surprise you) about the industry or people involved?
I think it’s the collaboration aspect among craft brewers, which I knew about already but found it to be universal and mostly consistent. I worked as an assistant business editor at the Sarasota Herald-Tribune for a few years, so I had really delved into the mechanics of how businesses operate. I know of no other type of industry where its members are so open and supportive of each other.
5. What should people know about the book and why should they buy it?
I’ve had some folks mention that “Florida Breweries” is “outdated” already because of the breweries that have opened since deadline, but I did try to keep it as current as possible. I was able to make minor updates and add to that list in the back up to a month or so before it went to the printers. But it’s more
than just a list of breweries. Each of the chapters includes what I thought was the most interesting story I heard while visiting and talking with the brewers or owners (yes, I physically visited each of the 66 breweries). Plus there are chapters on such things as Beer in Theme Parks, Other Beer Companies, Beer Fests and Beer Webs, and introductions to each of the four regions – North Florida, Central Florida, Tampa Bay area, and South Florida – with information about the history, things to do, places to eat, and so on. Not to mention a glossary!
6. Anything you’d like to add?
Folks so far who have read it have been very positive. I’ve been told by a few people that they learned new things about the Florida beer community, and most of them are really invested in the industry in one form or another. I feel fortunate to be able to share a little of the knowledge I gained during my
research phase, and I hope it helps spread the word about our state’s great beer across the country and around the world.
A couple of other things:
- The book is available on Amazon.com, BarnesandNoble.com, and StackpoleBooks.com, and I think the major bookstores in Florida (that’s just Barnes and Noble, now, right?). There are at least a few breweries who have purchased it for their tasting rooms – Cigar City in Tampa and Copp in Crystal River, for sure. But no matter where you purchase it, I’ll be happy to autograph it for you at any book signing, where I’ll also have copies for sale.
- The best way to keep up with the signings is on my Amazon Author Page. I’ll also announce them on the Beer in Florida Facebook page, and will also do unscheduled “popup signings” at various craft beer places, which I’ll announce on the Facebook page and Twitter.
- Drink Local! Drink Florida!
THANK YOU GERARD! Wishing you continued success and many more research days ahead!