Craft beer adventures and experiences… one pint at a time

Posts tagged ‘St Petersburg’

Ugly Sweater Brewery Tour – Dec 8, 2017 – St Petersburg FL – Join in the FUN!

If you live in Florida you know that December in St Petersburg (and throughout the state) means warm weather, holiday lights, and Ugly Sweaters!  (Even though we don’t often need them!)

What better way to celebrate the season than with fellow craft beer lovers sharing pot luck snacks and having a bottle share aboard an air-conditioned bus as we visit local breweries and view holiday lights?  BYOB (beer, wine) and a pot luck snack (whatever is sharable) – coolers, cups, ice, etc will be provided by Thirsty Pelican Tours!

Join us (only $39 in advance – tickets at www.thirstypelicantours.com) with pick-up at 6:30pm at Sun Dial (downtown St Pete) and drop off at 10:30pm.  Limited to 30 friends!

This is going to be fun! Here’s the Facebook event page as well:

https://www.facebook.com/events/149584235772497

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Tampa Bay Beer Week (#TBBW) 2014 — A week of Craft Beer Memories, Friendships, and Bittersweet Moments

As the last bottle caps and tasting glasses are picked up from the hundreds of venues throughout Tampa Bay, I’m reflective (and ecstatic for the most part) about the success of the third annual Tampa Bay Beer Week (TBBW.)

I confess that I am on the TBBW Board of Directors and have been part of the overall planning and volunteer coordination for TBBW 2014.  I also confess that I am a craft beer aficionado. (Sidenote: someone overheard me say this in a bar and asked what is a “craft beer Fish Animal?”  LOL…)

Now that the week is over, I feel like I do when the Olympics are over (except with a craft beer slant):

I feel happy that our newest breweries and tasting rooms were filled to capacity during their first ever Tampa Bay Beer Week.

I feel gratified to hear so many happy stories from volunteers, festival attendees and Tampa Bay citizens whose first or thousandth craft beer happened during TBBW.

I feel excited about the energy and collaboration in and around our growing brewing economy.

I feel refreshed (and a bit tired) after visiting so many events and meeting so many great people.

And, I feel sad to know that our community has grown to the point where we now have a criminal element and greed trumping some of the good intentions and planning from within our own ranks.

I’m also a bit embarrassed at the ongoing rhetoric and behaviors of our fellow craft beer citizens that will allow outsiders to malign the good we do in our community.  There are always those who will criticize the brewing industry as being a haven for drunkenness and debauchery, and I’m sad that through the short-sightedness of a minority, our industry has tarnished itself.  We can regain our reputation as an innovative, cooperative, fun-loving, honest, and inspiring community, but it’s going to take some work.

On this last point, perhaps I was naive to believe that our craft beer community was better than society and we were unique today in espousing the values of our forefathers – supporting local business, giving neighbors the benefit of the doubt,  paying an honest dollar for a days work, celebrating great successes within our ranks, and being grateful for the wonders of a free life.  Reminiscent of Olympics past, this Tampa Bay Beer Week was a mix of highs, lows, winners and losers, and sadly, the emergence of both a criminal element and an alcohol-infused “entitlement attitude” that I’ve not seen before.

The great people and great ideas that inspired the growth and vibrancy of the first two Tampa Bay Beer Weeks (2012 and 2013) are still a big part of the week, however, it may be time to accept the fact that with grand success comes those who don’t want to play by the rules, those who feel entitled to lie, cheat, steal and malign to get ahead.

Yes, I was naive to believe that everyone in craft beer is noble (wouldn’t that be nice?) while the rest of the world deals with such everyday chaos.  Sometimes ignorance is bliss, but once exposed you can’t be ignorant anymore.

Let’s start by talking about the elephant in the room that has dominated the social media airwaves for the past 48 hours:

The “Disaster/Failure/Chaos/Disappointment” (call it what you like) of Cigar City’s Hunahpu’s Day on March 8, 2014.

The day started out like the perfect day in Tampa Bay – not too hot, rain free, a northerner’s dream… perfect for an outdoor beer fest.  Cigar City posted pics on Facebook showing the pre-festival grounds; the mood was optimistic that ticketed attendees (capped at 3500 invitees) would be calm, semi-sober and at last, manageable – nothing like the overcrowded chaos of the past.

In fact,  March 8 was intended to be a fun-filled, stellar day of tastings and celebration to mark Cigar City Brewing’s 5 year anniversary and it seemed, from the outside at least, that even the Mayan gods were smiling.

But, as history repeatedly shows, when things look too good to be true, they probably are.  By the end of the day, the army of employees, volunteers and a few policemen were barely enough to control the mob of drunken and disturbed ‘alcohol personalities’ that emerged.  Mob behavior is curious enough, but when you mix in high gravity brews, sun-baked drinkers, lines snaking around the block, supplies dedicated to ticketed attendees, and a sudden doubling or tripling of attendees through duplicate/counterfeit tickets, it results in behaviors unacceptable in civilized society.

The scene was one out of Woodstock – raised fists, angry words, pushing and shoving – in fact, I’m surprised that no one was hurt or trampled in the chaos – and I, for one was embarrassed by my fellow craft beer lovers.

Certainly, in retrospect, a larger security force, a professional event planning company, trained volunteers, 8 foot fences, strict processes, and a no-nonsense business attitude would have handled the duplicate tickets (sorry, you bought counterfeit tickets – you lose, goodbye!), the fence jumpers (you are under arrest, sir!), the bottle pickups (Disney style lines with strict adherence to roped off areas), and the adhoc campground (sorry, no folding chairs or umbrellas) – but get real, this is not Budweiser (thank goodness) or Walmart!

Hunahpu’s day was never intended to be a pro-sport – and that was it’s beauty!

Hunahpu’s Day celebrated small town America — honesty, values, neighborly love and great beers all mixed together – and that’s what we all loved.  Things could have been better planned (as outlined) – but give me a break, there was no sinister, conspiratorial mal intent on the part of Cigar City Brewing in the first place.

(Sidenote to some of the comments floating around about conspiratorial intent:  I can say that having been a part of both the planning and executing of the Halfway There TBBW Rare Beer Fest in September, we stocked triple the glassware and triple the wristband supplies that we needed, because it’s cheaper to buy bulk and have way too much on hand than to run out…. things happen that are unanticipated!) 

I am appalled at the ongoing vitriolic rhetoric on the part of disgruntled attendees, who owner Joey Redner tried to appease through refunds, free beer, and special batch brewing – it is simply cruel and vindictive.

Just because one of our own community makes it big doesn’t mean that everyone else is entitled to display their bad alcohol-personalities (what I call people who are angry drunks) or feel entitled to inventory.  Think about it, when Walgreen’s or Target has a sale and they run out – you get a rain check (optimistically) or you just walk away.  No mob scene, no angry demands, no “xxx SUCKS!” chants.

What has happened to us that we feel entitled that every promise (for beer no less) should be fulfilled?  What gives us the right to disparage volunteers who gave up their day so that we could enjoy a tropical beer fest and bottle exchange just because everything didn’t turn out the way we planned?  No wonder Hunahpu’s Day is no more… and I, for one, am sad that TBBW will never be the same.

That’s my opinion, and I’m sticking to it.

TBBW 2014 – a Year of Firsts

TBBW 2014 culminated 12 months of planning, thousands of volunteer hours, and featured many firsts:20140228_183535

  • Both St Peterburg City Council and Tampa City Council issued proclamations officially recognizing Tampa Bay Beer Week;
  • We piloted the TBBW “Passport” – a 50+ page passport featuring coupons good for free beer, growlers, and other deals at the beginning of TBBW. Even now, after beer week is officially over, there are over half the offers still valid through to December 31, 2014 (there are still some available for purchase for only $10.);
  • TBBW formally became a not-for-profit incorporated entity;
  • We hosted our first ever event as an organization – Halfway There – A Rare Beer Festival, in September 2013 and received Creative Loafing’s best inaugural beerfest award;
  • The number of new breweries in the Tampa Bay area nearly doubled since TBBW 2013;
  • Once an oddity, the upscale beer-paired dinners became a regular featured event during the week;
  • Collaboration events (involving multiple breweries) were commonplace;
  • Criminal activity (duplicate/counterfeit tickets) coupled with unexpected outcomes (double the ticketed attendance) and some poor advance planning resulted in a mob mentality, scarcity of resources and supplies, and ultimately resulted in financial losses for a mainstay brewery in our industry.

Overall, there were grand victories, learning experiences, disappointments and crowds.  After herculean efforts on the part of hundreds of people:  brewers, restauranteurs, bar owners, volunteers and thousands of craft beer drinkers throughout the area, the week ended with mixture of emotions and promises, no deaths, few injuries, and we can all look towards an even better TBBW 2015.

My next Post will Cover the Highlights of TBBW 2014 (from Carol’s Perspective)… stay tuned

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p.s., Don’t forget to vote for my beer blog entry (I’m the only one from Florida) at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/5J9SPP7 – Please and thankyou!

Have a great week!

Carol

Related posts from others:

– All about Beer.com – The Death of Hunahpu Day by Gerard Walen

The Beer Apostle -Hunahpu Day: The Proper Response

Beer for the Daddy -An Ugly End to A Great Week by Sean Nordquist

Cigar City’s Hunahpu’s Day a Mess, but so was angry mob’s response by Justin Grant

Joey Redner on Hunahpu’s Day: “I just don’t want to deal with it” by Tom Scherberger

From God’s Waiting Room to God’s Tasting Room – The “Brewformation” of St Petersburg

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”
Carol Dekkers

Green Bench

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):

cigar city gasparilla

 

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.

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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!

-Carol

Total Wine St. Petersburg – 2012 Craft Beer Education Nights

I joined friends from the Tampa Bay BeerMug meetup group last evening at a Belgian Beer education night at Total Wine in St. Petersburg (Park Street Retail Center, 4880 Park Street North, St. Petersburg, FL 33709).

The best part of the evening (at least for me) was not the education, but rather the opportunity to taste and sample over 14 Belgian imported Craft Beers and Domestic Belgian-style offerings for a mere $15.USD! (Each retails at about $6.99-$12.99 USD for a 750 ml bottle.)

Chris was our local Beer Expert from Total Wine who led us through a PowerPoint presentation about the various Belgian beer styles, as we sampled a variety of Craft Brews both imported or domestic – all specifically Belgian in style.  Chris was both knowledgeable and approachable as he led an interactive discussion about our observations as we sampled each brew.

This was my first encounter with the Total Wine’s Beer education nights (the St. Petersburg store seems to feature more classes than other stores!) – and I’ll be back.

It was definitely a worthwhile investment – we had a small group (about 15 people of the maximum 30 class size) and Total Wine provided the beers and a selection of cheeses, breads/crackers, and savory meatballs. These proved to be a good way to begin pairing food and tastes with various beer styles.

I’ve included the St. Petersburg Total Wine education classes calendar excerpt and a link and phone number where you can register for classes at the end of this post.  If you live elsewhere, simply visit www.totalwine.com and you can see what beer classes are offered in your area.

Beers we Sampled…

Here are some photos of a few of the Belgian and Belgian-style domestic beers we tasted during the January 19, 2012 evening class. All of these were available for purchase at Total Wine in 750ml bottles on the evening of the event:

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Additional beers that were sampled (but not pictured) included:

Upcoming St. Petersburg Total Wine beer classes (2012 Jan – April):

  • Sat. Jan 21,2012 (3-5PM) – Belgian Classics
  • Thurs. Feb 16,2012 (6:30-8:30PM) – Lagers and Ales beyond Pilsners and Pales
  • Sat. Feb 18,2012 (3-5PM) – Lagers and Ales beyond Pilsners and Pales
  • Thurs. Mar 22, 2012 (6:30-8:30PM) – Introduction to Beer: Get Your Suds On!
  • Sat. Mar 24, 2012 (3-5PM) – Introduction to Beer: Get Your Suds On!
  • Sat. Apr 21, 2012 (3-5PM) – Great Breweries Great Beers

To register for these upcoming Beer Classes, reserve your place by calling Total Wine St Petersburg, FL at 727-544-6018.  Each session is $15. payable the day/evening of class.

Have a great weekend!

A Girl who Likes Brews

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