Back on February 23, CL published our annual Beer Issue, which always comes out a week or two before Tampa Bay Beer Week (even though it seems like these days, every week is Tampa Bay Beer Week). I usually take point on the special issue content, with a whole lot of help from staffers and contributors, and this year was no exception. Somehow, as a result of a visit to Ybor City’s excellent Coppertail Brewing to accompany our Artistic Director Julio Ramos on a photo shoot, I ended up on the cover this year, as well.
Here’s what I wrote in addition to the special section’s intro, which is linked above:
Offering further evidence that there’s nothing craft brewers won’t incorporate into a beer, Tampa’s own Coppertail Brewing marked Friday the 13th with the release of its Captain Jack’s Stone Crab Stout, an “unconventionally flavored” brew that pays tribute to both Florida’s annual stone crab harvesting season and the anglers that brave the slightly colder winter waves in search of those delicious crustacean claws.
And yeah, Captain Jack’s is literally made with stone crabs. For the past couple of years, Coppertail has hosted a mid-season stone crab dinner at its insanely cool Ybor City tasting room/event space. The crab claws come directly from that morning’s catch in Key West; some are eaten, some go home with staffers, friends and family, and 300 pounds go into the beer during the boil, adding “a savory salinity to this rich and roasty stout, kind of like adding salt to chocolate,” according to the label (and press release). This is the third year the stout has made a mid-winter appearance among Coppertail’s consistently tasty lineup.
Coppertail’s not the first brewery to act so shellfishly (sorry). Brewers have been adding flavors of the sea to their beers since time out of mind. But since Coppertail brewmaster Casey Hughes got his start brewing down in the Keys, this one’s a bit of a passion project for him, as well as a nod to his beermaking roots. What’s more, a portion of sales proceeds will be donated to the Florida Keys Commercial Fisherman’s Association “to promote sustainable fishing, and to help preserve the way of life of Florida fishermen.”
Admit it: You’re curious. Better hurry, then, because Captain Jack’s is only available in limited qualities — some will be distributed, but stopping by the tasting room is probably your best bet.
Eric Richardson fell into his job brewing beer for Treasure Island’s R Bar by being in the right place at the right time — and technically doing the wrong thing. While working as a cook at the eatery and bar, a broken burner ring at home facilitated the homebrewer bringing his batches into the restaurant’s kitchen while he was on the clock.
“Really, I was slacking off brewing when I was supposed to be working,” he says.
R Bar owner Robert Hughes became intrigued by what Richardson was doing. He asked for a taste, and in 2013 put three of Richardson’s beers on tap for his patrons. R Bar now features six in-house varieties from the brewer’s 20-gallon system (upgraded from 10 gallons), ranging from the ubiquitous IPA and pale ale to a red IPA, cream ale, porter and brown ale.
Photo by Meaghan Habuda for Creative Loafing Tampa.
Yup, I continue to meet the people behind Tampa Bay craft beer, and tell other people about it. I’m a couple behind, this one’s several weeks old, but I really enjoyed speaking to Chris Johnson and his wife Leslie—they’re both extremely nice, and passionate and knowledgeable about beer.
Read the feature here. All of the “Meet the Brewers” profiles are here.
About a ton of local breweries/brewpubs have opened in the Tampa Bay area and surrounding West Central Florida region, and like an idiot I decided I could cover all or most of them.
That, of course, didn’t end up happening, but I did speak/hang/drink beer with the brewers for a baker’s dozen of area craft breweries. It was exhausting, but also a blast, and I discovered that the people that actually make the beer — write the recipes, fill the tanks, taste the results and repeat until they’re satisfied — are as passionate about their own particular balance of art and craftsmanship as any other creatives out there. They’re the kind of people who would do it for free, and get more out of seeing someone enjoy the fruits of their labor than most “professionals” could possibly understand.
Here’s the link to the landing page, with related to links to each of the brewers. The individual interview links are after the break.