Tampa Breweries: Entrepreneurship and Craft Beer at Startup Week

February 16, 2016

10:00 am

If there’s one sure mark of an entrepreneurial city on the rise, it’s craft beer breweries. Young and hip entrepreneurs drink the stuff. Older, established business owners do, too. At Tampa Bay Startup Week, Tampa breweries and craft beer earned distinction as a the subject of panels and community discussions. Four of the week’s 80+ events were dedicated to beer judging, beer pairing, and of course, beer tasting.

Starting Up in Tampa Bay’s Beer Scene

At Tampa Bay Startup Week, the Craft Beer track highlighted the importance of Tampa breweries in many ways. Zepherhills-based craft brewer Robert Hilferding and his wife Terry brought three of their blends to the opening night ceremony. Although the Hilferding’s Zepherhills Brewing Company in downtown Zepherhills won’t open until fall 2016, Hilferding (whose son Gregg is one of the Tampa Bay Startup Week organizers) knows that putting his product in consumers’ hands is the best possible advertising.

The “Beyond Brewing” panel showcased the ways that Tampa’s craft beer scene has evolved beyond brews. Local businesses in the Tampa Bay area are able to create and sustain products and services around the local craft beer industry. Owners of the Tampa-based Etsy shop Hopcloth talked about creating t-shirts based around craft beer. BCups presented a plastic “to-go” IPA beer cup.

Indigo Bee, Inc., which combines hand-poured soap with craft beer to create unique ‘bad ass beer soaps,’ presented. One refreshing product: the fresh-scented, mint-colored soap bar made with Cigar City’s Cucumber Saison.

Companies like design firm Big Sea Design & Development discussed collaboration with local breweries like Cigar City Brewing. Local Tampa Bay startup founders at LilyPad Solutions discussed creating software for craft beer sales.

Vendors showcased at the Beyond Brewing panel also included representatives from Tampa-based World of Beer, a biergarden with more than 120 locations now spread through the southeastern United States. The Brew Bus, a local company that provides roundtrip rides to a variety of local breweries, was on hand to discuss a future brewery of their own.

During a fireside chat at Tampa Bay Startup Week, Bob Sylvester of Saint Somewhere Brewing discussed his journey from corporate work to successful home brewing.

The “Beer Judging” panel gave interested parties access to a conversation with local craft beer judges, where they learned more about the process of judging a beer.

And at the “Beer and Food” gathering, Jason Robinson, director of marketing at JJ Taylor Distributing, led a pairing of select cheeses with four of Cigar City’s craft brews. There was also a discussion of the impacts of beer and food pairing on the craft beer and food industries.

Building a Beer City

Cigar City is the first of the Tampa breweries to come to mind for most visitors – there’s even an outpost in the Southwest Terminal at Tampa International Airport – but that’s no secret; the brewery’s main location on Spruce Street is so popular that a second brewpub was opened in the north Tampa suburb of Carrollwood.

Tampa breweries can generally be broken down by neighborhood:  there’s Cigar City’s third outpost, where it’s all about cider and mead, in brick-walled Ybor City. Also in Ybor, there’s New World Brewery, Tampa Bay Brewing Company, and Coppertail Brewing Co.

A quick Uber ride away to Tampa’s quirkiest neighborhood, Seminole Heights, one can find a mixture of beer venues, from the small and eccentric Angry Chair Brewing to the biergarten behind Southern Brewing and Winemaking.

In Dunedin, which sits west of Tampa Bay between Tampa and the beaches at Clearwater, the Dunedin Brewery has long served the local community with a dog-friendly patio, live music, and local craft brews – there are even boasts that it is Florida’s oldest craft beer brewery. Nearby 7venth Sun gives off a coffee shop vibe.

A jump south on I-275, one finds St. Petersburg, where breweries are opening at an even faster rate than in Tampa. There’s Green Bench, and 3 Daughters Brewing, and Cage Brewing, among many others.

Odessa brewery Big Storm Brewing has three outposts in the region. In Largo, find Barley Mow and Arkane Aleworks.

There there’s… well, you get the picture. There are almost too many Tampa breweries and craft beer destinations to list. For a complete selection, check out The Brewery Bay.

Tampa Bay Startup Week showcased many of these local Tampa breweries during the week’s events, along with highlighting local startups to look out for, ways that seed-stage businesses can seek local funding, and the growing Tampa Bay entrepreneurial ecosystem.

This article is part of a Startup Week content series brought to you by Chase for Business. Startup Week is celebration of entrepreneurs in cities around the globe. Chase for Business is everything a business needs in one place, from expert advice to valuable products and services. Follow the Startup Week action here as we head to 7 cities in the coming months.

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Freelance writer and Innovation & Job News Editor with 83 Degrees Media living in sunny Tampa, Florida. Loves reading, her dog, planning her upcoming wedding, and Amazon Prime.

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