Tampa Bay has a long history with beer, beginning with cigar maker Vicente Martinez Ybor, who opened Florida’s first commercial brewery in 1897 at the site of an ancient spring.
It must have been a great choice of location: Much of the beverage’s most recent story in Tampa has taken place not too far from that original facility, and has been written in the neighborhoods immediately surrounding Tampa’s downtown core. Brewing facilities and tasting rooms have opened in the Channel District, Tampa Heights, Old West Tampa, Seminole Heights, and Ybor City.
Meanwhile, across the bay, Pinellas County celebrates craft beer like nowhere else, with more breweries than any other county in Florida, according to Drink Local Florida.
Even the COVID pandemic could not stop the industry’s growth. Brewers were forced to get creative, and their survival and growth have proven Tampa Bay’s determination to support small, local businesses—especially when those businesses were offering a bit of comfort and enjoyment in return.
In our May issue, we salute three area breweries that made it through the past year with grit, determination, and a healthy dose of humor: