Florida has been regarded by many beer lovers as a "beer wasteland" and in many instances, especially in Florida's modern era, that reputation has been deserved. However, there is a pedigree of brewing in the Sunshine State and the epicenter of Florida's brewing past was the city of Tampa.
The first brewery in the state of Florida was located in Tampa in present day Ybor City. The Florida Brewing Company (Later renamed the Tampa Florida Brewing Company) was founded by cigar industrialists in 1896 and survived until 1961. The La Tropical line including an ale and bock were brewery mainstays. The La Tropical line of beers were a distinct line from the La Tropical beer brewed in Cuba.
Today the building which was home to the Tampa Florida Brewing Company houses a law firm. When it was built in 1896 it was the tallest building in the city of Tampa at six stories tall. It remains the tallest building in Ybor City to this day.
The next brewery to call Tampa home was the Southern Brewing Company which opened in downtown Tampa at 700 East Zack Street in 1934 and operated until 1957. SB Beer and Silver Bar Ale were staple products. Label design for SB beer featured distinctive image of The University of Tampa prominently along with an illustration of pirates, long a part of Tampa lore. Southern also produced a Sparkling Ale and Premium Lager under the Silver Bar name as well as an SB Bock. Additional beers were Old Tampa Beer, Wurzburger Dark Beer and Florida Special Beer.
The relatively wide range of beers provides some proof that prior to WWII lager, while immensely popular, did not have the stranglehold on the market that it enjoyed from the late 60's into the late 80;s. Ales were produced by many regional breweries, even in less beer savvy states such as Florida, and appear to have sold well in the marketplace.
|The Desoto Brewing Company was a short lived brewery located at 1202 N Howard Avenue in what is now referred to as the NoHo District of West Tampa. Opened in 1934 the brewery had shut its doors by 1936. DeSoto Brewing produced Colonial Ale and Desoto Beer. Sadly, very little is known about the brewery and almost nothing exists in the way of labels or bottles due to the breweries short existence.|
|The Ybor City Brewing Company operated in Ybor City from 1994 to 2003. Five beers were brewed at the spacious brick building which housed the brewery. Ybor Gold Amber, Brown Ale, Gaspar's Porter, Calusa Wheat and Light. The brands were later purchased by the Florida Brewing Company in Melbourne, FL where they are brewed today.|
These days, the Tampa Bay brewing scene is thriving. In addition to ourselves, you can find breweries from Tarpon Springs to Sarasota. Check out these breweries to find out more. And always remember to DRINK LOCAL!
Dunedin Brewery - Dunedin, FL
Saint Somewhere Brewing - Tarpon Springs, FL
Peg's Cantina - Gulfport, FL
Sarasota Brewing Company - Sarasota, FL
Tampa Bay Brewing Company - Ybor City, FL