It’s no secret that my husband and I like to imbibe in libations. We rarely say no to drinking and we find nearly everything to be a good reason to celebrate. Obviously, Tampa Bay Beer Week was practically made for us. The event we were looking forward to the most was the Leftover Beer Party hosted by Best Florida Beer at Southern Brewing and Winemaking.
Tampa Bay Beer Week includes a beer contest for both professional breweries and individual homebrewers. To enter, you need to submit multiple bottles of your beer for the judging. If your beer does not move on in the judging, then they do not open any more of your beer. This leads to lots of leftover beer. Until last year, the beer was just thrown out. Then some genius realized that you could put all the beer out and have a fabulous party!
Tickets were only $20 and included all you could drink leftover beer, a beer inside Southern Brew and Wine, and a pretty cool beer sticker. There were also food trucks with awesome food options.
The event started at 6 PM and we arrived pretty much right after it started. It was pretty chilly, but just like our friends from NHIE Tampa Bay, we’re from up north (Buffalo to be exact), so we didn’t mind too much. I did make the mistake of wearing heels and the beer was outside in the grass. I should probably call the brewery and apologize for all the little holes in the grass.
Anyway, they had the bottles of beer all in boxes with ice, grouped together in categories. There were so many different kinds of beer! I decided to start with mead. I went to open the bottle and it was not a twist off and there weren’t any openers around. I learned the options were to ask someone if they have an opener or to buy one for $3. Seemed like a tricky way to get people to spend more money.
I bought the opener and sampled my mead. Not my thing, but for some reason I like saying that I’m drinking mead. It makes me feel like I’m in 15th century Europe or something.
I pretended to enjoy my mead and moved on. The next box was the smoked beer. I had a beer that literally tasted like bacon. It smelled like bacon and I swear it was the color of it too. I don’t really like bacon so I didn’t love the beer, but I bet if you are a bacon fanatic you would die over this beer.
We worked our way through the pale ales, Belgian blondes, pumpkin beers, and finally made our way down to the end, the lagers and pilsners. That’s my kind of beer. I really want to like hops, but I just can’t. I really try but I can’t seem to develop a taste for it.
We ended up meeting a lot of interesting people and learning a lot by the lagers. Turns out, the lagers and pilsners are actually hard to make. A member of the Pinellas Brewers Guild was kind enough to teach us a little about beer. The hoppy beers are easier to hide imperfections in than the lagers and pilsners, making it harder to make them. So the next time some craft beer snob gives you a hard time about drinking these light beers, let them know just how hard they are to make.
Once we found a beer we really liked we filled up our tasting cups and headed over to the food trucks. After much debate we decided on the Daily Grinder. I had the Goody Goody Garbanzo bean wrap (it was a Friday during Lent) and homemade chips. The wrap was really good but the chips were fabulous! I may just stalk this food truck soon to get some more. They were so light and not greasy, with a hint of cinnamon that was just perfect!
After we finished eating we headed inside for our free Southern Brew beer and to get warm. There was live music that was really good and lots of people were inside having a good time. The beer there is really good and it was nice and refreshing to have a draft beer after drinking so many random bottles of beer.
We had planned on taking Zingo home (an awesome service where they drive your car home and then drive away on a fold up scooter they put in your trunk) but we decided to leave before they were available. Luckily, the brewery was kind enough to let us leave our car.
Events like these really make me fall in love with Tampa. It’s taken me a few years to accept Tampa as my home, but it’s really becoming a true city. I’m excited to see what’s to come next.
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