Brewing Florida Style with Coppertail Brewing Co.

Premier.CoppertailCoppertail is no stranger to creating innovative versions of the Sunshine State’s beloved style of beer, the Florida Weisse. For those of you that have never heard the term, it’s our (Florida’s) take on the traditional Berliner Weisse style.

Berliners are an age old, tart, German wheat beer that traditionally served with sweet, flavored syrups. The syrups, typically woodruff or raspberry, are added to cut the sourness and as a result add color. Serve it up in a large glass referred to as a “bowl” and top it off with a straw … yep, a straw.

Florida brewers have taken this concept to a new level. We are not adding syrup (no straws either), the beers are aged on fresh fruits, herbs, spices and vegetables. This gives each combination a unique fruit flavor and in some cases brilliant vibrant colors.

We have used ingredient combinations like guava/passionfruit, mango/key lime, cucumber/lemon, cara cara/hibiscus and blueberry/habanero. The possibilities are endless.

We’ll brew 50 barrels of our base Berliner (Dangerous Frank) at a time and break that down into a few 10 barrel batches with different treatments. We’ll break them down even further and keep layering flavors or treat the base with its own ingredients. This is how we are able to keep such a wide variety of them available in the tasting room at all times.

We’ve asked a few members of our staff what their favorite Florida Weisse recipes were and why.

Casey Hughes, Brewmaster

“Whoops or Let it Lingor … Whoops because “Happy Accident” was too big for a tap handle. Whoops was supposed to be another beer altogether, but I pumped Berliner into the treatment keg by accident and it came out great (note: Coppertail IMG_1398continues to make Whoops on a regular basis and distributes it in Florida and Philly). Let it Lingor is made from lingonberries. We are across the street from an Ikea. We have to make a Lingonberry beer when you are across from an Ikea.”

Matthew McKinnon, Brewer

“Slappy … Strawberry, dragon fruit and grapefruit. This combo smells and looks like fruit punch. The red dragon fruit gives it it’s color. You can’t really peg either fruit. It’s a weird combination of things that turn out different than you think.”

Michael Lukacina, Brewer

“Pie ‘Til I Die or Guava Pasteles … Pie ‘Til I Die is a cool combo of mango, lime and coconut that just screams Florida. Guava Pasteles because it’s a play off of the Guava Pastries you can get at all the Cuban delis in Tampa. Lots of vanilla, raspberry and guava. Was also cool because we made it exclusively for a local bottle shop called Jug & Bottle Dept.”

Tyler Sankey, Packaging Lead

“Seasons Greetings …. Cherry, vanilla, oak and cinnamon. It’s real Christmas-y and tasty.”

Kevin Kearny, Packaging Team Member

“I Lychee Hot or Mango Hot Pepper … I like the way that the spicy plays off the sour. It makes for a great combination with the addition of sweet mango.”

Gary Kost, Marketing Director

IMG_1638“Guava Passionfruit Berliner. I had never had an actual passionfruit until we made this beer. I loved this combo! It’s a little more sour than our other Berliners, but it is perfect.”

Jessica Lindholm, Event Coordinator / Assistant tasting Room Manager

“Kiwi Khaleesi … Kiwi, passionfruit and dragon fruit. It was delicious. The color was amazing and the name is wonderful!”

About Coppertail Brewing Company
Coppertail Brewing Co is a production brewery and tasting room in the Ybor neighborhood of Tampa, FL.  It was founded by local home-brewer and reformed attorney, Kent Bailey, and professional brewer, Casey Hughes in 2014 out of a desire to bring more quality, Florida-brewed beer to the thirsty masses.

Florida Inspired, Tampa Brewed.

Visit the Coppertail taproom and take a tour. For more information visit and to follow on social, check out


Marker 48 Brewing: Turning Negatives into Positives

Marker 48 Rainbow edited

Marker 48 Brewing in Weeki Wachee, Florida

Since opening its doors in November 2015, the accolades have rolled in for still-young Marker 48 Brewing in Weeki Wachee, Florida, about 45 minutes north of Tampa.

In its January 2016 issue, Beer Advocate Magazine named the craft brewery among its “Class of 2015” list of “exceptional breweries that opened in 2015” in the United States.  Only 33 breweries made the list.

Red, Right, Return, one of Marker 48’s flagship beers, won a bronze medal in the Irish-style Red Ale category of the 2016 Best Florida Beer Championships, the first time the brewery had entered the competition.

Though it barely missed the Final Four in Tampa Bay Business Journal’s 2016 “Battle of the Brews”’ Sweet 16-style online voting competition, the overwhelming support shown by its fans garnered the brewery Rookie of the Year honors, an unexpected surprise for owners Maurice and Tina Ryman.  And Marker 48 was one of only two Florida craft breweries chosen to participate in this year’s prestigious SAVOR: An American Craft Beer & Food Experience, recognized as the nation’s premier craft beer and food pairing event.

As far as the product, its beers as of this writing average 4.28 on BeerAdvocate and 3.81 on Untappd, both on five-point scales.

That’s a lot of recognition for a brewery open for less than a year.

People who visit the brewery housed in a former auto-repair shop on busy Cortez Boulevard (State Road 50) almost universally praise the place, as evidenced by a flood of five-star reviews on Facebook, Yelp and other such social media sites.

Marker 48 taproom edited 2

The Marker 48 taproom attracts locals and tourists alike, and it’s dog- and family-friendly

“Almost” universally praise … .

As with any business, the occasional disgruntled consumer prompts not-so-pleasant interactions. But Marker 48 has a knack for turning potential negatives into positives.

Example 1: Take the case of Mick Spik, which at least is the name he goes by on Facebook.

THE NEGATIVE: Mr. S. visited the brewery’s taproom one Saturday afternoon a few weeks after the grand opening and settled in at the bar. The gentleman ordered one of the brewed-on-premise beers, and started interacting with the staff and customers.

Unfortunately, it soon became evident that Mr. S. had started his drinking earlier that day, and seemed to be quite inebriated by the time he arrived (fortunately in a cab).

Once his level of inebriation – and belligerence – became apparent, Marker 48 general manager Cindy Halley gently suggested he switch to water, and perhaps take advantage of the on-premise food truck BarbieCue before he ordered more beer.

Mr. S. declined the offer, and loudly voiced his opinion of the beer, the service, the atmosphere, and any other deficiencies he thought he had noticed during his time at the brewery. He threw his tip money at Ms. Halley, literally – coins, not bills — and stomped off the premises, fortunately calling a cab to pick him up.

He wasted no time posting his opinion on social media, composing a FaceBook review that read thusly:

Snobbery at its finest. And in a beer joint? So what, … You brew your own beer. Great.

I visited the establishment for a taste.

Your staff member ‘Nurse Ratchet’ was quick to make me feel unwanted. I was not worthy of the higher standard that this BEER BAR (and that’s what it is – look at the sign) expected from a customer. For those that enjoy average craft brew at above average prices, serviced by snobs, then this is the place to be, a promising failure.

The brewery owners responded appropriately online, but the key point to take from this is the reference to “Nurse Ratchet (sp),” which was Mr. S.’s nickname for the above-mentioned, good-natured Ms. Halley. (“Nurse Ratched” being the name of the grim and sometimes sadistic character in the classic flick “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest).

Nurse Ratchet, aka General Manager Cindy Halley, prepares medication for her patients.

Nurse Ratchet, aka General Manager Cindy Halley, prepares medication for her patients.

MAKING IT A POSITIVE: Rather than let this unintentionally hilarious reference fall to the wayside, two limited edition beers – sours of course – debuted a couple of months later: Nurse Ratchet – Orange (a yogurt-sour aged with blood orange, 5% ABV) and Nurse Ratchet – Cherry (aged on cherries, 5% ABV). Both were well-received and are expected to return sometime soon, perhaps for a special “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” movie night in the beer garden.


Example 2:

THE NEGATIVE: Shortly after Marker 48 published a print ad in a local magazine, the brewery received a call from a resident who took umbrage at the use of the word “delicious” to describe beer. “Beer is not delicious. Food is delicious,” the caller said. Many times, along with a few disparaging remarks about the relative intelligence of the staff and their command of the English language.

Fortunately, no one answered the call and it was captured on the answering machine. The owners took a video of the machine playing the message, and posted it to Facebook. At first, they were angry, but soon realized the potential promotional value of the content of the call.

Don’t skip this! Listen to the amazingly awful remarks…

MAKING IT A POSITIVE: Almost immediately, customers of the brewery who viewed the video started using the hashtag #DeliciousBeer on social media channels.  Brewmaster John Myers named a new imperial brown ale (8% ABV) “Molicious,” (co-owner Maurice’s nickname is “Mo”) and local artisan Ted Petree created a wooden sign for the bar: “It IS Delicious Beer!”

Molicious edited

That is some #DeliciousBeer!

There were a few other cases in which someone posted a critical remark about Marker 48, but it’s usually handled much more quietly by inviting the customer back to discuss the issue or if it’s a legitimate complaint, fixing the issue.

But in the wide world of craft beer, a brewery sometimes will receive criticism from a customer or blogger and the reaction will be just as critical, often escalating to an online pissing match that makes both parties look bad.

Take a lesson from Marker 48 Brewing, and find a way to turn the negatives into positives.

Marker 48 is a Premier Sponsor of the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference and will be pouring samples and answering any questions you might have at the Beer Expo on Friday night. BBWC veteran and advisory board member Gerard Walen leads tours of Marker 48 on most Saturdays, and if you see him around the convention, he might just have some swag for you if you know the magic phrase. Which may or may not be “Delicious Beer!”

Marker 48 Brewing is a 7-barrel craft brewery with a 32-tap tasting room in Weeki Wachee, Florida, founded by Hernando County natives Maurice and Tina Ryman. John Myers is the award-winning head brewer. Regular hours are Wed-Thurs., noon to 10 p.m.; Fri., noon to midnight; Sat., noon to 11 p.m. and Sun. noon to 8:30 p.m.

Tampa Marriott Waterside Brings a Fantastic Dinner Event For Beer Bloggers

The hotel host is always a big consideration when planning a killer conference.  The Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina has been fantastic to work with and is a beautiful space for bloggers to stay and get their beer conference on.  Oh, and did I mention they happen to  have a deep appreciation for craft beer?  Read below on the plans and brews for our Friday night dinner hosted by Tampa Marriott Waterside….you may want to grab a snack as this write up may leave you hungry!

Grand.MarriottTampaWatersideWith over 40 craft breweries, pub crawls on city bikes, a Brew Bus and festivals galore, it’s no surprise that Tampa Bay’s beer scene is being noticed.  Lucky for Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina, we’re in the heart of all of it.  From being the host hotel for Cigar City Brewing’s Hunahpu’s Day, and keeping the coveted Imperial Stout under lock and key until its release, to hosting tastings from local breweries on select nights in our Greatroom & Patio, chances are you’ll find something fun brewing at our waterfront hotel.  We even have to-go cups to take your favorite draught with you along Tampa’s Riverwalk.

We’ve been looking forward to hosting the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference 2016 for a long time and our chefs have been in the test kitchen planning, tasting, pairing and tasting some more… just to make sure.  We’ve partnered with 4 Florida breweries to create the ultimate tasting menu for Friday night.

From our own backyard, Coppertail Brewing is serving up their ever-popular Free Dive IPA which we are pairing with 2016-06-08 02.12.32Brandade beignets that will blow your mind.  Beer battered in Free Dive and served with a malt tartar sauce on the side that will make your taste buds sing.  Limited release Obey Your Thirst, a lemon lime Berliner Weisse, will be served alongside our delicate tuna & seaweed poke.

With Cigar City Brewing, just 5 miles from the hotel, we’re pairing a crisp, clean Jai Alai IPA to complement the richness of crispy pork belly and playing up the citrus notes with a Thai green papaya salad.  And we’re going deep and dark with the hard-to-find Marshal Zhukov Imperial Stout and making palates ping with the perfectly matched flavors of a dark chocolate and cherry truffles tart.

Across the bridge in St. Petersburg, we’re pleased to bring you two selections from Green Bench Brewing.  The grassiness of Saison de Banc Vert plays nicely with Chef’s tender sea scallops crusted with pistachios and finished with a Florida citrus salad.  And don’t miss the ooey-gooey aged ham and gruyere pretzel bites with a mustard dipping sauce spiked with Green Bench brew.  We’re washing these beauties down with a refreshing Plug-n-Play Pilsner Malt IPA.

And finally, east meets west, where we’re bringing you the groovy flavors of Fort Lauderdale’s Funky Buddha Brewery, starting with the heavenly pairing of their Floridian Hefeweizen and our pastry team’s lemon and goat cheese cheesecake.  It’s a perfect union for the unfiltered, German-style wheat beer with banana and lemon notes.  And the quintessential reason you became a blogger… French Toast Double Brown Ale unites with Brown Ale basted breakfast sausage sliders with maple hollandaise, arugula and fried quail egg.  Enough said.

But before you double down with the Double Brown, be sure to check out our very own digital experience in craft beer at 2016-06-08 02.12.02Champions.  DigitalPour links our tap system to social media giving beer guzzlers a chance to engage, share photos and track how many pours are left in that single release from our local brewery.  #TapIntoWaterside and share a cold one with fellow bloggers and writers before, during and after the conference.

Are your taste buds watering yet?  Not much time left to get to participate in this progressive and delicious dinner event.  Don’t wait!  Get registered for #BBC16 today!

Discover Brewing a Delicious Hop-Forward IPA With Dogfish Head

Dogfish Head has been a friend and partner of the BBC for many years now and we are proud to have them on board again for 2016 in Tampa to share all their awesomeness with attendees.  Dogfish Head has an incredible story to tell and for those who may not be familiar, check out the post below and get to know this Sam and the DFH team for they are making great things in the world of craft beer.


PrintOne of the things Dogfish Head is known for is brewing with exotic ingredients – raisins, honey, scrapple, human saliva. But, there’s also one old-world style that we’ve come to embrace and tweak, and that’s the hop-forward IPA.

With notes of pine and citrus, IPAs are one of our favorite styles to brew…with our own off-centered twist. Traditionally, brewers add two hop additions – one early in the process for flavor and one toward the end for aroma. Here at Dogfish Head we like to add hops throughout the entire process, or as we like to call it, continual hopping.

Dogfish Head founder and president Sam Calagione had his ‘aha’ moment while watching a cooking show back in the mid-90s. The chef was talking about a method of adding cracked pepper to soup the entire time the soup boiled, adding complexity and evenness to the dish.

Curious by nature, Sam gave it a try when it came to brewing. The result was an outrageously hoppy IPA that wasn’t crushingly bitter.

Since introducing the world to the continuous hopping method with our 90 Minute IPA, we’ve since released the continuously hopped 60 Minute IPA, 120 Minute IPA and 75 Minute IPA (a cask-conditioned blend of 60 and 90 Minute). We even brewed a continuously hopped, bottle-conditioned IPA called Squall.

Dogfish Head is the first American craft brewery to focus on culinary-inspired beer recipes outside traditional beer styles and it has done so since the day it opened with the motto “off-centered ales for off-centered people.” Since 1995, Dogfish has redefined craft beer and the way people think about beer by brewing with unique ingredients. Dogfish Head has grown into a 200+ person company with a restaurant/brewery/distillery in Rehoboth Beach, a beer-themed inn on the harbor in Lewes and a production brewery/distillery in Milton, Delaware. Dogfish Head currently sells beer in 31 states.  Check out Dogfish Head on facebook, twitter, and instagram!

Want to know even more??  Get registered for BBC16 today and join in the fun and festivities!

Enter to Win an Epic Colorado Beer Adventure!

Colorado Beer Adventure
The Beer Bloggers & Writer’s Conference has partnered with Zephyr Adventures, Beer Connoisseur, and a few other of our beer-centric friends to offer you a chance to win a spot on the Colorado Beer Adventure, October 3 – 7, 2016.

Imagine combining some of Colorado’s finest biking and hiking trails with arguably some of the country’s best brews. We visit the towns of Boulder, Fort Collins, Estes Park and Denver – each of which has its own distinct flavor and flair.

You’ll have the chance to hike through the iconic Rocky Mountain National Park, visit multiple local breweries, and as an added bonus, experience the Great American Beer Festival! For more trip details, visit the Colorado Beer, Hike & Bike Adventure.

Zephyr Adventures Colorado Beer Adventure GiveawayHow to Enter:

Sign up for a FREE one-year Beer Connoisseur premium membership and be automatically entered into the giveaway.

Already a premium Beer Connoisseur member? Don’t sweat, you’ve already been automatically entered.

The Grand Prize includes round-trip airfare to Denver, CO (courtesy of Boulder Beer Co.) with a 5-day, 4-night biking, hiking, and beer experience concluding with a ticket to the Great American Beer Festival. The package is valued at approximately $2,500.

Additional prizes include 1-month shipments of craft beer from The Original Craft Beer Club, maps and coasters from Beer Cap Maps, The Beer Connoisseur® logo’d hats and shirts and more.

The Colorado Beer Adventure Giveaway ends July 31, 2016, at 11:59 PM EST. No purchase necessary. To enter, register for a FREE Premium Member account at using coupon BEERADVENTURE16. May not be combined with other offers. New and existing premium members qualify. Grand Prize subject to Zephyr Adventures Terms & Conditions located here. Winners will be announced August 5, 2016. Must be 21 years of age or older to claim a prize.

Contagion of Brewing Talent Taking Over Tampa Bay

For BBC16, we have a  panel discussion on Friday moderated by the legendary Gerard Walen who not only wrote this “dooms day” report on the boom of great craft beer happening in Florida but is a long time partner and friend of the conference.  Make sure to register soon for BBC so you can’t get the chance to sip and smile a bit with him!

It’s a familiar, almost cliched, movie scene in the apocalyptic-plague-nearly-wipes-out-humanity genre. A group of mostly men, clad in either military uniforms or the nondescript business suits of the career politician, gather in a war room while the scientist who understands it all draws their attention to a video screen at the front.

On that screen is a map, and on that map is an animation of how quickly the contagion is spreading from where it started, and just how little time is left for all of them unless SOMETHING IS DONE RIGHT NOW.



Florida currently suffers from a similar circumstance, and the Tampa Bay area is Ground Zero.

Fortunately, the contagion is craft beer. And there’s no containing it


When the new millennium arrived — whether you count it starting on New Year’s Day 2000 or 2001, it doesn’t matter. The number’s the same — there were three small breweries in the Tampa Bay area that had opened during the final decade of the 20th century. All were brewpubs — Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Dunedin Brewing and Sarasota Brewing Company.

(Note: In listing the earlier breweries, I have left out some that flared into existence for brief time, and closed relatively quickly).

The virus took a while to incubate and at first spread slowly. No other currently existing craft breweries opened until 2006, when Bob Sylvester debuted Saint Somewhere Brewing Company, crafting mostly Belgian-style saisons and farmhouse ales using an open fermentation system and the wild yeast from the air around Tarpon Springs, within hailing distance of the Gulf of Mexico.

The next year, Franz Rothschadl, a German immigrant whose lineage stretches through generations of brewers and vintners, opened LagerHaus in Palm Harbor.

Then in 2009, Cigar City Brewing in Tampa began making some boundary-pushing styles of beer, as did Cycle Brewing across the bay at Peg’s Cantina in Gulfport.

That’s when the contagion began to grow, but still slowly — only one new brewery opened in 2010, but many more were in planning.  At the end of that year — the year of the first Beer Bloggers Conference in Boulder, Colorado — there were nine operating breweries in the greater Tampa Bay area. Then here’s how it went, with the numbers of breweries open by end of each year:

Tampa Bay area brew map closeup2010: 9

2011: 11

2012: 16

2013: 23

2014: 40

2015: 56

2016 (to date): 60*

* adjusted to include brewery locations that closed, moved or consolidated during the total time period.

At least another dozen or so are on the way to start brewing for the public by the end of this year.



Quantity is one thing, but what about quality?

No worries there. The Tampa Bay area overflows with brewing talent. Wayne Wambles at Cigar City enjoys a stellar reputation in the global brewing community, as does Saint Somewhere’s Bob Sylvester. Khristopher Johnson at St. Petersburg’s Green Bench Brewing brought innovation such as the area’s first foeder in a brewery, and continues to develop new twists to standard styles. Greg Rapp of Rapp Brewing in Pinellas Park introduced many local beer geeks to nearly extinct styles such as gose and rauchbiers, and his coveted, 22 percent-ale OMG, an old ale that’s only released once a year.

The list goes on.

To illustrate how much the breweries of west central Florida have embraced variety, quality and experimentation, consider this. At the recent Bad A** Beer Festival on the grounds of Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s relatively new Westchase production facility and brewpub, 40-plus breweries showed up to pour samples, along with a handful of local homebrew clubs.

Not only were all of the breweries from Florida, but all were based in the greater Tampa Bay area. And the longest lines formed not at the breweries already with national reputations, but at the newer players that had generated positive buzz amongst the crowd. The innovation continues.


Though it started later in the Sunshine State than in other areas of the country, the contagion is not limited to the Tampa Bay area.  Florida is in the midst of a brewery boom, with nearly 200 open at the time of this writing, and a lot more on the way. Craft beer taps in restaurants used to be rare, but it’s become difficult to find one that doesn’t at least have a few, and separate and extensive beer menus are becoming more common. Store shelves have more offerings — even in grocery and convenience stores — and not a weekend goes by these days when the craft beer lover doesn’t have a choice of multiple, quality beer festivals from which to choose.

There are walkable brewery clusters now. For example, downtown St. Petersburg, where six local brewery taprooms — along with multiple craft beer-focused pubs and restaurants — operate close enough together that you can spend an afternoon or evening strolling among them. (pssst…don’t miss the Visit St Pete Clearwater post-con excursion!)

Attendees of the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference will have the chance to experience a sampling of all the area has to offer, but if you want to come earlier or later to expand your personal explorations beyond that, you won’t be disappointed.


  • “Tampa” is a city. “Tampa Bay” is a body of water. Depending on who you talk to, the Tampa Bay area encompasses only the counties that touch that water (Hillsborough, Pinellas, and Manatee). Or it might include the counties that touch those three counties as well, or beyond. For the purpose of this post, I included eight counties in my calculations, all within an hour’s drive from the core of Tampa — Hillsborough, Pinellas, Manatee, Sarasota, Polk, Pasco, Hernando and Citrus.  Most are in Hillsborough (main city Tampa) and Pinellas (main city St. Petersburg), but all have breweries that are well worth the visit.

Gerard Walen is the founder and owner of, the author of “Florida Breweries” (Stackpole Books, 2014), and a longtime member of the BBWC Advisory Board. He also serves as Saturday tour guide at Marker 48 Brewing in Weeki Wachee, less than an hour’s drive north of Tampa.


BYO Your Favorite Brew for a Fun Night of Many Bottles

Each year at BBC, we host a fun and fanatical event for all writers, bloggers and non-blogger attendees to bring in their most treasured brews.  A conference favorite, the Night of Many Bottles is just that…an evening filled with sharing beers from all over the world.

You might be thinking…what should I wear bring???  Well, there are no rules here friends.  The theme of the night is to blow minds with YOUR favorite brew and share that with craft beer experts from all walks in the beer industry.  We have sponsors, writers, media, and industry experts who will all be there to see what is thrown into the gauntlet.  Let the tasting commence!

How do I participate?  Easy.  Ship your beers to yourself at our host hotel, pack them on your carryon, or find a local store that will be carrying your favorite and pick up when you get to Tampa. (Hyde Park’s Swann Avenue Market is a 1.2 mile walk from the Marriott.)

What else do I need to do? To show off and share your beer, we ask participants to FILL OUT THIS FORM!  You may also come up with  a creative 8.5 x 11 inch flyer showcasing your beer of choice.  You want to be sure to create something that can tell the story of your beer.  Make sure to include your name, blog, Twitter handle, and hashtags so your local/favorite beer can get a glimpse of their new fans!

In am in!  When is this party event?  We will gather beers and information to be involved in the Night of Many Bottles at registration.  Please bring your brews and we will keep them cold, get them into an ice bath and onto a table for you beforehand.  BBC’ers will gather at 10pm on Friday night after our Beer Expo to share, network and experience some unique flavors.

Not registered yet?  What are you waiting for??

See you in Tampa!

When Florida Beer Took Flight

It is a hot topic at BBC to learn about and understand the economic position of a state where craft beer is hitting huge numbers. It is also important to understand the roots of craft beer and how the industry began to take shape .  In Florida, it all starts with flight.  A big thanks to Eric Criss, President of the Beer Industry of Florida, for writing this post.  Eric will be one of the Friday panelists regarding The Beer Industry in Florida.


When America’s beer bloggers and writers descend upon Tampa Bay for their annual conference, the first thing they’ll see is the name “Tony Jannus” plastered all over Tampa International Airport.  A few might even enjoy a “Tony Jannus jannus1Pale Ale” before making it to baggage claim, leaving them to wonder, “Who the heck is this guy?”

Conference participants may hear or read (on any of the seven small monuments and plaques scattered throughout Tampa and St. Petersburg) how a pilot named Tony Jannus made the world’s first commercial airline flight in 1914.  On that historic New Years Day, Jannus commenced operation of the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line by flying across Tampa Bay. Three thousand people watched his airplane takeoff from St. Petersburg with Mayor Abe Pheil aboard.  Thousands more welcomed Jannus and Pheil to Tampa on the other side of the bay.

Jannus’ flight was significant because aviation had struggled to gain credibility as a commercial enterprise.  In spite of the Wright Brothers’ successful flights and their improvements in steering control, it took a decade for the airplane to be considered more than a novelty.  During the run-up to prohibition, when beer was still popular among all but the more strident teetotalers, Jannus worked with airplane manufacturer Thomas W. Benoist to overcome negative perceptions of the airplane’s moneymaking viability and to promote Benoist’s airplanes.

One late-September afternoon in 1912, Jannus loaded a case of Falstaff beer onto his Benoist pontoon plane at the Lemp Brewery.  He took off for the New St. Louis State Fair and twenty minutes later found himself lost in the smoky skies of industrial St. Louis.  Forced to land in a tomato patch and drag his plane to an open field, Jannus took off again into clearer skies.

Landing at the state fair, Jannus delivered the first aerial consignment of beer—or freight of any kind for that matter.  Benoist was a conservative Methodist who didn’t drink Falstaff beer or alcohol of any kind, but seemed unbothered that his plane was thereafter dubbed the “Falstaff Flyer.”[1]  Air transportation was finally on the verge of realizing its potential and Benoist was selling his airplanes.

jannus2A short time later, Jannus flew his pontoon plane down the Mississippi River and personally delivered a case of Falstaff beer to New Orleans Mayor Martin Behrman.  The “Birdman,” as the newspapers called him, executed the longest ever flight in a “hydroaeroplane.”[2]  According to folklore, Jannus drank the beer before arriving in New Orleans and delivered a case of empty bottles.  Press reports do not indicate that Jannus committed such a faux pas.

If he were alive today, perhaps Jannus would arrange for the first-ever shipment of a case of Cigar City Jai Alai IPA from Tampa to St. Petersburg in a Google driverless van (Note to Google and Joey Redner: please feel free to borrow this idea).

Check out more about the beer industry in Florida here

About the author: Eric Criss is President of the Beer Industry of Florida and adjunct professor of public policy at Florida State University.  He earned his B.A. from the University of Florida in political science, M.A. from Johns Hopkins University in government and PhD from Florida State University in history.

[1] Thomas Reilly, Jannus, an American Flier (Gainesville: University of Florida Press, 1997), 61.

[2] “Jannus Congratulated By Mayor Behrman,” New Orleans Times Picayune, December 17, 1912.

Not To Be Missed BBC16 Beach Excursion to St Pete Clearwater

beer bloggers conferenceFollowing tradition, our post conference excursion is always a popular  trip for our alumni to seal up the 3 days of sessions and this year in Tampa, we have an extra special agenda planned.

Our friends over at Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater have designed an excursion no writer should miss.  Taking us just a half hour outside of Tampa, we will be cruising the beautiful beaches of St. Pete and tasting some brand new and legendary brews along the way.

After the close of the conference on Sunday early afternoon, our excursion departs Tampa and heads to the beach!  First stop; 3 Daughters Brewing whose tasting room has pulled rave reviews not only for the environment of the brewery but for beers themselves.  Most will never get the chance to experience a guided tour with the owner of 3 Daughters, Mike Harting, and get a first hand perspective on what it’s like to run and operate one of Florida’s fastest growing breweries.  We will get the full tasting room experience and get to know what makes 3 Daughters a hugely popular brewery.  Moving along the Craft Beer Trail we will head over to Green Bench Brewing in St. Pete to tour the facility with their head brewer, Khris who has a genuine success story to tell about working to define the “craft” part of an up and coming brewery.  During this stop on the excursion, our writers will also have the opportunity to taste a handful (or more) of other local brews from around the St. Pete area.  After taking it all in at Green Bench, we will have over to our dinner experience sponsored by our guides and Visit St. Petersburg Clearwater to dine and discuss the day’s events.

Saying farewell to the beautiful beaches and atmosphere of St. Pete Clearwater  is hard.  That is why all excursion attendees will have the opportunity to extend their stay and spend the evening at the gorgeous Tradewinds hotels at an unbeatable rate of $189.  Wake up at the beach or take the bus back to the Marriott (about a half hour-45 min drive) but please make sure to sign up early for this excursion.  We will only have room for 50 bloggers and writers total and as many alumni know, these are not to be missed!

Don’t miss out on this one of a kind tasting experience to the beach! Register

Get signed up for BBC16 and add your pre and post conference excursions to your registration.

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Mercure Hotel Amsterdam City Brings The Best of Both Worlds to EBBC16

Finding a good hotel partner is key for any conference.  For the 2016 European Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference, we really lucked out to find not only a lovely hotel in an ideal location but one with a rich history in craft beer.  Please help us welcome the Mercure Hotel Amsterdam City as our host this year and find out what makes them a special place for our attendees to experience.

Locally Inspired

Mercure hotels rvbWhen visiting Amsterdam, you will find your ideal base in Mercure Hotel Amsterdam City! From here, you’re able to reach all the hotspots of the city in no-time and you will find all the services and comfort you need to relax after an inspiring day.

The 368 modern rooms are fully equipped; the Business Room is characterized by modern design with a local twist, combined with business comfort. A double bed, spacious desk and a luxurious bathroom with rain shower make sure your stay is comfortable. In the Privilege Room you will find extras like a newspaper, stocked mini bar, Nespresso coffee-making machine, a bathrobe and free, unlimited Premium Wi-Fi.

On top of that, the hotel is ideally suited for people who like to enjoy life. After a long day it is lovely to rest in the fitness or wellness area, with sauna and Turkish steam bath. Needless to mention, the hotel takes very good care of the well-being of their guests; in the trendy Restaurant Lounge FLOOR you can enjoy a good cocktail, a local craft beer or taste one of the delicious French dishes, prepared with local ingredients.

Of course you can also enjoy the beautiful (heated) terrace, overlooking the water. Rather taste the atmosphere in the city centre of Amsterdam? From here you can take a boat shuttle, taking you across the Amstel River downtown.

Around Beer

Showcasing local cultures is one of the Mercure brand’s goals, and getting to know a country often depends on finding out what the people living there eat and drink. Mercure Hotels in the Netherlands has based its magazine, Around Beer, on that idea. This long-term project has inspired the teams. “We wanted to come up with an idea that not only pointed out the ‘locally inspired’ spirit of Mercure Hotels but also emphasizes on the strong F&B image our Mercure Hotels have.” Shanna Holthaus, Marketing Manager, says about how the project started. “Unfortunately, unlike other countries, we do not have many vineyards in The Netherlands.”

What the Dutch lack in vineyards they make up for in craft beers. Microbreweries have been popping up to make many local beers that all have one thing in common: the desire to offer increasingly varied flavours. In this context, Mercure Netherlands has entrusted its hotels with a mission: selecting the best, most original local craft beers and introducing them to guests. In summer 2015, the teams brilliantly rose to the challenge by hosting many beer-loving bloggers and journalists in the hotels to write some lines about each brew. The team decided to publish these reviews, which is how Around Beer got started. In November 2015, the magazine Around Beer was launched in Mercure Tilburg Centre, supported by a culinary tasting experience for both hotels, press and beer lovers.

After being distributed across the Netherlands, the magazines are now available in the common areas and restaurants of Mercure hotels. Read it now at Mercure Hotel Amsterdam City! Anyone care for a tasting?

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