Leslie Deppert got into beer making because of her love for cooking.
“Sometimes, there isn't anything I really want to drink,” Deppert says.
Although she worked and owned bars, she didn't start home brewing until about five years ago. When she first got interested in beers, traditional German and English-style beers were as close as you could get to something exotic in Florida. Then laws changed to allow Belgian and other styles to be imported. The attention to quality control in regards to ingredients caught her eye as she honed her skills.
So when she heard that Francis Booth was starting a brewery with friends next to his Booth's Brewing & Bar Supply on Falkenburg Road in Brandon, she begged to be the head brewer. Booth and co-managing partners Robert Every and Simon Swain agreed to give her the job at their new venture, ESB Brewing Co.
The company's grand opening two weeks ago was a success. They served 3,000 pints in its tasting room at 333 N. Falkenburg Road, Suite D-407, offering a preview of such beers as two American IPAs — Pieces of Eight and Sail Away, and an English style ale named Henry Every's Ghost Ship Ale.
“We have a nice range,” Swain said. “We're branching out to do barrel aging with imperial stouts, brown ales and porters. We do a nut brown ale and we mash it and age it with pecans.”
In February, the brewery began distributing about 40 kegs a week to nearby bars and pubs, including World of Beer in Brandon, Fox & Hounds British Pub on Brandon Boulevard, Linksters Tap Room in Brandon, Talking Point on Bell Shoals Boulevard and The Stein & Vine in Brandon.
Newly opened Ciccio's Cali on Bloomingdale Avenue carries ESB's Gaspar's Agave Wheat, an 8 percent alcohol-by-volume beer made with blue agave.
“It's deceptively drinkable,” Swain said.
ESB already is making plans to double its operations to 3,200 square feet by expanding into its adjacent space in the warehouse park two blocks north of Taco Bus.
The goal is to become a regional brewery, following the model of Cigar City Brewing in Tampa.
“We've done it piecemeal,” Swain said. “We're trying to get to 100 barrels by the end of the year.”
The tasting room hours are 4 to 9 p.m. Wednesday and Thursday, 4 to 11 p.m. Friday, noon to 11 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. For information, visit esbbrewing.com.
Starbucks will begin selling alcohol in select stores. It'll be like “Cheers,” where everybody knows your name ... cuz it's written on your cup. -@midnight
If I'm ever looking at something that I don't understand, I assume it's a commercial for an imported beer. -@gavvinspeiller
La Crema Willamette Valley 2012 Pinot Noir. Fruit-forward with a silky mouthfeel. Great weeknight dinner wine. Found at Costco.
Domaine de Bila-Haut 2011 Occultum Lapidem by Mihael Chapoutie. A blend of Syrah, Grenache and Carignam grapes that make a highly drinkable wine with an elegant bouquet. Found at Bern's Fine Wines & Spiits.
Sirada al Sasse 2008 Chianti Classico. I attempted to drink this all day. Had to stop when the bottle became empty. I was sad. Found at Bern's Fine Wines & Spirits.
DOWNTOWN BREWPUBS = THE NEW BLACK
St. Petersburg Tribune reporter Kate Bradshaw wrote recently that the owners of Bella Brava Italian restaurant on Beach Drive in St. Petersburg will convert an adjacent property at 224 Beach Drive into an outdoor gastropub. It is expected to open early next year.
The pub no doubt will feature beers from 3 Daughters Brewing. Bella Brava co-owner Mike Harting started the 18,000-square-foot brewery on South 22nd Street in St. Pete's Warehouse Arts District late last year.
This in addition to Cycle Brewing's tasting room on Central Avenue near Fifth Street and the one at Green Bench Brewing Co., a bit farther west on Baum Avenue North.
Farther north in Pinellas, keep an eye on Safety Harbor for a brew pub or two. City commissioners recently changed city code to allow brewpubs to operate as well as breweries and distilleries to open tasting rooms within city boundaries.
To the south, Bradenton already has Motorworks Brewing, which operates in a building that was an auto dealership in the 1920s. Co-founders Frank and Denise Tschida established Motorworks in Bradenton's growing entertainment corridor between the downtown Riverwalk Park and McKechnie Field.
Why the hurry to create urban brewpubs? The Brewer's Association, a craft beer industry trade group, says craft beer sales jumped 20 percent in 2013, making up nearly 8 percent of all beer sales in America.
So, the question is when will Tampa have a downtown brewery or gastropub. Mayor Bob Buckhorn told me recently he's been lobbying Cigar City owner Joey Redner to put a location downtown, but no plans have been announced. The closest possibility for such an operation will be when Ulele opens at the former Tampa Water Works and features brewer Tim Shackton's line of beers brewed on-site.