Mark your calendar, beer lovers. The seventh day of August is National IPA Day.
The reason this is worth celebrating is that IPA is a beer style that is making Tampa famous in suds circles. Jai Alai IPA is the signature beer of the city’s skyrocketing Cigar City Brewing.
IPA is an acronym for India Pale Ale, a style of beer that takes its name from a brew exported to India from England in the 18th century. Although first made as a mild beverage, the beer now is known for its citrus flavors, its bold use of hops and for its frequently potent alcohol content.
What does all that mean? It means that it’s a delicious, thirst-quenching beer for parched people to quaff on a hot August day.
But Jai Alai is by no means the only great IPA being made in the area. Other great labels to try:
Old Elephant Foot IPA — Tampa Bay Brewing Co.’s fine beer has long been a favorite pairing for food at the company’s Ybor City restaurant. The Foot now distributed in pint cans locally, is a hops lover’s dream beverage.
Summerdayze IPA — You will have to drive to Bradenton’s Darwin Brewing tasting room to give this a sip. Summerdayze earned a third-place Best Beer In Florida nod in 2013. Grapefruit flavors hit the palate first, followed by a long, slow, subtle bitterness from the hops. Sure makes a great companion to chef Darwin Santa Maria’s ceviche at Darwin’s on 4th restaurant in Sarasota.
Last Stop Pale Ale — This American-style IPA made by Brew Bus Brewing in Tampa took third place in the 2014 Best Florida Beer awards. With 7 percent alcohol by volume, the beer has fruity, citrusy flavors with a strong floral base. It certainly gives you plenty of reason to book a seat on Brew Bus so you can sip it between stops.
Dancing Cody IPA — One of the rotating beers at Cycle Brewing on Central Avenue in St. Petersburg, Cody is a hop bomb but has a mild bitterness with a sweet, pineapple-enhanced finish.
7 Mile Bridge IPA — Two Henrys Brewing in Plant City uses six varieties of hops to make this amber beverage. Very herbal and robust, it packs a 6 percent alcohol content. Check it out at the tasting room at Keel & Curley Winery off Interstate 4. This was one of the first beers I tried by Two Henrys before they went into full production. I was instantly hooked.
COPPERTAIL COMING SOON
Recently, I asked Cigar City Brewing founder and CEO Joey Redner which brewery in town could be the next Cigar City. His answer: Coppertail Brewing in Ybor City.
Even though they’ve yet to produce a batch for distribution, Redner said the brewery is well capitalized, it has the brewing talent in Casey Hughes to pull off great beers, and they have the physical space to grow at their 35,000-square-foot facility at 2601 E. Second Ave., in Tampa.
Local beer fans have been waiting for Coppertail to show up in bars, but the company has had a few setbacks in its pursuit of producing brews, owner Kent Bailey told me two weeks ago.
On Monday, Bailey posted an update on Coppertail’s website detailing “our tales of woe,” which included a water leak that turned grain to glue, an inactive batch of active yeast and a burglar who broke into the brewery and stole all the tools needed to fix some faulty pumps.
“I could go on about all the mishaps that have befallen us, but that won’t get the beer into your glass any quicker,” Bailey wrote. “The bottom line is, we’ve been working through a few hiccups on the new equipment and we’re almost ready to start releasing beer.”
By the end of August, Coppertail plans to get their beers in bars and will open a small, temporary tasting room. In September, they’ll do a pop-up tasting somewhere nearby (check them out on social media for details), and in November, the full-fledged tasting room will debut with a grand opening.
“In the meantime, we’ll keep brewing on our small pilot system and working hard to get the big system running,” Bailey wrote. “We hope to see you at a local beer fest or tasting soon.”