Installation of brew tanks and other beer making equipment began this week in Ybor City at fledgling Coppertail Brewing Co.
The equipment has been in storage for weeks at the 35,000-square-foot facility at 2601 E. Second Ave., as construction has been delayed by weather and permitting setbacks.
Coppertail president Kent Bailey said that if all goes well brewmaster Casey Hughes should be producing large quantities of beer in the 50-barrel system by late spring.
Not that they’ll be using all of the available warehouse space to do so. The company built a custom shed-like brew house add-on where all of the brewing will be done for the time being. The extra space in adjoining pre-existing buildings gives them room to grow without having to spend the money on construction like most growing breweries.
“When you talk to restaurants and bars, they’re kind of frustrated with all these pop-up breweries that start and can’t supply enough product,” Bailey said. “The idea was to make great beer and provide a consistent supply.”
Bailey’s love for beer started with home-brewing on weekends while he worked during the week as a business law attorney. He struck up a friendship with Robb Larson, a personal trainer and longtime home-brewer who passed along tips to make better beer.
“My whole garage is full of fermentation refrigerators and serving freezers,” Larson said.
Two years ago, Bailey wrote a business plan and pulled together funding to start building a brewery.
“Someone told me, ‘Oh, that’s going to take you two years,’” he said. “I thought, ‘Well, it might have taken him two years, but it will only take me one.’ ”
Bailey found a home for the brewery in the current location, which in the 1920s was a Hellman’s mayonnaise factory. The Sevilla Olive Packing Co. also used the building. Larson joined to oversee beer development and social media.
In May, Hughes joined as the brewmaster after previously being head brewer of Flying Fish Brewing in New Jersey. In the 2000s, a Tripel he made was chosen by men’s Journal as the best Belgian beer in America.
During a well-attended pop-up tasting recently at the brewery, Hughes offered samples of seven beers to get a better sense of what was most popular. A wheat ale and two IPAs were popular. So was the Monk & Disorderly, a Belgian-style Tripel. The one that caught my attention was the Low Tide, a stout with 6.5 percent alcohol by volume made with cocoa nibs and ... oysters. The cocoa added a bitter finish, but not too bitter. And the oyster gave the beer a creaminess that had me craving more. And no, the nose of the beer didn’t smell like low tide. Or high tide. I can’t wait to drink that beer if they produce it in mass quantities. It’s that good.
The plan is to debut with a core of four beers and a seasonal that will rotate throughout the year.
As for the name, the brewery gets its handle from a sea monster that lives in Tampa Bay. At least, that’s what Bailey’s 5-year-old daughter said. He’s sticking to it.
Two hours after drinking Sochi tap water, I feel fine. A little dizzy. Bleeding from eyes. But otherwise, totally fine. -@cathalkelly
Instead of drinking until they look hot maybe you should try running until you look hot. -@knotaprettygirl
I might be more receptive to the “pay it forward” trend if it happened exclusively at liquor stores. -@JesssieAshley
HONORS FOR CIGAR CITY
RateBeer.com has named Cigar City Brewing of Tampa among the top 100 brewers in the world.
The ratings are done according reviews during 2013. Funky Buddha Brewing of Oakland Park, north of Fort Lauderdale, was the only other Florida beer to make the list. The No. 1 beer in the world, according to the survey: AleSmith Brewing Co., of San Diego, Calif.