Conley leaves Hourglass Brewery; new brewers named

Hourglass Brewery - Full ColorSky Conley, founding brewer at The Hourglass Brewery in Longwood, is leaving his position and being replaced by a pair of brewers promoted from assistants, according to a news release from the brewery.

Conley co-founded the brewery in 2012 in a relatively tiny space just a few blocks from its current location on Ronald Reagan Boulevard, and always kept a wide variety of styles on the taps despite only having a 3-barrel system to work with.

Here is the release.

Longwood, Florida, August 27, 2015 – The Hourglass Brewery announces the departure of founding brewer, Sky Conley, and the elevation of Michael Delancett and Matthew Gemmell as co-brewers.

The change in brewers is part of The Hourglass Brewery’s plans to grow the distribution of its beers, first in Central Florida, and then throughout the state.

“We’ve always had our sights set on distributing quality beer,” said co-founder, Brett Mason.

In July 2015, The Hourglass Brewery began distributing its beer in Seminole and Orange counties through Republic National Distributing Company.

“Today’s personnel change is aimed at meeting the growing demands of our distribution while ensuring that a large variety of Hourglass beer remains available in our taproom,” according to co-founder and manager Lance Butterfield.

Sky Conley, who co-founded The Hourglass Brewery, helped to launch the brewery in 2012 with a three-barrel brewing system in its former Longwood location. Conley established a strong reputation for concocting a wide variety of unique and interesting beers.

Said Butterfield: “We could not have launched a brewery without Sky’s brewing talent and creativity. We appreciate all his efforts.”

Taking charge of brewing operations at The Hourglass Brewery are Michael Delancett and Matthew Gemmell. Both Dalancet and Gemmell have been working on the brewery’s ten-barrel system since the new location opened its doors in October 2014.

According to Mason: “Matt and Michael have worked hard to learn this system and what it takes to produce high-quality beer. They’re doing a great job.”

I wish the best of luck to Sky in his next endeavor. This post will be updated if any more details become known.

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Florida brewery count breaks the 150 mark

Beer in Florida logoFlorida craft breweries continue to open at a dizzying pace, according to the latest update of this site’s Florida Brewery Map and List.

The previous update on April 30 revealed 139 operating breweries in the state, with 28 on their way to opening.

Now, the count has zoomed to 152 operating breweries as of this date and 33 slated to start brewing in the near future.

Since April, only one brewery has moved to a “closed” status – Brooksville Brewing Company in Spring Hill, which originally opened in 2003 as St. Sebastiaan Belgian Microbrewery. That operation closed after a few years, and re-opened under a few different entities since, none of which proved particularly successful. Its federal brewers permit has expired, therefore it cannot brew beer for sale. If anyone is aware of any new developments regarding the property, please let me know.

Sidenote: While researching St. Sebastiaan’s opening date, I came across a 10-year-old Dunedin Brewing Guild newsletter featuring a piece about the brewery written by Nelson Crowle (one of the founders of One of the brewers at St. Sebastiaan’s was Bob Haa, Jr., now the head brewer at the immensely successful Motorworks Brewing in Bradenton.

Is there room to grow?

With the state’s brewery numbers expanding so rapidly, some might wonder if Florida can support many more. After all, Florida came in fifth in the number of new breweries opened in a state during 2014, with 42.

But take this into consideration: According to statistics compiled by the Brewers Association trade group, Florida ranked fifth in the U.S. for barrels of craft beer produced (1.13 million) yet ranks 43rd in number of breweries per capita, with 0.8 per 100,000 residents age 21 or older.

Plenty of room.

The 33 breweries-yet-to-open cited above includes only those with physical addresses. There are at least that many more – that I know of – still looking for real estate and moving through the licensing bureaucracy at local, state and federal levels.

Will we hit the 200-brewery mark by the end of 2015? It’s entirely possible.

Here are the criteria I use for a brewery to be included on the map:

  • The brewery or brewpub must produce beer on its premises. This means you will not find companies such as The Abbey Brewing Co. in Miami Beach or Fantasy Brewmasters in Fort Myers that contract their beer at other breweries.
  • It does include breweries such as Grayton Beer Company in Santa Rosa Beach, which opened a new brewery last year and no longer contract brews, and Holy Mackerel Beers, which still contracts the bulk of its production, but opened The Mack House brewpub in Fort Lauderdale in 2013.
  • It includes two brewpubs – Karibrew in Fernandina Beach and Marco Island Brewery – whose brewing processes are completed on site but started elsewhere.
  • In the case of Barley Mow Brewing Company in Largo, there is the original brewery/taproom and another location that is production only, without a tasting room. In this, both locations are listed.
  • It does not include BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse locations, which does not brew at any of its restaurants. The chain is one of the brewing partners at BrewHub, the operation in Lakeland that offers brewing and marketing services for other breweries, and contracts at some out-of-state breweries as well. (BrewHub is on the map.)
  • Cideries and meaderies are not included, though I might create a separate section for them in the next update.
  • To be included, a brewery or brewpub must have a physical address – it would be hard to map it otherwise – and if not yet open, it needs to have made solid steps such as ordering or installing equipment, or starting the regulatory process. A website or Facebook page is ideal, though not required. Most have them and are linked.

Other maps and lists out there are based on different criteria.  The Florida Brewers Guild lists those breweries and brewpubs that are members. Others list breweries that haven’t made any steps toward opening other than filing as a business entity, sometimes years ago, with no progress since.

This map is a labor of love for me because I am passionate about my home state and its craft beer community. Friends and fans of this site offered invaluable help in tracking down some of these, and I am extremely grateful. I feel it is the most accurate listing of its type out there, but it has become a LOT of work.

I do get a little financial help via sponsorships, but if you feel it is of value to you, I would not object if you were to drop a little change to help using the “Donate” button on the right column of this page.

Speaking of sponsors, thanks go out to Tampa Bay Brews Cruise, Tampa Bay Brewing Company, JDub’s Brewing Company, Coppertail Brewing Company, Dahlia’s Pour House, and St. Pete Brewing Company.

Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor can drop a line to, and I’ll send the details.

As always, I appreciate any feedback if I missed a brewery, have one listed as opened that has closed, or made any other errors. Send me an email or leave a comment below.




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Bad A** Beer Fest celebrates a Florida brewery pioneer, and Florida breweries

unnamedFriday’s full moon will rise over a festival celebrating a craft beer community far removed from that of July 31, 1995, when Tampa Bay Brewing Company first established itself as a business.

The nation’s beer lovers found themselves in a brewery renaissance of sorts that year. According to the Brewers Association trade group, there were 858 operating across the country at the end of that year, up from 601 the year before.

Twenty years before that, there were only 110 breweries across the entire United States, and that number was declining.

Today, according to Brewers Association midyear statistics released Monday, an astounding 3,739 breweries are operating across the country, with another 1,755 in planning. Florida’s operating brewery count hovers around 150; an exact number is hard to pin down because the rate of new brewery openings is increasing.

How many were in Florida in 1995 is harder to determine because state-by-state numbers are difficult to find. Five still-operating brewpubs in my book “Florida Breweries” list opening dates of 1995 or earlier. The Anheuser-Busch brewery in Jacksonville opened in 1969; the current Yuengling brewery in Tampa was still putting out Stroh’s. Others have faded into history, many shuttered because they just didn’t make very good beer.

Brewmaster David Doble of Tampa Bay Brewing Company. (Photo by Gerard Walen)

Brewmaster David Doble of Tampa Bay Brewing Company. (Photos by Gerard Walen)

Even Tampa Bay Brewing Company, spawned from the Brew Shack homebrewing supply shop on Waters Avenue, run by John G. Doble III and his mother, Vicki Doble (current Brewmaster David Doble said he served as “unpaid help.”) didn’t sell its first pint to the public until February 1997, out of what was once a horse stable on North 15th Street in Ybor City. That space currently is occupied by Cigar City Cider and Mead, which opened late last year.

In 2006, TBBC moved to a larger location in Centro Ybor, but Friday’s Bad A** Beer Festival is celebrating that day 20 years ago when members of the Doble family decided they would bring well-crafted and tasty beer to the thirsty masses of the Tampa Bay area. (Dunedin Brewery is technically the region’s oldest operating craft brewery because it opened and served its first pint in 1996).

The festival will be more than an anniversary celebration. It will mark the official grand opening of the brewery’s brand-new production facility and restaurant in a built-from-the-dirt-up space in the Westchase community, 13933 Monroes Business Park, across from the Oldsmar Flea Market. The festival debuted roughly a year ago at the location, marking the groundbreaking for the new buildings that have since arisen on the empty acreage.

Nearly 60 breweries, a handful not yet open, and local homebrew clubs will pour samples this year. And those breweries are all located in West Central Florida, from Copp Brewery in Crystal River to the north, to Big Top Brewery in Sarasota to the south, with the majority in Hillsborough and Pinellas counties.

Among the special treats for festivalgoers:

– Tampa Bay Brewing Company brewed collaboration beers with five other craft breweries in Tampa’s Ybor City and Seminole Heights neighborhoods.

Full Moon Madness Subtropical Porter.

Full Moon Madness Subtropical Porter.

– Each attendee upon entering will be handed a 16 oz. can of Full Moon Madness Subtropical Porter, a beer specially brewed for the festival, and it will be wrapped in a custom Bad A** Beer Fest coozie. The beer pays tribute not only to the moon phase that will illuminate the festival grounds, but also the first beer served from the original brewpub: Jack the Quaffer Porter.

– Local rockers Stormbringer will be the featured band, but a special “supergroup” of musicians who work at local breweries will open. The lineup has not been made public, but it should be a lot of fun. UPDATE: As posted on the event page: “The Fermenters is a group of your local friendly brewers who are setting up to rock your face off! From 6:30-7:30 our very own Tim Ogden and brewers from Cigar City, Barley Mow, Coppertail, and B. Nektar will be on stage to get the fest going!”

ADDED: At 8 p.m., David Doble said, 10 gallons of the very first beer brewed at TBBC Westchase will be tapped. He describes it as a “a basic IPA with a colossal hop profile.” The wort was produced there, and two barrels of it was fermented at Southern Brewing & Winemaking so festival-goers could get a taste of it.

Tickets are $35 in advance and $50 at the door for general admission; $50 advance, $65 at the door for VIP admission (word is there are very few of those left) EDIT: VIP tickets sold out, but another block of 100 were made available Tuesday night.

Designated drivers get in for $15.

VIP admission is from starts at 6 p.m., and general admission starts at 7 p.m. The festival will run until 11 p.m. The VIP option includes access to the air-conditioning, free snack food, and access to exclusive beers. Total ticket sales are limited to 3,500.

Proceeds from the festival will benefit the nonprofit Doble Family Foundation which supports education, conservation and local veteran causes. Specific donations will be announced during the festival by the Doble Family.

Click here to purchase tickets.


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Beer bloggers and writers coming to Tampa

The 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference is coming to Tampa!

The announcement was made just minutes ago at the conclusion of this year’s conference in Asheville, North Carolina.

BEERBLOGGERS&WRITERS.2016.TampaOnly.DateThe Tampa conference will be July 8-10, 2016, at the Tampa Marriott Waterside Hotel & Marina.

“We look at dozens of potential locations when we analyze where to hold the Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference,” said Allan Wright of conference organizer Zephyr Adventures. “Tampa Bay has a surging beer scene we think our attendees will love, we are able to plan some excellent events at an overall reasonable cost to attendees, and the local community has been extremely receptive to the conference.”

What does this mean for the craft beer industry in the Tampa Bay area and the state? Simply, as many as 200 beer writers and beer industry people from across the country and around the world descending on the area for three days of presentations, beer samplings and interaction with the people who are driving the local growth of craft beer, as well as their fans.

“This is super exciting news,” said Julia Herz, craft beer program director for the Brewers Association trade group. “I went to college there at USF in Tampa, so I know the beer market before the laws evolved. I think that things are finally starting to gain traction, not just in the state of Florida, but specifically in Tampa.”

BBC15 posterThough the number of participants is relatively small, the impact is compounded because of the influence and reach of many of the writers and bloggers, and it will give local craft beer luminaries the opportunity to promote the area’s breweries, craft beer bars and related businesses.

The destination marketing organization Visit Tampa Bay spearheaded the effort to land this conference in the Sunshine State. It recently launched a “BayCrafted” campaign to attract beer tourists and promote the breweries of Hillsborough County.

“Landing the BBC16 conference is an important step in establishing Tampa Bay as a first-tier craft beer destination,” said Patrick Harrison, Visit Tampa Bay vice president marketing and communications. “We don’t yet have the same reputation as some other areas, including (Asheville), but we are confident in our beer community and know that once the BBC16 attendees experience our beers, they will spread the word.”

The world is noticing

This is not the first national or international beer industry event recently scheduled for Florida.

What could be next?

What many in the industry consider the Holy Grail of beer industry events, the annual Craft Brewers Conference & BrewExpo America will be in Philadelphia in May 2016, bringing more than 10,000 brewing industry professionals to the City of Brotherly Love, and in 2017 it goes to Washington, D.C.

After that … there are many people in the Florida beer industry who would love to see it come to Florida.

A personal note

The Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference took place this year in Asheville, North Carolina.

The Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference took place this year in Asheville, North Carolina.

After I attended 2010’s inaugural Beer Bloggers Conference (“& Writers” was added this year) in Boulder, Colorado, I knew that Florida’s beer scene was not strong enough at the time to support hosting the event. But between that conference and the one next year in Portland, Oregon, a few things happened.

  • Locally brewed Florida beers began to attract national attention, and more breweries either opened or were announced.
  • I started this website to focus on the growing scene in the state.
  • And I was asked to become a member of the newly formed Beer Bloggers Conference advisory board, a position I still hold. This gave me an inside track on how the conference came together each year.

Returning from Portland in 2011, I knew that Florida still wasn’t ready, but I felt confident that if the growth curve continued, it would be just a few years until it was. I became determined to bring the Beer Bloggers Conference to Florida.

However, determination only goes so far, and I eventually had to set my campaign aside.

Fortunately, Visit Tampa Bay and its partners decided to pursue bringing the conference here, negotiated with Zephyr Adventures, and succeeded.

That brewery growth curve indeed continued, and grew steeper than many of us could have imagined back in 2010, when there were only a few dozen breweries – at most – across the entire state. Currently, nearly 150 breweries and brewpubs are making beer on premises in Florida.

Next year, local breweries and beer geeks need to be prepared to showcase the best of what we have to offer to the attendees of the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference.

“Attendees can expect to sample and tour some of our most renowned and newest breweries, including Cigar City, Coppertail, Two Henrys and Tampa Bay Brewing Company,” Harrison said.  “From porters to IPAs and some award-winning and original flavors, Tampa Bay beers and the Tampa Bay community will make this a (conference) to remember.”

Florida long ago shed the moniker of “craft beer wasteland.”

We are no longer “catching up” with the rest of the country.

We are there.

If you are in the Tampa Bay area and interested in becoming a sponsor of the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference, contact Susan Williams, Visit Tampa Bay director of services and special events, at Any business or group outside of the area should get in touch with Reno Walsh of Zephyr Adventures at

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