Swamp Head is moved into new Gainesville brewery

swamphead elevation new brewery

Swamp Head Brewery will start serving its customers at its new location, 3650 S.W. 42nd Ave. in Gainesville

Gainesville’s Swamp Head Brewery announced today that it has finished its move to a new facility, tripling its brewing capacity and becoming the first brewery in Florida to use solar power to help meet its energy demands.

And it’s ready for customers – well nearly ready, but that won’t stop the taps from flowing.

The new brewery is dedicating a portion of its six-acre property into protected conservation, giving its surroundings a feeling to match the name of its tasting room, “The Wetlands.” That room still needs a little polishing, but Swamp Head invites customers to hang out while it’s finished – at least during normal business hours (Tuesday to Friday, 4 to 9 p.m., and Saturday, 1 to 9 p.m.)

“Our new location is now bordered by conservation land, which was something very important to us. It has the feel of being out in the wetlands, but we’re right in the middle of town. We also have some room to grow, which is nice,” said owner Luke Kemper.

The 13,500-square-foot facility will allow Swamp Head to produce as much as 18,000 barrels of beer a year, up from the current 6,000 barrels. The site also gives the brewery room to expand to a potential 50,000 barrels annually to meet future demand. The brewery will also immediately create six new jobs and hopes to create more than 20 overall as the expansion continues.

Swamp Head opened in 2008, growing quickly from a Gainesville-area favorite to gain a statewide presence with a slogan of “Inherently Floridian.” Its year round beers include Wild Night Honey Cream Ale, Cottonmouth Belgian Witbier, Stump Knocker Pale Ale, Midnight Oil Oatmeal Coffee Stout and Big Nose IPA. The brewery also produces the limited Spasmodic, Migrational and Elusive Reclusive releases.

Swamp Head has invested in a laboratory and other brewing equipment in the new facility at 3650 S.W. 42nd Ave., including a centrifuge to filter out unwanted yeast.

The Wetlands will not only be bigger, but it will also provide visitors with more amenities, including two separate bars, a designated growler filling station, 30 beer taps and larger restrooms. The tasting room will add games, weekly events and larger community events to its entertainment lineup in 2015.

The brewery strived to hire local companies for the work involved in repurposing the old Alley Katz bowling alley space.

Working with Solar Impact of Gainesville, Swamp Head will be the first brewery in Florida to have a portion of its operations solar powered, an effort it will continue to expand.

Gainesville based Scherer Construction was the general contractor for the brewery construction. The 30-barrel (930 gallon) brew system was supplied by JVNW of Oregon. Goodwin Lumber of Gainesville provided the reclaimed Florida hardwood cladding for The Wetlands.

A grand opening celebration scheduled for Feb. 21 from 1 to 9 p.m. will include a ribbon cutting, a tree planting and an array of food trucks.

Click here for more information.

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Florida brewery growth shows no sign of abating

Beer in Florida logoWhen I last fully updated the Florida Brewery Map and List page on this site in September 2014, I counted 103 operating breweries in the state, with another 31 on the way.

Just four months later? There are 124 Florida breweries producing beer on premises, and 27 that have announced addresses and have taken solid steps toward opening. This doesn’t count another handful or so that have not yet landed a physical address, but likely will be on the next update in a few months.

I’ll do the fuzzy math for you: We’re looking at having about 150 breweries open in Florida by the end of 2015. At least.

For perspective, according to the most recent statistics from the Brewers Association, there were 66 operating breweries in the state at the end of 2013, meaning the number of breweries more than doubled in just a year.

Other happenings in the beer community are not reflected in those numbers. Darwin’s on Fourth in Sarasota is no longer a brewery, but it still serves beer it makes – all of its equipment has been moved to its Bradenton location.

The Hourglass Brewery in Longwood has moved to a larger space down the road from its original location, and Gainesville’s Swamp Head Brewery is in the process of moving its operation. Barley Mow Brewing in Largo has built a new production brewery.

The former Tampa Bay Brewing Co. Taphouse in Coral Springs has been redubbed Sawgrass Brewing Company.

One brewery has shuttered since the last update: Zeke’s Brewing in Tampa.

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 recently opened a new brewery and no longer contract brews, and Holy Mackerel Beers, which still contracts the bulk of its production, but opened The Mack House – Holy Mackerel Nano Brewery in Fort Lauderdale in 2013.
  • It includes two brewpubs – Karibrew in Fernandina Beach and Marco Island Brewery – whose brewing process is completed on site but started elsewhere.
  • It does not include BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse locations. 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.)

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.

Other maps and lists out there are based on different criteria.  The Florida Brewers Guild map only 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.

I’d also like to offer a shoutout to the page’s latest sponsors: JDub’s Brewing Company in Sarasota and Dahlia’s Pour House in Jacksonville, who have joined Tampa’s Coppertail Brewing Co. and Taste Vacations.

Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor, please drop a line to gerard@beerinflorida.com, 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 any of the myriad other potential errors I might have made. Send me an email or leave a comment below.




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Cycle Brewing signs with J.J. Taylor, plans expansion

Cycle Brewing glassCycle Brewing fans will soon be able to find some of their favorite beers from the downtown St. Pete brewery in more places throughout the state.

Tampa’s J.J. Taylor Distributing announced that it has signed to distribute some of Cycle’s flagship brands. The news release also outlined the doubling of Cycle’s brewhouse capacity with an additional seven-barrel system.

Doug Dozark started Cycle on a small system in the back of Peg’s Cantina in Gulfport before opening the brewery and cash-only taproom at 534 Central Ave.

J.J. Taylor’s distribution footprint covers 17 counties in Florida.

Here’s the full release:

Cycle Brewing Signs with J.J. Taylor Distributing Florida, Inc.

TAMPA, January 23, 2015 – J.J. Taylor Distributing Florida, Inc. is proud to announce the distribution partnership with Cycle Brewing of St. Pete.

Pinellas County Craft beer industry pioneer Doug Dozark founded Cycle Brewing in 2012. Today, Cycle Brewing has become one of the most respected craft breweries in Florida. Doug has established a significant presence working in Tampa Bay’s brewing community over the past eight years. He has brewed commercially on a variety of different size brewhouses, managed production for a large brewery and has built and established three breweries. He also selects and contracts his choice raw ingredients and operates an extremely successful brewery tasting room.

“This is an exciting time for fans of our beer,” Dozark said. “We have done our best to bring our beer to the faithful for the past two-plus years but now it is time to take the next step. We are looking forward to maintaining all of the quality beer that has built our reputation with modest growth. J.J. Taylor is a familiar partner from my time at Cigar City Brewing and we are looking forward to this partnership bringing us to new heights in Tampa Bay.”

Cycle Brewing currently hosts all brewing operations out of its downtown St. Petersburg brewery located on Central Avenue. Custom built by St. Pete’s BrewFab LLC, Cycle’s seven-barrel brew house and four fermentation tanks currently supply draft beer to their tasting room and small local retail account base. The soon to arrive second seven-barrel brew house will offer a significantly larger amount of cold fermentation and cellaring space. This secondary brew house will allow for greater flexibility of brewing and ensure that Cycle Brewing will continue to supply their consumers with the freshest beer possible.

Furthermore, it will allow Cycle to substantially expand their well-regarded barrel aged projects. “Cycle Brewing has been offering first rate product to craft beer fans of Tampa Bay through limited and targeted distribution and their popular Tasting Room for the past couple of years.

“J.J. Taylor is looking forward to helping Cycle continue to grow their fan base by bringing their liquid to the masses and shining an even bigger spotlight on their amazing facility and Tasting Room,” said Jay Martin, president and general manager for J.J Taylor Distributing Florida Inc.

Cycle Brewing beers will be available in draft format to select bars, restaurants & growler fill stations around the greater Tampa Bay area. As Cycle Brewing continues to grow into their new production brewery, the draft only offering will slowly become more accessible in choice accounts throughout J.J. Taylor’s 17 Florida counties.

“We at J.J. Taylor have always sought to partner with only the highest level of brewery and industry talent. Cycle Brewing exceeds our desired criteria of excellence; their beers are first class liquid art,” said Matt Abdoney, craft brand and marketing manager for J.J. Taylor Distributing Florida.

The Cycle Brewing brands that will be most readily available for distribution will be:

Fixie Session IPA – A sessionable IPA for the genuine hop enthusiasts. A light bodied refreshing beer for those looking for all the juicy, heady aromas of Simcoe hops without astringent bitterness or debilitating ABV. 4.7% ABV.

Crank IPA – Brewed almost exclusively with Citra hops, a perfect IPA for Florida. Crank is bursting with late addition hops for aroma and flavor with just enough malt backbone to really get the juicy character Citra hops are know for to pop. 6.1% ABV.

Cream & Sugar, Please – A coffee porter brewed with chocolate and dark chocolate malts to lend a robust backbone for the lactose (milk sugar). The beer is finished with locally produced Mazarro’s coffee to create a beer with a silky mouth feel, rich flavor, and the satisfying taste of coffee. 5.2% ABV


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Uncork the bottles – of beer – on Clearwater Beach

Uncorked logoWhat are your plans for St. Valentine’s Day?

I was just being polite. Keep them to yourself.

But if you’re one of the uber-romantic types and think wooing your sweetheart is worth an entire week, here’s a suggestion for a place to kick it off: the fourth annual Clearwater Beach Uncorked: A Food and Wine Adventure.

It takes place Feb. 7-8 from 1 to 5 p.m. each day beneath the Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach Resort and Spa.

But what about the beer?

Glad you asked. This is the first year the event will feature craft beer sampling and presentations in addition to the traditional wine and food offerings. Sponsors include Florida breweries Saint Somewhere, Brew Bus Brewing, Funky Buddha, Two Henrys, and Islamorada Beer Company; Maine-based Sea Dog, which operates a brewing operation in Clearwater; and national breweries such as Dogfish Head, Blue Point and Goose Island.

Of course there also will be wineries and local restaurants – including South Tampa craft-beer hotspot Datz presenting a bacon bar. Yep. Bacon bar.

Tickets are reportedly sold out for Saturday, but a few are left for the Sunday session at $45 each.

Be sure to check out the Brew-B-Que cooking demos sponsored by Goose Island beer, the National Pork Board and Clearwater Gas featuring Food Network Chef Emily Ellyn.

Oh, and I’m scheduled to do a short presentation and sign and sell copies of “Florida Breweries” both days, too.

For more information or to book lodging, go to the Clearwater Beach Uncorked website.

Click on the video below to hear event producer Tammy Gail talk more about the event – and the beer.

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