Bringing BeerCity USA to Tampa; It takes a community

Photo graphic by Gerard Walen


Editors note. This post is an updated version of a similar one last year.

The BeerCity USA poll went live Tuesday morning, and we’ve been furiously tapping away at the computer keys to get the word out about the #BeerCityTPA campaign to bring the title to the Tampa Bay area.

First, if you haven’t voted yet, click here and vote for Tampa, then come back and learn how you can help spread the word.

We are not going to talk here about how Tampa deserves to be BeerCity USA. Our love for Florida and its craft beer scene is well-documented. Neither will we put down the current BeerCity USA title holder, Asheville. It’s a beautiful town with a great beer community.

Rather, this post is about strategies and benefits.


The #BeerCityTPA campaign is fueled by social media. Share, share, share and it can grow exponentially.  Here is a short custom link that you can use for Twitter:  Send that out with the #BeerCityTPA hashtag. Put the link on your Facebook page and encourage your friends to vote.

Our friends at JJ Taylor Distributing Florida have put up this poster at various craft beer establishments in the Tampa Bay area. Scan the QR code and VOTE TAMPA!

Our friends at JJ Taylor Distributing Florida have put up this poster at various craft beer establishments in the Tampa Bay area. Scan the QR code and VOTE TAMPA!

We created a Facebook Fan Page at Please like it, and we’ll try to keep it updated with the campaign’s progress. Note: Unlike previous year, we will not be able to track the number of votes during the campaign.

We also filmed a short video at the Cajun Café Bayou Spring Craft Beer Festival last year, in which several Tampa Bay area craft beer brewers and industry folks answered the question: “Why Should the Tampa Bay area be the Next BeerCity USA?”  You can view and download the video here.  Please feel  free to share and embed the video on your websites, blogs, Facebook pages, etc. We don’t ask for credit or linkbacks. It’s for all of us.

The poll is set up so you can only vote once per computer. Don’t many of us have access to more than one computer?  And a smartphone? ‘Nuff said.


Asheville has made the most of the BeerCity USA title during the past four years (it tied with Portland, Oregon, in 2009, the first year of the unscientific poll, and with Grand Rapids, Michigan,  last year). It’s a source of community pride, and the city uses the title to market itself as a destination.  Now, many of you Floridians might think, “We’ve already got enough damn tourists around here,” but the fact is our economy is based on their dollars, and in these economic times, we could use all of those we can get.

Sierra Nevada, New Belgium both announced last year that they are building new breweries in the Asheville area, and Oskar Blues has already opened its East Coast brewery there. Did having the BeerCity USA title help? Well, it certainly didn’t hurt.

Naysayers may call it a “bogus poll” – it’s without a doubt unscientific – but most of those negative remarks come from locals in the losing cities.

Most importantly, it’s a chance to show the world we mean business, that we’re proud of what our once little beer scene has become, and a chance to come together as a community. Not just our beer community, but everybody.  I think Charlie Papazian said it best in his post announcing the poll:

BeerCity USA poll highlights the spirit of support local, small town and big city Americans generate on behalf of their communities. BeerCity USA is not a measure of beer quality, number of breweries, volume of beer enjoyed nor any kind of “best-of-show” measurement.

It’s an indicator of the coherent nature of beer communities. It celebrates and recognizes the importance of responsible enjoyment and social interaction. One could take a look at the numbers from many perspectives: economic impacts, breweries per capita, regulatory impact, beer consumption, comparative share of craft beer from craft brewers, blue versus red, winning baseball teams, stadium beer offerings, jobs created, big versus small, etc.

But at its core BeerCity USA measures a previously unheralded aspect of beer enthusiasm: Local support of the final sum which is the enthusiasm for beer choice, diversity, flavor and accessibility. Most importantly it highlights “beer” as the meeting place.

This is why the “royal we” has been used in this post. It’s not about one person, one group or even one city. It benefits everyone.

We hope the entire state gets behind this effort, from Key West to Orlando to Pensacola, because as it is often said, “a rising tide lifts all boats.” (We exempt Jacksonville, which again landed on the ballot this year through an admirable write-in effort during the nomination process.)

Are we underdogs? Certainly.  But ask Joe Namath, the 1980 U.S. Olympics hockey team or the ragtag rebels of the Revolutionary War. Sometimes underdogs win.

Vote early. Vote often. Vote Tampa!


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8 Responses to Bringing BeerCity USA to Tampa; It takes a community

  1. Carl Donovan says:

    And lots of ’em! That contest caused quite a bit of sweat. Grand Rapids was ON IT!

    So, when are you coming up to Asheville? I’d wager that one out of ten cars heading north up I-75 right now is a snowbird, bound for Western North Carolina. Hop a ride with one of them, stay the summer and catch a southbounder.

  2. Carl Donovan says:

    Well, you can now visit two cities and tour Beer City USA. Somehow, this poll seems to favor scrappy little towns like Asheville and Grand Rapids

  3. Gerard Walen says:

    It’s a deal! Hopefully, I’ll be showing you around BeerCity USA. 😉

  4. Carl Donovan says:

    I wouldn’t expect you to throw in the towel, Gerard! Tell ya what, my Mom still lives in St Pete. Next time I’m headed to the ‘Burg, I’ll bring you a selection of our finest and you can give me a tour of the breweries. Whaddaya think?


  5. Carl Donovan says:

    Nice effort!

    We Ashevillians* certainly appreciate the attention of being Beer City USA for three years running and can understand your push to claim the title for your fair city. As you mentioned, in the last year, we’ve had New Belgium, Sierra Nevada and Oskar Blues announce plans to build breweries in our area. Add that to the dozen craft breweries we already have (the highest beer production per capita in the world) and you might have a hard time denying that we deserve the title.

    We’re facing some stiff competition from Grand Rapids, MI (of all places) this year. It’s their first year nominated and they don’t intend to squander it.

    Best of luck to you, Tampans!

    * (Have to admit, I graduated from Eckerd College and lived in Gulfport for a few years and absolutely LOVE the Dunedin Brown.)

    • Gerard Walen says:


      Appreciate the comment, and I certainly like and respect Asheville’s beer scene. I consider Oscar Wong to be a personal friend. The last time I was in Asheville, I had little time to spend there and I’m looking forward to returning and staying a while. But you know this poll isn’t based on the number of breweries or the quality of beer. *wink, wink* If that were the case, we’d be right up there with you, with 11 breweries in the Tampa Bay area, at least four more that will be pouring this summer, and world-class beer at all of them. We’ll even throw in the Yuengling brewery in Tampa.
      C’mon down and check it out. I know you will be astounded by the craft beer scene here, much as many of your visitors have been since you landed the title.

      And we’re not throwing in the towel!

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