Tarpon Springs is an interesting looking town on the Gulf Coast of Florida, just northwest of Tampa. It’s primarily known for two things: the first is sponge diving, a small industry that has been practiced in the waters surrounding the region for well over 100 years. It’s also known for a vibrant and thriving Greek community, descended from the Greek sponge divers that immigrated to the area in the early 1900’s.
They have plenty of sponge stores. And they have plenty of fabulous Greek restaurants. They also have your traditional tourist traps and cruises. Plus, tucked away in a small industrial park down the road from the docks, is Bob Sylvester’s Saint Somewhere Brewery.
Surprisingly enough, Saint Somewhere is the most distributed beer in Florida. It’s available in over 40 states, and Quebec & Denmark, too. Saint Somewhere beers are all big, classically-inspired Belgian ales that have been open fermented (they leave the tanks and windows open and let yeast naturally flow in) and are also blessed with a variety of spices, yeasts, and fruits.
It’s still quintessentially Florida, though. Sylvester uses Florida ingredients in some of his beers. All of the gorgeous bottle artwork is also taken from old turn-of-the-century Florida tourism ads. Hear from the man yourself:
But don’t look for a six-pack. 22-oz. corked bombers only. And there aren’t a ton of varieties, only a few special ones. Don’t worry, you won’t be missing the lack of 30 different choices. I started with one of the standards that is released by Saint Somewhere, Pays du Soleil (Farmhouse Ale, 8% ABV).
There is a lot going on in this beer. It really is a very different tasting experience than anything I’ve had before in the state. The first thing you notice is the strength. It’s a big, high ABV beer. So much so that my pregnant wife could smell how strong the beer was from across the room and over a table full of cupcakes we were decorating.
It’s just incredible how flavorful this beer is. There’s a little bit of everything in this. You want citrus? Sure thing. The European hops will give a nice citrus zing to the taste and a big orange-grapefruit nose to the beer. You want sweetness? There’s a lot of that with rich Belgian malts. You want intricate, mellow fruity flavors? There’s palmetto berries and hibiscus flowers.
You want a light, sessionable beer? This isn’t it. I was feeling this beer less than halfway through my first pint.
But it’s worth it. There are a few other bottles released by Saint Somewhere, including a collaboration with Cigar City. I am definitely intrigued by that one. But if you can find a bottle of Saint Somewhere, and it looks like many of you can, it will be well worth it.
Just don’t drive afterward, okay?
Drink Florida Craft,