In the long, long ago, I remember being able to go to Publix to pick up a sampler case of Ybor City Brewing beers. It was an excellent deal, 15 beers for $12. Sadly, those days are no more.
This was when Ybor City Brewing existed in Ybor City, a wonderfully Cuban-American section of Tampa. Named for founder Vicente Ybor, the district was home to hundreds of Cuban, Italian, Spanish, German, etc. ex-pats working in the area’s many cigar factories. While almost all of the cigar factories have gone to Central and South America, the flavor and the culture of those early immigrants still lingers.
One of those old cigar buildings became the Ybor City Brewing Co., brewing, bottling, and distributing their flagship Ybor Gold Amber Ale (Vienna Lager, 5.1% ABV, 24 IBU), among other varieties. This continued until 2003, when Ybor City Brewing closed their doors and sold their equipment, trademarks, etc. to Indian River Beverage Corp., better known as Florida Beer Company (this article is interesting in that it has a good rundown of the sale, as well as being a window into how much Florida beer has grown in the last 12 years).
It’s still as good as I remember. There’s a beautiful golden hue and an aroma that belies the generous amounts of 2-row pale, caramel 40, and carapils malts used in the beer. The flavor continues that wonderful sweet golden richness, lightly accentuated but not overpowered by Northern Brewer and Hallertau hops. It’s immensely drinkable and light, and would go good with meals.
By continuing to brew Ybor Gold, it’s nice to see Florida Beer has kept alive what amounts to a love letter to an earlier era of brewing in the Sunshine State.
Now excuse me, I need a mixto and a cigar.
Drink Florida Craft,