Big Storm Brewing, located in the Tampa Bay area city of Odessa, opened in 2012. Their beers are found on draft and in cans statewide, and there in the middle of opening their third facility in the area.
I spoke to co-founder Mike Bishop about his brewing past, the rebranding, and where Big Storm is heading in the future.
When did you first discover craft beer? What was the beer that really opened your eyes to brewing?
I first discovered craft beer in college at USF around 2005, there wasn’t that much in the way of locals around so I would frequent the Yuengling brewery across the street to satisfy my fascination with beer. Back then my favorite was Rogue’s Dead Guy Ale.
Qhen did you srart brewing?
I started brewing early 2008 when I got on as an intern at Dunedin Brewery. I dabbled in home brewing briefly in my garage, but as my passion for brewing beer grew with every passing day, I found myself more interested in the challenges and workings of making beer on a large scale.
What would you say is your signature beer, and how did it come about?
Our signature beer would have to be our Wavemaker Amber Ale. At the time my friend (and co-founder) Clay Yarn really helped me through a hard time and let me move in with him. His condition was that I had to teach him how to make beer and make one for him. He picked out the color he wanted and the general features of the beer, and I wrote the recipe. That beer went on to score very highly in a homebrew competition and later became the Wavemaker.
How did you decide on a location?
We knew first and foremost we wanted to be in Pasco, but after that options were pretty limited. It was either in our current area or Wesley Chapel and we wanted to be a little more centralized in the county.
What was special about Pasco County that made you want to be there?
I live in Pasco, my family is there, and I just had my first child there. I love the country and it reminds me of what Pinellas (County) was 17 years ago when I moved to Palm Harbor. Pasco has an ‘Old Florida’ feel.
How do you get inspiration in developing recipes and names for your beers?
As a mantra we always want to produce very balanced beers, beyond that we just brew the beer we like to drink! In regards to naming, we like to incorporate the storm theme in creative waves, like our Arcus IPA which is named after a cloud formation or our Helicity Pilsner which is both in reference to wind shear and a play on a “Helles” lager.
What was the inspiration behind the name of your brewery?
I moved down to Florida when I was young and one of the things that I loved most was standing out on the porch and watching the amazing storms we have down here. They were destructive at times, but usually once they were over it turned sunny and beautiful. So it was somewhat of a play on that and also knowing we can have a lot of fun on the marketing/creative side with the Big Storm theme.
You recently rebranded the entire brewery. What was the inspiration behind the change?
We rebranded from a graphics standpoint and introduced a packaging update to our core brands. Our goal with the new package design was to create something contemporary, but with a strong heritage field. We’re looking forward to seeing it in bars and in the hands of customers around Florida. The design features illustrations from Foundry119 and combines subtle weather elements, capturing the handcrafted passion that goes into every can.
There are a lot of people getting interested in joining the craft beer industry. Do you have any advice for this people?
It’s a crazy and fast industry right now. You have to have no fear in chasing your passion, but passion is key. As long as your passion for great beer keeps burning, you’ll find a way.
Do you see an end to the recent Florida craft beer boom?
This is a common question and everyone has their speculations, but I think craft beer is absolutely here to stay. We’ll see some changes in the landscape due to consolidation, and the big boys are finding more ways to try and stop us, but the consumer will ultimately win.
Where can Big Storm be found right now?
Big Storm products can be found all over Florida. There is a “Storm Tracker” function on our website that lets you enter your zip code and it will map out locations in your area. We are available on premise in many restaurants and bars, plus grocery stores, convenience stores, and places like Total Wine & More.
Do you have plans for special bomber releases?
We are excited about bombers! Big Storm has some specialty beers in the works for 2016 that are planned for bomber release.
New cans of Big Storm brews will be heading to store shelves soon.
Drink Florida Craft,