It is my hope that some readers will be able to regale me with stories of what Webb’s City was like.
I never went. Heck, until recently I never knew what it was. For those of you like me, here’s a primer:
Webb’s City was, of all things, a drug store that sold much more than just medication. Self-described as “The World’s Most Unusual Drug Store,” Webb’s opened in 1925 by James “Doc” Webb in a 480 square foot building in downtown St. Petersburg.
At its height, Webb’s grew to the size of seven city blocks, with a whopping 77 different departments. They sold everything from hardware, to clothing, to meats. Customers could get their hair done, plan a vacation, and grab a coffee.
You want fresh ground coffee? You want to learn dance at an Arthur Murray studio? You need your shirts dry cleaned? Want to purchase a dollar bill for 95 cents? You could do it all, and more, at Webb’s.
The fun didn’t last forever. Webb sold his stake in 1974, and the building closed its doors for good in 1979 (Webb himself died in 1982).
The site of Webb’s is nothing but an empty lot now. The only thing that remains are pictures, memories, and a concept new to retail then: the Express Checkout line.
It’s those memories that Green Bench Brewing used when creating an entire line of Webb’s City limited edition brews. I never got a chance to try the first one, but I did get a hold on the bottle celebrating one of Webb’s more interesting advertising gimmicks, his Florida Poster Girls (Saison, 8.2% ABV).
Created to advertise his Playtime Fashions line of swimsuits, Webb sent an army of bikini-clad beauties across the country in an effort to ignite interest in playing and bathing in the West Florida sun.
It must have worked, because here we are still talking about it. Or them. Or just the beer, which is a Farmhouse, one thing Green Bench is known for doing and doing well. This particular beer was fermented with wild yeasts in oak before being aged in Chardonnay barrels in 10 months.
Firs, realize about all wild ales like this is that they must be poured slowly. Learn from my mistake and avoid a head the size of Marge Simpson.
Once you get through that, you get a hazy orange concoction with a dry, slightly sour nose. A lot of those flavors and more continue into quaffing the beer, and you can almost immediately envelope yourself in the tangy, tart, and tingly profile of a beer that has spent a lot of time being very carefully crafted.
Like I said, and as is pretty readily apparent when you first taste the beer, there’s a large oaky presence and the flavors of dry, aged Chardonnay. It’s not sweet at all, but very dry and mature. There’s a bright, bubbly fizz to the beer as well, which tends to brighten everything up without ruining the delicate flavors at all.
But then, delicate was all but absent to a man that used trapeze artists and baseball-playing ducks to sell, well, everything.
I would have liked to have seen that store. At least we have the beer.
Drink Florida Craft,