Tucked away on the west shore of Tampa Bay is the quaint little Pinellas County town of Safety Harbor. It has been inhabited since the stone age, first by the Tocobaga tribe, later by Spanish Explorers such as Hernando de Soto. During the golden age of Gulf Coast piracy, the city was considered well out of piratical reach and ‘safe harbor’ for ships lucky enough to get there unscathed.
The location of Safety Harbor, and all of Pinellas County in particular, forms a barrier between Tampa Bay and the Gulf of Mexico, looking almost like the crooked thumb of a hand on the west coast of the state.
It’s that image that co-owners Kip Kelly and Travis Kruger used as inspiration when they took an old 1960’s auto shop and turned it into the 15-BBL Crooked Thumb Brewery.
Crooked Thumb is pretty new to the Tampa Bay beer scene, opening earlier this year. In those early days, however, there were some times where they were forced to close early due to a shortage of beer.
Clearly that is no longer an issue. They’re doing some light distribution in the area, which is how I was able to try one of their year-round beers, Grandpa Jack’s Pils (Pilsner, 4.9% ABV).
P.S. Grandpa Jack is Kip Kelly’s father-in-law.
So this is a clean, classic pilsner, with a soft golden hue and a light, bubbly head. It also has an aroma that is light on hops and big yeast, and has just a touch of sweet malt esters.
The flavor is just as approachable and velvety as the aroma. It’s got a wonderfully bright malt backbone, and an aftertaste very reminiscent of corn adjuncts. Entirely possible and very well done.
I had read articles of people that considered Grandpa Jack’s to be the best pilsner in the area. I am far from an expert, and I have yet to try every beer in the bay area, but this is definitely high-ranking in the pilsners I’ve been lucky to try.
And I didn’t have to fear pirate raids, either.
Drink Florida Craft,