Yes, Big Storm Brewery is, in reality, two breweries. two new breweries, at that. And they’re both relatively full-scale breweries, unlike some breweries that have one tasting room that maybe has a tiny pilot system and another production brewhouse elsewhere.
But I had no idea which was which when I met up with tap room manager Joey Frasco and Andrew Shelton, the head brewer at Big Storm’s Clearwater brewhouse.
Clearwater is Big Storm’s 30 BBL production hub, tasked with manufacturing and distributing the core beers Big Storm is distributing statewide.
The irony of ironies is that we met at the Odessa brewhouse.
Odessa is more of the experimental brewhouse, where newer beers and beers not meant for canning are produced on their 10 BBL system and distributed.
The facility is simply gorgeous and still smells brand new. It’s also pretty easy for visitors not doing a tour can see the production floor, since both areas are in the same room and separated by a waist-high wall. Of particular note was the large amount of local artwork on the walls, a trend in breweries I am particularly enjoying.
It was interesting to hear a number of things about how the two breweries operate, especially in that assistant brewers are encouraged to develop and submit recipes for possible production. Clearwater brewers aren’t as fortunate, of course, since Florida beer drinkers need a steady supply of those four core cans.
(Speaking of cans, Joey and Andrew were not the first people i heard that week telling me of can shortages that might be coming to craft beer drinkers in the near future…)
There was a lot of other topics we discussed, especially the good news that Oats in Hose Oatmeal Stout has now gotten the green light to be a year-round beer. Originally slated to be a seasonal, public support for this phenomenal beer was so strong that it got a nice promotion.
Another topic we discussed was glassware, and specifically their love for the nonic pint. Because of that little bulge in the side, nonic pints can’t be stacked like shaker pints are. And with no stacking comes a prevention of the inside of the glass getting scratched, which prevents bizarre nucleation sites, and a better beer experience.
It was an interesting conversation. And one that’s becoming increasingly out-of-date as the tulip takes over as the preferred standard beer glass.
In fact, it’s mini-tulip glasses that Big Storm uses for their beer flights. Those beer flights, also interestingly enough, are delivered on incredibly heavy, precision machined steel paddles. Very heavy.
So, speaking of beer flights, here is what I was able to sample while there:
Berry Subtle (Saison, 6% ABU, 18 IBU) – Odessa is maybe a hour (probably more) from Plant City and their famous strawberries. This light and fruity saison uses fresh Plant City strawberries, literally purchased at one of the city’s roadside fruit stands. It’s almost cider-like, and incredibly fresh.
Barrel Aged Oats in Hose (Oatmeal Stout, 7.1% ABV, 17 IBU) – You thought you liked Oats in Hose before, Wait until you age it in a Wild Turkey barrel. It still has the velvety mouthfeel, but with the bold added dimension of a strong, heady whiskey kick.
Water Spout (Milk Stout, 6.6% ABV, 25 IBU) – Served on nitro, like a good chocolate milk stout should be. It’s soft, bursting with deep malt and sweet lactose and cocoa.
Category 1 (Belgian Single, 7.5% ABV, 34 IBU) – This is the start of their Category series of Belgian-style beers. Basically they’ll be going from Category 1 through 5, and the beers will only get stronger as the number goes up.
Number 1 is pretty strong anyway, with a big, heady bubblegum and funky aroma. It’s got a very complex flavor profile, and is definitely not sessionable.
(Note: Before anyone starts blowing up my inbox, I am fully aware there is another brewery in the state that has their own Category series of beers. And no, I have no clue if anyone has had any discussions about naming.)
London Mist (English Bitter, 3.5% ABV) – It’s a classic English Bitter, light and easily drinkable with a moderate bitter flavor.
Since they’re the same company, Big Storm shuttles the beers pretty regularly between the two locations. Still, it’s worth a drive out to Odessa to see the facility in all its newness and enjoy some fantastic beers.
But please be careful of those flight paddles. Very heavy indeed.
Drink Florida Craft,