I will be honest in saying I originally did not intend to visit de Bine Brewing in Palm Harbor. However, I’ve been seeing someone wearing a de Bine Brewing shirt in the Tampa Bay area. Talked to him, too. Nice guy.
Fate had me pretty close to Palm Harbor, and I simply knew it was the cosmos telling me I had to be there. So, while hanging out with Nick from Inoculum Ale Works, we decided to head there.
De Bine looks like it used to be a Pizza Hut in a past life, and it’s pretty obvious where it is, judging by the tall sign out front and the huge 4×4 parked outside, absolutely covered with de Bine iconography, wordmarks, their hop logo, and even a de Bine vanity license plate.
Obviously we were in the right place. But I was wondering if I would be recognized?
We entered, and there, behind the bar, was the man I’d met previously. The man in the de Bine shirt. His name is Lee Northcut, and his hospitality was as awesome as his hair.
The killer 4×4 belonged to the guy next to us, de Bine co-owner Ben Nichols. It was still early, so the four of us were able to chat a bit about beer in the area, de Bine and Inoculum and some of the awesome projects each other were doing, and Ben gave us a tour of the facility.
The brewery is right on the Pinellas Trail, so close that visitors can probably hold their hands out and high five passing bikers and runners. Pinellas County and Palm Harbor are apparently pretty cool to them, allowing de Bine to put a sidewalk on county land to connect the brewery and the trail.
The facility is gorgeous, with a nice open deck allowing visitors to drink their brews mere steps from where they were born. Ben and his team built it all, too, which was quite impressive. And it used to be a golf cart repair shop, not the Pizza Hut I originally thought. It was fascinating to hear Ben and Nick chatting about equipment and techniques, although it tells me that I have a lot more to learn about beer.
Hidden in the back is the small pilot system they use to brew test batches. It’s visible through the large picture windows in the hallway to the restrooms, and it’s what brewmaster Norman Dixon thought was their entire brewing system consisted of when he first came to de Bine, interestingly enough.
So Lee and Ben gave Nick and I a flight each, which we used to sample as many beers as we could from their already copious tap list. These beers have simple, style-based names, so there’s no room for a history lesson here. Maybe they’ll get cute, fluffy names in the future. In the meantime, behold the beers:
Vanilla Porter (Porter, 6.9% ABV) – Big vanilla flavor, nice and rich with robust malt characteristics.
Chocolate Oatmeal Stout (Oatmeal Stout, 6.4% ABV) – This had a clean, easy aroma. The flavor was big in cocoa flavors from both the malt and the cocoa. Smooth mouthfeel.
Hefeweizen (Hefeweizen, 6.9% ABV) – A simple, true to style wheat beer. It has a big, fruity aroma with an effervescent mouthfeel and floral quality.
Brown Ale (Brown Ale, 5.6% ABV) – Their brown was sweet, big in caramel and brown sugar malt, with a touch of hoppiness.
Amber Ale (Amber Ale, 7.1% ABV) – The beer, intriguingly enough, has an almost sweet tea aroma and a nice, malty flavor.
Session IPA (IPA, 5.5% ABV) – Very floral nose, with a light and easy to drink hoppiness. Smooth and sessionable.
Alt-19 ASB (Extra Special Bitter, 5.5% ABV) – Big notes of caramel with light pops of hops on the back end.
And now we come to the Chai Porter (Porter, 5.7% ABV), easily a masterpiece. It combined a solid, robust, and flavorful porter with an incredible array of delicious spices. Both Nick and I easily agreed it was the best beer they had that day. Ben, if you’re reading this, I will give you the address that you can use to send a few bombers (hint, hint).
So, I finally got there. Wasn’t disappointed, either. De Bine has a lot of good beers and a bright future ahead of them, and I can’t wait to hear more from them.
Even if I keep randomly running into Lee.
Drink Florida Craft,