Deep in Tampa’s Ybor City, on the bottom floor of the massive Centro Ybor entertainment complex, lies the original and still operating Tampa Bay Brewing Company. It’s always been there, prducing beers since 1995.
What I find interesting is that both TBBC locations, in Ybor and at Westchase (which I visited some months ago) have awesome fully functioning restaurants as well, and I cannot emphasize enough how awesome their chicken and pesto pizza is.
The restaurant is a fully decorated man cave, with big, dark woods, low lighting, cushy chairs, and a dizzying array of decorated mugs for their mug club.
I sat and ordered a pint of Bones Brown Ale (Brown Ale, 5.6% ABV). It is a fantastically clean and sweet brown ale, with big bready notes and a light brown sugar undercurrent.
I was in luck since the Ybor TBBC head brewer, Tim Ogden, was there working on a batch of Wild Warthog, if memory serves me correctly. The brewery floor is completely on stage, but it was still interesting to see where things used to be, especially the small canning line they had to bring in on canning days.
It’s interesting to imagine that given how small the space is. There’s a lot that would have been interesting to see, especially when delivery trucks would come over the cobblestone streets to pick up deliveries.
Tim, in a former life, was known as quite the master of stouts, and he invited me to sample the early stages of what will be their holiday spiced stout coming out later this year. It’s a blend, half sweet stout and half barrel-aged imperial stout. All of this will be blended with gingerbread spices and released in bombers and I need to find my way back there to get a bottle since the un-spiced version still being worked on is nothing short of a masterpiece.
It’s thick and rich, wonderfully warming, with a giant roasted malty flavor with big notes of coffee and molasses. The beer is definitely heavy and heady, but so flavorful there’s no way not to enjoy it. It will be a limited run, so keep an eye out.
I let Tim get back to work, but it was nice to see where it all began. Ybor’s a good time anyway, but to finally see what is at Centro Ybor makes it all the better.
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