The city of Lakeland, Fl. is situated about 30 or so minutes east of Tampa. It was founded by Kentucky native Abraham Munn in 1885, started by his purchase of 80 acres three years prior. The city’s name comes from the many lakes in the area, 38 of which are properly named and serve as landmarks for residents.
Munn was far from being one of the first residents of the area, as native Timacua, Tocobago, and Calusa natives were there over 12,000 years ago. Those natives ended up being some of the earliest ancenstors of the modern Seminole tribe. And while those ancient peoples held a great deal of sway in shaping and building the Florida Gulf Coast, they didn’t factor into the nomenclature of the young municipality.
The aforementioned lakes were the winner of that contest, signifying to Florida and the rest of the world that Lakeland was truly a land of lakes (not to be confused with Land O’ Lakes, situated an hour northwest and founded close to a century later).
No, the names that Lakeland beat out were rather interesting. Calling the city Munnville was sort of obvious and rather boring. But there were two other names as well; Red Bug and Rome City. To this day, no one can truly identify where early residents came up with those two names, but Lakeland-based BrewHub, seizing upon inspiration for a new beer to be released statewide, grabbed the latter for Rome City (IPA, 5.8% ABV, 70 IBU).
I do want to mention the can, since the origami-based artwork is stunning, in my opinion. It also references another of Lakeland’s famous residents, the swans that grace its lakes downtown. Those swans started to appear in the 1920’s, and became a fixture enough to where their loss was felt when they had all been eaten by alligators and pets 30 years later.
Lakeland residents wrote to none other than Queen Elizabeth, who allowed two of her royal swans to be sent to Florida. The descendants of those two swans swim in Lakeland’s lakes to this day. And the angular, multicolored imagery of those swans grace the can of a very clean, very hop-forward beer.
It’s incredibly citrus-laden, with a big nose of orange and lemons that pops out the moment you crack open the can. The flavor follows, with a big, almost floral-tinged amount of citrus hops. It’s very clean and uses just enough to keep the flavor simple enough to be appreciated, but complex enough to be savored and explored fully.
The malt that comes in has a less sweet, but very bready feel to it. There’s a nice meaty quality to it, and it is evident just enough to be noticeable and give the hops a lot to play on.
Rome City should be coming to stores near you very soon. Their release party is this week and while I can’t be there, they are unveiling the new ‘Rome City Swan’ that I can’t wait to see (it’s one of Lakeland’s signature swan statues, beer decorated, of course). I also can’t wait to see if more of their beers are going to be based off of previous names for their host city.
Maybe a Red Bug Red IPA. With an origami alligator on it. I can dream.
Drink Florida Craft,