Florida Avenue Brewing and Brew Bus Brewing weren’t always the same. In fact, the merger is still pretty recent.
Opened by founder Bruce Talcot as Cold Storage Brewing in 2010 in the shell of a former grocery store along – you guessed it – Florida Avenue in Tampa, the company changed their name to Florida Avenue in 2013. Beers were brewed on site and distributed in bottles, later cans.
Brew Bus, however, started as the brainchild of Anthony Derby, the son of Cigar City Brewing’s president. Its core business is hop-on, hop-off brewery tours, a model becoming near-ubitiquous in beer-centered cities nationwide. Once the decision was made to serve their own beers on those bus tours, brews were contract brewed out of house; first by Cigar City, later by BrewHub in Lakeland.
The decision by Talcott to sell was reached in late 2015, giving Brew Bus a focused tap room, shuttle stop, and brewing space. Both brands are kept conceptually separate. While they have both received significant cosmetic updates (Florida Avenue losing their signature, fantastic pirate ship in lieu of a sleek, 40’s inspired street scene).
As a former grocery store, they have a lot of space with which to stretch out. An ample, roomy visitor space leads to a lengthy bar with a tap list to match. Opposite the bar is a kitchen, serving a large and tasty array of foods (the buffalo chicken flatbread was quite delicious).
Between both are huge picture windows looking out on their shared production floor, which was buzzing with activity when I was there.
There was a lot to try, but I was short on time, so I went with Watermelon Bust (Fruit Beer, 4.7% ABV) under the Florida Avenue banner.
Bright and peppy, this blonde ale was treated with a light but noticeable watermelon flavor, backed up with a bit more tart lime qualities.
That lime tended to be the star, bringing most of the fruity qualities of the beer to interact with a modest malt.
And yes, there was more to try, both with beers and food. It will definitely be a good place to go again.
Not hard to figure out what street it’s on.
Drink Florida Craft,