I have to start off by saying that the new Tidal Brewing Company in Spring Hill has the greatest on-stage brewing system ever.
So it’s a little odd to say this, but Hernando County is starting to get some teeth in the craft brewing explosion. If you’ve never heard of Hernando County, I am not surprised. It’s north of Pasco County, which sits north of Pinellas and Hillsborough Counties, putting it about an hour away from Tampa and St Pete.
Apparently, though, a lot of people are starting to look at this area of the Gulf Coast to build their homes and careers. Two of those people were Maxine and Dave Peitzman, two current science teachers with an interest (and experience) in marine biology. Dave, as is true to form with the rest of the craft beer industry, started home brewing for many years before being persuaded to go professional. Along with David’s principal and business partner Carmine, the Peitzmans opened Tidal Brewing a few months ago.
It’s tucked away safely in a small strip mall, next to what is easily one of the best Cuban restaurants I have ever enjoyed (Rice and Beans for those of you that are curious). They ended up taking residence in an old Mobil gas station. It hasn’t been vacant for too long, since the shades over where the pumps would have been and the sign showing the prices, long since having their numbers stripped away, are still visible.
Inside the tap room, it’s cozy and shows their love for all things marine with a decidedly coastal theme. Outside, however, is the brew system, firmly situated in what used to be the gas station’s old car wash.
It was one of those big car washes, the ones with the glass side so you could see the car wash going on. Nowadays, that window showcases the brew system where Dave has been working tirelessly through the end of the school year to get a wide range of beers ready for their grand opening.
He’s a big fan of lagers, and uses a fast lagering style to bring these beers to the tap room without the traditional month-long waits that a typical lagering requires. He’s been able to bring a lot of beers into and out of rotation, even since my last visit.
The first time I was there I met with co-owner Carmine and had a pint of Sirenia (Blonde Ale, 5.1% ABV). This is a very soft, very unassuming blonde ale, lighter on the malt and nicely rounded with a slight herbal happiness.
Speaking with Dave, the first thing I was able to take a look at was Brennan’s Bastard (Brown Ale, 6.4% ABV, 22 IBU). This one requires a bit of explanation for people that are, like me, unfamiliar with New Orleans. Brennan’s is a particularly famous landmark in the city, known for being the birthplace of Bananas Foster. Dave and Maxine got engaged in New Orleans, heading to Brennan’s right after the happy event.
As of a reminder of that joyous time, Dave took the concept and created a quasi-brown ale, adding copious amounts of brown sugar, vanilla, and banana flavor to it. You get that banana big on the aroma, and drinking it you tend to have a little bit more of the brown sugar and vanilla sweetness. Don’t worry, King Kong isn’t coming for the beer.
There were more beers to try, however such as Dave’s take on the Vienna Lager (Vienna Lager, 5.2% ABV, 29 IBU). With this, Dave actually took a traditional grain bill and added a non-traditional, non-Noble, slightly citrusy hop to the mix. As much as I am a traditionalist for a lot of beers, this ended up being absolutely perfect. The light orangy kick blended very well with a solid caramel grain bill and a smooth, easy to drink lager to create something that was just a bit outside the norm, and instantly refreshing. Dave said this was one of his favorites, and I whole heartedly agree.
What the Kluch (Czechoslovakian Pilsner, 5.3% ABV, 44 IBU) – Delightfully less hoppy than most Florida Brewers make their pilsners. Once again, this is a great thing and this seems to be an entry point for a lot of Hernando County residents that come in wanting to make the great leap out of macros. This beer definitely treats them well.
Wee Bit O’ Salt (Brown ale, 5.8% ABV, 34 IBU) – This is a salted caramel brown ale, a lot of those flavors coming from two row, chocolate, brown, and a little bit of caramel malt. And it ends up being an interesting experience. The salty qualities are a bit rough on the palate, but still very pleasing at the same time, and does a great job combining with the caramel for a meaty flavor.
Baby, You Summertime Fine (Stout, 5.2% ABV, 37 IBU) – I love stouts like this, that are both of beer and a message about the misinformation of beer. This is a great summer beer, very easy to drink and very beach ready, which a lot of people do not realize stouts can be. A stout isn’t necessarily heavy, but most people assume that it is. With ‘Baby,’ this is a great, easy to drink beer that is both light and buoyant & flavorful the same time.
La Cote de Marseille (French Saison, 6.2% ABV, 32 IBU) – If you are in Hillsborough or Pinellas counties, and you love saisons, and you have not made the trip up to Hernando, you are terrible people and you need to start driving right now. This is easily one of the best saisons I’ve ever consumed. I said it to Dave, and I will say it to everybody else that reads this as well.
It’s got a great, slightly citrus kick, a good quality bubbliness on the tongue, and a little unrefined. It’s great in all the ways a farmhouse ale needs to be with a great vineyard-esque quality that is the epitome of a well-balanced and well-crafted saison. Dave said people tend to not flock to this particular entry on the tap list, and that is a shame because they are missing out on a very classic and very refined example of this style of beer.
All this from a brewery that’s only been open a couple of months. That’s the most remarkable part, as you can tell instantly how much time has gone into building the beer and building the location while at the same time being amazed that it hasn’t taken them a decade of operation to get to where they currently are. They truly are worth the drive from wherever you are to go check them out . Since they have a crowler machine, I know several people that will be bringing gifts home once they go to visit. As for me whenever I’m in the area, I will definitely need to stop by and fill up.
A crowler, not my car. The gas pumps are long gone.
Drink Florida Craft,