Recently I’ve been writing a lot about Bradenton.
It’s sort of smack dab in the middle of the Florida Gulf Coast, just south of St. Pete and just north of Sarasota. For a small community, there’s actually a fair amount there. They’ve got the State College of Florida, a planetarium and aquarium that was home to Snooty the Manatee (RIP Snooty), and is well known as the spring training home of the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Their home, LECOM Park, in walking distance of a few breweries. The bigger, definitely in size and possibly in distribution as well, is Motorworks Brewing.
The location in and of itself is well worth the trip. The facility was built in 1923 as a Hudson car dealership. Because of this, it is absolutely massive, and in the back is still the ramp leading up to the service facility that was on the second floor. They took a part of that massive floor space and turned it into an equally large tap room, with plenty of games, a stage, a huge bar (serving not only beer but full liquor as well), and a nice display case for the large amount of awards that Motorworks Brewing has been winning as of late.
Just outside is an equally massive beer garden, centered around their 150 year old oak tree. There’s another stage there, as well as a huge screen for projecting movies.
The brewery’s name and hood ornament inspired logo definitely took some inspiration from the building’s former automotive life. The rest of that inspiration came from the Sprint car background of Frank Tchida who, along with his wife Denise, opened Motorworks in 2014. They, along with head Brewer Bob Haa, release a variety of beers that can be found in stores almost all across the state.
I have the chance to sit down and chat a bit with Spoke to Director of Sales & Marketing Barry Elwonger. Barry has quite a task on his hands, as Motorworks is starting to grow more and more throughout the state. They’re also engaged and a big new branding campaign, which will change the look of a lot of their packaging. If you seen some of their seasonal beers such as the Lavender Ale described below, that packaging will reflect the new look of Motorworks.
Naturally, when I go to a brewery who’s core beers are easily found in stores, I am more interested in getting the stuff that I can’t find outside the tap room. Here is what I tried:
Bizarre Gardening Accident (Florida Weisse, 3.7% ABV) – Gotta love the name. This weisse has a tart kick to it, but not so much so to be difficult. There’s a great fruity flavor in a simple and bright malty base.
Lavender Ale (Scottish Ale, 6% ABV) – Made with Golden Promise Scottish Malt, their Lavender Ale won a silver medal in the 2015 Best of Craft Beer Awards. It’s available in cans and is, interestingly enough, a very popular release from Motorworks. It’s nicely floral without tasting like soap as so many lavender-flavored things can be. It’s also more refreshing and less sticky and chewy than many Scottish ales can be, making this beer easily drinkable.
Hudson (Hefeweizen, 5% ABV) – Named for the cars once sold in the brewery building, this true-to-style hefeweizen is nicely easy to drink with a good clove quality to it. Perfect down the line.
Das Hamburglar (Smoked Porter, 5.6% ABV) – Smoked ales can go one of two ways: it’s either a light touch of smoke flavor, or you’re drinking the watered down ash from a BBQ pit. I am very happy in that this beer tended to be a bit more to the former. There’s a good roasted quality to the beer, with a light body and easy drinking mouthfeel.
After a little bit of digging, Barry also got me a taster of the Midnight Quartet (Porter, 6.5% ABV). This is their Midnight Espresso Porter, but made with four times the usual amount of coffee in the recipe, then served on nitro. It is just as thick and drenched in coffee flavors as you would expect. The nitro, however, serves to bring a creamy smoothness that makes the beer almost transcendent.
Motorworks has been one of those breweries and I’ve always wanted to go to, ever since they won their Best Brewery award at the Best Florida Beer championships a few years ago. With all my visits to the area, I was not able to do so until now. I was pleasantly surprised and very happy to see what Motorworks had to offer, and I am definitely excited to go back again.
Maybe when it’s cooler, so I can enjoy my beers underneath that oak tree.
Drink Florida Craft,