Ybor is a special, special place.
It is a mighty, miraculous melange of roosters, homeless people, cigar smokers, 7th Day Adventists (the Scientologists are off in the back), and police, all running on pots of Cafe con Leche. I won’t even get into some of the conversations I’ve been forced to have while at Gaspar’s Grotto.
It’s all in Ybor, a dirty shame. Literally, that’s one of the bars there, The Dirty Shame. I should know, I was there. Unceremoniously dragged there by Zydeco head brewer Paul Rutherford along with Johnny Crosskey & Kevin Hess, the hosts of the awesome Craft Beer Ballers podcast. Yes, we did a big crossover episode, and we’ll be posting it soon.
So the bar. It could have been a ballroom in an earlier age, long before Ybor’s notorious weekend nightlife arrived. The immediate eyecatcher is a huge laser-cut wooden chandelier that throws intricately designed light around the entirety of the space. It’s worth a visit just to see that piece.
The other eyecatcher is their tap list, a combination of incredibly small-batch local beers and relatiely hard-to-source beers from elsewhere. Readers should, by now, assume my immediate interest would be with the local beers, which led me to get a pint of I Am The Walrus (Berliner Weisse, 5.5% ABV) from the close-ish Hidden Springs Ale Works.
Knowing the Tampa Bay beer scene and how neatly the beloved brews from Hidden Springs fir therein, this is an absoutely perfect beer to showcase what the region is doing. Take a berliner, somewhat sour and moderately tart, and add a deep plum meatiness to it. The plum adds a great additional dimension to the brew, harmoniuosly blending with a lot of the citrus flavors that already exist within the base.
To that, age the beer in your mind on oak chips that were soaked in bourbon. Here is where things get fun, since the natural vanilla notes coming from the oak grab a hold of the plum and together they skip down 7th Ave., avoiding the roosters, sloshing in the potholes full of a light bourbon booziness that adds more flavor that it does overpower anything.
It’s jsut a happy, peppy beer I managed to enjoy with some excellent people. I have no idea what Johnny and Paul were talking about, since Kevin and I were too busy debating Lightning vs. Panthers. And I had to leave too soon, which stinks. But it was a great time with a great beer at a great place. And the roosters are always there, always watching.
Then again, so are the Scientologists.
Drink Florida Craft,
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