When you write about beer in the state of Florida, you’re going to spend a statistically significant amount of time in Tampa. There’s just no avoiding it, Tampa really is the craft beer capital for the Sunshine State.
But Tampa is a big city and there are several neighborhoods which have more than their fair share of those breweries. Seminole Heights is definitely hopping, there’s a good chunk along the Riverwalk, and do we really need to talk about Ybor at this point?
Then there is West Tampa. To be honest, my experience of West Tampa is that place I pass by on Interstate 275 on my way between downtown and the airport or heading to Pinellas. There’s some expansion showing up, and one of those is the relatively new Bay Cannon Beer Company.
It was opened in August of 2019 and the name is clear inspiration from the cannons that used to adorn Henry Plant’s Tampa Bay Hotel, long before it became a museum and part of the University of Tampa.
Stepping inside through rather tall and imposing wood doors, you get an overwhelming sense of tropical airiness. With large amounts of teal and huge floral artwork adorning the back wall, it feels more like Miami than it does Tampa. You do get a sense of an industrial past shining through the large skylights over the tap room, an ode to a time when West Tampa was a part of the sprawling industrial complex that was Ybor City.
That time has definitely gone, but West Tampa is starting in its renaissance, led by businesses such as Bay Cannon, that are really bringing vibrancy back to the neighborhood. The tap room is kid friendly, and has a wonderful little back patio between the building and the interstate. Coming up soon on the Florida Beer Podcast, you’ll hear my interview with a few of the people that made Bay Cannon happen, and we did our interview on that back patio.
Up near the front you’ll also see their food window, and before I left I was graced with would had to be the most amazing Chimichurri Cheese Steak with incredibly fresh Rosemary Garlic fries that need to be tried to be believed. Honestly, it might be good that I don’t live near Bay Cannon or else I would be eating that way too often.
The beer selection is phenomenal, and I ended up sticking with dark beers compeltely by surprise. The first one I tried was BC Zeal Blend Coffee Stout (Stout, 6% ABV). This was a collaboration with Zeal Coffee Roasters, another great West Tampa business, who roasted the coffee for them for a wonderfully sweet, nicely rosty and dark stout with a light body and amazing amount flavor with a very smooth mouthfeel.
I could drink those all day, but they also had a Smoked Black Tea Stout (Stout, 6%). This is a beer that I have always been interested in trying, but never knew anybody had actually made. The tea in question is Lapsang Souchong, which is a smoked tea that is then blended and steeped. This gives a lot of the smoky qualities of a rauchbier without the malt being the source of the smoke flavor. The beer gives you a very interesting wood fire aroma and flavor, but that sits upon a very complex and perky earthiness that comes from the tea. They had a lot to play with when it came to the notes of chicory and slight chocolate coming from the stout itself, and they combined all of that to make a wonderfully rewarding brew for those daring to try it.
There was so much else going on with this brewery that I just did not have the time to go into, which was very unfortunate. But I’m very happy that I went and it is someplace that I am looking forward to going back to again.
And I will definitely wave hi if I pass by on 275.
Drink Florida Craft,
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