We get messages every now and then saying “Hey, why don’t you add X brewery?” or “You’re missing Y!” and we figured we’d take a moment to lay out the reasoning for why we include one brewery and not the other.
While we continue to re-evaluate these decisions, this is where we currently stand as we enter 2018 and our 5th year of curating the Brewery Bay.
First, have a physical location
This is our bare minimum. In the past we’ve added breweries that start Facebook pages with polished logos and plans, but in the end they’re not much more than passionate home brewers with high ambitions. Some of these breweries fall through, so we treat the purchase of a physical industrial/commercial space as a clear sign of progress.
Then, exist within the confines of “Greater Tampa Bay”
This is one of the hardest things to define for the region we cover. The region is VAST, and at The Brewery Bay, we’re all heavily based in St Pete and Pinellas County. We do not get out to the far reaches of Sarasota, the east side of Hillsborough, or as far up in Pasco as Zephyrhills very often. As such, it is difficult to keep information on those breweries up to date, and we rely on our fans.
With that said, we currently define Greater Tampa Bay by a variation of the definitions. This includes the counties of Pasco, Pinellas, Hillsborough, Sarasota, and Manatee. This broad definition contains nearly 80 open breweries and 13 more coming soon. (In fact, just confirmed that a city is in Sarasota County and I need to add yet another brewery.)
They must “start” locally, but not necessarily still be “owned” locally.
This is where we’ve begun to make a change, and we’ve started to draw a hard line in an otherwise extremely gray area. With the rise of craft brewing pubs that spread far and wide from the original brewery, and with outside investment as breweries continue to expand, it’s harder and harder to know what’s “local” and what’s “faux-local”
On that note, we have decided that for a brewery to be listed on The Brewery Bay, they have had to have been founded here. (Sorry Sea Dog Brewpub and Yuengling)
It’s one of the hardest things to draw a line for. Sea Dog’s two locations, and Yuengling’s massive brewing facility draws in tourists and locals alike, and they do brew their own beer. We also understand that they are places that people are interested in checking out while they’re visiting or exploring Tampa Bay, but when we have 70-80+ breweries, we feel that cutting a couple of not-quite-local ones from our list doesn’t detract from our purpose—in fact it makes it stronger.
Finally, continue brewing locally
This is a continuation of “started locally,” and in a sense, meant to preserve breweries like Cigar City Brewing (they are now owned by Oskar Blues) on the list. We’ll probably come back through and define this with a percentage (“At least 50% of your beer should be brewed within the confines of Greater Tampa Bay”), but for now, if you started locally, and continue to brew beer here, you’ll stay on our list.
When it comes down it, the Brewery Bay is for every local and tourist, every new and seasoned beer drinker—and what you want matters. Have thoughts on how we define our breweries? We’re all ears.