Tampa Bay Brewing Company
1600 East 8th Avenue, Ybor City — Tampa, Florida | 813-247-1422
Weekdays: 11am to 11pm | Fri, Sat: 11am to midnight | Sunday: Noon to 11pm
“Ybor City is tres speedy, but they throw such killer parties. Killer parties almost killed me…” Craig Finn, The Hold Steady
To us guys, beer bars are our safe haven, our element. Gritty places stocked with high alcohol craft brews women sneer at like transmission fluid. Sports on every TV, if there are any, pretzels and pizza as the only food, and bathrooms where you hold your breath and flush with your foot. Step up to jukebox and half the tunes are probably on your iPod. Yeah, this is home. If a woman ventures in, then she has to be “too cool to be forgotten,” like my cohort, AMY .
Despite attempts at renovation, the Ybor City area of Tampa is equally gritty. A former turn-of-the-century immigrant neighborhood, shared by Cuban cigar workers and Italian mobsters running their Bolita racket. Today, it’s one of the centers of Tampa nightlife, its clubs teeming with testosterone every weekend night. But below the glitz, the neighborhood remains. The Columbia Restaurant, The Italian Club, and The Cuban Club are all still there along with the ghosts of wiseguys and cigar workers past.
Back in 1996 in the center of this complex neighborhood, The Tampa Bay Brewing Company opened in its’ original location, a two-story brick former horse barn on 15th Street. It was a quintessential beer bar, with fantastic house-brewed beer, but too-small of a location. In 2006 they made an unthinkable move for a beer joint and moved into a shopping center, on the plaza in Centro Ybor.
Despite my trepidation, they managed to pull off the move fairly well. Sure some of the character of the old place was traded for the extra space in the new, but although cleaner and bigger, it still feels like a guy’s safe haven.
The staple of their continued success is their selection of excellent brews. At any time, you will find these house brews on tap:
- Moosekiller Barley Wine
- Iron Rat Stout
- Old Elephant Foot IPA
- Red Eye Amber Ale
- Wild Warthog Lite
- True Blonde
- One Night Stand Pale Ale, and,
- Last but not least, my favorite, Jack the Quaffer Porter.
They will also offer some guest taps, as well as, if you’re lucky, a cask offering.
Since I prefer dark beers, the Porter and Stout are, of course, my favorites. I am proud to say, I have tasted all the beers. They’re all excellent and more than likely your favorite will probably be the style you normally like to drink.
As for the food, the Cheese and Ale Dip, and the Brew House Pretzels are both excellent appetizers. The pizza is excellent, and the burgers, sandwiches and steaks absolutely rock, so yes, come both hungry AND thirsty.
BONUS — All this great fare can be enjoyed in an equally great atmosphere, on the front patio, watching the trolleys pass by, and the skinny jeans line up for the clubs.
If ever you find yourself in the Tampa area, The Tampa Bay Brewing Company is a must-stop-by for some great food, and a brew, or two. Or three…
Rating: Brewtally awesome.