Florida breweries have had a slew of awards and recognition in just the past few days, and the timing couldn’t have been better because the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference was in town.
First the big one. In the recently concluded 2016 U.S. Open Beer Championship, Florida-based breweries took home a whopping 27 medals across 93 style categories. Based on the number of medals won, Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing was No. 3 in the Top 10 Breweries list, with Brew Bus Brewing, also of Tampa, not far behind at sixth.
You can see the complete list here.
Meanwhile, the uber-popular SeriousEats.com website recently concluded its Great American Beer Brawl 2016, in which readers could vote on what they felt was America’s greatest beer city. And guess who came out on top? That’s right, Tampa.
And not by just a few percentage points, but by a LOT. Final results: Tampa, 24.1%, followed by Portland, 9.4%; Denver, 7.9% and San Diego by 7.5%. Of course, the organizers were a bit skeptical that there may have been some manipulation involved. They posted this:
Surprising all of us, but certainly none of the Tampa residents who surely did not vote more than once or launch some sort of internet campaign to get all their friends to do likewise, it’s Tampa in a landslide!
I deny any knowledge.
Finally, but probably not finally because I likely forgot something, Southern Living Magazine listed Cigar City Brewing among the “South’s Best Breweries.” I can’t argue with that.
EDIT: As suspected, I had left out another honor for Florida’s craft beer community. Draft Magazine released its annual list of America’s Best Beer Bars, and in the Southern Region, three Florida pubs made the cut: Kickbacks Gastropub/Goozlepipe & Guttyworks in Jacksonville; Mr. Beerys in Sarasota; and Orlando’s Redlight Redlight.
Meanwhile, at the Marriott Tampa Waterside in downtown Tampa, about 150 or so beer bloggers, beer writers and beer industry folks were gathered together for the 2016 Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference, myself included.
Did we learn things? Yes! Did we drink lots of great beer? Yes! Did we learn about and explore the booming craft beer industry in the Tampa Bay area and Florida? Yes! Were some Pokemon captured? Yes! Did everyone’s liver survive? That remains to be seen.
The attendees have already started blogging and posting about the experience and the area. Rather than try to recount it all myself, I suggest that you search for the #BBC16 hashtag on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and look for links to the stories.
The word about our craft beer community will now be heralded far and wide. Breweries and taprooms should expect a bump in the number of visitors this tourist season.
Big props to all the sponsors, including Visit Tampa Bay, JJ Taylor Distributing Florida, CraftBeer.com, Visit St. Petersburg-Clearwater and many more. A special shoutout to the Marriott Tampa Waterside, which went above and beyond as hosts – and they really, really “get” craft beer.
The next Beer Bloggers & Writers Conference will take place Aug. 3-6 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
One of my big takeaways from the conference, however, is that people like to look at pictures. So the rest of this post will be only photos from the event.