Tuesday, April 24, 2018
Features and More

Empouria beer bar to open next week in The Independent's old location

The Tampa Bay area is awash in craft beer. But it wasn't always so. Before World of Beer, before Somewhere in Tarpon Springs, Seventh Sun in Dunedin or any other microbreweries and beer bars, there was the Independent. John Vellines, one of the unsung heroes of the Tampa Bay beer scene, closed his St. Pete institution in September.

Next week marks the grand reopening of his new concept in the same space at 29 Third St. N: Empouria, the Art of Beer. But it's not just the Independent Redux.

Part of the reason for the name change is practical: After a divorce between Vellines and wife Veronica, she kept the Seminole Heights location, opened in 2009, while John kept the St. Pete space with the proviso that he'd change the name.

"We opened the Independent seven years ago. We were the original beer bar," says Johnny V, as he is known in the craft beer community. "We were a pioneer in St. Petersburg. But a lot has changed. There's more competition, in a good way."

So while other local beer bars focus on the explosion of domestic craft beers, Vellines will concentrate on fancy imports.

"We're staying more focused on high-end Belgian, German and other European beers, like Polish and Czech. Also, we offer rare and vintage beers. I've been able to acquire and save some interesting stuff over the years."

Different beers will be featured each day of the grand opening week: Monday will showcase American craft beers, Tuesday will be Eastern European, Wednesday will unveil big bottles of highly prized cork-finished beers, Thursday's focus is Belgium, Friday is Germany and Saturday will showcase international beers from across the globe.

The somewhat gritty Independent interior has been overhauled as well, with the work of local artists on the walls and, as Johnny V says, "Brand new bathrooms — the cleanest, nicest bathrooms in St. Petersburg by far."

Comments
Top places to hang with your dog in Tampa Bay, from breweries to baseball games

Top places to hang with your dog in Tampa Bay, from breweries to baseball games

Dogs are more welcome in public than ever these days. Bars and restaurants are making themselves more pet-friendly, and you can find weekly "yappy hours" happening at spots all over Tampa Bay. Add to that a healthy number of dog-approved events and ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Documentary ‘The Human Race,’ which has Tampa Bay ties, celebrates running in 50s and well beyond

Documentary ‘The Human Race,’ which has Tampa Bay ties, celebrates running in 50s and well beyond

An 80-year-old woman runs half marathons to stay one step ahead of Alzheimer’s. A man in his 50s runs his first 5K. A cancer survivor celebrates her 60s by running the U.S. perimeter.Welcome to The Human Race, an upcoming documentary celebrating seni...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Time for a skin cancer screening?

Time for a skin cancer screening?

Folks who live in Florida have a special relationship with the sun. After all, this is the Sunshine State. And whether we’ve lived here all our lives or come along later, many Floridians, especially seniors, have had decades of exposure to the Florid...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Exercise myths persist, so let’s fight them

Exercise myths persist, so let’s fight them

When it comes to fitness, can you tell the difference between fact and fiction? Misinformation abounds, and research is continually disproving it. Some myths, like "no pain, no gain," are fading away, but there are plenty more that persist. It’s impo...
Updated: 11 hours ago
Drunk in love with banana bread

Drunk in love with banana bread

I have a thing about bananas. They have to be perfectly yellow, with a light hint of green. And they absolutely cannot have a spot of brown on them. At all. Brown bananas make me gag. My window of tasty opportunity is small, so I love to bake with ov...
Published: 04/24/18
Cooking Challenge: Making a stovetop steak for the first time

Cooking Challenge: Making a stovetop steak for the first time

Raw meat terrifies me. Growing up, I was the kid who avoided cookie dough because it could give me salmonella poisoning. Just imagine how I feel about a slab of bloody steak. So for my latest cooking challenge, I’m diving into the deep end and making...
Published: 04/24/18
Review: American Stage hits ‘The Producers’ out of the park

Review: American Stage hits ‘The Producers’ out of the park

ST. PETERSBURG — Without question, Mel Brooks’ The Producers carved a more indelible mark than most of the musicals in the entire genre of throwaway musicals it parodied.The creator of Get Smart and Blazing Saddles not only co-wrote the adaptation of...
Published: 04/23/18
It’s a boy! Kate Middleton gives birth to third royal baby

It’s a boy! Kate Middleton gives birth to third royal baby

LONDON — For Kate, the wait is over. The Duchess of Cambridge gave birth Monday to a healthy baby boy — a third child for Kate and Prince William and fifth in line to the British throne.The couple’s Kensington Palace office announced news of the birt...
Published: 04/23/18
Taste test: vanilla wafers

Taste test: vanilla wafers

When it comes to cookies, our judges are all in. When it comes to vanilla wafers, most of them admitted to reaching for the familiar Nilla Wafers in the bright yellow box. Surprisingly, they liked the well-known brand least of the seven wafers sample...
Published: 04/23/18
Here’s who won big at the Mainsail Art Festival

Here’s who won big at the Mainsail Art Festival

St. Petersburg — The Mainsail Art Festival returned to Vinoy Park last weekend, bringing the artwork of 250 local, regional and national artists.The park was teeming with people anxious to check out the works of fine art and fine craft, including pai...
Updated: 8 hours ago