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St. Petersburg gets a beer of its own

St. Pete Brew CEO Michele Williams with husband, Tom, a managing member of the company and brewmaster, introduced their St. Pete Brew beer at the Ale and the Witch on Thursday.

CHERIE DIEZ | Times

St. Pete Brew CEO Michele Williams with husband, Tom, a managing member of the company and brewmaster, introduced their St. Pete Brew beer at the Ale and the Witch on Thursday.

ST. PETERSBURG — The Ale and the Witch, the new American craft beer bar in downtown St. Petersburg, poured the first offering Thursday from another new company, St. Pete Brew.

The brewer's inaugural beer is St. Pete Orange Wheat, an ale made with orange peel and coriander seeds.

The Orange Wheat follows St. Pete Brew's goal of creating beers that reflect the area, said Michele Williams, president and chief executive.

"The whole point behind it was to provide a beer choice that really exemplifies the essence of St. Pete," said Williams, 38. Her husband, Tom, is managing member of the company and brewmaster.

The company's philosophy also is reflected in its colorful logo, created by artist and St. Petersburg native Carrie Jadus. It features iconic images of the city, including the Pier, the Tony Jannus airboat, seagulls and sunshine.

The beer is not actually brewed in St. Petersburg. For now, the company is relying on a Maryland brewery to produce beer based on recipes developed by Tom Williams, 40.

Like many people in the craft beer industry, Tom Williams started as a home brewer, and the Orange Wheat is a recipe he developed. He has some other recipes ready to go, but the couple want to test consumer interest and demand before brewing more.

It's part of a slow and steady approach that St. Pete Brew adopted before it was even incorporated last year.

"We started talking about how it would be great to have a local beer here in St. Petersburg," she said. "So we started a Facebook page."

They soon had a couple of hundred fans of what was then called the St. Petersburg Brewing Co. That reaction gave them the confidence to move ahead, Williams said.

If the demand is great enough, the company will build its own brewery in St. Petersburg. Until then, Dog Beverage in New Windsor, Md., will produce St. Pete Brew's brews.

Dog Beverage also produces beers under its own Pub Dog label.

Tom Williams already had a relationship with Dog Beverage through his other company, eLease.com, which arranges equipment financing for microbreweries.

The company has been involved in financing for 50 craft breweries, Michelle Williams said.

The company is working through local distributor J.J. Taylor, which hopes to get local restaurants and bars interested. It's draft only for now. And for now, only at the Ale and the Witch.

St. Petersburg gets a beer of its own 04/07/11 [Last modified: Thursday, April 7, 2011 11:43pm]
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