GULFPORT — Doug Dozark, 27, knows what he likes. He likes hops. He likes India pale ales, imperial stouts and other herbal, grassy, aggressively hoppy beers. Well, he also likes unfiltered wheat beers, fruit lambics and, as he says, "beers where people are trying to push the limit and are adding interesting things."
He has lovingly built the beer list at his parents' quirky Peg's Cantina. And now, in true DIY style, he's brewing his own. He started tinkering about a year and a half ago, experimenting with three extract beers (this is a beer made from malt extract as opposed to all grain; his first was an imperial stout, then a pale ale and a German wheat beer), making 3 gallons at a time. As with many new brewers, he devoured Charlie Papazian's The New Complete Joy of Home Brewing, having a wipeout now and again to keep him humble.
At the end of March he began selling his brews at Peg's (after obtaining the proper brew pub license from the state). For now it's one at a time due to refrigeration constraints, and no growlers or off-site sales allowed.
Dozark is interning at Joey Redner's Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, but experimenting at Peg's with a range of styles. Thus far he has brewed a Belgian wit (a white beer made with raw unmalted wheat, as opposed to the malted wheat used in other varieties); "El Jefe," a classic fruity hefeweizen with a lush banana nose; and an unnamed (he's open to suggestions) dark brown ale.
We stopped in a couple of times recently to taste. The brown was our favorite: A short, light brown head and mild carbonation let us focus on the chocolate/coffee/toffee flavors and creamy texture. We missed out on the Dancing Codys IPA (named after a dancing-averse kitchen staffer), but caught a delicious Roasted Red, its coppery color nearly as appealing as its roasty maltiness and spry hoppy finish.
"I'm still mastering my ingredients," says Dozark. "But I want to stay involved in the beer community here. The craft brewer market is growing, but there's a lack of brewed beer in this state."
Laura Reiley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 892-2293. Her blog, the Mouth of Tampa Bay, is at www.blogs.tampabay.com/dining.