VALRICO — Jamie Ratcliff likes to take his kayak fishing for snook and redfish.
His favorite spot to launch his tiny craft is a place not far from Apollo Beach called Bullfrog Creek. It leads to a stream featuring a shoreline of mangroves and out toward the flats and a spot that locals call the kitchen.
Sometimes he catches catfish. Sometimes nothing at all.
"Most of the time it’s don’t catch and drink a lot of beer," Ratcliff said.
Therein lies the inspiration for the 47-year-old entrepreneur’s latest business endeavor: Bullfrog Creek Brewing, set to become Valrico’s first brewpub when it opens March 23 at 3632 Lithia Pinecrest Road.
The concept started in a two-car garage where Ratcliff, an Army veteran, and his co-founder and brother in law, Chanse Haas, honed their craft as they tried to duplicate some of their favorite brews. They have been renovating a former grocery store since last October and are excited to bring something new to the area that honors Florida’s heritage as well as veterans.
"I just knew we needed something in the area," said Ratcliff, a Valrico resident since 1993 after growing up in the Englewood and Lakeland areas. "I like the challenge. People always tell me I’m crazy. This is the most excited I’ve been about opening a business and the most scared. I always tell people I’m going through a mid-life crisis."
Patrons to the 80-seat taproom can expect to find 16 craft beers on draft: 14 that Bullfrog Creek brews plus a root beer and cider. Matt Morrow, the head brewer who also has Florida roots, was recruited from Jekyll Brewing in the Atlanta area to brew many European style beers such as Hefeweizen, stouts and Belgian wits alongside some American IPAs in the 2.5-barrel brew system that includes fermenters in the original grocery store coolers behind the bar.
The bar itself is made from 4,200-pounds of poured concrete with an Alafia River theme acid-etched and torched into the top that flows toward the large service end affectionately called the Diddy – which also is the name of a Pilsner they brew onsite. Tampa Bay area boaters lovingly recognize the Diddy as a "redneck yacht club."
Other drafts will be called Lost in the Mangroves and Fishin’ in the Kitchen.
You can buy a 64-ounce growler to go, or bring one in for a refill. Visitors may recognize the orange chairs and furniture from The Rack, a defunct Brandon bar and they can enjoy outdoor seating under a large overhang leftover from when the location was a gas station.
Veterans are welcome to learn to brew with Morrow and they, along with first responders, receive 10 percent off.
Visit facebook.com/bullfrogcreekbrewing/ for grand opening details.
Pottery painting shop spins into Riverview
Pretty in Color, a new pottery painting shop in Riverview, now offers mobile parties.
Cultivate the inner artist inside yourself or book a party for kids, adults, baby showers, corporate team building and more.
Simply choose from an inventory of pottery pieces, head to the paint bar and get started on your masterpiece.
Sign up for Spring Break art camp, book mobile parties and more at prettyincolortampa.com.
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