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As craft beer booms, Largo brewer plans major expansion

LARGO

Jay and Colleen Dingman have a really serious problem. You see, they just can't make enough beer.

The married couple owns Barley Mow Brewing Co., a Largo brewpub. Smaller than a microbrewery, it's a "nanobrewery" that features an in-room brewery setup located mere feet from the bar.

They brew a couple dozen kinds of ales, ambers, porters and stouts in small batches — just enough to keep beer flowing through the bar's taps. They also distribute it to other pubs. Tampa Bay's craft beer scene has been good to them, so the demand for their product has outgrown the supply.

"We brew almost every day here, and we can't keep up," Jay Dingman said. "It's a good problem to have, but it's a problem nevertheless."

After three years in business, they're hugely expanding their operation, shifting into mass distribution of their various brews. They are buying a 20,000-square-foot industrial building on Commerce Drive, just off Missouri Avenue in Largo.

"We're putting in a brewery that's 15 times the size of what we're working with now," he said. "What we brew in a day over there will be more than we brew in two months in our current location."

Both avid home brewers and veterans of the hospitality industry, the Dingmans opened their bar in 2011 at 518 West Bay Drive, the former home of an Irish pub. At first it was just the two of them brewing and tending bar. Now they have seven employees.

They specialize in ales. Their flagship beer is called the Unkindness, a black India pale ale with a high alcohol content. They also make limited seasonal brews that taste of pumpkin, spice, citrus, coffee or grapefruit.

They experiment a lot. Starting with the traditional ingredients of hops, malted barley, water and yeast, they'll add a mix of berries. Or maybe chai tea. Or maybe hot peppers.

"We make a s'mores stout with graham crackers," Colleen Dingman said, cradling the couple's 5-month-old son Brody. "The benefit of having a smaller system is, you get to play with stuff."

A St. Petersburg father-and-son company called BrewFab is manufacturing the equipment — large stainless steel tanks for brewing, fermentation and carbonation — for Barley Mow's new facility.

BrewFab is a year-old company that's also growing along with the local craft beer scene. It has done work for local companies like Three Daughters Brewing, Green Bench Brewing and Cycle Brewing. Barley Mow presents a job of a different scale.

"This will be the biggest job that we've done so far," said Kyle Cureton, who co-owns the company with his father, Rick. "They're doing a very large expansion. We are building some really large tanks."

Barley Mow Brewing Co., like various other pubs named Barley Mow around the world, is named after a traditional drinking song from the United Kingdom.

Barley Mow is buying its industrial building from Piper Fire Protection, which is itself moving to larger quarters. Largo's economic development manager, Teresa Brydon, acted as a matchmaker for the two companies.

If all goes as planned, the large new brewery will begin operations by the end of summer. It won't be open to the public. But the bar will stay open.

Mike Brassfield can be reached at brassfield@tampabay.com or (727) 445-4151. Follow @MikeBrassfield on Twitter.

As craft beer booms, Largo brewer plans major expansion 04/24/14 [Last modified: Friday, April 25, 2014 10:32am]
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