Make us your home page

Big Storm Brewing boasts new Odessa taproom — and a trophy for best beer

Big Storm Brewing founder Mike Bishop, left, and business partner Leo Govoni in the brewery’s newest tap room.

Danielle Hauser | Special to the Times

Big Storm Brewing founder Mike Bishop, left, and business partner Leo Govoni in the brewery’s newest tap room.

ODESSA — Their friendship wasn't formed over a pint of beer, but on the football field many years ago.

Mike Bishop, founder of Big Storm Brewing Co., played football while attending Clearwater Central Catholic High School, and during his senior year in 2002 he had a new football coach, Leo Govoni. The two remained close over the years, and now Govoni and Bishop are business partners at Pasco County's first microbrewery.

Big Storm was established in 2012, after Bishop decided to turn his hobby and passion into a business. After graduating from the University of South Florida in 2006, he worked in finance, but found himself wanting to learn more about brewing beer.

"I was cleaning kegs over at Dunedin Brewery, while also working as a financial adviser," Bishop said. "I was fascinated with the process."

He said that as an unpaid volunteer, he gained a tremendous amount of knowledge about brewing beer.

When Bishop decided to start his own brewery, Big Storm seemed like a fitting name.

"It was a symbolic thing with Big Storm," he said. "At the time, I had left the corporate world and was getting into this."

Bishop also wanted to pay homage to Florida, and the name reminded him of watching lightning storms and how beautiful the sky looked after storms had passed.

"It's a great name, and it's so fun to market," Govoni said. "It translates to everything."

About a year after Bishop started Big Storm, he teamed with his old coach and longtime friend, Govoni.

"Leo really believed in the vision of the brewery and the concept and myself," Bishop said. "We partnered up and brought it to where it is now.

"It's very much a family business."

Big Storm produces a large variety of craft beers, but began with Wavemaker Amber Ale.

"You don't see many breweries producing a solid, quality amber ale," Bishop said. "When we first started out, we looked at the market, and we wanted to find what our niche was, and amber ale is what we like to drink."

In 2013, Colorado-based New Belgium Brewery entered the Florida market, and its amber ale, Fat Tire, provided competition for Wavemaker.

"Fat Tire came at us hard, but we prevailed," Bishop said. "Consumers preferred having that local touch."

Big Storm has won numerous awards for its beers, and this year won the Best Beer in Florida trophy at the 2016 Best Florida Beer Championship for its Oktoberfest Marzen Lager.

"We're pretty excited about it," Bishop said.

Since Big Storm began, its growth and success have led to the opening of two new taprooms. In January, a taproom opened in Clearwater, and a new Pasco taproom opened April 16.

"The response has been overwhelmingly positive, and we're getting new customers every day," CEO Jonathan Golden said.

The Pasco taproom is at 2330 Success Drive in Odessa and is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily. For more information, visit

Big Storm Brewing boasts new Odessa taproom — and a trophy for best beer 05/11/16 [Last modified: Wednesday, May 11, 2016 6:37pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Bealls and West Marine to join Pollo Tropical at redeveloped Kmart site in Clearwater

    Economic Development

    CLEARWATER — The long-vacant shopping plaza on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, formerly home to Kmart, is nearing completion, bringing a handful of well-known retailers to the area.

    The long-vacant shopping plaza on Gulf-to-Bay Boulevard, formerly home to Kmart, is nearing completion. .JIM DAMASKE   |   Times
  2. Justice Department says civil rights law does not protect gay people

    Working Life

    The Department of Justice has filed court papers arguing that a major federal civil rights law does not protect employees from discrimination based on sexual orientation in a case now being considered by a New York appeals court.

    Attorney General Jeff Sessions boards his plane at Andrews Air Force Base on Thursday. Sessions is traveling to El Salvador to meet with local leaders and discuss their efforts to fight gangs like MS-13. [Pablo Martinez Monsivais | Associated Press]
  3. Duke Energy quietly builds a $1.5 billion plant in Citrus County


    CRYSTAL RIVER — Sequestered in a remote part of Citrus County is the most expensive development project you likely haven't heard of.

    Robby Armstrong, Sr., construction specialist at Duke Energy, leads a tour through construction on the combined cycle natural gas plant at the Crystal River Energy Complex. The $1.5 billion project is the largest Duke Energy combined cycle project. Construction is about midway through and expected to be completed in 2018.
[MONICA HERNDON   |   Times]
  4. Sign up for the daily News at Noon email newsletter


    The Tampa Bay Times has launched a daily newsletter called News at Noon. It'll be the perfect way to catch up with the latest breaking news and our top stories right in your inbox each weekday.

  5. Jeff Bezos tops Bill Gates as world's richest person — for now


    A surge in Inc. shares Thursday morning in advance of the online retailer's earnings report has propelled founder Jeff Bezos past Bill Gates as the world's richest person, according to a Bloomberg report.

    Jeff Bezos, the founder of Amazon, discusses his Blue Origin reusable rocket project in Colorado Springs in April. A bump in the price of Amazon shares in July of 2017 was enough to move  Bezos above Bill Gates, the Microsoft co-founder, who has topped Forbes' billionaires list 18 out of the last 23 years. 
(Nick Cote | The New York Times]