SPRING HILL — While Brooksville Brewing Co. harks back to the era of explorer Hernando de Soto, what its brewmasters are doing today is decidedly ultramodern. And the outcome is being served up in its newly opened taproom, which gives a nod to both centuries.
In its most recent incarnation, under the ownership of Keith Krueger, the brewery returned to production last year, primarily providing its ales and lagers to area restaurants. Now it has reopened a taproom with a view of its giant fermenting tanks and copper cooking vats, while keeping its products in restaurants, with expansion plans for both endeavors.
"We call it production brewing," said Krueger, 56, who shies away from the label "craft brewing," a phrase he considers faddish rather than serious. Yet the 15 ales and lagers available on tap at Brooksville Brewing at any one time meet the definition of "craft," being concocted in small batches.
"We believe in just making great beer," Krueger said. "What's special is we use the Belgium system" of brewing, meaning twice-filtered. "This gives us more opportunity to step up the temperature," which results in the ability to turn out more flavors since varied flavors are attained at different temperatures. "Most brews are the American system with one filter."
But, even before the cooking of grains and hops, their fermenting from two to eight weeks, the brewery performs its first hocus-pocus, scouring the basic municipal water, returning it to its original two parts hydrogen and one part oxygen. Period.
"We strip it down to pure, no impurities, and rebuild any water profile in the world by adding what we want, rebuilding to enhance the styles of brews we're serving daily," Krueger said.
Among the offerings, the most popular are Mermaid gold ale, "refreshing with a dry finish;" Galaxy India pale ale, "a traditional American with a fairly strong hop finish," and Hot Head red ale, "robust caramel malt with a hop finish."
The brewery also turns out seasonal fruit flavors, currently a Great Pumpkin ale.
"I think it will continue to grow," Krueger said of the trend of beer drinkers "going from regular beer to craft. We have a lot of people going through transition, their tastes," as palates become educated.
"Our beers are for an evening out," Krueger said, as opposed to bar drinking, where capacity consumption is often the aim. "We're all about quality of experience."
The classy copper bar top and the historic photos and documents adorning walls are standouts.
The taproom's upscale bar food menu complements the potables, the chef utilizing the beers as ingredients. The menu touts beer shrimp and sausage boil, sour ale ceviche and jalapeno rolls with raspberry beer sauce, among other items.
A couple of sports bars that once rented the brewery's vast restaurant space failed. Krueger believes he can succeed by starting small in the 49-seat tap room, then growing as the brewery builds a clientele.
Meanwhile, the Brooksville Brewing label can be found at a half-dozen Hernando County establishments, from Brian's Place in Hernando Beach to Brooksville Country Club, and also at places in Palm Harbor, Dunedin and New Port Richey.
"Our intent in the near future is to be in Naples and Orlando," added Krueger, who also holds majority ownership in 27 other businesses, mainly in food service.
Back at the taproom, Krueger said he and his brewery staff of 11 are looking forward to growing with the addition of an outdoor patio, where patrons can add sunsets to their "quality experience."
Contact Beth Gray at [email protected]