St. Petersburg's growing beer scene welcomed another craft brewery into the fold Thursday.
Flying Boat Brewing Co. broke ground on an 11,000-square-foot facility at 1776 11th Ave. N on Thursday morning. Owners Glenn Zakany, Tanner Zakany and Josh Perian joined St. Petersburg Mayor Rick Kriseman at the brewery near Woodlawn Park.
St. Petersburg is already home to a half-dozen breweries, including 3 Daughters Brewing, which recently announced it's adding another warehouse. Green Bench Brewing and Cycle Brewing aren't far away. Cage Brewing opened in St. Pete's Grand Central District in January.
But the Flying Boat team isn't worried about it being too crowded.
"The beer community here is amazing. There's zero competition, everyone is overly accommodating," Perian said. "On the day we had our tanks delivered, some of the team from Green Bench Brewing came over and helped us unload them."
Steven Duffy, owner of Green Bench Brewing, attended the ground-breaking ceremony at Flying Boat on Thursday to show support.
"People like to talk about the beer bubble in St. Pete, but I really don't think it's oversaturated at all," Duffy said.
Florida still lags behind other states in the per-capita number of craft breweries in operation, said Bart Watson, an economist with the Brewers Association, and the state is poised for significantly more growth.
"There's plenty of room at the table for more breweries," Duffy said. "St. Pete has such a diverse offering of quality beer."
Perian anticipates Flying Boat opening by summer's end.
Glenn Zakany owns the brewery with his son, Tanner Zakany, and son-in-law Perian. They hired Tyler Singletary from Southern Brewing & Wine Making in Tampa to brew the beer.
"One of the first things we learned is that just because we brew beer at home, that doesn't mean we know anything about how to brew in a brewery," Perian said.
Flying Boat plans to open with six to eight original beers on tap. Singletary left Southern Brewing, a home brew store in Tampa, to become an owner in Flying Boat and to brew beer on a larger system, he said.
"Josh and Tanner approached me with their idea, and I thought it was a great fit for me and the next step in my career," Singletary said.
The brewery is named for the aircraft in the world's first commercial airline flight, from St. Petersburg to Tampa, thanks to aviation pioneer Tony Jannus. Perian, a self-proclaimed history buff, wants the brewery experience to be educational as well as interactive.
"We think this story fits perfectly with beer," he said. "We consider ourselves pioneers of craft beer."
When it opens, it will be one of only a few completely air-conditioned breweries in town. The building was originally a laundromat but more recently was a film studio where television commercials were made, Glenn Zakany said.
"The soundproofing in the building makes it very efficient to cool," he said.
Flying Boat Brewing Co. will have its own tasting room and brew an original lineup of beers in-house. They chose the location near Woodlawn Park because of the real estate and also because it was close enough to downtown but far enough away from other breweries to set it apart, Zakany said.
"We have houses on two sides of the building and industrial businesses on the other two sides," he said. "People can walk here from home and they can stop by for a beer after work."
The owners and the mayor used gold shovels and beer mash paddles made for brewing to break ground Thursday.
"People travel to St. Petersburg just to sample the tastes and flavors of the rich craft breweries we have," Kriseman said. "We have such a vibrant scene here. It's a great time to do business in St. Pete."
Contact Justine Griffin at [email protected] or (727) 893-8467. Follow @SunBizGriffin.