ODESSA — The English song Wild Rover tells the tale of a man who returns to his hometown pub after being away for years. Once back, he vows to never stray again.
It's the quintessential drinking song, and one that Derek Wells learned to sing at the drop of a hat during his decade of managing pubs on the southern coast of England.
But after 30 years, a move to the United States, marriage and kids, his brewery days became the fond hum of a life once lived.
That was until about three years ago, when Wells and his son began brewing beer in the garage of his Odessa home.
"We were just doing it to do it," Wells said.
But something changed in 2013. Wells, 61, had always fantasized about having his own English Country pub like the ones he used to run in England. And with craft beers on the rise in popularity, he knew it was time to do more than dream.
"I felt like I was getting to the age that if I didn't do it now, I'd never do it," said Wells, who at one time worked for England's Courage Brewery.
The family recently opened the Wild Rover Brewery at 8740 N Mobley Road in Odessa.
The Wild Rover is a traditional English pub. That means no television and an importance placed on fine beer. In this case, the brews are crafted by Wells' son and head brewmaster, Ricky.
There are 12 Wild Rover beers featured at the bar, along with wine and some imported bottled beers. Many of the beers' names are musically inspired. Among them is "Sister Golden Ale," a riff on America's song Sister Golden Hair; "Rye-ders on the Storm," a rye ale named after the Doors' Riders on the Storm; and "Let it ESB," an Extra Special Bitter beer named after the Beatles' classic song.
"A place where community meets and conversation is still king," is how Wells explains the scene at Wild Rover.
"There's a place for sports bars, but this isn't it," he adds.
Darts and cards are the games played at Wild Rover. In fact, Throwback Thursdays have become a popular night at the bar, where the owners pull out board games for all ages. The bar plans to have an acoustic guitar player come in on Fridays.
Wild Rover does not serve food. Food trucks park at the bar Wednesday through Saturday.
The inside of Wild Rover is rustic with hardwood flooring and a faux fireplace. Hay bales are placed at the entrance for optional outside seating. Chalkboards highlight special brews. The feel is cozy and quaint.
"In England, the pub was your village," Wells said. "Where guys just old enough to drink to the elderly would come to talk."
Wild Rover is open Monday through Thursday from 4 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.; Friday from 4 p.m. to midnight; Saturday from 10 a.m. to midnight; and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, visit facebook.com/WildRoverBrewery.
Citrus Park art gallery to close
It appeared Michelle Carter had weathered the storm. Almost two years after opening Carter's Gallery, she had seen several Citrus Park businesses come and go.
Yet her gallery, featuring handmade home decor, jewelry and artwork, remained. Until now. Carter recently announced the store at 11959 Sheldon Road is closing.
Carter, a Tampa native, points to slow business as the reason behind the store's demise.
"I have all of the verbal support in the world, just not enough actual support from people buying product," she wrote in an email. "In addition, people would rather explain where they can get something similar but cheaper and not handmade."
Carter prided herself on supporting small business. Her shop stocked handmade, yet functional pieces from independent artists such as Anchor Bend Glass and Don Williams Creations. The shop also carried handmade soaps, candles and jewelry.
Carter honed her skills for recognizing good pieces while working at Willow Arts Gallery in Odessa as a teenager. Now closed, Willow Arts was a mainstay in the Odessa community for its collection of art.
An email went out to loyal customers just after Christmas announcing the closure of Carter's Gallery.
"We regret to inform you that Carter's Gallery will be closing on February 15," the email read. "The decision to close down this business was not an easy one."
The gallery is currently having a farewell sale with up to 35 percent off purchases.
Until Feb. 15, Carter's Gallery is open Tuesday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Wednesday and Thursday from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m., Friday and Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. For more information, visit cartersgallery.com.