TAMPA — Need more proof that the Tampa Bay area is nationally recognized as a hotbed of craft beer innovation? Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. on Wednesday announced its six-city Beer Camp Across America 2016 summer festival tour will kick off here.
Billed as the largest craft beer celebration, it brings together brewers from across the country to create one-time-only collaboration beers, in addition to staging huge one-day festivals that draw regional brewers and beer fans.
After the Tampa festival on June 4, it heads to Seattle, Milwaukee, San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles.
Why was Tampa chosen as the kickoff city? According to Sierra Nevada public relations representative Natalie Colli, the choice had multiple factors. First, "Florida is a prominent place for craft beer." Full stop. Second, in each festival city Sierra Nevada partners with a regional brewer, and according to Colli, Funky Buddha Brewery in Oakland Park is a "favorite and innovative brand."
And then there's a logistical reason: With its second brewery built in Mills River, N.C., Sierra Nevada (its first is in Chico, Calif.) has a strong interest in bolstering relations with Southeastern breweries and "Tampa provides a really good backyard backdrop to host this kind of event."
The venue for the second annual festival has yet to be decided, but it is typically an outdoor setting with tents and long tables. And even if local beer aficionados can't make it to the one-day festival in June, each of the six festival cities creates a "super group" of brewers to craft a regional beer that then is sold in limited-edition 12-packs in stores across the country.
Although Florida's craft beer scene has exploded in the past few years, some would say it was late to the party — and recognition from one of the country's oldest craft brewers (est. 1980) can't hurt. To learn more about the festival as details become available, visit sierranevada.com.
Contact Laura Reiley at [email protected] or (727) 892-2293. Follow @lreiley on Twitter.