One peripheral benefit of a supposed brewery oversaturation is the crawl of new breweries away from bustling downtown areas and hip neighborhoods and into underserved parts of town previously stuck with no more than an occasional dive bar or family chain restaurant.
Downtown St. Petersburg, for example, is not in need of any more breweries. A couple of years ago, it was practically the only option for a local brew. Now, Tyrone area residents have the Pesky Pelican, and folks in the Kenwood, Old Northeast and Euclid neighborhoods can stroll over to Flying Boat for their hometown brews.
St. Pete’s latest is Dissent Craft Brewing Company, a Lealman-area nanobrewery that brings a solid roster of interesting brews to an area that could surely use some.
It doesn’t look like much from the street — indeed, none of the units in this Haines Road strip mall boast much curb appeal—but it’s very cozy inside, if somewhat minimal.
That’s by design. Owners Chris Price and Dale Miller have placed their focus primarily on building their brand for future distribution, rather than decking out their taproom and trying to make it a destination bar, which is probably wise, given the location.
Near the entrance is a large, circular wood panel with the brewery’s logo: a silhouette of an anonymous corporate drone, mouth crossed out. A splash of color comes by way of a blue, loosened tie, symbolizing freedom from the corporate world.
Around the border is the brewery’s mission statement: "We brew beer not to meet sales quotas. We brew beer because we love beer. The people that drink our beer are not targets or consumers, they are beer lovers. From grain to glass, beer is our passion."
Price and Miller haven’t fully escaped from the corporate world yet, but Dissent is already growing nicely, hopefully hastening the process. In mid March, after Tampa Bay Beer Week ends, Dissent will take over the neighboring unit, expand its hours of operation (which have already been expanded since its soft opening in late December), debut a Helles lager and a series of kettle-soured brews and get started on a barrel-aging program. There’s lots in the works.
That doesn’t mean that the brewery’s current output is limited. To the contrary: the taproom currently features 10 house brews and two guest taps, with a lineup of beers that’s surprisingly ambitious given Dissent’s short time in business.
At first glance, the menu is conspicuously IPA-heavy, but that’s not the full story. The Dissenter IPA, for example, uses a Belgian yeast strain to add subtle fruity, spicy notes to the brew, while Forbidden double IPA includes a hefty guava addition for a tropical balance to the beer’s smooth bitterness.
Then there’s Hazy Mangover, which packs both mango and habanero peppers into a hazy IPA base. A SMaSH — Single Malt and Single Hop — brew showcases the flavor of Munich malt and the Falconer’s Flight hop blend (admittedly stretching the rules of SMaSH beers just a bit), while the ’Merica pale ale is double dry-hopped with the same hop blend for a massive burst of citrus-y goodness on top of a crisp, refreshing pale ale base.
Not an IPA fan? There’s a pretty decent stout on tap, along with two uniquely flavored brews. Ginja Gaiden pairs a pale wheat ale base with ginger, while Honeybush Brown combines a mildly roasty brown ale with rooibos tea.
Dissent isn’t designed as a destination brewery, but with such a variety of unique options, I wouldn’t be surprised if some people made the trek from other parts of town. Heck, the day after I visited, legendary pro wrestler Chris Jericho popped in for a brewery tour and samples. Word’s getting out.
I expect more good things in the future from the Dissent folks. They may be located in a weird part of town for a brewery, but I consider that a positive in today’s brewery environment. Keep tasting rooms small, spread out and hyper-local; that’s the future. When the beer hits distribution, fine, but for now, Dissent is doing great as the closest and best local beer option for a pretty big chunk of town.
Contact Justin Grant at [email protected] Follow @WordsWithJG.
Dissent Craft Brewing Company
5518 Haines Road N, St. Petersburg; (727) 342-0255; facebook.com/dissentcraftbeer
The vibe: A no-nonsense taproom for St. Pete’s latest and most unusually located brewery.
Booze: Beer, $5.
Specialty: IPAs are the starting point for many of Dissent’s brews, but that’s where the similarity ends for most of them. There’s a SMaSH (Single Malt and Single Hop) IPA brewed with Munich malt and Falconer’s Flight hops, an IPA brewed with Belgian yeast, an IPA brewed with guava and another brewed with mango and habanero peppers. Non-pale ale options include a stout, a brown ale flavored with rooibos tea and an American wheat flavored with ginger.
Hours: 3 to 8 p.m. Thursday; noon to 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday; noon to 6 p.m. Sunday; closed Monday through Wednesday.