Make us your home page

Bar review: For the vaping and beer crowd, cheers to VaPour

Cigar City Invasion beer paired with Boss Reserve and Peach Cobbler e-liquid at VaPour Tap, where manager Kevin DiLorenzo offers free e-liquid and loaner vape machine for customers to use while at the bar.

Luis Santana/tbt*

Cigar City Invasion beer paired with Boss Reserve and Peach Cobbler e-liquid at VaPour Tap, where manager Kevin DiLorenzo offers free e-liquid and loaner vape machine for customers to use while at the bar.

Let's get this out of the way: Vaping is an easy target. Vape culture — a phrase that's even somewhat startling to type — appears ridiculous to most outsiders, resulting in mockery and derision from non-smokers and "traditional" smokers alike. I get it — I've had my share of laughs at vaping's expense. But do vapers really deserve such scorn?

After a night in what most would consider to be a cool, not-at-all-lame bar, I woke up the next morning with the familiar congestion that accompanies time spent in places that allow smoking. The acrid stench of cigarette smoke remained fresh on my clothes and in my hair. No one laughed.

Later that afternoon, I stopped by VaPour, a Clearwater beer and wine bar that doubles as a vape lounge and retail shop. One of two locations (the other in Ybor City), VaPour is off Ulmerton Road, in a small unit of a decidedly un-hip strip mall.

A decal on the door proclaims VaPour to be "a smoke-free establishment," which made for an interesting contrast to the dense white clouds of fruit-scented vapor that greeted me upon entering. I'm talking San Francisco morning, Silent Hill levels of fog — the kind you'd expect to see in an unusually fragrant college dorm. If it were cigarette smoke, the bar would be downright uninhabitable.

On the other side of the cloud, however, was plain old breathable air. Sure, the scent of cartoonish, tutti-frutti-cotton-candy flavoring continued to waft over from the other side of the room, but it was awfully pleasant in lieu of the burning, caustic smoke to which I am accustomed.

VaPour is a compact space, featuring a vape bar and beer bar situated on opposite sides of the room. There are a few flat-screens for sports, news and Playstation, as well as a gigantic poster on the wall that is really not helping the credibility of vape enthusiasts (it's the Mona Lisa, mid-vape).

The space is minimal and attractive, with wall lanterns, a modern chandelier and ceramic lamps hanging over the beer bar. If you ignore the vape component and just go for the booze, you'll find a pretty standard setup: a dozen taps and 30 or so bottles in a cooler, a few house wines, and a couple of flight boards. There are some local brews, from Cigar City, St. Pete Brewing and Yuengling, as well as a few rotating seasonals and specialty brews, such as Leinenkugel Harvest Patch Shandy.

It's entirely competent, but the average beer enthusiast probably won't feel compelled to visit for beer alone. But what about someone who's trying to quit smoking but always feels the urge to light up when drinking? Or how about self-conscious vapers who aren't comfortable filling up their local taproom with dense plumes of green apple-scented vape clouds? For these folks, VaPour is a winning proposition.

There's another draw, in the form of kratom. Purported to produce a mellowing effect without causing outright inebriation, kratom is a bitter tea that's gaining popularity in the area. At VaPour, kratom comes with flavor shots to balance out the bitterness. How about strawberry cheesecake-flavored kratom tea? In the context of a hybrid vape-and-beer lounge, that actually sounds reasonable.

Everyone that I've mentioned VaPour to chuckled a bit at the concept. But if we're willing to be objective, it becomes clear that VaPour is kind of a cool idea. Why not provide a smoke-free space for vape enthusiasts who like drinking beer?

In 2016, we have to accept that vape culture is a real thing and that maybe it's not the worst thing in the world — especially when considering that smoking in bars generally gets a pass. Though it's admittedly not for everyone, there are plenty of people out there who could use a place to vape and drink. VaPour fills this emerging niche nicely. As an added bonus, your clothes and hair won't stink afterward.

Contact: [email protected]; @WordsWithJG.

VaPour Tap

3899 Ulmerton Road, Suite E, Clearwater; (727) 201-9922;

The vibe: A cozy, laid-back beer bar for vape enthusiasts

Booze: Beer and wine. Beer, $3 to $6; wine, $3.

Specialty: A dozen beers on tap, with local, domestic and import brews in styles ranging from IPAs to Märzens to shandies. If that doesn't cover it, check the 30-odd bottles in the cooler. Wine is a slow mover at VaPour, so ask your server what varieties are in stock; there are often more bottles available than the ones on display at the bar.

Hours: 10:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday; 10:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. Friday and Saturday.

Bar review: For the vaping and beer crowd, cheers to VaPour 01/06/16 [Last modified: Thursday, January 7, 2016 3:51pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Seasoned cast scores an extra-base hit for St. Petersburg Opera with 'Faust'


    TAMPA — Charles Gounod's Faust sets the table early. The world-weary philosopher immortalized in a dramatic poem by Johann Wolfgang von Goethe is in his study, lamenting his state of affairs. He's willing to give away everything he has to be young again, even his soul.

    The St. Petersburg Opera Company begins its season with Faust, in a production seemingly aligned with the original intent of French composer Charles Gounod and librettists Jules Barbier and Michel Carre. [St. Petersburg Opera Company]
  2. Blake High grad Taylor Trensch lands lead role in 'Dear Evan Hansen' on Broadway


    For those who saw Taylor Trensch grow up in Tampa, his rise from promising student to star is heartwarming and entirely predictable. In January, Trensch, 28, will be moving into the title role of Dear Evan Hansen on Broadway, one of the hottest tickets in theater.

    Taylor Trensch, a 2007 Blake High graduate, will play the title role in Broadway's Dear Evan Hansen. Courtesy of Frank Trensch.
  3. A scene from "Epiphany."
  4. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 22


    Clearwater Jazz Holiday: The Avett Brothers: The Avett Brothers, with their blend of folk, bluegrass and rock, lead the lineup. 1:30 p.m., Coachman Park, 301 Drew St., Clearwater. $16 per day, $45 reserved, $170 VIP. (727) 461-5200.

    AUSTIN, TX - MARCH 15:  (L-R)  Joe Kwon, Bob Crawford, Seth Avett, and Scott Avett of The Avett Brothers pose for a portrait at the "May It Last: A Portrait Of The Avett Brothers" Premiere - 2017 SXSW Conference and Festivals on March 15, 2017 in Austin, Texas.  (Photo by Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW)
  5. Top things to do in Tampa Bay for Oct. 21


    Conor Oberst: The Bright Eyes mastermind will be joined by opener, the Felice Brothers. 8 p.m., Capitol Theatre, 405 Cleveland St., Clearwater. $30.50-$36. (727) 791-7400.

    Handout photo of Conor Oberst, performing Oct. 21 at the State Theatre in St. Petersburg. Credit: Grandstand Media