Can you believe that Tampa Bay Beer Week is in its fifth year? Anyone who's paid attention knows that the Tampa Bay area has become a serious player in brewing and beer culture, but it's nice to have the little extra validation that comes from a half-decade of successful Beer Weeks.
There are a few reliable standby events every year, like the Florida Brewers Guild Festival, the Brewer's Ball, Green Bench's Foeder For Though, and Cigar City's Hunahpu's Day, as well as smaller-but-perpetually-sold-out events like Cycle's Barrel-Aged Day. But if you're in the market for something a little different, here are some deeper (and cheaper) cuts from this year's Tampa Bay Beer Week.
Saturday: Florida Women in Brewing Barley Berry Jam beer release at Jug & Bottle Dept.
Jug & Bottle Dept. 6203 N Florida Ave., Tampa. (813) 675-4522. Free.
Florida Women in Brewing, a nonprofit dedicated to promoting, well, women in brewing, will release its Barley Berry Jam, brewed at Cigar City and with proceeds benefitting local charities. It's a barleywine brewed with experimental ADHA 527 hops and blackberries. You may find it on draft at a around town during Beer Week, but this is your chance to snag a 22-ounce bomber to take home.
Sunday: Barrels & BBQ at Hops & Props.
Hops & Props. 335 Second Ave. NE, St. Petersburg. (727) 803-6806. Free.
Hops & Props celebrates two years as downtown St. Petersburg's spot for in-the-know beer drinkers by filling its tap list with as many unique barrel-aged beers as possible, along with other rare treats. H&P is known for frequently tapping harder-to-find brews (especially from Cigar City), so expect some surprises. Of the few beers already announced, I've got my eyes on Green Bench's Webb City Cellar Parallax: a dark sour aged in 4 Roses barrels with raspberries.
Monday: Craft Beer 101 Class at Pair O' Dice Brewing.
Pair O' Dice Brewing. 4400 118th Ave. N, Suite 208, Clearwater. (727) 755-3423. $5.
Whether you're just getting into craft beer or you want to hone your critical tasting skills, this event, led by Pair O' Dice co-founder and head brewer Ken Rosenthal, is a solid pick. Learn how to evaluate and taste beer, as well as how to select appropriate glassware and identify off flavors. And of course, there will be plenty of beer to drink while you learn!
Tuesday: Hop Vapin' with Lagunitas Brewing Co. at the Brass Tap.
The Brass Tap. 775 Brandon Town Center Drive, Brandon. (813) 654-4712. Free.
It's not Tampa Bay beer, or even beer at all, for that matter, but this event is too insane not to mention. California's Lagunitas crew will be at the Brass Tap vaping hops. Literally. I'm not sure if this is medically advisable, but that's for you to decide. How hard core of an IPA fiend are you? Naturally, there will also be plenty of Lagunitas on draft to cleanse the palate. If you go, I want to hear about it.
Wednesday: Rare and Big Beer Night at Rapp Brewing Co.
Rapp Brewing Co., 10930 Endeavor Way, Suite C, Seminole. (727) 544-1752. Free.
This is the latest installment of Rapp's annual big beer release, which invariably features potent, barrel-aged beers, including some previously unreleased brews. While there's no official tap list yet, cross your fingers for OMG, a fantastic and gigantic strong ale that clocks in at more than 20 percent alcohol by volume.
Thursday: Second annual Mini-Festival at Mr. Dunderbak's.
Mr. Dunderbak's Biergarten and Brewery. 14929 Bruce B. Downs Blvd., Tampa. (813) 977-4104. $35.
One-off beers from Texas's Jester King and Michigan's Jolly Pumpkin will be available, as well as draft and bottle selections from Belgium's legendary Cantillon and Drie Fonteinen lambic breweries. The best part? A blend-your-own gueuze class, guaranteed to be a hit with serious lambic lovers.
March 11: Mustache and Beard Face Off at Coppertail Brewing.
Coppertail Brewing. 2601 E Second Ave., Tampa. (813) 247-1500. Free.
If you're a guy and you drink craft beer, there's at least a 95 percent chance that you have a beard and/or mustache. Make that facial hair work for you by competing against other bearded beer guzzlers! The winner will receive a special beer package and facial grooming kit; everyone receives delicious Coppertail beer (provided you pay for it first).
March 12: Bourbon County Stout Keg Kickoff at Craft & Curd.
Craft & Curd. 2908 W Gandy Blvd., Suite B, Tampa. (813)443-0853. Free.
So you didn't get tickets to Hunahpu's Day. You can still get in on some tasty imperial stout action at Craft & Curd, featuring a keg of 2015 Goose Island Bourbon County Brand Stout. The crazy part is that 32-ounce growlers of the stuff will be available for purchase to customers who have purchased at least $25 of other merchandise. Have you ever seen growler fills of BCBS? Me neither.
March 13: Hunahpu's Hangover Day at 7venth Sun Tampa.
7venth Sun Tampa. 6809 N Nebraska Ave., Tampa. (727) 733-3013. $20.
Hunahpu's Hangover Day has been a rich tradition at 7venth Sun's Dunedin location. This year, it will also be held at the new Seminole Heights location. $20 gets you four beer tickets; if previous years are any indication, the selection will be great. Hair of the dog is the only cure for a hangover, guys. There will also be a guest DJ that you may recognize from this column (hint: it's me).
— firstname.lastname@example.org; @WordsWithJG.