At work, Tim Ogden smells like hot, malty cereal. At live music venues, he's usually closely watching a band's performance. The 39-year-old is the lead brewer at Tampa Bay Brewing Co., and he's easily one of the bay area's biggest music scene champions. Three years ago, the Maine native teamed up with local band Alexander and the Grapes to brew a heavenly double IPA with muscadine grapes. On Sunday, he'll unveil another music-inspired creation, Facemelter, a dry imperial red ale with tons of malt backbone.
A party at New World Brewery will celebrate TBBC's collaboration with three Florida bands who inspired the brew — St. Pete chest-thumping rock 'n' roll outfit Ninehorn; Tampa scuzzcore band Meatwound; and Southern sludge slingers Thunderclap of Gainesville.
"The beer has depth. It tastes like hot tube amps breaking sound into fuzz while toms thump, cymbals crash and vocalists growl, yell and swoon," Ogden said. "The resin sticks to your tongue and hangs out — one sip and you can taste it for several minutes."
Hop enthusiasts should drink it ASAP, and Ogden says non-hop heads will love the beer after it ages a few months.
"Facemelter is remarkably smooth considering the hopping schedule," he said.
Ogden, who spent half a decade brewing with Wayne Wambles at Cigar City Brewing, is the man responsible for Tocobaga Red Ale and other great beers, but he didn't lean on any legacy brews for Facemelter, instead insisting bands have a hand in crafting it.
"Tim was very democratic," said Andrew Pellegrino. The 26-year-old drummer for Ninehorn has played in bay area bands for almost a decade. "He knew he wanted a seasonal, but didn't want it to be predictable. He wanted it to have balls."
Ogden favors non-brewer collaborations because it pushes him out of his comfort zone.
"Alex did it by wanting to put grapes in an IPA. I want collaboration. Anything less is marketing and I'm not really about that," Ogden said. "Nothing wrong with marketing, but it's a passenger, not a driver. The beer has to drive, or I'm out."
That passion is a result of Ogden's grooming in the Tampa Bay beer scene. TBBC was the first brewery he found when he relocated to Tampa in the late '90s. Co-owner David Doble operated a supply store where Ogden bought homebrew ingredients, and questions about the process deflected to late TBBC brewer/co-owner John Doble III who would reply with, "That's not really an over-the-phone type of question. Why don't you come in and we'll discuss over a pint?"
Ogden says John, who died in a 2003 house fire, helped shape him into a brewer.
In 2007, after bouncing between back-of-the-house restaurant jobs and "1099 work," Ogden earned the Florida Brewers Guild's John G. Doble III Memorial Scholarship to study brewing technology at Chicago's Siebel Institute. He joined Wambles at CCB in 2009 and most recently helmed CCB's brew pub in Carrollwood before coming back full-circle to TBBC a year ago.
When he wanted to quit and go back to construction to support his kids, Wambles and TBBC co-owner Vicki Doble kept him working toward his dream. All the while, another strange force — heavy music — kept him positive, too.
"Heavy music has a tendency to tackle real issues, not just candy-coated pretense. I've seen some dark days, so it's always resonated with me," Ogden said. "I guess you could say that I've drawn inspiration and strength from heavy music in much the same way as from a meditation on the lotus flower; the deeper and thicker the mud the more beautiful the flower becomes. That sort of thinking has always driven me."
He brings that introspection to every special release, and to the brewery — which he's referred to as his play place — where he chases away feelings of self-doubt while looking for new ways to creatively push the envelope.
He's not sure what exactly is next, but he knows he wants to be kept on his toes.
"If you're not living on the edge, you're taking up space," Ogden said, referring to something mentor David Doble once said to him in passing. "I concur. Life's too short for half-assed attempts."