TAMPA — Jim Barrie knew of his family’s connection to beer before he began making his own at home as a University of Florida student 11 years ago. But until recently, the longtime homebrewer and former real estate attorney didn’t know how deep their brewing roots went.
Barrie will revive the family tradition started more than 150 years ago with his wife Brittney and their friend Junbae Lee when BarrieHaus Beer Co. debuts in Ybor City. The lager-driven brewery is celebrating its grand opening at 1403 E Fifth Ave. on Dec. 14 and 15.
According to Barrie, his great-great-great-grandfather Philip Kling immigrated from Germany to the United States in the mid 19th century. Kling came over as a cooper, someone who makes casks and barrels, and then switched professions to start Peninsular Brewing in 1863 in Detroit. Another family member, Barrie’s great-great-grandfather Louis Schimmel, also established Tivoli Brewing there in 1897.
Peninsular eventually transformed into Ph. Kling Brewing Co., which closed due to Prohibition. However, Tivoli was one of less than 100 breweries to survive, Barrie said, with his great-grandfather Hugh Martin serving as vice president. Tivoli ended in 1953 and was known for its Altes Lager, a popular beer brand that was purchased by another brewery and brewed until 1991. The Altes brand has since been reintroduced through Detroit National Brewing Company.
“I knew my great-grandfather was the vice president of Tivoli through Prohibition, but I didn’t know the extent of it,” said Barrie, who’s from Tampa, along with Lee. “It was incredible to find that out because really it skipped a generation, and now here we are opening a brewery.”
The Barries’ honeymoon in Germany ignited their love of lagers, so BarrieHaus is predominantly lager focused. However, the ownership trio aren’t against ales. They’ll do a few of those as well as multiple styles of lagers, both classic and innovative. The Unconscionable West Coast Lager, for example, is an IPL, a cross between an IPA and a double IPA brewed with lager yeast.
Brittney Barrie, a physical therapist and University of South Florida professor leading logistics, accounting and partial operations for BarrieHaus, said they look forward to sparking a new conversation about lagers.
“What we’re excited about and interested in doing is educating people that lager means more than a watery yellow macro-brand lager,” Barrie said. “We’re going to be able to give people a flight of four beers that are different colors and highly different flavor profiles.”
Coming off a three-year stint at Gainesville’s First Magnitude Brewing Company, Jim Barrie steers the 10-barrel BarrieHaus brewhouse as head brewer. The draft list will reflect many of his favorite beers, including the Tampa Export, which has the hoppiness of a pilsner and the malt body of a helles.
In addition to that and the Unconscionable, the brewery’s signatures are the Casitas Orange Honey Lager, Big Pluckin’ Pils and Family Tradition Vienna Lager. The orange honey lager gets its name from the small homes built for Ybor cigar workers back in the day. The pilsner fits nicely into the historic district, too, as an ode to the Barries’ late rooster Big Plucker, “a mean son of a gun” who was eaten by a coyote while defending their flock.
The tasting room will regularly rotate a number of recipes across 18 taps, pouring eight to 10 on opening day.
“We focus on drinkability, so most of our beers are between 4 and 6 percent. We like the idea of people coming here and drinking three or four and hanging out with their friends and being able to hold a conversation still,” Barrie said.
With the capacity to seat around 90, BarrieHaus will offer a rustic, industrial gathering place more than a traditional German beer hall. Steins and other hints of the latter are in store, alongside a patio, TVs airing sports like football and a private event area.
Tours and a rollup door that looks into the brewhouse will further showcase the house specialty.
“We’re one of the few breweries where people can actually go in the back and see our equipment without being behind a glass,” said Lee, director of sales and relationships, who also gained lots of industry experience at First Magnitude. “It’s a little more interactive for people. There’s a lot more to kind of see and be a part of.”
BarrieHaus has been in the works for three years or so. Lee and the Barries originally aimed to bring the brewery to Gainesville, but they dug Tampa’s beer culture so much it pulled them south. Their premiere this weekend in an about 7,000-square-foot space previously occupied by cubicles and offices will coincide with the neighborhood’s eighth annual Snow on 7th celebration.
At the moment, the trio plan to save distribution for the future. They’re concentrating on building a home in Ybor first.
“We want to have a community feel here, and really focus on really great beer,” Brittney Barrie said.