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  1. Cooking

For our beer issue, a look into the world of home brewing and more

I learned a lot while working on our Beer Issue. Like how I don't know as much as I thought I did about beer.

Actually, the past few years have been an education for me, as the craft beer world grew dramatically around us here in Tampa Bay and my thoughts on beer went from "Eh, I'll have wine" to "Another oatmeal stout, please!"

The amount of craft breweries that have opened in the Tampa Bay area in the past five years is enough to turn anyone into a beer expert if they're interested. But what really turned me into a true appreciator of IPAs and saisons, porters and stouts was the passion that the people who operate and frequent these places have. The willingness to explain what is going on in the back, to let you taste something until you find one you like, to explain that dark beers don't always contain more alcohol by volume than light beers.

For this issue in particular, we focused on something a bit more underground: Tampa Bay's home-brewing world, which is growing in tandem with our expanding craft brewery scene.

For these home brewers, there are beer-making supply shops all over the area that provide ingredients and supplies. And, I learned, there are a number of ways to make beer, from the way different styles have to be brewed to techniques like incorporating wild bacteria. It opened my eyes to a whole new way of looking at beer, one that, funny enough, feels very similar to cooking.

Find all of the stories here:

St. Petersburg home brewer pushes the limits with wild bacteria beers

MiraBay Homebrew Club a place for testing, trading tips on beer

Tampa Bay craft beer scene making way for sour, wild beers

The art of creating craft beer labels

A new bond formed with Dad: brewing beers at home

Drink of the Week: Hard root beer

Five ideas for cooking with beer: chocolate cake, sweet potato soup, biscuits and more