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  1. Bars & Breweries

Cigar City, J Wakefield Brewing offering sneak peek of new beers in St. Petersbur

Johnathan Wakefield works on his brown ale at the Brewers’ Tasting Room.

Miami homebrewer Johnathan Wakefield has made a real name for himself in Florida's craft-beer scene. So much so that when he asked his fans to contribute $55,000 to launch a commercial brewery on the crowd-funding website, they delivered — and then some.

"We hit our goal in 26 hours," Wakefield said. "Now we're up over $105,000."

As a result of the crowd-funding success, J Wakefield Brewing will open its doors in Miami in early 2014, serving a range of beers, including the tart, fruit-driven wheat beers — Florida Weisse, an emerging style, of which Wakefield is a major proponent — that he's become known for.

On Oct. 4, Tampa Bay will have a chance to try local versions of some of Wakefield's beers, brewed by Wakefield on the one-barrel system at St. Pete's Brewers' Tasting Room. The event — dubbed the Panic Attack Tap Takeover — will feature five beers from J Wakefield Brewing, as well as another seven from Tampa's Cigar City Brewing and its offshoot, Cigar City Cider & Mead.

Brewers' Tasting Room, opened in January, offers non-commercial brewers a chance to brew on a larger system, where the output is roughly 31 gallons of beer per batch. Wakefield's home batches are half that amount, although his commercial system will brew at a capacity of 15 barrels — about 465 gallons of beer. Beers brewed at BTR are served on a "pay as you go" tap system, which allows patrons to pour their own beers and pay by ounces poured when they settle their tab. (Full disclosure: I also brewed a batch of beer at BTR — Casual Friday Session IPA — earlier this summer.)

Although Wakefield has brewed on larger systems before, including a batch of his Florida Weisse at Cigar City Brewery, working with BTR allowed him to produce a relatively large amount of beer in a short period of time. "I had a great time brewing there," said Wakefield. "They go out of their way to make sure that everything's done right."

The J Wakefield beers on tap Oct. 4 will include Master Blaster porter, The Nothing Russian imperial stout, El Jefe hefeweizen, Mate Bliss brown ale and one of Wakefield's signature Florida Weisses.

Cider, mead taking off around town

Cigar City Cider & Mead, launched in November of last year, is an offshoot of Cigar City Brewing that focuses on hard ciders and meads. Its flagship hard cider has been a near-ubiquitous option at local beer bars in the past year, while more recent offerings, such as the Fight the Power Sour apple cider, has been available in the Cigar City Tasting Room.

In early 2014, Cigar City Cider & Mead will open a brewery and tasting room of its own in Ybor City, in the space formerly occupied by The Roosevelt 2.0. In the meantime, the Panic Attack Tap Takeover will be the first opportunity for many to try a few of its newer offerings, such as the Homemade Apple Pie (a spiced hard cider) and the Watermelon Cider.

Cigar City Brewing will tap some heavy hitters at the event, including seasonal releases like Good Gourd pumpkin ale, Marshal Zhukov's Russian imperial stout and Batch 69 double cream ale. Big Sound Scotch ale and the Torcedores Series Vienna lager will be on tap as well.

From Cigar City Cider & Mead's separate facility and tasting room to locally brewed beers from an up-and-coming brewer from Miami, this is a chance to sample the goods from a couple of names you'll be hearing a whole lot more about in the next year.