1. Bars & Breweries

tbt* craft beer of the week: The Woodpile ESB, Flying Boat Brewing Co.

Beer of the Week for Justin Grant column. The Woodpile ESB from Flying Boat Brewing Co. St. Pete. Photo courtesy of Geneva Johnson.
Published Jun. 7, 2018

You may not have known it, but we've just come out of American Mild Month, an obscure but growing celebration of domestic mild ales during May. This year, 19 breweries around the country participated by tapping mild ales of their own throughout the month, including St. Petersburg's own Flying Boat Brewing Co.

Flying Boat is rare in that it serves a mild ale — its flagship Woodlawn Pub Ale — year-round, contributing to its laid-back, neighborhood pub aesthetic. Mild ales are much more common in Great Britain, where the Campaign for Real Ale has long championed the working-class brew in the nation's traditional pubs. In the United States, however, they're conspicuously niche brews.

For American Mild Month, Flying Boat collaborated with Spring Hill's Marker 48 Brewing, brewing an American extra special/strong bitter (ESB) at home and an American dark mild ale at Marker 48's facility. The former, dubbed The Woodpile, is on tap now.

ESB is essentially an amped-up version of the ordinary bitter, a first cousin to mild ale. Flying Boat's version, naturally, is more hop-forward than an English mild or bitter, but it's much more restrained than what you might expect from an American craft version of an ESB.

The Woodpile's deep amber color is the first giveaway that this beer is heavily influenced by mild ales. At 4.6 percent alcohol by volume, it sits at the very low end of the ESB scale and at the top of what the American Mild Month organizers envision as an American mild, if that were to be recognized as an official style. In other words, it's an ESB in name, but it's an American mild at heart.

The beer's hop aroma is subdued, with a corresponding earthy spiciness in the flavor that plays well with a healthy addition of rye malt. Smooth and balanced is the approach here, with an emphasis on a malt profile that is subtly creamy and nutty, while managing to finish completely dry, with no residual astringency or bitterness.

If the spirit of American Mild Month is to encourage Americans to explore mild ales and brew domestic versions of these no-frills pub beers, then Flying Boat and Marker 48 have certainly done their part. Try The Woodpile on tap at the former's tasting room, and be on the lookout for the release of the second collaboration, which will appeal greatly to fans of the first.

— Justin Grant

Have a suggestion for the Local Craft Beer of the Week? Brewers, have a limited release coming that we should know about? Email


  1. Craft rum distillery, 82 West Distilling, opened a few months ago in Seminole Heights and recently celebrated its grand opening with neighbor Wine Bar Cafe on Saturday (Oct. 27). Special to the Times | 82 West Distilling MONIQUE WELCH  |  Courtesy of 82 West Distilling
    Tasting laws limit drinkers to two “samples,” but the Seminole Heights’ venue uses its rums to punch up craft cocktails. | Bar review
  2. Zongo IPA Tampa Bay Brewing Company
    The hazy New England-style IPA is on tap at the brewery’s tasting rooms in Ybor City and Westchase. | Craft beer of the week
  3. Sep. 15• Bars & Breweries
    Noble Crust may turn heads as an acclaimed pizza restaurant, but it also holds water as a celebrated brunch destination with a range of midday cocktails and drink buckets. Photo by Noble Crust
    Some favorite spots to catch a buzz with bacon.
  4. Kozuba and B Square vodkas. B Square is a brand produced by Kozuba and Sons. xxxxx
    Kozuba and Sons, Florida Cane and St. Petersburg Distillery make the list.
  5. Sour Beers Tampa Bay Times
    Sour beers can be found all over, and have sparked new trends enthusing brewers and connoisseurs alike.
  6. Devon Kreps, owner of 7venth Sun, pictured in August in Dunedin. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times
    These three women are part of a growing industry in Tampa Bay.
  7. Jess, Leaven Brewing, on Friday, Aug. 02, 2019 in Riverview.  ALLIE GOULDING   |   Times ALLIE GOULDING  |  Tampa Bay Times
    Planning to go out and enjoy a drink? Read up on what these popular bartenders have to say about their trade.
  8. *tbt 2019 Tampa Bay Brewery Guide Staff
    76 on Tampa in Tampa Bay
  9. Your picks for Tampa Bay’s best beach/waterfront, brewery/craft beer, cocktail, sports, neighborhood, dive, gay, Irish, live music and restaurant/hotel bars. Shutterstock
    Your picks for Tampa Bay’s best beach/waterfront, brewery/craft beer, cocktail, sports, neighborhood, dive, gay, Irish, live music and restaurant/hotel bars.
  10. The Mint + Lime Berliner Weisse Photo courtesy of Geneva Johnson
    Dunedin brewery brings back a citrus-forward favorite.