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All Aboard! Two Henrys Brewing Company: Don't Miss This Stop!

I've been spending a lot of time recently travelling between North Florida and Tampa for various events (things just worked out that way, and it hasn't been strictly beer-related!). Have you ever driven by a particular exit or place and thought: "I really have to stop there one of these times"?  There's a brewery just off of I-4 in Plant City, between Lakeland and Tampa that's been one of those places for me.  Last week, I finally made the stop at Two Henrys Brewing Company.  






I'd previously had two of the brewery's beers, The Gilded Age Lager and 7 Mile Bridge IPA, in cans, and like both. So, this one has been on "the list" for a while. If you haven't been here yet, you'll want to put this place on your itinerary. Whether you're travelling between the east coast and west coast of Florida, or going from Orlando to Tampa or points in between, it's a stop you want to make. 

Exit I-4 at the Dinosaur World exit, and head north for a couple of miles. It's rural, and you wonder where you're going to end up. I've seen all kinds of breweries, from the warehouses to the strip malls, and this one is unique. What are those, grapes and berries growing around here?


Watch for the sign on the corner, and yep, you're here.  It's a quaint country-style place in the middle of farmland. Two Henrys Brewing shares the space with  Keel & Curley Winery.  The winery was founded in 2003 by Joe Keel, a blueberry farmer. The brewery opened in October 2013, and brews small-batch beers.  The beer is available in the tasting room and at local bars and restaurants. As mentioned above, its lager and IPA are distributed in cans around Tampa. 

Walk in, and you feel like you're in a country store: no chicken n biscuits and gravy, but there's plenty of beer and wine!  




And, what about the bar?  Well, for starters, there are two bars on the inside.  On this day, one side was open. Sit at the bar, or sit at tables in the large, open space. Beer and cider are available at the bar. If you have a wine-lover with you, no problem...there's a lot of wine here!





The Wall for Club Members
For some reason, I wanted to start playing with trains.  Check out the replica locomotive at the top of the bar.  Also, at either end of the bar are caboose lights. The tasting room has a rustic/country feel, which is very welcoming and relaxing. I just kept thinking how cool this place is; really different from anywhere else I've been. 



The brewery is named after, well, two "Henrys" who were influential in the commercial and industrial development of Florida in the late 1800s. And, yes, I did some additional research on this point. Henry M. Flagler, was the founder of Standard Oil, as well as the founder of Florida East Coast Railway, from Biscayne Bay to Key West.  He also built resort hotels in St. Augustine and Palm Beach.  The "Overseas Railroad," also known as the "Key West Extension" of the Railway, ran through the Florida Keys. Pay attention, because this is some good stuff, as you'll see below. (And, yes, there will be a quiz or, no beer for you.)  The other Henry, Henry B. Plant, purchased railroads along the Florida west coast, with a hub in Tampa, and created the Plant System of Railroads and Steamboats, which became part of the Atlantic Coast Line RR.  And, yeah, you guessed it, Plant City was named after him.  So, there you have it, "Two Henrys."  According to the brewery website, the brewery was/is "inspired by two of Florida's greatest pioneers. Two Henrys."  


Two Henrys Brewing Company webpage.
That's some cool stuff.....
So, now you know!  (how about that, reading my blog really is educational!)

But, isn't there some beer to drink around here?  Glad you asked that.  The brewery has five "signature" beers, plus rotating seasonal selections.  For a complete list, take a look at the brewery website. It really is quite a list for a small-batch operation.  I see a Runaway Locomotive Black IPA that has my name on it one of these times......


My flight..Five beers, and check out the flight sheet.
Just tell the bartender what you want.
Of course, I started with The Gilded Age Lager (4.5 ABV). I've had it before, but it's very, very good right from the source!  It's clear gold in color, and is smooth and crisp, as you'd expect from a Helles Lager. You get the Noble hops aroma/flavor and the slight sweetness from the malts. Just a very pleasant, easy drinking brew. And, of course, the name reflects that period (late 1800's) in American history when industrialization, especially railroad, was flourishing.



The Belleville Biltmore Vanilla Blueberry Wheat Ale (5.3 ABV) sounds as refreshing as it tastes. Although the blueberry is obvious on the aroma and flavor, it is not overpowering, but complementary, and the vanilla lends a nice touch. Nicely blended. 


See what I did there?


12K IPA
The brewery currently has two IPAs on tap, which are variations of each other.   The 12K IPA (6 ABV), an American IPA, has an English yeast for a slight fruitiness, but isn't citrusy.  I thought there was a hint of nutty.  It's dry-hopped with Ahtanum and Amarillo. A good, all-around IPA. 

The 7 Mile Bridge IPA English IPA (6.5 ABV) is an amber color, a bit more malty, has English hops, and is dry-hopped with Simcoe. I could really tell the Simcoe, and the herbal notes from the English hops are apparent. Overall, this is a good, solid IPA. There's a lot goin' on here, but it drinks smooth. And, the name (remember the quiz?), that's the old Seven Mile Bridge railway in the Keys. I've driven over Seven Mile Bridge a few times, and the next time, I'll be thinking about this beer, for sure.



History lesson.  7 Mile Bridge IPA
And, last but not least, I also had the Roasted Jalapeno Blueberry Porter (5.5 ABV).  Say what; that's a mouthful right there. I was very hesitant on this one, because spicy and peppery type foods and beers aren't usually something my taste buds appreciate. This porter is made with roasted jalapenos and fresh blueberry puree. Intriguing.  I found the aroma was mostly blueberry, with a hint of pepper.  The flavor is both, with the peppers more pronounced. That's really different. But, this one works: the sweet balances the heat!


It's a mouthful: Roasted Jalapeno Blueberry Porter
Also on the menu was the HopTycoon Double IPA (8.5 ABV).  I didn't have this one, but the description indicates that it's more malty and bitter, amber color, and hopped with Amarillo and Galaxy. 


Not done yet...That's a full pint of The Gilded Age Lager
But, wait, I ain't done yet.  That's not all.  There's an entire outside area to be explored: it's a big place.  Outside is a covered deck, with a stage and, you got it, another bar.  There's also a gazebo, and what's this...a Party Barn!  How cool is this. 





I don't make this up, that's what the sign says!
I found a true PARTY BARN!
Enjoying my lager on the deck

Real grapevines out here in the back
And, a view of the pond and fountain off the deck
Two Henrys Brewing Company and Keel & Curley Winery, as a unit, provides a unique venue for enjoying a pint of well-crafted beer or a glass of wine.  It's open 7 days, with live music on Wednesday, Friday and Saturday nights.  I suspect there's a wedding or party every so often, too.  The property is quite picturesque and it's set up to accommodate large functions. Tours are offered on the weekends. 



So, what's not to like? Make a visit here, and you'll have some very good beer in an environment that'll make you feel like you're in a bed and breakfast somewhere and away from it all. And, there are some friendly locals around, too:

You can even take some beer home with you, too!  Where else can you get a brewery engineer hat?



Two Henrys Brewing Company/Keel & Curley Winery is located at 5210 W. Thonotosassa Rd., in Plant City, Florida, just outside of Tampa, off of I-4. I don't know if the "Two Henrys" drank beer back in the day, but somethin' tells me they'd be pretty stoked about what's going on here.  Get on board, and don't miss this stop!

See you next time!  Cheers!