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Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Beer Camp Across America: Happy Campers in Tampa!

I never looked forward to camp this much when I was in grade school. When Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. announced the 2016 Beer Camp Across America lineup and fest schedule earlier in the year, I let out a big "WooHoo!" because the first stop identified on the six-city nationwide tour was none other than Tampa on June 4. As more information continued to stream over the Beer Camp website, and the brewery list grew (and grew), this camper eagerly anticipated the collaborative festival in celebration of the spirit of craft beer. 








Last week, I took a look at the six-beer Beer Camp set released in May and previewed the fest (see my pre-fest story here). 

After trolling the Beer Camp mobile app (yes, that does exist) all last week, Saturday arrived, and it was time to head west on I-4 through theme-park land to the land of craft beer by the bay. This was an evening fest (scheduled that way to beat the heat, I presume; more on that later), with VIP hour-early entrance slated for 5pm. General fest hours were 6-10pm otherwise. The location was Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park in downtown Tampa, along the Hillsborough River. I attended Tampa's Oktoberfest at this same location last fall, and it's a scenic setting with the river on one side and downtown skyline on the other. 

And, what a pretty cool thing to see my pre-fest story tweet retweeted as the lead tweet on the Sierra Nevada Twitter page during the afternoon. (I may have said "tweet" one too many, but, hey, that doesn't happen everyday).



Hoppy Pilsner at Coppertail
I had just under two hours before festing, so what's a beerblogger to do?  Answer: Make a pre-beerfest stop at a local brewery, naturally! And, how convenient that Coppertail Brewing Co. was just a mile or so away from the hotel in Ybor City (almost like it was planned that way, ahem). It wasn't my first time at Coppertail, having been there several times before (in fact, I even wrote about the place last year). So, one beer (hey, I'm going to a beerfest) and out the door to Beer Camp!



Following a quick shuttle ride from Ybor to downtown, destination Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park! By the way, it was HOT out there! Temps were in the low to mid 90's even just before 5pm, but VIP-campers were already mulling around and trying to find some shade while waiting for the 5pm entry. Shortly before 5, one of the Camp staffers announced that the first gate was open for scanning of tickets and picking up the Beer Camp glass. We patiently waited in an area just outside of the beer tents, and then, well, it was 5 o'clock somewhere, and ...Welcome to Beer Camp! 


Five o'clock ....wait for it 

Nice glass!

Nice ride. I need one of these.
I'm going to let the photos do the rest of the talking, but I thought that this was a very-well organized fest. There were roughly 100 breweries -- from Florida and across the country -- under three large tents, with each brewery offering two beers. I have to say that the beer list was impressive, too. A fourth tent housed the Beer Camp collaborator breweries. There were a number of food trucks on site, and a stage with live music. There was plenty of space to move around, even after the General Admission at 6pm. Hey, what's more fun than hanging around drinking all these craft beers with a couple thousand other craft beer enthusiasts.  We were hot and sweaty, but it really didn't seem to bother anyone. Hugs all around! Kudos to the fest for providing water stations and encouraging attendees ahead of time to bring their own water bottles for free refills and to avoid plastic bottle waste. I'm all for that!

Here they come! 6pm entry

I had used the mobile app to tag a number of beers that I wanted to try. No, this isn't a beer review article, but here are some highlights (although it's tough not to mention every beer, because each one I had was quite good). 

Saltwater Brewery's Coffee Screamin Reels IPA...
finally reeled that one in. That's the way to start.
So, the first beer on my list?  Saltwater Brewery's Coffee Screamin' Reels IPA, which I missed at the Anniversary Party in December (yeah, there's a blog post for that, too). It was worth the wait!

Yeah, really, Hunahpu's 2016! Worth the hype. 
And, hey, there's Cigar City Brewing's Hunahpu's Imperial Stout 2016!  After an initial long line, I was able to sneak right in and grab one.



I don't usually start off a beerfest with an IPA and an Imperial Stout back-to-back, but sometimes you just have to go with the flow. I tried a number of beers of different styles throughout the evening, and really, I loved each one! I also sampled beer from a couple of new(er) breweries, and you know that means more brewery visits around Florida! And, I met some really cool beer people, too (go figure)....... 


Chatted with Pinellas Ale Works.
Milk Bone Sweet Stout and Harold's St. Pete Lager.
And, is that a photobomb by Ken of Pair O'Dice Brewing?
Stopped by to see Ken and Julia from Pair O'Dice Brewing:
Love these guys. Stocked up on Clearwater Honey Cream and
Hop Bet Red on the way back. The MoGuava IPA is tasty:
mosaic and fresh guava. 

Always fun visiting with Tom from Barley Mow Brewing
at a beerfest. That's the Americana with Lime (thirst quencher)
But, there's more...
And, yeah, that's Ken from Pair O' Dice Brewing...
another would-be photobomb, so we let him in....

And, it really is a craft beer community out there!
Ran into Doug Fairall from South Florida (left), and
Dennis (aka @craftbeerz on Instagram)

And, reppin' from Jax: Intuition Ale Works!
Oh, I think we can do better than that:
Beerfests can be tiring sometimes: Wake up!
Here's Barry from Motorworks Brewing, too!
A little fun with some 2 Stroke DIPA...


Ed (Volusia Beer Guy) from S.R. Perrott made it
after thinking the day before that he wouldn't.
Glad to see him again!
More social media beer community types.
Before things got a bit crazy:
That's @beertimez fromTampa!
And, @thisgirlneedsabeer and @craftbeerz
from Orlando. Had some fun with this bunch.
Those photos are on IG.
Hello, again, Gabe and Saralyn from GrassLands Brewing!
Always love seeing these two.
That's a Hopline Bling IPA; you should get one...


This is a brewery I still need to visit in SoFla:
26
°Brewing Co.  Ziko's Rage Imperial Stout:
roasty and chocolaty; yeah, I like that! ...
And, they seem like pretty cool guys.
And, who wouldn't want to Get Falked with
Tampa Beer Works? Hey, I'm talking DIPA, alright?
(they're located on Falkenburg Rd.)
That's a pretty smooth DIPA right there.

Yeah, that was one amazing beerfest!  Thanks to Sierra Nevada for a great time. And, you should try the beer box! Hey: Milwaukee, Seattle, San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles, you're gonna be happy campers when Beer Camp rolls into your town later this month!

Til next time, 
See you out and about somewhere in Florida... you never know where, but there will be a Florida beer in hand... Cheers!


Linda







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