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Just Chillin' at Bolts Brew Fest, Tampa

Ice carving at Bolts Brew Fest 2018
August 22, 2018: Some things just go together. Beer and Sports. Thunder and Lightning. Tampa and Beer. Tampa and the Bolts. Even with Heat and Humidity, Tampa and Hockey go together. So much so, that from the minute one steps into Tampa, there's an unmistakable feeling of a magnetic display of affection between the Tampa Bay Lightning, its fans, and the city. Seems like just about everyone in this "city by the bay" is a Bolts fan. On August 17, 2018, the Lightning and its home ice, Amalie Arena, hosted the second annual Bolts Brew Fest, which featured over 50 breweries and an array of activities for fans of beer and Bolts alike. Talk about "chilling out!"

First, let's get a little personal: my first trip to Amalie Arena was in 2015, when I attended two Stanley Cup Finals games between the Chicago Black Hawks and the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hey, I'm a Midwest transplant from the Chicago area and grew up a Hawks fan. During that season, though, something happened: I found myself rooting for the Lightning to get there! Could that really happen: a magical Stanley Cup Final in Florida? Yeah, it did. The Tampa fans were awesome, and the venue and team provided an amazing fan experience. 


Photo-op!
Outside, around the Arena and in Thunder Alley, there are larger-than-life images of Lightning players and statues that allow for plenty of photo ops for locals and visitors. It's all fun and hockey. There's simply no way one can't get caught up in all of the excitement surrounding this team. 

Fast forward to Bolts Brew Fest 2018. 







Yep, you're in the right place
The Fest took place on the Arena Floor and on the Concourse concession level. With 20 breweries on the floor and another 30 overhead, the layout provided space to move around the vendor areas. A number of local Tampa breweries were in attendance, alongside regional, national and international breweries. 


Floor plan and map to find everything!
Of course, at any beerfest, there's beer -- good beer. This beerfest, however, had a lot more going for it beyond the beer, and that's what made it somewhat unique. Just take a look at the overhead center scoreboard/marquee, for something that you don't see too often at a beerfest:



Bolts Brew Fest encouraged attendees to take and share photos on social media using the hashtag #BoltsBrewFest. Throughout the night, those photos appeared on the big screen and on smaller screens throughout the arena. Photos of people, beer and activities popped up on the screens all night long. There was even a photo booth area which "beamed you up" for all to see:


WooHoo!
Even Thunderbug and the Lightning Girls were on site:



Yes, there was beer! Beer vendors generally served between two to four beers each, ranging all across the style board from light lagers, IPAs, sours, Brett, to Stouts. 


81 Bay (Tampa) Lightning Lager.
The brewery celebrated its two-year anniversary the next day.
While there were many familiar names, there were a few newcomers to the beerfest scene, like Bootleggers Brewing Co., from the Tampa area (Brandon). The wine-and-brewing supply store turned brewery currently has a tap room in Brandon, and look for a brand, spankin' new location to open soon near TopGolf at the Villages at Causeway (keep that in mind for the future!). 


Bootleggers  Brewing Co. Tangent Tangerine Berliner: Tart and tasty!
Lots of beer flowed all around:


View from above during the early VIP entry


Lightning Twenty-Five Lager from Big Storm Brewing (Tampa)

While the Arena floor wasn't a frozen surface for the event (no skating required), there were reminders everywhere that this is a hockey arena, from the Bolts tents to the ice-themed activities. 


Air hockey on ice!
Not everyday that you get to ride the Zamboni!
Hey, I'm ridin' out!
Just in case you forgot where you were, the jerseys, shirts and hats were out in force:



The VIP area provided thrills of its own. VIP bags included a koozie and a pre-season game ticket. The highlight of the night had to be the behind-the-scenes tour of the Lightning training room, locker room, and ... wait for it ... meet and greet with former player Adam Hall! 


If this didn't make you want to work out and lift some weights, I don't know what would!
But, I opted for another beer at that point.
From the there's-a-first-time-for everything department, a look inside the locker room: 



And, then, time to talk a little hockey with a player! I wasn't expecting that!


Thanks, Adam Hall!
And, a special beer pour, too:


You've probably heard of it!
(btw: see the 2017 and 2018 recaps of Huna Day on this site)
Meanwhile, more fun and games throughout the arena included Giant Connect Four, Giant Checkers, Trivia, a video game wall, GIF photo booth, and stein-holding competitions. You could even try your luck at a shot on goal.


This guy went just over 5 minutes, and someone had made it to 8 minutes.
Drink to that!
Did it go in?
Even though this beerfest was quite different, it had one thing in common with all beerfests: at some point, the "last call" announcement sends folks scrambling for those last beers. What do you mean only 10 minutes left?:




And, then, it's the end of regulation at another beerfest:



While you don't have to go home, you can't stay here:


Thanks, Tampa Bay Lightning and Amalie Arena:
see you next time!
Actually, the "next time" turned out to be the next night, as classic rock artists Def Leppard and Journey took the stage, and concert tickets had been secured since the beginning of the year. It sure looked different the next night!

The fest was also presented in part by Tampa entertainment publication, Creative Loafing. A portion of the proceeds from Bolts Brew Fest benefited the Humane Society of Tampa Bay. It's always cool to drink for a great cause!


And, a last bit of info: Getting to/from Amalie Arena is a breeze with the TECO Streetcar Line, which runs from Ybor City to downtown, with stops at the Channelside District and the Arena/Cotanchobee Fort Brooke Park. 

Bolts Brew Fest was a very cool beerfest all the way around. It just seems right, though, that this particular beerfest brought Beer and Hockey together.


Bolts Brew Fest was a chillin' fest with lots to do! Thanks to Amalie Arena and Tampa Bay Lightning for what just might be the most interactive beerfest out there.

That's a wrap this time around!

Cheers!

Til next time,



Linda




Linda Johnson,
Certified Cicerone®
www.brewnymph.com


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