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Showing posts with label Tampa Bay Lightning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tampa Bay Lightning. Show all posts

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. 



It's June: Time for the Stanley Cup Final. Or, This Blackhawks Fan Goes to Tampa For More Than Beer!

Stanley Cup Final 2015
I've been a Chicago Blackhawks hockey fan since I was a kid.  I grew up in Northwest Indiana, just outside of Chicago and made the work commute (Metra and South Shore train lines) into the city for a number of years.  I lived in the area until four years ago, when the "Indiana Snowbelt" got the better of me, and the long-contemplated move-to-the-Sunshine-State eventually happened. 

A few weeks ago, over a few beers (you knew I would throw that in sooner rather than later, c'mon), thoughts turned to "what if the Blackhawks played the Lightning in the Stanley Cup; could that happen?" If so, a definite trip to Tampa, no question! (Not like I really need an excuse -- other than beer -- to make the relatively short 3.5 hour drive over here).  Well, the Playoffs produced a series of close games and OT games, with the end result being Lightning v. Blackhawks in the Final. Really? WooHoo! Tampa, here we come!   Another trip from North Florida on the east coast to the gulf coast....