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Beer From Around Here

There’s no truer phrase when it comes to describing the beers brewed by Tampa Bay Brewing Company.

In 1994 John Doble, III, had a vision that has led to the family-owned operation becoming one of the most prominent breweries in Tampa. Originally opening a brewery in Ybor City 21 years ago, they recently made their home base in the Westchase area and have since become one of the most beloved additions to the neighborhood.

John, known as John Jr., had an entrepreneurial spirit. His family ran several businesses, including a home brewing shop called Brew Shack in 1993. After witnessing its success, he had the itch to start something new and became inspired to open a brewery. A few days before Gasparilla in 1997, along with his parents, John and Vicki, and his brother Dave, Tampa Bay Brewing Company (also known as TBBC) opened on North 15th Street in Ybor. Business boomed. They had 8-12 beers steadily on tap and were one of the first breweries to serve cask ales.

Their core eight beers were designed to appease everyone’s tastes, but since the craft brewery scene was still relatively new to the area, adding liquor to their menu helped draw larger crowds. They also did something that set them apart from other breweries – they served food. After several years, they outgrew the space and moved to Centro Ybor in 2006, where they currently reside.

John Jr. passed away in 2003, but the Doble family was committed to ensuring that his dream would continue. They worked hard to keep his vision in place and strived to make TBBC more successful than ever. Running a brewery can have its challenges, though Dave recalls one incident than made the effort worthwhile. While attending the Craft Beer Conference in 2011, he was recognized and complimented by Chris Katechis, founder of Colorado-based Oskar Blues Brewery, the first craft brewery to can craft beers sold nationwide. That moment led Dave to realize the hard work had paid off.

That’s not the only recognition they’d get.

It’s a collaborative effort to come up with their beers, which they describe as flavorful, hop-centric brews inspired by local flavors. They’ve won their fair share of awards over the years (today they average 25 to 30 awards a year), but are most proud of winning the 2014 Great American Beer Fest Bronze Medal in the Pale Ale category for their Reef Donkey American Pale Ale, and the 2017 U.S. Beer Tasting Championship awards for Grand Champion, Whiskey Barrel Aged Beer for their Dixie Dirt Imperial Stout, and Gold Medal and Best IPA in the Southeast for their Old Elephant Foot IPA. Reef Donkey, their best-selling beer, is the official beer of King of the Beach, one of the largest kingfish tournaments in Florida, and the St. Pete Open, the world’s largest spearfishing tournament. Their beers have been featured in the media, locally and nationally, with Dave and Al Roker even sharing a few beers during a Today Show segment in 2009.

Though they’re known for the beer, having a full menu gives them a bonus that other breweries don’t have. Most of their food is beer-infused with their own brews. We’re not talking about your typical bar snacks. Food Network’s Guy Fieri even featured TBBC on an episode of his show, “Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives,” raving about their meatloaf, wings, mussels, and burger “bomb” – a half-pound bacon cheddar burger wrapped in pizza dough.

Since opening their Westchase location on Racetrack Road in 2014, TBBC has been able to utilize the space, hosting several on-site beer fests during the year, which include tons of other local breweries. Their biggest one, the Bad A** Beer Fest, is held every April. The Fall Beer Fest, returning this November, features seasonal beers, including their popular Gourds Gone Wild, which might be one of the best pumpkin beers you’ll taste.

With the rising success of TBBC, the Doble family knows that John Jr.’s dream is still going strong. Recognizing how heavy his impact was on the craft brewing industry, the Florida Brewer’s Guild established the John Doble III Memorial Scholarship in 2004, which provides full tuition for a future brewer to attend the Brewing Technology course at the Siebel Institute of Technology, where John Jr. attended.

Thanks to John Doble’s inspiration and dedication, his legacy lives on. And TBBC has clearly earned its title as one of the best breweries around.

By Brie Gorecki; Photo By James Broome Photography

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