Sips&Suds: Tampa Bay Beer Week on Tap

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Green Bench Brewery hosts a seminar in specialty beer during Tampa Bay Beer Week

BY ALEXANDRIA JONES

How much do you really know about beer? Yes, you have your favorite big brands like Budweiser, Miller, or Heineken but are you a beer connoisseur who knows the difference between farmhouse, sour, or wild beers?

This year’s Tampa Bay Beer Week will be an opportunity for everyone to learn more about beer and the local beer culture. Over the course of seven days, March 4-10,  breweries, bars, restaurants, vendors, and distributors from Zephyrhills to St. Pete will throw events ranging from tastings to beer dinners to festivals.

eer is literally in Khris Johnson’s DNA. The co-owner and head brewer of Green Bench Brewing in St. Petersburg grew up watching his dad create IPAs, ales, and stouts using a home brewing kit. Once he realized home brewing was what he wanted to do, he went around to different places drinking and tasting an assortment of  beer to see what was out there. His first beer ever made as a home brewer is the popular Green Bench IPA.

“I was a home brewer in college,” said Johnson. “My dad was a home brewer when I was a kid so I thought ‘If my dad can do it, I can do it.’ When I was 21, I bought my first home brew kit and started brewing my own beer.”

Green Bench Brewing has participated in Tampa Bay Beer Week for the past five  years. Johnson got involved while working at other breweries prior to opening Green Bench  in 2013.

This year, Green Bench is hosting the 5th Annual Foeder for Thought on March 9 as part of Tampa Bay Beer Week. For those who don’t know what a foeder is, it’s a huge barrel used for fermenting and it allows oxygen to enter the beer slowly. Green Bench Brewing was the first brewery in the Southeast to have one.

Foeder for Thought is an education-focused event that this year will highlight fermentation-forward beers, said Johnson  –   meaning sour, wild, or farmhouse ales (no IPAs). Throughout the evening, attendees can taste unlimited samples of the highlighted beers from participating   breweries and ask questions during the panel discussions and one-on-one interviews.

For this year’s Foeder for Thought, Green Bench is partnering with beer podcast Good Beer Hunting(GBH) to co-host the event’s panel discussions.  Johnson has known GBH host Michael Kiser for a few years and it was a collective decision to partner together. Kiser’s huge  following from the podcast on top of his respected reputation in the beer industry makes this a match made in heaven, said Johnson.

“ It was an ongoing discussion over the last few years when it would be appropriate and make sense for us to partner,” said Johnson. “We’re bringing another level of education to the festival; he’s used to doing these panels and discussing these topics.” 

 The three panels go into detail about different topics like where to find sour and wild beers in Florida, the retail aspect of selling those beers, and the Sour and Wild Ales Guild (SWAG).  Featured beer  will be from Creature Comforts Brewing Company and Jester King Brewery,  with Chase Healey of American Solera brewery and Trevor Rogers of de Garde Brewing a few of the guest speakers.

Tampa Bay Beer Week
March 4-10

Hundreds of beer-related events will take place on both sides of the Bay including the 9th Annual Craft Beer Fest and  Brewers Ball, both in Tampa. The schedule had not been posted when SPL went to print,  so check tampabaybeerweek.com for updates.

Foeder for Thought
March 9    6-9 pm
Green Bench Brewing
1133 Baum Ave. N, St. Petersburg

Admission $100; tickets can be purchased  at Green Bench Brewing or online through Good Beer Hunting’s website at goodbeerhunting.com For updates check out Green Bench Brewing’s Facebook page