Tampa Bay Craft Beer: 2025 AD

Written by on March 14, 2014 in Beer Satire & Humor, Tampa Bay Beer

Craft beer has seen unprecedented growth nationwide and this year the number of “official” Craft Breweries (according to the Brewer’s Association definition) will top a liver-bruising 2500. Florida has been a little slow out of the blocks, with only a few breweries statewide until just a few years ago, but the sunshine state is making up ground fast and will soon house over 100 beer factories. Tampa Bay is the epicenter of this surging thirst.

Every year, usually a few days before or after the drunken slurring of Auld Lang Syne (a little self-admission), area suds scribes prognosticate the future of bay area craft beer. Fun articles to write and even more enjoyable to read, they usually contain something about more breweries opening and more sour and barrel-aged brews hitting the shelves. Possibly a slowing of growth or something. But what about in ten years?

A decade from now: Those “craft beer bubbles” talked about in dark corners of seedy establishments by those who choose not to be named- will those figurative bubbles burst as if thrown by an angry drunkard at a crowded beer fest? Will the current collaborative environment continue to flourish, accelerate, and become a nearly ad nauseum love fest adored by crazed fanatics metro-wide?

 

Where is Craft Beer Headed?

See the future…

 

Let’s peer into the old crystal ball and take a look at two potential scenarios.

The year 2025 scenario 1:

Tampa Bay Beer Week is now Tampa Bay Beer Month. The “Brew of the Bay”, the signature frothy libation of the glorious celebratory month, is now a collaboration between every brewery in the metro. Each brewery representative brings a bag of malt and a pound of hops, with the brewing done in a giant custom-made cauldron over an open fire pit. Throughout the all-night brew the power of kinship and inebriation carry multiple renditions of Kumbaya into surrounding neighborhoods, with each verse becoming increasingly incoherent.

 

Time for some tunes!

Time for some tunes!

 

Craft beer now has an 80% share (of alcohol sales) in the metro, with locally fermented brew holding 70% of all beer sales. Tampa Bay breweries have grown from only 25 or so in 2014 to over 100. The mandatory three tier system is abolished and in massive tasting rooms 15+ local guest taps pour. Nearly every week a beer fest is held, and brewery reps talk even more about their brethren than about their own products. It is their duty. A park is created with large concrete shrines to each brewery arranged like Stonehenge. An Irish Wake is held there every 2nd Saturday in March, with mourners in brown Druid garb (dubbed Brew-ids) breaking down in tears.

For the entire month of February, one brewer from each brewery (by invitation only) enters a secret Zymurgy commune where they all live close to nature and perfect the age old art of making tasty beer. Seminars by local sages are held throughout the stay with Barrel-Aging 301 and Making Friends with Brett being the two most popular. It is known as Suds Shangri-La.

 

They flock together each year to mourn.

Brew-ids

The year 2025 scenario 2:

Large multinational corporations have bought up most of the nation’s craft breweries, including a sizable percentage in the Tampa Bay area. Over time, they’ve swapped out the hoppy concoctions and anything with color and taste for light, fizzy brews that are reminiscent of water (at best.) By god, somehow the bastards did it. Any startup brewery is hamstrung with needless fees and a pile of paperwork.

Apocalyptic legislation backed by big money interests crippled tasting rooms for all but the largest craft breweries, and those large breweries had to take on half of their taps with beers allocated by the distributors…who had all been bought out by ginormous multinational brewing conglomerates. It was like the asteroid that hit the Yucatan. Small breweries were now limited to a 500 sq. ft. tasting room with four bar stools, three green-hued plastic tables, and second-hand folding chairs. A two drink limit was set, complete with surveillance viewed live by a centralized conformity center. Alcohol products over 6% ABV were verboten.

 

497

 

They said all these new laws were “Helping to save the community” and “In everyone’s best interest”, they said we needed protection from ourselves. Money talks and palms were greased. Truth, capitalism, and personal freedom are relative and available for purchase. Undercover suds spies frequent the downtrodden, often in disrepair, breweries with fascist beer lords instantly shutting down those not in compliance- with force if necessary. It’s downright Orwellian.

Tampa Bay Beer Week is now Tampa Bay Beer Weekend. Most of it is generic corporate beer fests with international products. Few independent craft breweries are left and the eight still standing consider the others mortal enemies. It’s every brewery for themselves. Stealing, spying, and espionage are common assertions amongst the independents as are blood (and beer) splattering drunken brawls. Metal tap handles and bottle openers are the preferred weapons in this bleak dystopia. Rival craft brewing gangs from outlying regions occasionally infiltrate the metro and wreak carnage on the locals. Craft Beer in Tampa Bay will soon end…with a whimper.

 

Apocalypse...

Could this be the end?

 

Obviously both of these scenarios are unrealistic, over the top, and exaggerated. Truth is, who knows where Tampa Bay craft beer will be in 2025. Hopefully, the camaraderie and growth continues but many variables will factor in. Legislation and the push of big beer and distributors will be one challenge while consumer taste, beer quality, and market saturation will be others. Will craft beer be as popular in ten years? Who knows, but it’ll be a delicious, intoxicating ride.

Disclaimer: I am not an oracle. Both of these Tampa Bay craft beer possible futures are for entertainment purposes only, neither one is meant to be taken seriously. Satirical in nature, they are intended to be humorous and elicit at least a courtesy laugh or a slight snicker. If anyone takes these predictions seriously and doesn’t get the humor, then they deserve a slapping. Non douche-y comments are welcome, especially if they are complimentary.

Cheers!

BBB

 

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