The official numbers hadn’t been tallied at our press time, but according to event co-chair Chris Stennett, there is no mistaking that, once again, the Rotary Club of New Tampa Noon’s second annual New Tampa Brew Fest was a hit.

Hundreds of revelers strolled from table to table in the Venetian Center at St. Mark The Evangelist Catholic Church on Cross Creek Blvd., sampling nearly 100 offerings from more than 30 breweries, both big and small, sometimes to wash down the food being served by three outstanding food trucks outside. 

The breweries represented included everything from large companies like Cigar City, Florida Avenue, Coppertail and Goose Island to smaller craftsmen who brew out of their garages, like Krazy Eddie’s Garage (KEG) Brewing, Ignorant Ales and Wiregrass Brewing Co.

“We were really, really happy with the event,” said Stennett afterward. “I feel good about what we did, and we are thankful for the community for coming out to support us.”

The event is the primary fundraiser for the New Tampa Noon Rotary (which meets Wednesdays at noon at Bayscape Bistro inside Heritage Isles Golf Club) and helped the club contribute thousands of dollars to causes like the Fisher House at the James Haley VA Hospital last year.

Few came further for this year’s event than Wisconsin’s Dennis Zweber (above, left), who took his brother Greg (right), who lives in Lutz, up on an offer to fly down for the Brew Fest and enjoy some better weather.

Dennis, who lives in Soldier’s Grove, WI, just east of Madison, found a plane ticket for $67 out of Minneapolis — about four hours away — and said that going to beer festivals was one of his family’s favorite pastimes.

“I figured, ‘What the heck,’” said Dennis. “We always have a great time when we go to these things.”

Dennis said he was impressed by the New Tampa Brew Fest, considering it was only the second year the event has been held. 

“I was really impressed with the quality of the beers,” he said. “They had a lot of breweries, a lot of variety. I drank a lot of really good beer.”

Dennis, who tends to enjoy darker beers, said his favorite was the organic Peppermint Porter served by Randy Gailit, who brews his Wiregrass Brewing Co. (page 40) out of his garage in the Meadow Pointe community. “That was a really beautiful beer,” Dennis said.

Wiregrass Brewing Co. wasn’t the only local to draw rave reviews. Double Branch Artisanal Ales (DBAA), which is opening a place in The Grove in Wesley Chapel in January, drew a lot of attention for its offerings, particularly the Orange Suede, a passion fruit, orange peel, pineapple and marshmallow sour.

For DBAA co-owner Ryan Clarke, his first New Tampa Brew Fest was a success. He said the Orange Suede was so popular he had to crack open a second keg of it.“I thought it was a great event, and a great chance to introduce ourselves to the beer-loving community,” Clarke said.

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