By Matt Wiley

When most long-time Tampa residents hear the name Pepin Distributing, the first (and sometimes only) beer they associate with the name is Budweiser. However, there is so much more to the beer portfolio of Pepin Distributing, and many of the microbreweries the distributor provides to local restaurants and bars had beers on display at the third annual “Brews With Attitude” event to help celebrate American Craft Beer Week, which ran May 13-19.

The night of May 14 was a busy one at T. Pepin’s Hospitality Centre on N. 50 St. in Tampa, just south of Temple Terrace. Hundreds came out to the beer distributor’s catering house to sip on suds many had never even heard of, let aloneever tried before. The third annual craft beer festival featured more than 100 brews, 10 food trucks, hand-rolled cigars and live entertainment.

This New Tampa Neighborhood News staffer was so dedicated to covering the event that he could have become a little too…committed…to trying to provide a description of each microbrewery’s fare (by sampling each, firsthand), but still managed to find a few beers that he had not tried that stood out among the rest.

For example, just to the northwest of New Tampa in Odessa, Big Storm Brewery is literally making waves. The local microbrewery was on hand at “Brews” with its Wave Maker Amber Ale, Palm Bender Pale Ale and Arcus India Pale Ale (IPA), but my tip of the cap goes to Big Storm’s Firestorm Black IPA, a bold, roasty, hoppy and of course, pitch black offering with all of the glorious hoppiness of an IPA, but the look of a big stout.

Another brewery on hand that has been making a name for itself in the area is San Diego-based Green Flash Brewing Co., which had one beer on tap that was a collaboration with Tampa’s own Cigar City Brewing called Candela. Typically, this beer is only found in 22-ounce “bomber” bottles, so it was a nice opportunity to sample the 10.9-percent alcohol barleywine-style brew, without all of the commitment.

Other standouts included Atlanta-based Sweetwater Brewing Company’s Dank Tank, another Black IPA, and LowRYEder IPA, a pale ale infused with rye malt for a different spin on the usual floral hop treatment.

But, in my humble opinion, the popular Blue Point Brewing Company took the crown for most bizarre brew with its Sour Cherry Imperial Stout, a big 10-percent beer that added a hint of cherry to the usually dominant roasty coffee and chocolate notes found in most stouts.

Cheers to Pepin Distributing for putting on such a great event in celebration of American Craft Beer Week!

For additional information about Pepin Distributing, please visit


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