The Tampa Bay beer scene is among the country’s most exciting. I’ve visited the Tampa – St. Pete region at least once a year for most of my life. It’s where my family vacationed during spring breaks and it’s where my folks retired. So as I grew up and started getting interested in craft beer, I naturally used my trips to Florida to explore the local Tampa Bay beer scene. I’d sneak away to check out the local bars and liquor stores in search of something interesting. And in the early days, it was pretty bleak. I’d be excited to find Yuengling or Michelob Amber Bock in the local Publix or some dusty craft beer bottles in some seedy convenience store. I was excited when I found Ybor City Brewing Company. But progress was slow. Until it wasn’t. Tampa Bay is now one of the country’s liveliest places for beer, representing an eclectic array of producers of everything from classic wheat beers and easy drinking IPAs to monster barrel aged stouts. The big wave started with Cigar City Brewing and moved on to places such as Green Bench Brewing, Angry Chair Brewing, and many others. So I’m excited this week to sit down with two gentlemen who possess an impressive trove of information and insights into the Tampa Bay beer scene. 

Sean Nordquist is the executive Director of the Florida Brewers Guild, a role he has had since 2017. He is responsible for growing membership, coordinating events (including the excellent annual conference that I attended a few years back), as well as representing breweries and their interests before the state legislature in Tallahassee. Before taking on that role, he was a beer writer and also helped run Tampa Bay Beer Week.

Mark DeNote is a freelance beer writer and communicator who runs Florida Beer News, a site dedicated to the state’s emerging craft breweries, thriving breweries, and the craft beer history of Florida. Mark is also the author of two books about Florida craft beer, The Great Florida Craft Beer Guide and Tampa Bay Beer: A Heady History.

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