Friday, December 7, 2012

Tampa Bay Brewing Company, More Than Just Beer

Tampa Bay Brewing Company
1600 E. 8th Ave.
Tampa, FL 33605

I admit it. When we reached Tampa Bay Brewing Company, I was ready to throw in the towel. We had eaten a late breakfast, had gone to Cigar City Brewing for a tour and tasting, and all I wanted to do was go back to the hotel and take a nap before we were going to have dinner in about three hours. This was not meant to be. Our merry group of tourists decided to take the trolley to Ybor City. My nap would have to wait.

Ybor City is a historic neighborhood in Tampa. It was founded in the 1880's by cigar manufacturers. For the next 50 years, millions of cigars would be rolled by factory workers here. The cigar factories are gone, but the neighborhood remains a historical landmark. In fact, 7th Avenue here has been designated as one of the 10 greatest streets in America by the American Planning Association. The area has seen a rebirth of sorts with a lot nightclubs and restaurants opening up. Tampa Bay Brewing Company is one of these businesses that has opened up in Ybor, and a place that we decided to take a break from all of our shopping and snapping pictures.

Tampa Bay Brewing Company or TBBC, as some locals and some lazy out of town food blogger's, like myself call it, has been in operation since 1996. In 2006 they moved to their current location, in the centrally located plaza level of the Centro Ybor. The restaurant/brewery is pretty good sized. They have outside and inside seating. They also brew their beers on the premises. They have 16 serving tanks, 12 of which used to hold beer at the Bass Ale Brewery in England.

I had this place on my list of restaurants to try in Tampa, mainly because this brewery was on Diners, Drive-Ins, and Dives, but I knew in our current stuffed to the brim state, we would not be eating too much here. The menu here is pretty large, with lots of food items incorporating their beers and ales. All of the usual pub grub is here. Appetizers, burgers, and pizzas can be found on the menu, but they also feature some fancier entrees, like a plank salmon, a center cut pork chop, and even some spicy curry mussels. All of this would have sounded delicious if we had more room, but this was not the case on this afternoon.

The coaster on the table told us that beer is our friend, so there is always room for friends right? So by that logic there is also room for beer. Even though we had just been to Cigar City Brewery, both Anthony and I wanted to try the beers at TBBC. Lucky for us they had a sampler, so we could try all of the beers they offer. They always have nine brews on tap, plus a rotating selection of seasonal beers. Our sampler included ten glasses that Anthony and I got to drink from. I am by no means a beer aficionado, but some of these were not to my, or Anthony's liking. Both Anthony and I seemed to favor the lighter choices on our beer journey here. The True Blonde Ale, the Wild Warthog Hefeweizen, and the Red Eye Amber Ale were some of the ones that stood out for us.

We did not have much room for food, but we saw the Iron Rat Stout Shepherd's Pie ($11.00), and could not be persuaded  from trying it. The owners of TBBC are from England, so I had very high hopes for this, and it did not let me down. This version of Shepherd's pie used chopped sirloin, assorted veggies, a rich sauce, white cheddar mashed potatoes, and then a cheddar jack cheese over the potatoes. The result was one of the best shepherd's pies I have had. We had no problem finishing this off in record time. The veggies were cooked to a perfect crispness, the sauce coated the well cooked beef nicely, and the potatoes were light and fluffy, with a good hint of cheese to them. We were all tempted to order another one of these, but dinner was only three hours away.

I do not like reviewing a place just based on one dish, but I really wanted to share this shepherd's pie with all of you. I wish we had more time at TBBC, and were not so full from eating and drinking. at other places. I watched the Diner's, Drive-Ins and Dives video on YouTube, and the other items they made on the show looked equally as good. The service on our visit here was pretty solid. Our waiter made sure we were well taken care of. The atmosphere here seemed pretty laid back. Not too stuffy, but definitely not a dive. We heard the trolley in the distance and knew that it was time to get back to the hotel. Nap time had finally come, and I knew I would be dreaming of the shepherd's pie for sure.

Out of five cigars, (because of the link between Ybor City and the cigar industry), five being best to zero being worst, Tampa Bay Brewing Company gets 3 cigars.

For more information on Tampa Bay Brewing Company, click here:

Tampa Bay Brewing Company on Urbanspoon

  Maps for Diners, DriveIns and Dives, Man v. Food and more

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