Tampa Bay area craft beer makers tap into growing market

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (WFLA) – The craft beer industry continues to grow in the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida.

On Friday night some of the biggest names in the craft beer business gathered in St. Petersburg for a Tampa Bay Beer Week event. News Channel 8 talked with brewery owners about the industry’s growth and found the suds are growing.

“We definitely are seeing some explosive growth throughout the industry. There is tons of fantastic breweries opening up, especially throughout the Bay area,” said Barry Elwonger, with Motorworks Brewing in Bradenton.

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There are about 80 craft brewers in the Tampa Bay area alone. Compare that with five years ago, where there were 36 open in the entire state.

A check of a craft brewery map shows the proliferation of local beer making. It’s growing all the time.

Craft beer fans explained why they prefer it to mass-produced beer. “They taste better,” Anie Chee said.

“I like the vibes of the people … They’re a lot chill,” Joie Feathersteon said.

Besides the ambiance, there’s the variety of brews available. “Every brewery you go to, whether it’s St. Pete Brewing Company, whether it’s Green Bench, 3 Daughters, Pinellas Ale Works. No matter where you go, you’re not gonna get the same product at either one of those locations” said Casey Cuthran of St. Pete Brewing.

All that beer making means jobs. “We’re seeing a lot of tourist impact. We’re seeing a lot of impact with the jobs creation, with people working in the breweries and tasting rooms,” Elwonger said.

Beer makers are tapping into a growing business. “We drive around and every time we drive around there’s like another one popping up, no matter where we go,” Feathersteon said.

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