The increasing popularity of the modern craft beer industry in communities across the U.S. is no secret. According to IBISWorld, craft beer industry revenue has grown more than 300% since 2007, and shows no sign of stopping any time soon.
St. Petersburg's craft beer scene, in particular, has exploded in the last decade, gaining the attention of beer enthusiasts from around the world. With 11 (and counting) craft breweries in an area of only a few square miles, St. Petersburg is a major destination along Pinellas County's "Gulp Coast," a craft beer trail that connects all of the craft breweries lining the coastal county.
The days of settling for domestic options seem to be fading in St. Pete, where the community has developed a more refined palette that longs for flavorful brews of imperial stouts and funky sours, like Key Lime Cider, a locals' favorite by 3 Daughters Brewing.
Local beer-centric businesses, including the Tampa Bay Ale Trail passport, Pedal Pub, and Thirsty Pelican Brew Tours only enhance the region's growing reputation as a craft beer destination for both locals and tourists. Visit St. Pete- Clearwater's Gulp Coast passport is just one of several beer passports that drives business to the Tampa-St. Petersburg region and to the doors of the area's nearly 70 craft breweries.
Even more, the Sunshine City's [craft beer] industry is well positioned to enhance the local Specialized Manufacturing sector- an industry identified by St. Petersburg's community and economic development strategy, Grow Smarter, as one of five sectors primed for the most growth. From equipment fabrication to beer production and distribution, manufacturing is intertwined in nearly ever aspect of the business.
In St. Pete, the Specialized Manufacturing sector generates $843 million in annual exports and employs the second most manufacturing employees in the state of Florida. As local beer-related companies increase and expand, the same is true of local manufacturing companies.
St. Pete's craft beer industry extends well-beyond its impressive number of craft breweries, reaching all stages of production from equipment fabrication to distribution. The city is home to full-service brewery equipment provider Brewfab, that produces quality stainless steel brewing systems that are engineered, custom fabricated, and installed for clients like 3 Daughters, Green Bench Brewing, Cycle Brewing, and clientele across the U.S. and Canada.
Keg Connect, located in St. Pete, leases kegs to emerging craft breweries, buys kegs that brewers previously had to invest in, sells keg washing stations, and provides customization services like embossing and screen printing. The company aims to give smaller breweries the cooperage they need to compete with larger, established breweries.
When most people think about the craft beer scene in St. Pete, they don't see much further in the supply chain than their favorite seasonal beer release or tasting room atmosphere, but the industry's local roots run so much deeper than the final product of a cold pint in hand.
The Sunshine City's craft beer industry - and all that comes along with it - is booming, and it just keeps getting better. In 2018 alone, three new breweries have opened their doors, including Avid Brew Company, Overflow Brewing, and lnoculum Ale Works, and existing breweries like Green Bench are undergoing major expansions.
Cheers to that!