Ten years ago, Tampa Bay wasn’t known for making beer. How far we’ve come. Cigar City Brewing, Lagerhaus, and Saint Somewhere led the way in 2005-2006, and in the last year alone we’ve seen the debut of several local breweries — including the five featured here. Neighbors who brew professionally?
Cheers to that!
Photo: Todd Bates
10930 Endeavour Way, Seminole, 727-544-1752, rappbrewing.com.
Brewer: Greg Rapp
Greg Rapp, 54, spent decades as a software engineer at the St. Petersburg Times and other private companies, but he found his true calling when he left the cubicle and started homebrewing, sometimes serving more than 70 people at a time at his home in Seminole. With the capital from selling off a successful startup in 2011, he launched Rapp Brewing and opened his Largo brewhouse and tasting room the following year.
“It’s a lot of work," Rapp says [he has to change his sweat-soaked shirt before getting his picture taken], "but I love that I’m producing something tangible after working in software for so long.”
And he’s good at what he does: he was just named Best New Brewer in Florida by the respected website RateBeer.com. His background has turned out to be a plus.
“Like engineering,” Rapp says, “brewing is science, art and a little luck.”
Rapp brews four to six barrels a week, with 20 different varieties on tap in the tasting room. But he’s not too interested in getting his beers onto restaurant and bar taps.
“Right now, I like producing beer for the tasting room," he says, "It’s direct marketing.”
After a long day of brewing, Rapp heads to the tasting room to see what folks think of his different brews. Some are light, some are dark, and others are unlike anything else found locally — like his Rapp’s Gose, based on a recipe from the early 1800s using citrus, salt and coriander.
“It’s an exploration of beer styles,” Rapp says. “I want to explore them all.”