Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Saint Somewhere Brewing

Firkin Around...Tarpon Springs, Florida.
Beautiful location, beautiful logos, beautiful Belgian style ales. You get all three from Saint Somewhere Brewing Company, located in Tarpon Springs on Florida's west coast. Tarpon Springs is situated on the edge of The Gulf of Mexico, and is a throwback to the heyday of old Florida. This tiny town of 20,000 plus has been drawing notice since the late 1800's and boasts the largest Greek American population in America. Driving through the downtown area, you can't help but be captivated by its beauty and charm.

The Brewery, Saint Somewhere

I first met Bob Sylvester, owner and brew master of Saint Somewhere, at a beer festival in Pinellas Park back in May. We exchanged names and business cards over a few samples of his Saison Athene. He mentioned that he sends out an email each time bottling days approach the brewery. Bob suggested I sign up, and participate with other volunteers. I am glad I did.

Bottled, corked and caged
Bob insists on using authentic brewing methods in the traditional Belgian style when it comes to making his ales. Everything is clearly handcrafted from brew day, all the way to bottling day. He uses local water and selected grains, and yeast to perfect his brews. The artwork on the labels, (also found on their website), is simply gorgeous. The name, "Saint Somewhere", he admits, is borrowed from the lyrics of Jimmy Buffet's song, 'Boat Drinks'.

Needless to say, when I got the email to attend the excitement began to build. I had no idea what the day would hold in store. Upon reaching Tarpon Springs, my mind switched to auto-pilot as I listened to the GPS call out the turns. I was able to take in the beauty of the town as my truck wound its way down one street after another. Bob had quipped in the email, "Call if you get lost. You won't be the first." Luckily, the trusty GPS navigated me right into the commercial park with ease.

Bottle Stations
Stepping inside the large roll up door, it was easy to spot the tools of the beer making trade. The mash tuns were along the side and back walls. A filling station, cork presses and sanitizing equipment rounded out the assembly area. Hands washed, equipment thoroughly sanitized, we quickly began the rinsing, draining, filling, corking, wire basket-ing and boxing of the liquid gold. The day's handcrafted brew was Pays du Soleil. The name translates to "Country of the Sun". Quite a fitting name for a beer brewed in Florida.

Hard at work
So the day went on. One case after another of empty bottles was opened, sanitized, filled, and corked. We were clicking like a well oiled machine. Due to a lack of labels, we skipped the process of bottle labeling for the day. Everyone worked hard and stayed hydrated. Some switched stations from time to time. Bob kept a steady watch along the workstations, ensuring that the newbies were getting it right. Before long there were several pallets of freshly brewed and bottled ale. We had finished all this in only a few hours.

Spoils of the day.
Lunch time
Just as the final bottles were corked and capped, the tables were rearranged and sub sandwiches and boxes of delicious pizza arrived, almost as if by magic! Plates and tulip glassware were distributed. The popping of corks, from previously bottled Pays du Soleil and Athene Saison, were heard. Some of the volunteers had brought their home brews for all to sample. There was an Imperial Stout that was mighty fine, and a Peach flavored beer that was delicious. The mood was lighthearted and everyone was enjoying good food, good beer and good conversation.
Sharing is caring.

Beyond the food and bottling experience, Bob sends you whistling out of the place with six of the freshly bottled ales. Though they won't be ready to uncork for a while, (still need bottle conditioning for several weeks), I anticipate opening the stuff at a future date. It is an understatement to say that this ranks as one of the most fun things I've done as the result of a hobby. If your passion is good beer, craft beer that is, make it a point to support your local brewer if they have a similar program.

Tappin' the Firkin!

Saint Somewhere Brewing Company
1441 Savannah Avenue ~ Suite E
Tarpon Springs, FL 34689

View Larger Map

No comments:

Post a Comment