The Maine-based craft beer producer is adding to its Florida holdings, with this newest location joining the current Orlando brewpub.
The Sea Dog brand is a strong representation of the mid-'90s growth in craft beer, especially in the Northeast. Those climbing through the craft beer ranks will recognize the Apricot and Blueberry Wheat, two longstanding components of the Sea Dog portfolio.
The new Clearwater brewpub will be the company's fifth and is scheduled to produce 10,000 barrels annually from a 20-barrel system.
Fred Forsley is one of the co-owners of Sea Dog Brewing, which, as it goes, is also a partner with Shipyard Brewing.
"There are more New Englanders in Florida from October to June than in other markets down the eastern seaboard," says Forsley. "People are familiar with the brand, the food, and such."
The Tampa area is a thriving microcosm of microbreweries, and Sea Dog is poised as a geographical outsider joining the game.
"For me, I've been in [craft beer] 22 years," Forsley says. "[Joining the Tampa scene] is kind of invigorating. There's a lot of excitement... the same excitement I saw in Maine 17 years ago.
"From the craft standpoint, it's been lingering behind in Florida. Now, it's an explosion of interesting craft, including people in retirement age, not only the usual 'young people,' and the growing categories of women... It's changing the dynamic of beer."
Clearwater's head brewer, Bobby Baker, a Florida native, will be taking the reins and brewing not only the core lineup of Sea Dog beers but experimentals as well.
"We let our brewers get a little creative with different beers," Forsley says. "Blood orange, peanut butter beer, eccentric varieties... It gives him the flexibility to make 20 barrels of something and sell to select accounts."
Will the Maine brand see growth in the South Florida market, which itself has many New England transplants?
"We'd love to do more in the region, starting with growth in the Keys. We've become a sponsor of Scuba Nation and are just spreading the word."
The Sea Dog in Clearwater is located at 26200 U.S. Highway 19 N. in Clearwater, with a grand opening party happening April 10.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.
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