Exploring Tampa’s newest brewery as told by a non-beer drinker

In order to tell you a story about a beer brewery, I must admit something to you right now. I know it won’t make much sense at first, but trust me, I’m going somewhere with it. Just agree to hear me out before you judge me.

Okay. Are we cool? You trust me? Deep breath. Exhale. Here it is:

I am not a beer drinker.

I said don’t judge me. Why are you judging me?

I know. It doesn’t make much sense. I’m a red-blooded American man. I live in a state where beer contributes more than $1 billon every year to the state economy. I live within walking distance of at least half a dozen breweries.

[Google_Maps_WD id=5 map=4]

…I like alcohol.

I told you not to judge me.

Listen, the reason I don’t like beer is simple. It’s too heavy. I don’t like foam. I don’t like the heavy feeling in my belly after I drink it. For that matter, I don’t like my belly.

I like smooth drinks. Clear drinks. Spirited drinks. Drinks with herbs and citrus and aromatics.

But Nicholas, some beers have all of those things.

You’re right. And actually, the only beer I do like includes all of those qualifiers.

So let me amend my first statement and say that while I am not a beer drinker, occasionally, I do drink beer. Possibly even two beers. But I am very particular about the circumstances and the brews I drink because I don’t drink it often.

1. It must be ice cold. 2. It must taste of citrus. 3. It must be wheat ale. (Don’t ask me why wheat ale. It’s the only beer I like. Take it or leave it.)

When I heard Tampa was brewing a new beer called “Wheat Stroke” in a factory I could literally see from my apartment, I figured the odds were against me. I decided to give it a go.

Last month, Coppertail Brewing Co. invited me to its headquarters in Ybor City to tour and take some photos of the space.

Looking nonchalant on the upstairs loft. Sweater by GANT. Denim by G-Star RAW. Boots by Aldo.

As the avid professional I am, I purchased a six pack of Wheat Stroke to do some “research” prior to my visit.

Still judging, aren’t you?

Before I opened the bottle, I stared at the label for a while. My designer’s heart leapt with excitement.

An intricate illustration of a man intertwined with a mermaid wrapped around it. Swirling copper, charcoal, and white hues covered the black label in an aquatic, spot-color dream, in which pelicans wore Walkman headphones and the sun smiled like a fun house clown.

My favorite Coppertail brew, Wheat Stroke. Explore more Coppertail Brewing Co. blends.

It is hands down the most beautiful beer bottle I have ever seen.

According to fictitious folklore by creative agency Spark, a wayward marathon runner succumbed to Tampa’s unforgivable sun in a “wheat stroke” but was soon saved by the infamous Coppertail sea monster who sent a mermaid to rescue him.

But Nicholas, there isn’t a sea monster in Tampa Bay.

Well, the story is inspired by president Kent Bailey’s daughter who knows, in fact, that the Coppertail is a sea monster who lives in the depths of Tampa Bay. So…

After I enjoyed my own Wheat Stroke, which was mighty tasty I must say, I did a little brand exploration. I quickly realized that not only does Coppertail make a wheat ale I really like, they also use colors, fictional characters, stories, and branding to develop a complete illustrious world inspired by a fish in a little girl’s imagination.

Needless to say, I really wanted to checkout headquarters.

Crazy. Sexy. Cool. Jacket by GANT. Shirt by Billy Reid. Watch by Rolex.

The combination of wooden-crate paneling, deep leather sofas and hand-painted murals, with exposed concrete floors and huge steel silos blends the brand’s earthiness with its metallic-tailed protagonist.

It’s masculine and whimsical. It’s brooding and fun. It is colorful, dark, and monochromatic at the same time.

(And for those of you paying close attention, I chose my outfits based on these observations.)

The Coppertail headquarters is not just a brewery. It is a sea of opportunity for afternoon flights, Jenga enthusiasts, and sink or swim lovers alike.

It took everything in my power not to open that bottle before we shot it. Sweater courtesy of Milano Exchange. Shirt by Scotch & Soda. Denim by J Brand. Bracelet by Miansai.

If you drink beer professionally or even occasionally like I do, you must visit this beautiful Ybor location.

That’s right. I said it. This beer house is beautiful.

Don’t believe me? Still judging me? Take a look at the pictures.

Get it now?

Photos by Ashlee Hamon Photography


THE CAPITAL GRILLE, SARASOTA I'll let you in on a secret. I have a foolproof way of determining how good a restaurant is before I even have a bite of food. It's not complicated, a...
ROWE & RELAXATION A couple weeks ago, my friends from ilovetheburg invited me to a private party at the newly renovated Rowe Bar inside Loews Don CeSar Hotel on St. Pet...
THE 7 BEST COCKTAILS IN TAMPA BAY Tampa Bay may be known for its myriad craft beer breweries, but trust me, it knows a thing or two about mixology. From spicy and umami to smooth an...