TAMPA, Fla.—People all over the Tampa Bay area will get to raise their glass to support local business in a week-long celebration: Tampa Bay Beer Week is back. This year’s event will look different due to the ongoing COVID-19 crisis.
“There are still many events going on. They’re just smaller scale,” said Tampa Bay Beer Week executive director Chris Fairchild. “Everything that’s going on is smaller scale, not the big thousand person festivals that we used to see.”
Beer week events officially kick off Saturday, March 6 and run through Sunday, March 14. The events are spread throughout the Tampa Bay area and are taking COVID-19 safety precautions.
Cigar City Brewing in Tampa will feature events throughout the week like a pop-up outdoor beer garden and beer releases.
“To have one week where we can all come together as an industry and really preach the gospel about what we’re doing here with craft beer in Tampa Bay, it’s an incredible opportunity,” said Neil Callaghan, brand manager at Cigar City Brewing.
Some local businesses started the week’s events early. Over at Brew Bus Brewing in Tampa, they kicked off with a bottle release Friday, with events like trivia and brunch later in the week. Tasting room general manager Christian Henry explained he's hopeful things will get back to normal.
“Hit some of the breweries nearby and grab a bottle or grab a beer,” said Henry. “Show some love. It’s been tough. It’s been a tough year, but I think beer is going to prevail in Tampa.”
Throughout the year, ABC Action News has spoken with dozens of businesses on the rebound from impacts of the health crisis. The pandemic has taken a toll on local businesses across the Tampa Bay area from the very beginning.
“Many of the breweries are independently owned, and they’re very small-scale breweries, and there’s not a lot of funding to back up three, four, five, six months of a shut down, and even then, at 50 percent capacity, there’s still business that needs to be caught up,” said Fairchild. “Every dollar that goes back in the community right now helps recover that and helps move forward.”
Whether you come to stay or grab an order to go, bars and breweries are helping you raise your glass so you can show your support and safely say 'cheers.'
“We understand there’s still many people that might be hesitant to sit down and enjoy a beer at a brewery or a bar, but it’s still open for to-go orders. A lot of breweries sell packaged beers that are cold and ready to drink at home. Do that,” said Fairchild. “If you do nothing else this week, if you don’t want to go to an event with another 50 people around you that are distanced hopefully, if you don’t want to go to the event, come buy some beer to go and support your local businesses.”
To find a full calendar of events for Tampa Bay Beer Week 2021, click here.