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Tampa Bay Beer Week starts Friday. Here’s what you need to know

wooden sign reading "beer" on a table. In front of it are small, round stickers and red plastic keychains.
Tampa Bay Beer Week
Tampa Bay Beer Week celebrates its 10th anniversary in 2022 with a return to pre-pandemic levels.

The event features around 150 tastings, parties, and beer releases across the Tampa Bay region.

Tampa Bay Beer Week celebrates its tenth anniversary this year, making its return to pre-pandemic levels.

The celebration starts with Friday night’s “Ultimate Brew” event at 7venth Sun in Tampa, the first of almost 150 tastings, parties, and special beer releases taking place around the region through March 13.

Almost 100 different beer brands from around the state will be taking part throughout the festival.

Tampa Bay Beer Week Executive Director Chris Fairchild said this is the first year things will be back to what it used to look like pre-pandemic.

“We only had half a Beer Week in 2020 (before events were canceled),” he said. “And in 2021, we officially announced dates, but it was more of a ‘let’s not do any big festivals, we’re still going to encourage others to be as safe as possible.’”

Fairchild adds that breweries statewide faced challenges during those two years.

“I don’t think any brewery went through without challenges,” he said. “Just worrying about how to maintain the brewing schedule, what to do with staff, many members had to be let go and there were some places even shut down for a brief period of time.”

circular logo with words on a slant next to the state of Florida
Tampa Bay Beer Week
Tampa Bay Beer Week 2022 logo

While these difficulties occurred, Fairchild said the group that runs the festival made an effort to help support these breweries. That included things like encouraging customers and other brewers to join together to go to breweries and buy beer, or finding other ways to help them.

The total contribution to these breweries was well over $20,000.

Fairchild said he is elated that many of these breweries are now operating normally again.

“There are still so many hundreds of people that I haven’t seen in a couple of years now,” he said. “I’m looking forward to people being there at the festival and seeing everyone else have a really great time.”

The festival begins with Friday’s “Ultimate Brew’ event, which will feature different Bay Area breweries and their beers.

This will be followed by Saturday’s Florida Brewers Guild Festival, where people can sample beers from over 90 brands across the state. It will be held from 2-5 p.m. in Perry Harvey Sr. Park in Tampa.

Sunday will feature a Brewer's Ball from noon-4 p.m., also at Perry Harvey Sr. Park, where the best in a variety of classes and styles of beer will be announced.

Fairchild encourages beer lovers from around the area to attend any one of the dozens of events during the festival that might interest them, or even better — try something new.

“"We always encourage everyone to branch out of their comfort zone and go to a place you haven't been before,” he said. “There’s never a better time to go out and support the community and help these brands and breweries rebound. We're still in the process of doing that.”

For more information, visit the Tampa Bay Beer Week website.

I am WUSF’s Rush Family Radio News Intern for spring 2022.