Back when Dunedin Brewery started making craft beer, it wasn’t even called craft beer. And the place the Bryant famliy opened wasn’t a craft brewery or a taproom or a tasting room — then, they just called ‘em mircrobreweries, and there weren’t many in Florida, and Dunedin Brewery is the oldest in the state that’s still running. And more than two decades later, in a small city that now has seven craft breweries in a larger market that boasts more than 40, Dunedin Brewery continues to thrive on the strength of its consistency, its commitment to quality and the elements that make it stand out from many of its newer contemporaries.
“The beautiful thing about the other Dunedin breweries, I would say, that’s been a bonus for all the brewers, is that each one has its own take on both beer and ambiance, in approach and the place they’re serving their beers in,” said Michael Bryant, Jr., the second-generation manager of the original. “Most of the breweries [in Dunedin] don’t distribute, they’re tasting rooms where you can get their beer on the premises, and none of them have food, so we’ve never felt competitive pressue [in that regard], and none of them are live music hubs, so those are two things that have definitely kept us unique.”
“It just comes down to whether or not you can consistently make a strong, quality product.”
Since returning to the family business some eight years ago, Bryant Jr. has made some changes, expanding on the brewery’s time-honored core beers and seasonal schedule, always putting a unique twist on new experiments rather than chasing whatever the hot trend happened to be at the time. But he said this evolution was less about feeling pressure from an expanding local market, and more about what he learned studying more mature craft beer markets in places like the Pacific Northwest.
“We’d only had eight seasonals coming out a year,” he said. “I had a little different viewpoint than previous management... I came back with what I’d seen and brought that in, it happened to be around the same time that more breweries were popping up.”
He maintains that there’s still plenty of room for craft beer in the Tampa Bay area.
“We’ve got a very strong community around not just the brewers but the goals,” Bryant Jr. said. “The only way somebody could fail around us is if they’re just not making good product. ...It just comes down to whether or not you can consistently make a strong, quality product.”
937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin. 727-736-0606.