Fermented Reality’s Joel Bigham details new Trellis Brewpub, which debuts in Ybor City later this year

Don’t fret, a new Fermented Reality Biergarten is also in the works.

click to enlarge Joel Bigham, owner of Trellis Brewpub and Fermented Reality.
Joel Bigham, owner of Trellis Brewpub and Fermented Reality.
By the time Strategic Property Partners told Joel Bigham that Fermented Reality Biergarten had to leave Sparkman’s Wharf in August 2021, plans for his new Ybor City-based restaurant were already in motion.

And now, Trellis Brewpub at 1910 E 7th Ave. will debut in Ybor City in just a few months. Bigham tells Creative Loafing Tampa Bay that his new beer-driven restaurant will be hopefully open by June 2022. Surprisingly, the unexpected move out of Sparkman’s Wharf didn’t inhibit plans for the new brewpub.

Seating about 100 patrons inside and few more on its outdoor patio, Trellis Brewpub will boast a full dinner menu of “upscale American fare.” You can expect to see traditional brewpub foods like burgers, wings, sandwiches and onion rings—a crunchy south Jersey delicacy that Bigham promises to bring to Tampa Bay. House-made fermented hot sauces will also be featured on the Trellis menu—a homage to its beer garden predecessor.

Although the menu will cater to Ybor City patrons and Tampa Bay foodies alike, Trellis Brewpub’s extensive beer list will be just as important as the food.

“Even though our tap will rotate through trendy and popular beers, there will be one or two permanent collaborations that will always be available,” Bigham tells Creative Loafing Tampa Bay. “I’ve already got commitments from Magnanimous Brewing and BarrieHaus Beer Co.,” which are two Tampa-based breweries.

The other beers on tap besides the permanent collaborations will rotate “big time” according to Bigham. Trendy IPAs and sours will be on tap, while the selection of bottled and canned brews will range from local staples like Cigar City’s Jai Alai to imported lagers and ales from Germany, Belgium and beyond.

“At the Biergarten I was known for the tap list of over 40 beers—and a little bit of that will be showcased at Trellis Brewpub, ” Bigham says.

Alongside a variety of beer offerings, Trellis will also have a full service bar stocked with all of the expected liquors—Bigham’s first venture into the world of booze.

The Trellis Brewpub menu will remain in the works until he finds an executive chef to put their magic touch on it. Bigham hopes that he can rehire beertenders from Fermented Reality, but has not yet started the hiring process for his front of house staff. He states that he will pay his employees rates that are competitive with other restaurants in Tampa—at least $16 an hour.
click to enlarge Trellis Brewpub rendering c/o Sol Architecture - C/O JOEL BIGHAM
c/o Joel Bigham
Trellis Brewpub rendering c/o Sol Architecture
Trellis Brewpub’s operating hours will be similar to that of its neighbor Zydeco Brew Works, just two doors away. Despite being located in the heart of Ybor City on 7th Avenue, the new restaurant and brewpub will be open until midnight at the latest, and will cater more towards the dinner crowd instead. Once it’s up and running, Trellis might expand its hours to serve lunch as well.

When asked how Trellis will work with Zydeco instead of competing with them, Bigham answered that the two establishments cater to slightly different types of beer-lovers, and that he isn’t worried about finding Trellis’ specific customer base. Trellis Brewpub will focus more on trendy beers, while Zydeco Brew Works sticks to more traditional brews—although Bigham states that the two businesses will share a majority of their audience.

According to Creative Loafing’s “Unwritten Rules of Tampa Bay” list, it's always 20 degrees hotter at Sparkman’s Wharf, and beer-lovers throughout the Bay surely know that Fermented Reality’s Biergarten is no longer there to cool things down with a crisp German beer.

And while it's full steam ahead until Trellis Brewpub debuts later this year, Bigham still thinks about the way Fermented Reality was pushed out of its location at Sparkman’s Wharf—especially since the beer garden was an anchor business for the district since its debut in 2019.

Bigham describes the process of being virtually pushed out of their location as “having the rug pulled out from under us.” By the time SPP told Fermented Reality they had to relocate, the massive beer garden only had 40 days to move out. Luckily, there was just enough time to sell the rest of the beer that they had stored at that location. Bigham states that he was trying to renegotiate his lease for about six months before being told that it was not going to be renewed.

“We told them we could offer food or liquor—we told them that we would do whatever they wanted, '' Bigham says about SPP, the property managers of Sparkman’s Wharf and the rest of Water Street. “It was really unfair how they treated us, and what’s there now is a shell of what it used to be.”
The concept that replaced Fermented Reality Biergarten is called Lighthaus Beer Garden, which notably sells food—alongside wine, beer, and seltzers. Guy Revelle, who also brought Splitsville and Jotoro to the Wharf, opened Lighthaus Beer just two weeks after Fermented Reality closed.

“I have every intention of reopening the beer garden, but I am unsure of exactly where the location will be, '' Bigham states. “Nothing will make me happier than being able to hang the Fermented Reality sign back up.”

He's in the middle of negotiating a lease for a new location, but doesn't exactly have hope that it’ll actually go through. Although his ideal location would be within a 5-mile radius of Sparkman's Wharf to cater to a similar customer base (aka the “beer geeks”), he is also eyeing places near Gandy, in St. Petersburg, as well as other locations throughout South Tampa.

Bigham hopes that the lease for Fermented Reality 2.0 will be signed by the end of 2022, and by that time Trellis Brewpub’s doors will have been open—and Bigham will be the man behind two beer-centric hotspots in Tampa Bay.

For now, you can follow the newly-formed Trellis Brewpub Instagram at @trellisbrewpub for the latest updates on its current build out and eventual grand opening later this year (and if you're that executive chef he's looking for, DM him there, too).

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