When Flying Boat Brewing Co. opens later this year, it won’t be like any other craft brewery in any other city. Thirsty patrons ambling in for a beer will know they’re in St. Petersburg, and if everything goes according to plan, they’ll also learn more about the place.
The family behind the new brewery at 1776 11th Ave. N. imagines it as a kind of unofficial St. Pete welcome center, essentially luring people in with beer and then hammering a bit of history into their heads.
“We want to entertain and educate,” said Josh Perian, the co-founder spearheading the educational aspect of Flying Boat. “We’ll see if it sticks or not when people are drinking.”
Perian, who has an education background, was partially inspired by how uninformed many people he knew were about their own backyard.
Flying Boat owes its name to the biplane that aviator Tony Jannus flew during the world’s first commercial flight in 1914, which happened to go from St. Pete to Tampa. According to Perian, the city has a rich and innovative history in the air.
“They were super pioneers slash rock stars,” Perian said of St. Pete’s aviators. “And for a long time their contributions weren’t acknowledged.”
Flying Boat recently formed a partnership with the St. Petersburg Museum of History to create the historical panorama it envisions. The museum staff has opened up archives to the brewery, including some images and artifacts that people haven’t seen before; Polk County’s Fantasy of Flight museum has offered assistance as well.
“We will weave the narrative into everything,” Perian said.
He describes what Flying Boat will offer as a “full-blown educational multimedia program,” with history-themed brewery tours, a mini museum and in-house movie room.
It’s not all bait-and-switch at Flying Boat, though — the beer will be good.
Along with Perian, the brewery was co-founded by Glenn Zakany, who contributes sales knowledge and business experience, and his son Tanner Zakany, who knows the service industry and will oversee operations. When setting out to start the brewery, they knew they’d need more than homebrewing experience to make it a success.
That’s where making friends came in. Flying Boat had a great deal of help from St. Pete’s Green Bench Brewing Co.
When the Flying Boat crew first considered opening, Green Bench brewers fielded their many questions. Green Bench head brewer Khris Johnson introduced them to their head brewer, Tyler Singletary, and when Flying Boat thought it found the perfect building, Green Bench co-owner Steve Duffy came out and walked the premises to ensure it was everything they’d need.
As for the beer, Perian says Singletary has full creative control. The brewery aims to debut with eight beers, likely an IPA, session IPA, something extra hoppy and a porter. Singletary, who previously brewed for Southern Brewing & Winemaking in Seminole Heights, is reputed to be a hophead, but will also let the popularity of beers in the taproom direct what styles he pursues.
The tasting room will be approximately 2,000 square feet, with 8,000 square feet reserved for brewing. A patio and green space are planned outside, and Perian promises ample bike racks. Just down the street from Woodlawn Park, Flying Boat may eventually hold special events there, too.
Though he says they’re optimistic about a summer opening, the date will probably be in fall. St. Pete-based Boyd Construction has begun renovations on the building.