La Tropical, one of Florida’s oldest beer brands, makes its return to Tampa

It’s been over 60 years since Tampa Bay has gotten a taste of these craft beers.

click to enlarge La Tropical, one of Florida’s oldest beer brands, makes its return to Tampa
c/o La Tropical
After six decades away, the family of  the once-popular beer Ybor City brand La Tropical brings its classic brews into the 21st century—and back to Tampa Bay.

After La Tropical's private re-launch party this week, craft beer-lovers can expect to see La Tropical's “La Original ”amber lager, "Nativo Key” Suave IPA and “Tropiflaca” lite lager distributed in cans and on draft at local restaurants, bars and supermarkets throughout Tampa Bay.

Tampa will be the first city outside of Miami to get a taste of La Tropical's revamped brews, which haven't been in town since its Ybor City brewery closed in 1961. La Tropical's "welcome back" party takes place at Florida Brewing Co.'s former building in Ybor City—the first brewery in the Sunshine State to be granted its brewing license back in 1896.

“The rebirth of Cerveza La Tropical represents a dream come true, fulfilling a lifelong passion to resurrect the brand throughout Florida,” Manny Portuondo—CEO of Cerveceria La Tropical and great-great-grandson of Federico Kohly, who founded the original brewery in Cuba in the late 1800s—wrote in a press release. “More than a century after La Tropical was founded in both Cuba and Florida, I am proud and excited to be creating a new La Tropical that pays tribute to the storied heritage of both.”

In 2016, Portuondo made it his mission to revive the incredibly popular brewery his family once operated. He then built a La Tropical brewery and restaurant in Miami, and received a large investment from Heineken just a year later, according to Axios. All La Tropical beer headed to Tampa soon will be brewed at its headquarters in Miami. 

La Tropical, with its factory in historic Ybor City, maintained strong ties between Cuba and Florida until the revolution in 1959. After Cuban companies were nationalized and the United States enacted its embargo on Cuba (which is still in place today), La Tropical could no longer able to manufacture its beer on the Caribbean island. The embargo, in addition to competition from other beer brands, contributed to the shutdown of Ybor City brewery in 1961, ending 65 years of production.

The beer was first brewed in Cuba in 1888, towards the tail end of the Spanish-American war.  Its website states that by 1958, La Tropical produced 60% of beer on Cuba.

For more information on La Tropical's deep history and upcoming return to Tampa Bay, head to its website cervecerialatropical.com

About The Author

Kyla Fields

Kyla Fields is the Managing Editor of Creative Loafing Tampa Bay who started their journey at CL as summer 2019 intern. They are the proud owner of a charming, sausage-shaped, four-year-old rescue mutt named Piña.
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