Before you know it, you won’t have to ask Tyler Sankey, Jordan Copher or Nick Streeter where you can score their beers on the regular. That’s because a new, long-awaited chapter is on the horizon for the Tampa natives behind Late Start Brewery.
The trio has awesomely joined forces with Pour House owner Andy Nietzel to build a three-barrel brewery inside his Channel District craft beer bar at 1208 E. Kennedy Blvd. According to Sankey, their partnership came together pretty quickly after Nietzel approached Late Start about collaborating on the project.
“He’s a super easy guy to work with,” said Sankey, who got to know Nietzel better during frequent visits to Pour House while living in Channelside with his brother Chris.
“Because it’s just like, we have the same mindset, wanna make great beer and wanna have fun doin’ it,” Sankey continued.
A similar sort of ease has fueled Late Start’s previous collaborations, whether it be an event or a beer. After all, they make it a point to link up with people who “follow their same path,” as Sankey puts it. Serial beer dinner organizer and chef John Loscalzo of LOKO Cuisine is one of those people, along with Streeter, who eventually came on board with Late Start after Copher and Sankey met him during their stints at Cigar City Brewing.
This strategy, if that’s what you want to call it, is also partly responsible for the loyal following Late Start has hooked without a brewhouse of their own. And know what else hasn’t hurt? Jobs in other local breweries — Sankey is now brewing at Yuengling Brewing Company, Copher at Angry Chair Brewing and Streeter at 7venth Sun Brewery — that give them the opportunity to forge connections with beer industry folks on both a personal and professional level.
As Copher tells it, he and his Late Start brethren grew up here, yes — specifically, though, in the Tampa beer biz. Homebrew legends Jeff Gladish and Mark Stober, Bob Sylvester of Saint Somewhere Brewing Company and Cigar City’s Joey Redner are among the long list of people who’ve helped them, not to mention wanted to see them succeed, along the way.
But let’s back it up a little: Late Start originated as a kind of garage project six years ago. At the time, Sankey owned a house in the New Tampa/Tampa Palms area, where they began to experiment with a 15-gallon homemade system. Copher, who spearheaded the creative aspect of their newfound hobby, developed some out-there recipes — and it wasn’t long before the community started paying attention.
“From there on out, it was like, ‘Oh, we’ll do an event, we’ll do another event. Well, we’re making beer, so maybe we should start something up,’” Sankey recalled.
Up until the Pour House partnership, Late Start was doing a bit of gypsy brewing. Their journey, however, hasn’t involved taking over their buddies’ breweries as much as it has saying, “Hey, let’s make a beer.” Then the collaboration process goes from there.
The good news is that the trio’s Channel District brewery is coming along adjacent to downtown Tampa, where they were originally scouting locations. When CL spoke to Streeter, Copher and Sankey in Seminole Heights on 4/20 — during the can release for Stash, the rye session IPA they brewed with 7venth Sun — the walls and floors of their facility were getting ready to be put in. The equipment is in, too; all they have to do is plug in the tanks.
“Probably soon” is their anticipated, oh-so-coy launch date.
"We’ll be brewing beers in the next couple months, but to have a big to-do might be a couple months after that,” said Copher. “[We’ll have a] soft opening for a couple months, and then a grand opening, try to do — they have 40 taps at the location, so maybe try to do all 40 taps.”
The goal is to regularly feature Late Start on 12 of Pour House’s taps, and at first, it’s probably going to take a month or so to get there. Their three-barrel system and six three-barrel fermenters allow them to produce 18 barrels, meaning they could have six different beers going at a time.
Florida Weisse beers are still the focus, yet brewing original recipes is just as important, as evidenced by their popular series of cocktail-style Berliners (they’ve done close to 10 at this point) — including the Tequila Sunrise, Mai Tai, Cucumber Gimlet and Margarita Gose. In addition to those mainstays, they’re committed to brewing other styles like stouts and IPAs, plus treatments, but brewing them well.
“We wanna do everything good,” Sankey said. “We don’t wanna kind of pigeonhole ourselves into one particular style.”
With a penchant for being one-of-a-kind and very spontaneous, Late Start is also going about the selection of their “core four” carefully. While they’d like to have a fruited Berliner available 24/7, for instance, they’d rather have patrons decide for themselves what they want to drink.
Additional highlights of the forthcoming project include a crowler machine for guests who want their brews to-go and bottle releases mainly driven by stouts and Berliners, alongside some IPAs (maybe in a smaller format).
“I feel like the local beer industry’s given a lot to us,” Copher said. “We’ve been educated by a lot of the people we respect around town. We’ve been able to do events like this with great breweries, and we look forward to doing more of that and being able to provide beer more consistently for the people.
“We’ve had these fans for a long time, and they’ve just been coming to small events once or twice a year, so we will be able to give them beer consistently now.”
Streeter added: “I think it’s exciting that we’re gonna be in downtown, where we wanted to be in the first place… We don’t know what the next step’s gonna be. We’ve kinda debated it at different times, but it’s exciting to have our own place, too.”
“Yeah,” Copher said, “we finally have a home base.”