There’s an argument to be made that the best location for a craft brewpub is in a walkable urban core, among other local breweries, restaurants and retail.
There’s also an argument to be made that it never hurts to be the only game in town, and Plant City’s Two Henrys Brewing is carving out a nice niche for itself between catering to locals and Interstate 4 corridor tourist traffic and distributing its beer to taphouses across the region and beyond.
“It’s both [a pro and a con],” says Two Henrys head brewer Scott Shuler. “We do get a lot of visitor traffic, people traveling between Tampa and Orlando. But certain beers that are very appealing in Tampa or Orlando don’t quite hit the target audience here.”
Shuler recalls a Berliner Weisse he created being a huge hit with discerning craft-heads at festivals and competitions, but not so much with the couples and groups that stop into the brewery’s tasting room during tours of the famed Keel & Curley Winery, where Two Henrys is located. That’s OK, though; Shuler’s brews reach the diehards through Two Henrys’ ambitious distribution model, the Brew Bus brings ‘em in, and he gets to take advantage of all the resources offered by the winery’s facility — there’s a blueberry farm on site, and Keel & Curley owns another blueberry farm and a peach farm just down the road. And he’s working with several other local breweries and a University of Florida agricultural program to try and hybridize hops that will grow in Florida’s climate; test plants are right on the property.
“Because we’re located on the blueberry farm, we source our own fruit as much as possible from ourselves,” Shuler says. “So when we make something and say it’s locally handcrafted, it means we’ve picked it, we’ve processsed it, it’s literally gone from fruit to glass [here].”
That methodology has produced some truly distinct beers, like the popular Roasted Jalapeño Blueberry Porter.
“I buy the little vegetable stand down the road out of jalapeños,” Shuler says with a laugh.
The brewmaster — an ordained Southern Baptist pastor who cut his teeth as a homebrewer and went on to work at Tampa’s Three Palms Brewing before moving over to Two Henrys — has some more interesting flavors on tap for the brewery’s upcoming Biertoberfest on Oct. 24 as well, including a bourbon barrel-aged double IPA.
“My assistants are phenomenal guys. They’ll kick me out of the brewery because I’m in the way,” he says. “It’s a great place to be ... it allows time to experiement with pilot brewings, small batches.”
Favorite local beer that isn’t his: “I love 7venth Sun, I love Rapp, so anything from those two places. But what’s in my fridge right now? Probably [Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s] Reef Donkey. It’s such a good beer.”
His signature Two Henrys Beer: “I would have to say the Roasted Jalapeño Blueberry Porter. I wasn’t the originator of that, but I spent a lot of time refining it, and the irony is that I’ve developed an allergy to jalapeños, so I can’t even drink that beer.”
Two Henrys Brewing Company
5210 Thonotosassa Road, Plant City