Shipyard Brewing Co., one of the largest microbreweries in the country, wants to join the Tampa Bay craft beer revolution.
So plans are underway to open its first production facility outside of Maine in the existing brewpub at Clearwater's Sea Dog Brewing Co., which opened last year. (Sea Dog is owned by parent company Shipyard.)
The company owns several Sea Dog brewpubs in Maine and New Hampshire, but the Clearwater location was its first in Florida to brew on-site. (Shipyard owns a tavern in Orlando, too, but doesn't brew beer there.)
"It's such a great market for us," said Shipyard's Dan Bolduc, who was pouring samples at this weekend's Enjoy Arts & Tastes festival in St. Pete. "Our beer is really popular here and we want to be part of the beer scene. We want to be considered local."
The company has been brewing a monthly beer at the Clearwater Sea Dog location, 26200 U.S. 19, on a 1.5-barrel system. Within the next three weeks Shipyard begins work on a 20-barrel system and hopes to open by February. It will be draft-only at first, but eventually bottling and canning lines will be added, Bolduc said. Sea Dog Blueberry Wheat is its best seller in Florida, he said.
The company is so committed to the Tampa Bay marked, Bolduc has relocated here to ramp up events. Among the plans: a lobster festival Jan. 25-26 at the brewpub, featuring 5,000 pounds of Maine lobster.