There’s something brewing in downtown Safety Harbor — well, all right, not quite yet. Father-and-son team Steve and Kevin Shanks have started transforming Copperheads Taphouse into Troubled Waters Brewing, a rebirth they’re aiming to complete at 670 Main St. by the end of 2018.
The idea of opening a brewery has been on the Shanks’ minds for nearly a decade. When Copperheads went up for sale in late February, the duo jumped on the opportunity to take over the neighborhood taproom for their long-awaited venture. They’ve decided to keep the Copperheads name and signage until their three-barrel brewing system is installed within the next few months.
Originally from Chicago, Kevin and Steve moved south to follow their shared passion of homebrewing. Kevin, a certified cicerone, worked at craft beer bars and restaurants in the Windy City before relocating to Florida and gaining front-of-house experience as the assistant manager of Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing. A retired firefighter, Steve became a tour guide for CCB prior to taking the reins at the Tampa International Airport outpost for the brewery, collaborating with CCB on new beer recipes.
The Shanks ended up leaving CCB in mid-February to find a site for their own brewery and tasting room, and the Copperheads location became available a week later (talk about serendipitous). Now the two Chicagoans ride their golf carts barely one mile to the 2,000-square-foot digs that will soon house Troubled Waters. They have a special connection to the city, too.
“For 30 years, we would visit my grandparents in Safety Harbor, and it became our home away from home,” Kevin said.
In the process of undergoing some cosmetic changes, Copperheads — which features 20 beers on draft, alongside bottled brews and wine — remains open to the public. Updates to the space include a revamped bartop and the addition of reclaimed wood paneling. With indoor seating and more room for patrons on the patio out front (yes, there are fans to keep you cool), Troubled Waters will evoke a colorful, Florida-style vibe, showcasing decor elements like aqua-colored walls and a mural by a local artist that’s still in development.
While the taproom was changing ownership, Steve and Kevin were able to tie up all of the loose ends within a business day to ensure their guests wouldn’t go thirsty. They want Troubled Waters to remain a fixture in the community. The Safety Harbor Athletic Club, for one, hasn’t missed a beat; the running collective continues to make Copperheads the final destination for their Wednesday night meet-ups. And when this CL reporter stopped by, yogis were in the middle of wrapping up a Saturday morning class on-site.
Troubled Waters is working with seven fermenters at the moment. The brewery expects to launch with seven house beers, growing into a list that spotlights 20 to 30 over time. As far as guest taps go, Kevin says he wants to maintain the small, family-owned feel of Safety Harbor.
“We will still have guest beers on tap,” according to the co-owner. “We want to showcase local and international brewers while staying away from conglomerate brands.”
What else? Troubled Waters plans to bring on pressed sandwiches, as food isn’t currently offered.
Patrons itching to get a peek at the Shanks’ progress should make a day out of it and stop by their future tasting room during the monthly Safety Harbor block party, hosted every third Friday.