The Lost Story of Regional Breweries in Florida

October 12, 2017

A "regional brewery" can be described as one that distributes to particular regions on a smaller basis than the nationwide breweries many of us are familiar with today. According to the Brewers Association, a regional craft brewery is one with an annual production level between 15,000 and 6 million barrels. Currently, the Florida Beer Company and Cigar City Brewing are the only regional craft breweries operating in Florida.


Southern Brewing Company (1934 - 1963)


City: Tampa, Florida
Capacity: 90,000 annual barrels



(Hillsborough Public Library)

Shortly after the repeal of prohibition, the Southern Brewing Company opened at 700 East Zack Street in 1934. Of interesting note, its brewing operations, which churned out 3,600 pints an hour, could be observed from the street through its large glass windows. For years, it's Silver Bar Ale was a popular drink in taverns all across the region. During the 1940s, Southern brewed roughly 90,000 barrels a year, which is comparable to some of Florida's largest craft brewers today.


(Hillsborough Public Library)

In 1956, Detroit-based International Breweries Inc. (IBI), acquired the downtown Tampa brewery. In 1959 and 1961, Schlitz and Anhueser-Busch opened breweries in Tampa, driving down prices and saturating the local market.  As a response, IBI purchased the recently closed Tampa Florida Brewery's copyright name "Tropical" in hopes of gaining a larger share of the local beer market. However, competition from Schlitz and Anheuser-Busch proved to be too much. Unable to compete, IBI ceased operations in Tampa for good in 1963.


(Hillsborough Public Library)



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