Tom Himes, who recently opened Craft Beer Cellar in Brandon, said he was never a home brewer. However, living in Germany for five years helped him cultivate an appreciation for good beers.
Himes of Lakeland opened Craft Beer Cellar at 1937 W. Brandon Blvd. in Providence Square on Jan. 13, which is the first of the franchise in Florida.
Craft Beer Cellar is based out of Belmont, Mass., founded in 2010 by ex-restaurateurs Kate Baker and Suzanne Schalow. Current franchise locations include Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Vermont – and now, Brandon.
The business specializes in beers from small breweries from around the world, and Himes has a special section featuring beers brewed in Florida.
“We are going to highlight the Florida beers – the local guys – and get as many on the shelves as we can,” he said.
Himes said more people are getting into beer and food pairing, just as they do with wines.
“Beer goes with anything, especially in Florida with the heat and the beaches,” he said. “It goes with football and outdoor sports.”
Himes said he chose Providence Square because of the proximity to State Road 60.
“It's a heavily traveled road and it's one of the busiest Chili's in the Southeast,” he said, of the restaurant that shares space in the strip mall. “We love Ploy Thai. We have been going there for years.”
Himes carries beers from Belgium, the United Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Japan, Sri Lanka, Poland and Czechoslovakia.
“Right now the IPAs are the most popular,” he said, adding it stands for India Pale Ale. “It's a style that is more hoppy with more bitterness.”
Matt Sboto of Avon Park, who visited Craft Beer Cellar recently, said he likes to drink beer to relax at the end of the day.
“I come to Brandon to go to craft brewery places and I was driving down 60 and saw the sign,” Sboto said. “I've been shopping and looking around. I like all the beers – barley wines, IPAs and I like stouts. I have gotten into German bock beers.”
In the United States alone, there are more than 2,000 craft brewers that help make up the growing industry.
“It's all micro brews,” Himes said. “It's smaller batches.”
Craft Beer Cellar is open Monday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sundays noon to 6 p.m.
For information on Craft Beer Cellar, 1937 W. Brandon Blvd. Brandon, call (813) 413-4951 or visit the company website here.