There’s a story behind each house-brewed beer at the popular Ulele restaurant in downtown Tampa. Foodies have been flocking to Ulele since Columbia Group restaurateur Richard Gonzmart opened this native-Florida-themed eatery last year. But the beer is a draw, too.
Adjacent to the restaurant is the Ulele Spring Brewery where the beer flows directly into the taps. “Can’t get any fresher than that,” says Ulele Brewmaster Timothy Shackton, who loves to share stories about the lagers there.
Take Ulele’s signature Wedding Beer, for example. Shackton says he first created this light, fruity blend as a home brew challenge for a friend’s wedding.
“The friend wanted the ladies at the wedding to enjoy this beer, and he wanted to serve it with the wedding cake,” says Shackton. “So I came up with a nice, light, unfiltered lager-style beer with natural fruits, red and black berries.” Slightly tart, it works well with creamy sugars. Shackton recommends it with Ulele’s Key Lime Ice Cream Stack.
The Magbee Honey Lager, an American pale ale style, is named for a notorious, liquor-loving, 1800s Tampa judge, James T. Magbee. He once owned nearby Magbee Spring; the city’s first source of water, it was renamed Ulele Spring in 2006 to honor a Native American princess.
Also on tap at Ulele are Rusty’s Red Lager, Ulele Light (a customer favorite) and Water Works Pale Lager. These five are always on tap. A sixth tap is for seasonal brews, currently Deadeye Rye, with a new one debuting in the fall.
“I don’t like to carry a hundred different beers,” says Shackton. “With no more than seven to 10 styles, it can always be fresh.”
The brews at Ulele are designed to complement the food. No heavy brews here. No stouts. No porters. No IPAs. No Belgian styles. You fill up on the food — not the beer.
A fan of cold fermentation, Shackton calls it “pre-Prohibition” brewing. He sticks to the Reinheitsgebot German purity law: only water, hops and malt. No additives or clarifying agents.
When Shackton is available, he’s happy to give brewery tours. Ask about it when calling for reservations or in a note on Open Table. You can even dine in the brewery by request.
Two beer night
Two beer festivals on the same day? It happens Aug. 22 when the Creative Loafing Beer Fest at the Museum of Science and Industry gets underway in Tampa and the 97X Craft Beer Experience 2015 serves brew samples at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg.
The MOSI event runs 8 to 11 p.m., featuring 70 craft beers from 35 local and national breweries, food trucks and access to MOSI exhibits. Tickets are $55 to $65; go to wwww.cltampa.xorbia.com/beerfest for ticket information.
Sponsored by radio station 97X, the Mahaffey event runs from 4 to 8 p.m. Aug. 22 with samples of more than 112 beers, ciders and meads from 34 breweries. Tickets are $30 to $35; go to www.97xonline.com or www.themahaffey.com for more information.
Name that beer
More than 300 entries have been submitted so far to the Pair O’ Dice Brewing Company in Clearwater in a contest to rename a popular brew there. The moniker “Let it Rye’d IPA” is being forced into retirement because a brewery in Minnesota has a copyright on “Let it Ride.”
“Even though it’s spelled differently and that brewery is cycling-themed, there is a problem with how it sounds phonetically,” says Julia Rosenthal, co-founder of the gambling-themed Pair O’ Dice. “With so many breweries now, it’s getting harder to come up with an original name.”
Rye’d is a popular craft beer name throughout the country, as in Sleigh Rye’d, Rye’d Piper, River Rye’d, Sweet Rye’d, and Rough Rye’d, to name a few.
“Let It Rye’d” was a gold medal winner in the Great American Beer Festival, and Rosenthal is sad to see it go. But it would cost an estimated $50,000 to defend the name in court.
Sunday is the deadline to submit names (see www.pairodicebrewing.com for details). The top five picked by the brewery will be posted on social media for public vote. The winner will be announced Sept. 1. The prize is the pride of having named a beer, the first pour and some Pair O’ Dice swag.