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Tampa Bourbon & Brew festival could attract thousands


Published:   |   Updated: November 21, 2013 at 10:26 AM

More than 3,500 fans of bourbon, beer and barbecue are expected to attend Tampa’s first festival devoted to whiskey on Saturday.

The Bourbon & Brew Fest at the Heights Waterfront in downtown Tampa gets underway at 3 p.m. and runs to 11 p.m.

It will feature four bands, 40-plus bourbons, a selection of craft beers, barbecue, games, a mechanical bull, and a fireworks show.

The Heights Waterfront is at the former Tampa Armature Works Building (also known as the trolley barn), on the Hillsborough River at 1910 N Ola Ave.

The place will be transformed into bourbon country, says event planner Monica Varner.

“We have a great line-up of talent, entertainment and something for connoisseurs of bourbon as well as those want to learn more about bourbon,” says Varner.

The event is sponsored by Jim Beam, which will have at least seven varieties of bourbon to sample. More than 10 distillers will be represented such as Maker’s Mark, Wild Turkey and Knob Creek.

A limited supply of the rare Pappy Van Winkle bourbon will be available at the VIP Grand Bourbon tasting area. This brand is considered the rarest and most-sought after bourbon in the world. A 20-year-old batch sells for $130 a bottle.

Kentucky, the home of several whiskey makers, has been hosting bourbon festivals since the 1990s. In recent years, however, other Southern cities have added bourbon festivals.

“This will be Tampa’s first and we will have much more than the bourbon,” says Varner. “There will be music, corn hole games, a mechanical bull for those who dare to ride it and a fireworks show to close the night.”

Bands booked include headliners LoCash Cowboys, a country rock music duo (Chris Lucas and Preston Brust) who have worked with some of the top country performers and they have written songs for Keith Urban and Tim McGraw.

Also on tap is The Mojo Gurus, a rocker band from St. Petersburg that has had success with albums “Hot Damn!,” “Shakin’ the Barn,” and “Who Asked Ya?” Also performing are Southern Train, a Tampa-based Southern rock band with country music roots, and solo artist Grant.

Varner says there also will be craft beers from Sweetwater, wines, cider and limited quantities of specially bourbon oak-barrel-aged beers. “A popular drink now is cider and bourbon,” she says.

General admission is $25 at the door. Food and drinks are sold separately with craft beers starting a $5.

The event is offering the Knob Creek VIP Grand Bourbon Tasting Experience for $85 (advance). This allows access to a tasting area with unlimited samples of over 40 brands of bourbon/whiskey; and a collectible Bourbon & Brew glass.

Event sponsors are encouraging “sensible” consumption, designated drivers and a taxi service will be available.

Ticket proceeds will benefit the Bruck Family Foundation. For information, see BourbonandBrewFest.com.

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