Tampa City Council gives preliminary approval for wet zoning for Cigar City Brewing
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12/02/10 Tom Baur
WMNF Drive-Time News Thursday | Listen to this entire show:

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Tampa’s Joe Redner infamously made his mark in the adult entertainment business on Dale Mabry. Two years ago Redner’s son Joey took his passion for hand-made artisan beer and built award-winning Cigar City Brewing on Spruce Street at the Redner complex. Joey’s application to add a tasting room on site brought out strong neighborhood resistance.

"In 1994 I took a trip. I'd heard that Portland had a really good beer scene, but I got a chance to go for a wedding and I took a trip out to Portland, Oregon. I actually got to have fresh beer brewed with American hops, you know, aggressively hopped and I was hooked. Then I knew it existed. Once you know something exists, then you just, you find ways to either make it yourself or go get it, and I did both things. I hunted out different beers any time I could find it. Anytime a friend or a relative went on vacation I basically gave them homework. I said 'get whatever local beer is there, bring it back to me'.

The past President of the Master Brewers Association of the Americas, Jaime Jurado explained the popularity of artisan beers.

"The wonderful thing about having a venue like this is it brings the key consumer to the brewery. You can see it. You can just go through two glass doors, you see the entire operation. That is magical. Making what we do, what Joey does, is a passion. There's a lot more ways he can make money. He could follow his father's footsteps for example. But the fact is he loves beer and it shows in the quality of what Wayne's producing here."

The brewery has attracted tourists from all over the country. Miami’s Loren and Augusto Turado visited the Cigar City Brewery Tasting Room while staying at St Pete Beach.

"Well we actually are vacationing in St. Petersburg and when we did the research I found out that Cigar City was close to where we were staying we were like 'we're going over there' because we love it and it's not, it's a good beer, really. And it's not very common in Miami, really we've only found Jai-Alai IPA in Miami so we wanted to come check it out. And then we walked inside and we're like 'wow, this is awesome. I wish we had more things like this in Miami.'

"We're going to go to the Salvador Dali Museum tomorrow morning, and maybe the aquarium, we'll see how it goes, drive around, if we have a chance we'll come back here."

The Lincoln Gardens/Carver City neighbors of the brewery don’t care if the beer made there is artsy and tasty. To them, beer is beer and they do not want any more alcohol fueled drivers on the road in their neighborhood. A majority of the residents petitioned the City Cvouncil to deny the request because the tasting room is too close to their homes. Lincoln Gardens/Carver City Neighborhood Association President Dr. Maurice Harvey:

"We don't need another establishment within the neighborhood where they can serve beer. And that's our issue but, our issue really started with City Hall two years ago because City Hall has a code and the code was there to protect neighborhoods. And for them to go through the process and waive all three of the 1,000 foot waivers, against the neighborhood wishes, because the neighborhood also sent petitions out for, I think we had 320 people petitioned from the neighborhood to say no."

Council members Gwen Miller, Thomas Scott and Curtis Stokes voted against. Members Joseph Caetano, Mary Mulhern, Yolie Capin, and Charlie Miranda voted in favor.

Dr. Harvey says the Neighborhood Association may sue the City of Tampa over the decision.

Tampa City Council will hold a final vote on wet zoning for Cigar City Brewing on December 16.

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