In August I sourced a brewery from Hidden Springs Ale Works in Tampa, FL. I'd looked at hundreds of brewery classifieds in the past, but a few things about this system stood out. I'll detail more in a later post about why I love this brewery. Most importantly, it was located in Tampa, where I could get to cheaply with a flight out of Youngstown. So on August 25th, I hopped on an airplane to check out the system.

My first stop was Cigar City, as it is right down the street from Hidden Springs and I needed a place to meet my friend Tim, a Newton Falls, OH native, who generously offered to shuttle me around for the weekend. 

I've always loved visiting breweries, but the experience changes when you're starting one yourself. I find myself taking notes on what I enjoy about them to apply to Modern Methods. Cigar City certainly didn't disappoint. With dozens of beers on tap, a friendly and knowledgeable staff, and its focus on creating an intimate place to drink great beer, I felt right at home. 

Tim showed up and we shared a beer. He had their excellent Maduro Brown Ale and I had a taproom exclusive Berliner Weisse. And then we left for Hidden Springs to meet up with the owners, Josh and Austin, and get our first glimpse at the brewery. 

The Hidden Springs tasting room felt brand new compared to the well-worn seats at Cigar City. No surprise there, as Hidden Springs hadn't even celebrated its first year of being open. We had a beer while Josh and Austin finished up bottling some specialty sour beer in the brewhouse. At the first sip of their excellent IPA, I looked at Tim and said, "yup, these guys know what they're doing." Shortly after, we wandered back into the brewery portion of the building to talk shop.

I'd get a chance to brew on the system later on in the week and decide if it was "the one." Check back for the second installment of the Great American Brewery Roadtrip to find out the exciting details!