Beer Travels: Cycle Brewing of Gulfport, Home of Florida Weisse
Peg's Cantina, home to Cycle Brewing in Gulfport, Florida.
Nestled between a plethora of sea grape, sabal palms, and towering pines, among countless other varieties of grass, flower, and shrub, stands the comforting structure that is Peg's Cantina -- a venue of Mexican-inspired food that just so happens to house Gulfport's own Cycle Brewing.
Gulfport is a sleepy seaside town on the St. Petersburg peninsula, that medula oblongata of the Tampa bay area. An art and food center, it's what would form if Lake Worth and Delray Beach had a love child: eccentric, walkable, and full of passionate people doing what they love.
This day, however, was full of rain and misery, and in true Florida fashion, heavy sheets of rain fell in ten-minute bursts throughout the afternoon. It was lunchtime, though, and people didn't mind coming in for a bite to eat, though most were coming not necessarily just to eat some pork carnitas tacos or the crab quesadilla. They were there for the food and the beer that's made on premises.
Out back, behind the restaurant, stands an industrial shed, something like an RV carport. It easily covers 100 square feet of previously unusable (for beer making) outdoor space. Beneath it are the prize jewels of Cycle Brewing, the conical fermenters that are the star of the show for Doug Dozark, head brewer and notable Florida sour-beer legend.
A few years ago, Dozark started what is now considered a "sour beer craze" around the state with the introduction of a type of sour beer, called a Berliner Weisse, brewed with fruit. Now, Berliner purists might scoff at this new brewing method of adding in the fruit during fermentation instead of as a secondary postfermentation addition, but the style has caught on and earned itself a nickname, Florida Weisse, and a few fans. South Floridians may have already heard of the name Jonathan Wakefield of the upcoming Wynwood-based J. Wakefield Brewing, but other players are joining in the sour game, like Diego Ganoza of Miami's Gravity Brewlab and Ryan Sentz of Oakland Park's Funky Buddha Brewery. They aren't just jumping on the bandwagon either; these brews are seriously tasty.