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Brewing New Port Richey’s Craft Beer Culture

By Diane Bedard Posted on November 19, 2020

According to the Brewers Association, craft brewer sales now account for more than 25% of the $116.0 billion U.S. beer market. Florida ranks fifth in the nation for craft brew sales at $3.8 billion.

This is old news to BJ Ciper, who spent twenty years representing craft beer lines to bars and restaurants in the Tampa Bay area.

“I was working for companies who wanted to push Bud Light, representing mom and pop brands. After three buyouts, it was getting old. Finally, my wife called my bluff and we opened Ordinance One at 5738 Main Street in downtown New Port Richey on March 15, 2018,” BJ told NatureCoaster.

He and his brother Louis grew up in the largest city in western Pasco County. When we visited, their children were enjoying a soda while the dads prepared for the evening’s guests. “We are very family-friendly here, with casual seating and games along one wall, a foosball table in an alcove and a back door that opens onto New Port Richey’s Railroad Square.

ordinance one family
Ordinance One has a family-friendly, laid-back atmosphere. Here are some of the Cipers at their family’s craft beer bar before hours while the dads get ready to open in downtown New Port Richey. Image by Diane Bedard

Sports memorabilia is part of Ordinance One’s decor, but the wood, plaster, and exposed brick set its historic downtown mood. BJ built the furniture, as well as a beautiful bar he crafted from wood salvaged from the Belleview Biltmore.

Craft beers are all about supporting independent, small businesses. This IPA shows the words “FAMILY OWNED, OPERATED & ARGUED OVER” on its labeling. BJ Ciper’s years of experience in the craft beer business results in a great inventory for patrons. Image by Diane Bedard

Ordinance One keeps 12 handles to allow its beer to stay fresh. The most popular pours are Narrangasett Lager, from Narrangasett, Rhode Island (think Jaws), B. Nektar Zombie Killer Cyser from Ferndale, Michigan (a blend of cider and mead), and Escape Other West Coast IPA from Trinity, Florida. They also carry a healthy selection of wines sold by the glass or the bottle, craft beers in bottle and can, sodas and juices, as well as pub-type foods.

Be sure to take some time to visit the historic map exposed during the building’s renovation. “It took 6 months to fix this map, originally part of the fire station when this building was constructed. The glass protecting it is thick!” BJ explained. You can feel the pride he has in his hometown and his family’s business.

historic new port richey map at ordinance one
BJ proudly shows the historic map of New Port Richey from the 1920s fire station. This map was uncovered, and then painstakingly restored. Now it is a piece of NPR’s history protected in his bar. Ordinance One was the first ordinance enacted to make New Port Richey a city in 1924. Image by Diane Bedard.

Downtown New Port Richey is working to craft a new vibe. It fits perfectly with the craft beer business, which is all about small, independent businesses that are part of a community supporting each other. Food trucks often come along Railroad Square supporting that walkability and community integration that makes this downtown area so attractive.

Railroad Square near Grand Blvd. in New Port Richey. The street is closed off in evenings, offering patrons of downtown businesses the opportunity to mingle enjoying food trucks and more. It’s all part of the culture that says, “Get out an enjoy your town.” Image by Diane Bedard

Sip on Grand Introduced the Craft Beer and Wine Culture to New Port Richey

The first location to carry craft beer downtown is called Sip on Grand at 6231 Grand Blvd, New Port Richey. A humble sign and awning belie its eclectic, funky atmosphere, which opened in 2016. Sean Fulton purchased the popular after-work gathering place from its creators, Lisa and Kris Bolster, just before the pandemic hit. By emphasizing their popular charcuterie boards, appetizers, amazing coffee drinks, and craft beer and wine to-go, things have come around.

Tonight, several regulars come in minutes after the door opens and individually head to a seating area toward the back, greeting Sean and his right-hand man, Joshua Rinderspacher, and ordering in the same breath. They all seem to know each other.

Local patrons gather at the seating area toward the back of Sip on Grand, enjoying their favorite craft beer, organic wine, or coffee drink while catching up with each other. Image by Diane Bedard

Out on the street, Sip has innovated with a parklet conversion that looks like a deck over on the street parking. The parklet expands seating, offering outside tables and fresh air. Live plants in boxes add to the ambiance as the sun sets and the streetlamps glow.

An innovative parklet takes up a few street parking spaces in front of Sip on Grand. Guests can enjoy outdoor seating, live plants, and a full service menu here – or wait for their to-go order in comfort. A golf cart helps Sip serve its downtown customers with delivery service. Image by Diane Bedard

“I love that the downtown business-owners support each other in New Port Richey. It is a tight-knit community,” Sean shares with NatureCoaster, “The City has worked to partner with local business owners to help grow this living community. Sip’s previous owners worked with the City who has supported our parklet and several other innovations that make things business and pedestrian-friendly.”

Sean Fulton took over Sip on Grand in March of 2020. He loves the suportive community of businesses, employees, and patrons that have helped his small business stay afloat during the pandemic. Image by Diane Bedard

“My employees have helped carry us through this challenging time, with COVID-19 restrictions closing us only weeks after taking ownership, and we are fortunate to have a wonderful, loyal customer base who have been very supportive,” Sean

Joshua Rinderspacher pours for a guest at Sip. Sean tells me Joshua is an amazing barista and I will be back to test his skills. Image by Diane Bedard

Sip on Grand carries Florida-made craft beers and a carefully curated organic wine selection on tap. About half the taps are filled with customer favorites like Bullfrog Blonde from 2Frogs, Red Right from Marker48, and Dukes Brown Ale from Jacksonville. Additionally, fanciful coffee drinks are crafted to order. Out front is a brand-new golf cart for local deliveries. Partnerships and event catering are in the future plans.

Sip on Grand was the first craft beer seller in downtown New Port Richey, offering organic wines on tap also. It is an eclectic, inviting place to mingle. Image by Diane Bedard

Craft Brewers are thriving in downtown New Port Richey

Part of what makes the craft beer culture so rich is the cooperative spirit between brewers, serving establishments, and customers of these establishments.

An example of this is Bridge the Gap day. “On Mondays Dented Keg Ale Works and Ordinance One teamed up to help patrons get off of their tushies,” says BJ Ciper, “Purchase a draft product at either establishment, bring the receipt to the other and receive BOGO draft on your first round. Other businesses open Mondays are welcome to join the party.”

The Dented Keg is located on the first floor of Main Street Landings on the west side of the river. Image courtesy of Dented Keg.

Dented Keg Ale Works opened October 23, 2020

Dented Keg Ale Works is New Port Richey’s newest downtown craft beer establishment, located on the west side of the Pithlachascotee River. With an industrial looking taphouse at 5500 Main Street, Rick chose to locate his craft brewery in the Main Street Landings Apartments, a three-story apartment community right on the river.

Rick Sommer was a third-generation jeweler who loved beer. His brewing passion and love of the of craft brewery culture led to his opening Dented Keg Ale Works. Image by Diane Bedard

“I grew up in the jewelry business and my family was quite successful, but I always loved to brew beer. Perhaps it is my German heritage, but I just love beer. Twenty years ago, I began brewing at home using malt extract on the stovetop,” Rick shared. “My wife and I began visiting small craft breweries throughout the Tampa Bay area and fell in love with the culture.”

Small family operations help one another. Rick told us that as a member of the Florida Brewers Guild, he got more and more involved and kept hearing, “anything you need…” He decided to take the plunge in August of 2019.

November 15 at The Dented Keg. 19 taps – mostly guest taps – with kombucha, cider, seltzer, and cold brew coffee. Image courtesy of The Dented Keg.

Dented Keg Ale Works offers 19 taps, with kombucha, cider, seltzer, and cold brew coffee on tap also. They received their license to open and brew October 23, 2020, with guest taps. The first brew was held November 1 and they are now open for business daily.

Rick received help setting up his brewing operation from BJ Ciper of Ordinance One and Bryan Hackman, co-owner of New Port Richey’s first downtown craft brewery.

Cotee River Brewing Company and Taproom

Cotee River Brewing Company opened the first craft brewery in New Port Richey’s downtown. They had to replace their original 1.5 barrel system to a larger one one that would double their capacity only 18 months after opening. Image by Diane Bedard.

Cotee River Brewing Company opened as the first brewery in historic, downtown New Port Richey in July, 2018. Bryan Hackman and his wife, Kelly, love their city. “I wanted to help draw people to my hometown by creating a comfortable place to get together – a sort of community,” Bryan told NatureCoaster when asked why he started his craft brewery here.

“Bryan has been a craft beer lover for over ten years. He began with a Mr. Beer kit. We visit craft breweries throughout the Southeast U.S. and he actually keeps a journal of flavors, including notes of each beer’s experience.

Bryan loves talking with guests, sharing how he crafted each brew, and helping his community grow. He enjoys a pour with regular, Danny Kendall. Image by Diane Bedard.

Bryan’s favorite part of the brewery is people coming together tasting his new flavors. He loves watching the guests take their first sip,” Kelly shares.

Cotee River Brewing’s 20 Taps include sixteen for Bryan’s crafts and sangria. Four are guest taps.

Each beer Bryan brews is named after something local, like their popular 23-Mile IPA. Why 23 Mile? That’s the length of the Pithlaschascotee River running through this lively, growing town.

Cotee River Brewing Company was the first New Port Richey craft brewer. Owners Bryan and Kelly Hackman helped the City set itself up to be business and brewer-friendly. Image by Diane Bedard

Crafting the Local Brew Scene Looks Good for New Port Richey’s Downtown

Danny and Patty Kendall have been regulars at Cotee River Brewing’s taproom since its opening. “We love the beer and people we meet here. It’s all local,” Danny shared as he was getting his growler filled for home. Patty chimed in, “We take the golf cart over and enjoy a pour, catch up with our friends and enjoy the camaraderie.”

“Craft breweries are proven to help small towns revive. We want to see our city thrive,” Kelly Hackman explains.

Enjoy a craft beer in New Port Richey. Louis Ciper or any of his compatriots are happy to welcome you to their community. Image by Diane Bedard

The integration of this philosophy expands to City officials, local organizations, and events. Before opening Cotee River Brewing Company, the Hackman’s worked with New Port Richey to create ordinances that are business and brewery friendly.

Bryan created Loquat Blonde Ale, “a light, refreshing Blonde Ale fermented with copious amounts of local, fresh Loquat fruit” by working with the Florida Loquat Festival promoters and residents, Dell and Marilyn DeChant.

Creating an opportunity for other craft breweries to set up shop in New Port Richey should add to the community’s allure, because craft beer enthusiasts often visit several breweries in one day.

If you are an enthusiast, visit downtown New Port Richey, order a pull, and let us know what you think.

Comments

JudyDBT says

Diane your love of our city, your writing talent and your enthusiasm to promote and educate comes shining through every time! Thank you for yet another excellent article that shares great information about our local craft brew masters and their establishments! Cheers and kudos to you!
Judy

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