Brewing New Port Richey’s Craft Beer Culture
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
“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.”
“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
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.
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.”
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.
“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.
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 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’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.
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.
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.