Craft-beer bar chains are nothing new. As a matter of fact, they might be the most beloved chains of all. Relatively small in size, like local fave Flying Saucer, they offer a consistent quality par excellence. When I learned from my brother-in-law in Florida that a craft-beer restaurant-bar chain, The Pub, had recently landed in Tampa, Florida, one where customers are treated to a pour your own beer (PYOB) experience, I was, needless to say, a wee bit excited.
So, off we went to Tampa for the holidays, a city that has slowly been eking out a name for itself in the beer world. 2009 Great American Beer Festival gold-medal winner (wood- and barrel-aged beer) Cigar City Brewing is chief among the local suds operations that have caught the eye of beer geeks and writers, raising the profile of the Tampa Bay area. I wasn't surprised then, when I saw Cigar City's peach-apricot on cask at the main bar of The Pub, Tampa. The dark main bar, on the ground floor, is ringed by a dining room choked with large tables packed tight with customers imbibing the European (heavy on the Commonwealth selections) beer. The helter-skelter crowd was rambunctious during trivia night, making it a relief when a table in the main attraction upstairs was open for us.
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The second floor is the location of the PYOB wall. The novelty that brings out local beer enthusiasts. For 34¢ per oz. (vs. 26¢), customers have the option to select a glass size (from taster to imperial pint) and drink any of the 20 rotating beers -- as long as no more than 40 oz. is consumed. To participate in this gimmick, customers must press a card against the wood framing an iPad screen above the desired tap. Once the system recognizes the cardholder's identity, the drinker has 20 seconds to pour the beer.