We spent three weeks at our vacation home in December. Unlike our October stay, the December visit was much more laid back and relaxing. We had no family or friends staying with us and we weren't on the road near as much as we usually are. We went to Cleveland Heights twice with friends for dinner and the evening entertainment (Ken Brady, and friends). We also made a side trip to Sanibel Island to hunt for seashells then stopped to visit family in Naples, Florida. One of our friends and their son drove their other son's car down to Tampa. He works on the cruise lines and needed his car down there. We met up with our friend and son for dinner at Tampa Bay Brewing Company, a restaurant and microbrewery friends had introduced us to during our October visit.
John G. Doble, III founded the Tampa Bay Brewing Company in 1996. The microbrewery was originally located in a two-story brick building (former horse stable) on 15th Street in Ybor City. The business was moved to its current location on the plaza level of Centro Ybor in 2006. The business continues to be family owned and operated.
10-barrel brewing system. The brewhouse consists of a combination of: mash/boil kettle, lauter tun, hot liquor tank, cold liquor tank, three 10bbl fermenters and a 20 bbl fermenter. Unlike some of the microbreweries we have visited, we did not see the tanks or brewing process because we sat on outdoor patio to enjoy a bit of people watching and the absolutely delightful atmosphere in the district. However, it does appear from their website that the tanks and brewing can be viewed from the indoor restaurant area.
Our friend ordered a sampler of beers. They were generous sized samplers! Now, if you are going to a microbrewery, you must taste some of their beer. The best way to do this is via samplers. I hope I'm getting this right, from left to right: old elephant foot IPA, red eye amber ale (American), one night stand pale (American ale) and wild warthog Hefeweizen (German). I had a true blond ale that had a slight hop nose with a smooth, crisp and slightly citrus note. My husband seldom drinks beer so he ordered an alternative adult beverage but he did have a sip of mine.
Our friend's son ordered the personal sized Tomato Caprese pizza made with whole milk mozzarella cheese, sliced roma tomatoes and fresh basil chiffonade. The crust is hand tossed featuring their own dough made with their own ale. Doesn't it look absolutely delicious?
This would be very easy to duplicate at home. I always use beer when making pizza dough. It really does make a huge difference. My requirements are a microbrew beer, usually Sleemans out of Guelph, Ontario and good, fresh ingredients. I would recommend making this pizza when tomatoes and basil are in, but with a bit of care you can keep both growing indoors over the winter. Roma tomatoes have been so over bred they really are tasteless especially if not bought in the peak of season. Fresh basil is a must have for the chiffonade. Tampa Bay Brewing Company used fresh, sweet basil but really any basil (and there are so many) will work.
A chiffonade can be made with any green leafy vegetable and it works nicely for broad leaf herbs like basil as well. Simply wash and pat dry the leaves then stack. Carefully roll the stack then cut across the stack to form thin strips. Sprinkle the chiffonade over the pizza or dish of choice for that wonderful punch of flavour. It really is nice, flavourful presentation!