Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Craft beers, breweries booming throughout Florida - Tampabay.com

TAMPA â€" Donna Giambrano traveled to Munich and Brussels this summer for one reason: Beer. "I do beer travel," she says.

"Whenever I go to new places, I like to try the local beer."

Which explains why Giambrano was snaking her way through the looming brew kettles, mash tuns and fermenters at Cigar City Brewing on a recent Saturday afternoon in Tampa. The Long Island resident was visiting friends in Tampa who surprised her with a brewery tour and sampling. Giambrano has several craft breweries to choose from back home and didn't know about Florida's booming craft beer scene.

Highly regarded craft breweries and brewpubs are in every corner of Florida, from Pensacola Bay Brewing in Pensacola to Intuition and Bold City in Jacksonville, to Swamphead in Gainesville and the Funky Buddha in Boca Raton.

The craft brewers are still relatively small players in the commercial beer world but are helping to create a different sort of Florida attraction for people like Giambruno, many of whom don't even care if there's a tour. For them it's all about the beer.

Cigar City, which opened three years ago in a humble warehouse behind a Home Depot off busy North Dale Mabry Highway, is the upstart leader of the Florida craft beer scene, in both recognition and volume.

Most breweries offer some kind of tour, from big players like Yuengling (Tampa) or Anheuser Busch (Jacksonville) or boutique operations like St. Somewhere (Tarpon Springs). Cigar City offers tours five days a week while smaller operations like Swamphead hold them weekly. Some, like Peg's Cantina in Gulfport or Seventh Sun in Dunedin, are so small a tour is decidedly short and often spontaneous.

Giambruno's tour, which was filled to its 20-person limit, began in the tasting room, a narrow bar built onto the brewery, with two flat-screen TVs showing different views of the brewery (sometimes busy, sometimes not). A typical Saturday mid-afternoon finds the place packed.

Jennifer Harden of San Diego was waiting for the tour with her Lakeland boyfriend, Jeff Page. It was their first stop before heading to Dunedin Brewery, Florida's oldest craft brewery, founded in 1996. They heard about Seventh Sun while at Cigar City and added it to their list.

"We get a lot of tourists," says Cigar City owner Joey Redner.

"That's why you can come to the tasting room at noon on a Tuesday and the place is packed. They're all tourists. When you're a tourist, you can drink beer at noon."

Redner still sees plenty of room for growth in Florida, long dominated by mass-market beers and years behind states like California, Colorado, Oregon and North Carolina. He sees an advantage to breweries clustering within walking distance, such as Intuition and Bold City in the Riverside section of Jacksonville, or Dunedin Brewery and Seventh Sun in downtown Dunedin. Beer enthusiasts, like wine lovers, enjoy the variety that multiple breweries offer, along with the chance of trying something they can't get anywhere else. Asheville, N.C., has a half-dozen breweries within walking distance.

"We don't have that critical mass yet," says Redner, "but it's coming." Touring Florida breweries is more like touring wineries in Sonoma. It takes a car, some planning and moderation. Which gives Tampa Bay distinct advantages.

The biggest craft beer scene in the state by far is in Tampa Bay, with about a dozen breweries and brewpubs. At least three more are planned, from St. Pete (Green Bench and St. Petersburg Brewing) to Seminole (Rapp Brewing). The region also spawned the World of Beer chain of craft beer taverns, quickly spreading across the state. It's not uncommon to find craft beer bars with 30 or 40 taps, a rare sight three years ago.

In Florida, breweries are the only place to legally buy draft beer to go, sold in so-called growlers â€" one-quart or gallon bottles filled and sealed to take home. Tasting rooms like Cigar City's are common at Florida craft breweries, and a key part of their business. Sales at Cigar City's tasting room hit $1.5 million last year and helped finance its expansion.

With shoestring budgets and narrow profit margins, Florida's craft brewers are relying on word of mouth and social media to get the word out. A weekly Tampa Bay radio show on craft beer (11 a.m. Saturdays, WTAN-AM 1340) is hosted by Savino Sterlacci, the World of Beer founder who helped change state law to allow myriad bottle sizes, which helped fuel Florida's craft beer explosion.

Name a city in Florida and it either has craft breweries and brewpubs or they are in the planning stages. Besides Swamphead, Gainesville also has Alligator Brewing, Tallahassee has Proof and Momo's Pizza, Boynton Beach has Due South, Melbourne has Florida Brewery, Sarasota has Darwin's on Fourth, Marco Island has the Marco Brewpub, Hourglass Brewery is opening in Longwood, Winter Park has Shipyard, Brandon has Three Palms Brewery. Miami has lagged behind the rest of the state, though a couple of award-winning home brewers are planning their own small breweries.

Much of the current buzz has been generated by Cigar City, which garnered attention and national awards using local ingredients like guava, Cuban espresso and cedar to flavor their beers. It has grown from a two-person operation to a staff of 60, and is rapidly expanding into the next warehouse to keep up with demand.

Saturday tours at Cigar City are led by an affable bearded beer gnome named Bob Lorber, who wittily walks guests through the basics of beer-making, points out the various tanks and barrels and bottling equipment, and offers samples poured straight from the fermenter. Nothing fresher, he says, and his beaming guests soon ask for more. The tour takes 30-45 minutes and ends back in the tasting room with a souvenir glass and a beer of their choice.

This story was first published on VISITFLORIDA.com.


McCain criticizes Obama Mideast policy during Tampa visit - Tbo.com

By JEROME STOCKFISCH | The Tampa Tribune

Arizona Sen. John McCain discussed "historic and tectonic change" in the Middle East during a Tuesday talk that took swipes at President Barack Obama's leadership abroad but avoided a gloves-off Republican campaign assault.

McCain appeared at the University of Tampa prior to appearances in Orlando and Jacksonville on behalf of Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney. The Tampa event was organized as an opportunity for UT students, particularly veterans and members of the school's Reserve Officer Training Corps, to engage with the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

McCain stuck generally to a professorial analysis of developments in the Middle East, replying to one question about a potential Obama second term with, "Next question," and concluding a response with, "That was a pretty good dodge, wasn't it?"

But his account of the Arab Spring included criticism of the president for appearing soft in conflicts in Egypt, Iraq, Iran, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya and Pakistan.

"Brutal dictators throughout the world and oppressive governments are not going to be able to succeed in keeping their people repressed whether they're in Moscow, Beijing or Damascus," McCain said. "This requires strong American leadership. If we show weakness, then obviously, the things that will occur may not be in America's interest ...

"In the Middle East today, we are regarded as weak," he said.

McCain criticized Obama for suspending the training of Afghan security forces and telegraphing U.S. withdrawal plans there.

"The whole object was to train Afghan soldiers to take over the responsibility as Americans left," he said. "The president of the United States goes around telling everybody that we are withdrawing. Not that we are succeeding, not that we won, but that we are withdrawing. People and nations take the lesson of us leaving and they make their own accommodations."

McCain said the "greatest threat we face" is Iran's attempts to develop nuclear weapons, adding that the U.S. and Israel should be acting together in "laying out a red line, and saying when the Iranians reach this point we will act together.

"Instead, (U.S. officials) are spending their time going over to Israel and telling them not to attack Iran. What message does that give the Iranians? And so the Iranians continue on the path that they're on."

McCain, an Air Force veteran and Vietnam prisoner of war who was defeated by Obama in the 2008 presidential election, spoke for about an hour and took questions from 140 students in the Reeves Theater.

Jason Turk, an 11-year Navy veteran who hopes to attend law school, asked the senator about the hyper-partisan atmosphere in the Capitol. McCain acknowledged that polls show Congress with an 11 percent approval rating, and quipped, "When you get to 11 percent approval, you're down to paid staff and blood relatives."

He said lawmakers from both parties will be forced to sit down together on a long-term budget compromise, calling the bipartisan Simpson-Bowles Commission recommendations a "blueprint."

After the UT event, McCain told reporters he "respectfully" disagreed with a call by Rep. C.W. "Bill" Young, the Indian Shores Republican, for an immediate withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan as soon as possible.

"We should remember the attacks of 9/11 began in Afghanistan, that's why we went there in the first place. The signals this president sends constantly of withdrawal encourages the enemy."

And McCain urged people to consider the context in listening to Romney's secretly taped comments at a Boca Raton fundraiser, when he was caught saying that 47 percent of Americans don't pay taxes and are dependent on the government.

"I think what Governor Romney was saying was what a lot of people have said, that sometimes it's difficult to get certain segments of the population to support his candidacy," he said. "Governor Romney put it in context this morning (Tuesday) when he said he wants every vote and he'll work for every vote."

McCain's appearances later Tuesday in Orlando and Jacksonville were more traditional pro-Romney whistle-stops, but all three events were paid for by the Romney campaign.

Turk, the UT student, said he appreciated the tone of the Tampa event.

"I'm glad it wasn't" a typical rally, he said. "I feel like there's so much partisanship that to just get a bunch of partisans in a room to bicker doesn't fix anything."

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Volleyball: Berkeley can't be rattled in win against Tampa Prep - Tampabay.com (blog)

Wed. September 19, 2012 |

TAMPA â€" The derisive chant lasted only a few seconds and was limited to about a dozen boisterous Tampa Prep fans in the corner of the bleachers.

“Overrated! Overrated! Overrated!”

Those catcalls were for Berkeley Prep, which dropped its second game to the Terrapins after racing out to a dominant win in the opening game Tuesday night.

The Buccaneers didn’t give the home crowd much to cheer over the next two games.

Sidney Brown had 19 kills and 11 digs and Addison Harden chipped in with 11 kills, leading Berkeley Prep to a 25-10, 21-25, 25-21, 25-16 win over its crosstown rival.

The Buccaneers have won three straight matches after losing their first three, two in the preseason, under new coach John Coup. Berkeley Prep, three-time defending Class 4A champion, has seemingly resumed its winning ways under Coup, a longtime assistant who ascended to the top job following the spring retirement of program architect Randy Dagostino.

Indeed, not much has changed: Dagostino still sits on the bench in the first assistant’s chair and the Buccaneers are still overwhelming local opponents.

Berkeley Prep (3-1) opened up a 19-6 lead on Tampa Prep in the first game and closed with four of the last five points to assume early control.

But the Terrapins (5-5) fought back. Katie Krueger, a 6-foot-2 senior outside hitter, had four kills and Tampa Prep scored the final four points in the second game to tie the match.

“We got a little complacent,” said Brown, a junior outside hitter. “But that’s a rivalry game. We just said, ‘We’re not losing that third set,’ and that’s when we flipped the switch.”

Brown helped break a 21-21 tie in the third game with two straight kills and Maddie Raquet scored the last point to clinch the victory.

If the Terrapins’ fans seemed excited about their second-game victory, it’s because Berkeley Prep has dominated this rivalry â€" much as the Bucs have every other local series â€" the past few years. The Buccaneers have won at least 10 straight over the Terrapins, including shutouts in four of the past six.

Feds to hit tax refund thieves - Tbo.com

By ELAINE SILVESTRINI | The Tampa Tribune

After prodding from U.S. Attorneys facing what one calls "a tsunami" of tax refund fraud, the Justice Department on Tuesday issued a directive designed to speed prosecutions.

U.S. Attorney Robert O'Neill said the directive represents "a seismic shift" in the way tax prosecutions are handled. No longer will federal prosecutors in Tampa have to await approval from Washington before arresting tax refund fraud suspects.

Unlike other federal crimes, any federal prosecution involving tax violations must be cleared by the Justice Department's Tax Division, a time-consuming process that has slowed officials' response to an explosion in identity theft tax refund fraud.

Criminals are stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from federal taxpayers in the Tampa area alone.

O'Neill said he and Wifredo A. Ferrer, the U.S. Attorney in Miami, asked Justice Department officials to change the way these cases are reviewed.

"Tampa and Miami are at the forefront" of this kind of tax refund fraud, O'Neill said. "Miami is awash with this tax refund fraud."

"Our prosecutions in this area have doubled or tripled in the last year or two," Ferrer said.

Ferrer said he thinks Tampa and Miami are at the tip of a national trend; U.S. attorneys across the country are starting to see an increase in this type of case.

The urgency to prosecute these cases has increased as law enforcement officials in South Florida have seen rising violence by criminals who now break into homes and vehicles to steal Social Security numbers and other information for use in tax refund fraud.

Ferrer's office last week secured the conviction of a suspect who murdered a postal carrier to steal his master key to gain access to mailboxes containing personal identification information and debit cards loaded with fraudulently obtained tax refunds.

"When there is greed and there is an opportunity to steal, people will do what it takes," Ferrer said.

Tampa is No. 1 in the nation for tax refund fraud, followed by Miami, according to a report released last month by the IRS' inspector general. The report estimated that the federal government failed to detect more than $468 million in fraudulent tax refunds last year in Tampa and more than $280 million in Miami.

The Justice Department's new "Directive 144" is designed to allow federal prosecutors to "respond quickly and effectively to the grave challenges in stolen-identity refund fraud cases," according to a news release issued by the department.

In general, the federal government requires additional scrutiny for tax prosecutions because of the need to ensure taxpayers are treated uniformly nationwide, O'Neill said.

"Taxes are obviously something that can be a hot button item with the American taxpayer for obvious reasons," O'Neill said.

"These types of cases are about the slowest moving through the federal system."

But tax refund fraud cases do not involve prosecutions of taxpayers, so O'Neill said it makes sense that they do not require the same level of scrutiny from Washington.

With the new system, "now you're bypassing all that review," O'Neill said. "It's a tremendous change for them for us to do it this way."

Under the new procedure, federal investigators will be able to arrest suspects on complaints without receiving prior approval from Washington.

Before an indictment is brought, the Tax Division will conduct a shortened review at the same time as federal prosecutors rather than requiring U.S. attorneys' offices to await the go-ahead from Washington.

"We're happy that there's going to be a different process, and people up there have agreed that these kinds of cases don't need that," O'Neill said. Now, he said, "the Tax Division won't be an impediment to us moving quickly."

"The goal," said Ferrer, "is to be as quick and nimble as the criminals."

Ferrer said the new system should shave a week or two off the time it takes to bring a case. This, he said, could eliminate the potential of review time derailing cases because of speedy trial rules â€" something he said has not happened yet.

O'Neill said he didn't know why it took the Justice Department this long to adapt to a crime wave that has been publicly known for more than a year.

But Ferrer said it's not surprising.

"It takes awhile when you're making such a fundamental structural change," he said. "The Tax Division went out of its way to help us."

Commentary | Tampa Bay Buccaneers should be more concerned with ... - Bradenton Herald

Buccaneers Giants Football

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano, left, and New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin, right, talk after an NFL football game on Sunday, Sept. 16, 2012, in East Rutherford, N.J. The Giants won the game 41-34.

Julio Cortez â€" AP Photo

The world will soon turn and talk about Greg Schiano's kneel down hit will no longer be more important than what Barack Obama or Mitt Romney say.

It's proper justice because Tampa Bay's meltdown to the Giants was more alarming than whether the new Buccaneers coach acted bush league in trying to jar the ball loose from Eli Manning.

And are you wondering if Carolina head coach Ron Rivera is kicking himself for allowing Bucs quarterback Josh Freeman three kneel-downs in the Panthers 16-10 opening day loss?

Schiano is learning on the job and has a bit of coyness, which might help when he catches up to the Tom Coughlins of the world.

But don't you think every Buccaneer is saying to himself please coach no more references to "we did it this way at Rutgers."

The good news is that 20 of the NFL's 32 teams are 1-1, which is the highest second week total in league history. The Bucs are 1-1 in their division, own a victory over Carolina and the Saints are 0-2.

The rest gets ugly, though the Bucs could attribute that to Manning, the NFL's current miracle worker supreme with 23 fourth quarter comebacks on his resume.

It's hard to judge statistics after two games, but you can't ignore them.

Tampa Bay is last in the NFL in passing yards allowed (801) and leads the league in allowing 15 passes of 20 plus yards.

Most of that can be attributed to what happened in the fourth quarter when Manning made it look like a game of two hand touch using receivers Hakeem Nicks and Victor Cruz as props. In the last 7:41, he completed 7 of 9 passes for 229 yards and two touchdowns.

Schiano says things won't change much defensively, which has to be sweet to music to Cowboys quarterback Tony

Romo, who takes on the Bucs Sunday in Dallas.

"There are little things we need to tweak, but we're not going to have a wholesale change," Schiano insists. "It's the same defense that had a great defensive day just a week ago (against Carolina). We are who we are. You can choose to up the percentages; however coach Sheridan decides to do it during the game. But our identity of our defense is what we are. You don't change that."

Speaking in his decode-proof language, Schiano says his Bucs are more non-blitz than blitz and they never blitz without at least a deep middle safety.

"We are a mix, that's who we are," he said.

Manning, Nicks or Cruz would respectfully disagree.

Though Schiano says he played a lot of zone coverage, Hicks and Cruz stretched the defense out so much that they put the Bucs in man to man situations.

Schiano breaks down his schedule into 16 seasons and now we are into the Cowboys season.

If the Giants season seemed as if cornerback Aqib Talib and some of the other defensive backs were suffering from frost bite and couldn't cover their men, Dallas could turn into an extended winter.

The biggest worry for Schiano is his front four that disappeared against the Giants, didn't record a sack or tackle for loss and had only five tackles combined.

Schiano's insistence on staying in blitz packages is a concern.

But give the coach credit, he moved away from his run first mantra and threw deep, which was the right thing to do against a banged up Giants secondary that ranked 29th in pass defense last year.

The rookie head coach boasted his defense worked against Carolina, but this is the NFL and if you can't adjust on the fly you will eventually have to adjust to the unemployment line.

"Getting single coverage doesn't come often for us and I was able to take advantage of it," Nicks said. "Cruz did a great job doing what he does on the opposite side and we were just feeding off each other."

Manning said the Cruz 80-yard touchdown pass that tied the game was talked about before it happened. That it was pulled off against veteran Ronde Barber was disturbing.

"He (Cruz) saw the safety (Barber) coming down to guard him and ran right by him. It was a great decision by him," Manning said.

Barber reiterated the company line that players have to execute whatever the coaches' call, but questions will start surfacing if the results are similar.

"It was a blitz and we were single-high. I wasn't expecting it to be a go, not on third and two with pressure coming," Barber said. "What do you want me to say? He (Bill Sheridan) called the defense, we played the defense. They get paid, too. They made more plays than we did."

Alan Dell, Herald sports writer, can be reached at 941-745-7080, ext. 2112. Follow him on Twitter at @ADellSports.

Things to do in Tampa Bay for Sept. 19 - Tampabay.com

The Go-Go's: The '80s all-girl pop group (Our Lips Are Sealed, Vacation) is still touring with their classic lineup â€" Belinda Carlisle, Jane Wiedlin, Charlotte Caffey, Gina Schock and Kathy Valentine. They were last in town last summer as one of the free Tampa Bay Rays concerts. See them at 7:30 p.m. at Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg. $35-$60. (727) 892-5798.

USF Lecture Series: Rosario Dawson: The actress (Sin City, Rent) had to cancel her RNC appearance last month, but she's in Tampa tonight to kick off the university's annual lecture series. She'll discuss her movie career and her role in Voto Latino, which she co-founded. The event is open to the public but get there early, USF students receive priority seating at 7:30 p.m. Doors open to the public at 7:45 at University of South Florida Marshall Student Center, 4202 E Fowler Ave., Tampa. Free. (813) 974-3180.

Kids and family

$5 Admission to Glazer Children's Museum: To celebrate the museum's second birthday, admission is $5 for everyone until Sept. 30. It opens today at 10 a.m at 110 W Gasparilla Plaza in Tampa. (813) 443-3861.

to watch

SEASON PREMIERE Survivor: Philippines, 8 p.m., CBS The Facts of Life star Lisa Whelchel and one-time baseballer Jeff Kent are among the refugees this time around. We also have three previous Survivor castaways who left for medical reasons. This time, they're out for blood!

How Booze Built America, 10 p.m., Discovery A three-part special about how alcohol shaped this great nation, despite what the teetotalers may think. There has to be a drinking game online for this one.

More to explore

Check out our fall movie preview at tampabay.com/things-to-do.


McCain says Romney video shows everything is on the record - WTSP 10 News

Preston Rudie Video Stories
More Preston Rudie Stories

TAMPA, FL - They are comments that could haunt Mitt Romney for the rest of his presidential campaign.

Romney is heard telling a group of supporters at a private fundraiser earlier this year that many Americans believe they are "victims" who are "entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you-name-it."

The comments were captured on video at a $50,000-per-person fundraiser and released this week.

The lesson Romney has now likely learned is that you're always on the record when running for president, said Sen. John McCain, who was the Republican nominee in 2008. "I don't think there's any doubt that any appearance, anytime, anywhere you're on the record, and to think otherwise is foolishness."

McCain spoke at the University of Tampa on Tuesday to a group of students about foreign policy as part of a "Veterans for Romney" bus tour that also included stops in Orlando and Jacksonville.

But during a one-on-one interview with 10 News, McCain talked at length about the video saying Romney is not the first republican or democrat to learn the lesson about always being on, the hard way.

"Occasionally things are said which are obviously out of context or not really what you want. I mean, I remember when Barack Obama said people cling to their guns and bibles and that was out of context, so those things happen in campaigns."

McCain feels the video could now result in candidates being less candid, even at private events. He also said he supports the idea of making fundraisers open to the media.

But McCain said despite what Romney may say in the video, he believes the former Massachusetts governor is campaigning for everyone's vote.

"I think people know Mitt Romney well enough to know he's fighting and struggling for the vote of every registered voter in America, especially here in Florida."