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Friday, Jun 22, 2018
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Spring Hill craft brewer educating local beer drinkers

SPRING HILL — The menu at the new Tidal Brewing Company so overflows with craft beer options that customers order by number: 1 through 15. But consider that owner and brewmaster David Peitzman chose what he believes will please a range of customer tastes and palates, winnowing down his list of 180 recipes.

The resultant spectrum traverses sweet to bitter, light to dark and includes what’s trending, sours and pilsners, he said.

Peitzman and his wife, Maxine, opened their doors to craft brew aficionados in early May, just when industry analysts acknowledged the craft craze may be wearing off.

Not here, Peitzman said. Craft breweries are closing — a 2.6 percent decline last year — only where the market has grown saturated, he insisted. Hernando County, home to only a handful of licensed small-batch makers serving the public, is hardly awash.

The self-taught Peitzman is cued to the national Brewers Association notice that craft brewers experienced a 5 percent increase in volume in 2017 over the previous year. The local brewer counts on his five-barrel brew system delivering 155 gallons per batch to help quench an increasing thirst as more local palates learn to appreciate the beverage’s many nuances.

Consumers of craft brews differ from bar hoppers, Peitzman said, "We tend to have a lot of people who come in just to enjoy the beer ... they’re not coming here to get drunk."

On a recent afternoon, many customers were in tasting mode, ordering 4-ounce glasses, up to three at a time, of different styles. Working the taps, Maxine Peitzman and bar manager Melissa Dampier labeled the glasses in marking pen with their contents.

"Some are new (customers)," the brewer said, "some do it to try a lot of different ones. Or some want small amounts at a time."

Glasses are filled with 4, 12 or 16 ounces, generally priced $2, $4 and $5, respectively. Customers also can buy beer in the brewery’s 16-ounce stylized cans for take-away.

But they tend to stay in the 1,000-square-foot tasting room furnished with bar stools and conversational groupings of repurposed church pews.

Snacks are decidedly absent. Instead, patrons can bring in fare from nearby restaurants and pizza shops.

Another Tidal Brewing attraction is an invite to tour its 2,600-square-foot brewery, housed in an attached former car wash. It’s now home to behemoth stainless steel cooking and brewing tanks, assorted pipes and hoses, an investment of $10,000 each, Peitzman said.

The tasting room is a reincarnation of the car wash convenience store. There, customers tap into the brewery’s flair for flavors with tropical notes, hints of grapefruit, coconut and chocolate, for instance.

Customers have delineated their favorites: Melusine, an American blond ale with coconut; and Heretic 1, a bitter Amarillo-driven India pale ale.

The brewery is a partnership of two science teachers who like microbiology, the science at the heart of brewing. David Peitzman, 29, teaches biology at Springstead High School. Maxine Peitzman teaches general science to eighth-graders at Fox Chapel Middle School.

"I hated beer when I met David," Maxine Peitzman said. "He told me if I was going to hang out with him, I’d have to learn to like it."

She learned, and many local residents are learning, too.

"We’re here to educate people," David Peitzman said.

Contact Beth Gray at graybethn@earthlink.net.

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