Over the past decade, Greg Rapp, owner of Rapp Brewing Company, has grown from a home brewer to being recognized as the best new craft brewer in Florida by ratebeer.com.
PINELLAS PARK – Brewmaster Greg Rapp found out the good news through a Facebook message. Early last month, the national beer-rating website Ratebeer.com had ranked his Rapp Brewing Company as the best new craft brewery in the state.
“A friend sent me a message that said, ‘Congratulations,’” Rapp said. “And I thought, ‘For what?’”
Rapp opened the brewery just six months ago, in the midst of a craft beer renaissance taking place not just in the Tampa Bay area, but also throughout Florida. Noting that the region is becoming a craft beer destination and acknowledging the other talented brewers in the area, Rapp doesn’t take the “best new craft brewer” distinction lightly. The ranking is based on critiques by beer enthusiasts visiting the brewer.
“I was surprised and very pleased. It’s a real honor,” he said. “We take a lot of pride in what we do here.”
His Gose beer also took home a separate honor of its own: third place in the Best Florida Beer Competition on March 2.
Rapp handcrafts his beer in small batches in a warehouse off Bryan Dairy Road. The brewery also includes a 650-square-foot tasting room where fans of his unique artisanal ales and lagers can choose from 20 offerings, which change weekly. Biere de Garde. Hibiscus Saison. Lichtenheiner. And then there’s Rapp’s Holy Grail, the OMG, which is sold only by the bottle.
“I like to try different styles and explore beer,” he said.
An IT professional for about 30 years, Rapp got his start as a home brewer around 10 years ago, after he was gifted a brewing kit over the holidays. He had always been a wine aficionado, making his own at home for over 30 years, but then he fell in love with Tampa Bay Brewing Company’s Old Elephant Foot IPA.
Making wine served as a good stepping stone for brewing beer, he said.
“I like to ferment things,” he said. “I made wine, sake, mead. I experimented a lot and learned how to navigate fermentation. That’s 99 percent of what beer is about.”
Rapp founded the Pinellas Urban Brewers Guild three years ago. Here he honed his craft and brought together like-minded brewers from throughout the county. He hosts meetings and special events for the group, which has grown to more than 100 members, at his brewery.
Rapp’s tasting room offers pints of favorites as well as flights of beers for new visitors to try his many styles. It’s now open Wednesday through Sunday to meet demands.