Greg Rapp

Rapp Brewing Company will host a Celebration of Life for Greg Rapp, its founder. Rapp died March 10 after a three-year battle with prostate cancer.

SEMINOLE — Tampa Bay beer lovers will have the chance to say goodbye to award-winning brewer Greg Rapp at a Celebration of Life event Saturday, April 27, noon to 4 p.m., held at the brewery he founded, Rapp Brewing Company, 10930 Endeavor Way.

Rapp, one of the region’s early craft brewers, died March 10 after battling prostate cancer for three years. He was 60 years old.

A longtime wine lover, he made his own wine at home for more than 30 years. Then, about 16 years ago, he was gifted a brewing kit, and switched from wine to beer.

“I like to ferment things,” he said in a 2013 interview with the Beacon. “I made wine, sake, mead. I experimented a lot and learned how to navigate fermentation. That’s 99 percent of what beer is about.”

He founded the Pinellas Urban Brewers Guild, which brought together home brewers from throughout Pinellas County.

In 2012, Rapp quit his longtime career as an IT professional to open Rapp Brewing, which continues to specialize in small batch, handcrafted, artisanal lagers and ales. There are 40 beers on tap in the tasting room at all times. His beers have won numerous awards, including at the Florida Beer Championship.

Rapp has also helped many of the newer local breweries that have opened in Pinellas County.

In a November interview with the Beacon, Carol Dekkers, manager of Florida Women in Brewing and former board member of Tampa Bay Beer Week, said, “He has been an inspiration for so many home brewers … and pro brewers (Stilt House, Arkane Aleworks, Overflow Brewing and others) and we’re inspired to thank him.”

Following the announcement of his passing, Overflow Brewing Company in St. Petersburg wrote on their Facebook page, “It is with extremely heavy hearts that we have to say goodbye to Greg Rapp. As many of you know, Greg is the reason Overflow exists. Without him our beer industry wouldn't be the same. Cheers to you, Greg. We will miss you so much. May you rest in peace, our friend.”

In a Facebook post, Largo’s Arkane Aleworks called Rapp “a great man who helped shape the Tampa Bay beer scene.”

Arkane Aleworks also wrote, “Greg Rapp was many things to us here at Arkane. He was our peer, mentor, role model, but most importantly, our friend. Although he will be greatly missed, his memory lives on with us daily as we carry on brewing, which was one of his greatest passions and talents in life. It was a pleasure working with you Greg! Arkane wouldn’t be what it is without you buddy! Prost!”