Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Progress and the passing of a member of the Too Much Fun Club

Hey there good people!  And you are good people, after all Hunter S. Thompson once said "Good people drink good beer."

Much much is going on at the brewery at 301 7th street east in Bradenton.  Making progress toward a fall opening and a dripping a lot of summer sweat as well.  But this entry is more about the passing of an infamous Anna Maria resident and friend of the brewery.

Mark Alonso passed away on July 12 at the respectable age of 87.  If you lived in Anna Maria you probably know him as the eccentric Spanish artist  who rode around in one of his three or four wheeled jalopy bikes while being pulled by Fritz the boxer dog.  He had his workshop in a shack at 105 Tarpon Street where the Historic Green Village now stands(they tore down the shack and plopped a historic fisherman's hotel on top).

Some of you may also know the shack was the original home of The Little Giant Brewery.  I shared the space with him which was quite a trip and about as interesting as it gets on Anna Maria.  Here you had the brewery and the birthplace of many a strange and twisted pieces of "Art." Probably the biggest debate about Mark was whether or not the birds he created were actually "art."  I choose to think so.


Mark led a really, really interesting life, especially compared to all the Fat Cats in Anna Maria who called him crazy when he ran for City Commissioner. He was born in the Basque region of Spain in a town called Guernica. He was young when Generalismo Franco gave the go ahead to his buddy Adolf Hitler to bomb the city to ashes during the Spanish revolution.  Mark was one of thousands of kids to be shipped off to England before the bombing.  

While he was working in the merchant marines he jumped ship in New York City and enlisted in the US Army where he served in both WWII and the Korean Conflict.  He was a smart and creative guy who told me a few good tales about "battlefield engineering" i.e. creating bridges over creeks using burned out automotives to move troops and supplies during the months after D Day. 

When we discussed our most recent wars he gave me a piece of insight that only he could come up with: He said "Michael, the difference between France, Belgium and Iraq is that when we liberated Europe we made love to the women and the countries. There was love! No one in Iraq is making love to the women!"  Hahaha. Truth.

After the wars he worked in remodeling in NYC. One day during Anna Maria Bayfest, Mark, I and a neighborhood kid were delivering a keg to Pine Avenue on the back of his four wheeled bicycle(while being pulled by Fritz the Wonder Boxer). We were talking about women. particularly who the famous and beautiful ladies were back in NYC during the old days. He talked about remodeling a kitchen for Rita and Refinishing cabinets for Marilyn. I was like "Rita who? Marilyn who?" Well, Marilyn Monroe and Rita Hayworth of course! What a life this guy led!

Despite Marks vast appreciation for the beauty of women, he was happily married to one of the sweetest people I've met, Mirem who was also from the basque region. Here's a pic of them sitting by the trolley stop in front of the Rosedale cottage by the brewery.



There he is smoking his pipe full of "grass." Haha. He made these little pipes that had a closed stem that he would stuff with grass from the yard. I guess he just chewed on the stem since it wasn't a functioning piece of paraphernalia.  Good stuff, good joke, good guy. 

We spent many an afternoon in the shack, he melting Gorilla Glue onto coconut birds that had stone crab claws for beaks, me stirring the mash and filling kegs. In the end the shack was torn down and he moved back to Grand Rapids Michigan where his grandkids lived. But on the last afternoon of the brewery and art shack we had an open house with a keg of Little Giant Billabock.  He had his first drink of beer in 48 years(48 years!), and that was one of my favorite memories. Especially when he said "Michael, this is what you've been doing this whole time? This is good!" And he took one more long swig...



We lost a big bucket of "Island Flavor" this week.  Cheers to Mark Alonso!!!



Monday, May 26, 2014

Keep It Moving, Keep It Frothy.

Hey there good people,

Happy Memorial Day! Thank you to all who have served this country in places far and near.  The sacrifices you make personally, physically and in your families are much appreciated.

So, here at LGB there is much movement in a forward direction these days with construction and frothy/quaffable beverages.  

Major construction is underway at our building(301 7th Street East, Bradenton). Basically we have a new building in the area of the tasting room -- new roof, new steel walls, etc. It's the skylights I enjoy the most. Oh, and the fact that it doesn't rain inside anymore! 
We're moving through the plumbing stage now and on the flip-side of that we'll start constructing the bar and bathrooms(the real heart of any tasting room, haha).

Beer-wise we poured at The Lucky Dog Beer Festival at McKechnie Filed this past Saturday. Much fun was had and our Sunshine Mountain Saison garnered a really fun quote by a patron:
http://www.heraldtribune.com/article/20140524/ARTICLE/140529793/2055/NEWS?p=2&tc=pg&tc=ar
“It tastes like I'm skipping through a field of flowers on a mountaintop with my best friend,” Edel said laughing. “It's really good.”  
I couldn't have said it better myself, but then again, I am constantly climbing Sunshine Mountain. Have fun, Folks!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Them Changes

Hey there good people,

Don't get used to this picture, because them changes are about to blow through like a Polar Vortex... OK not exactly, because we are in Florida and there's a high temp of  67 here today. And there are no clouds in the sky. So Special.

The great news is: We received our construction permit from the folks down at the City of Bradenton building & planning, so you can guess what that means --- we're heading to the Florida Brewer's Guild Festival in Tampa this weekend to serve our tasty brew!!! Haha. 

https://floridabrewersguild.ticketbud.com/beerfesttampa2014


But seriously, construction is majorly getting into swing next week -- and we are more than anxious to construct a fine fine beerhall for you all to enjoy some exemplary & frothy beverages of exceptional character and quality. 

So, if you're like us, you may now let out a giant-sized "YEEEEEEEHAAAAAW!" Hopefully we'll see you up(or down) in Tampa this weekend. 

And, as always, thanks for all these years of encouragement!




Saturday, November 2, 2013

Getting a bit closer

Hey there Good People. 

I feel confident that anyone visiting this page is in fact "Good People."  After all, as the Good Doctor Hunter S. Thompson said: "Good people drink good beer." Sage.  The man was sage. 

Here's a link to a nice & fresh article from the Bradenton Herald regarding the burgeoning brewery scene in Bradenton(can I get a shout our for alliteration?).  

These are exciting times for good beer lovers throughout Manatee and Sarasota, no doubt!

http://www.bradenton.com/2013/10/31/4801682/camaraderie-not-competition-is.html


Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Leaps & Bounds

Hey there Good People,

Patience and fortitude will surely pay off for the beer lovers in our area.  We are going from two to seven breweries in Bradenton/Sarasota this year. Awesome!  Here's a piece SNN6 news channel is running this week about our rising craft brewery scene.  Pretty sweet.



The Little Giant Brewery project is moving along quite nicely.  We recently joined forces with an architectural firm down the block from the brewery to work on final construction plans.  Good folks for sure who are equally as excited as we to add something special to our little neighborhood by the river.  Once we finalize the plans for our tasting room and beer garden we should start rolling along fairly quickly.  There's even talk of having a little dog park on site where the old volleyball court was(from when the building was the Gulf Coast Marine Institute).  Our brewery hound/security chief, Chloe, adopted the space as her personal exercise track so I thought "why not a dog park?" All beasts are welcome to enjoy the brewery, except tegus, pythons, or rabid hyenas.

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Baby Steps & Little Giant Leaps

Hello Folks, 

How is that brew you are sipping on? I hope it's scrumdiddlyumptious. My spelling may be way off there.  

Just to give you an update, we were unanimously approved by the City of Bradenton Planning Commission to move forward with our site plan.  That's a great thing! We now present ourselves in June to the City Council of Bradenton for final approval and then things start rolling fast(pending approval of the council, of course). If you've sampled Little Giant and liked it or if you just like the idea of a beer Mecca in Bradenton, cross your fingers for us -- or do something equally superstitious like light a candle made with spent brewer's grain or hang a wreath of hops above your door so the beer gods recognize your intent.  Regardless, send good vibes our way and as always -- we thank you.

Read all about it:
http://www.bradenton.com/2013/05/16/4527548/little-giant-brewery-okd-in-bradenton.html

Friday, March 1, 2013

Florida Brewers Guild Festival & Musings.

Hey there, Folks! It's been too long...

This weekend is the beginning of something huge, Tampa Bay Beer Week(www.Tampabaybeerweek.com)! I believe the number of craft beer-related events taking place is around 250?! Awesome!

It all starts this weekend with one of my favorite events of the year, The Florida Brewers Guild Festival. It's the only place where all the Florida Brewers Guild breweries get together for a great & epic afternoon of imbibing and inevitable weirdness. The event takes place Saturday, March 2 from 2-6pm at Centennial Park in Ybor City. Centennial Park is just a couple blocks east of the normal venue and should offer a little more room for everybody.

Little Giant will be there with a few frothy selections of exceptional quality: Billabock Maibock, Overlord Black IPA, and Overhead Peeler Porter. 

Come on down if you have the chance, more info at Floridabrewersguild.org.

IN OTHER, ULTIMATELY MORE IMPORTANT NEWS, 

The LittleGiant Brewery Has A Permanent Home! 

Having wandered the earth for what seems like generations we have settled into a 5700 square foot building that is aching to be rehabilitated from a school for wayward youth(coincidentally, I used to teach there) into a beer salon for confused & wayward adults(Oh wow! I get to teach about beer now!). 

Stay tuned as we progress, and feel free to bring a wrecking bar over.

The building of this brewery has been a journey for sure, both personal and professional, and I'm happy that you all are along for the ride. This brewery has got soul, baby!

Come up to Ybor tomorrow and drink beer!