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Beer bellies of Pasco -- don't get so excited

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By JAN GLIDEWELL, Times Columnist

© St. Petersburg Times
published February 10, 2002

Come on now, did you think I wasn't paying attention?

Did you think I didn't notice a story a couple of weeks back about a brewery considering a move to Pasco County?

Did you think I would pass up names like Aloha Dark Stout, The Brew You Can Chew or East Pasco Dry . . . Very, Very Dry, We Mean Really Dry Ale?

Come on.

First, let's not all line up next to any of the county's vacant lots with our beer steins at the ready. The word is that a brewery is looking for a location in Pasco.

For the past 30 years or so I have read and written about dozens of businesses, including major theme parks, that were "looking for," space in Pasco, most of which, apparently, never found it.

If I believed everything I read I would be poolside at the major chain hotel built at Interstate 75 and State Road 52, digesting a meal from the nearby major chain steak house and writing on my laptop while I watched the kiddies enjoy the rides at Charlie Daniels Western World with The Devil Went Down to Georgia playing in the background.

There would, of course, be a few upset parents protesting outside that implying the devil could come to Georgia would place him on our very doorstep (except not in Inglis where he has been banned) and before you know it kids would be reading Harry Potter books and teenagers would be thinking about sex.

But if a brewery does want to come here, I'm all for it.

I am now engaged in a major industrial-strength diet that relegates beer drinking, for the foreseeable future, to the realm of pleasant memory. But all things human, including diets, are finite.

For that and other reasons, I was glad to see Hops Restaurant Bar and Brewery move to the area a few years ago, and something I learned a while back made me even more interested in microbreweries.

Through its former owner, I had learned about an independent brewery in Central Florida and convinced some editors that it would be a fun story to go do an in-depth (about the depth of your average pilsner glass) story on the place. It turned out the same brewery made a whole bunch of different brands of beer where the only difference in brews was the label. I, with brand-allegiance ties to several cheap beers, was horrified.

Microbreweries just make what they sell, and some of them are pretty good brews.

Don't look for any Pasco operation, however, to use the old beermaker's ploy of citing the water quality as a selling point.

Customers of Aloha Utilities have testified at public hearings that their water is black, brown, smelly or all three.

So there won't be any references to mountain spring water or melted glaciers for a beer with water coming from a desalination plant. "Anclote Ale, We Got Most of the Salt Out Of It" just doesn't have the same ring.

Most of Pasco's water comes from a subterranean aquifer that the water weenies usually describe as "endangered." The best spokesmodel in the world can't sell a beer with a slogan like "It's probably okay."

In most of central and east Pasco you could also use names like, "Cypress Head . . . From Where The Live Trees Used To Be," or "Sinkhole . . . Where Overpumping Isn't Just for Developers Any More."

Probably the best shot for a brewery would be the Zephyrhills/Crystal Springs area where the water's reputation is still intact, but where the natives sometimes react with quaint resentment to industrial expansion and increased pumping from ground or springs.

Maybe locating in Pinellas County would be a better idea, where a product could genuinely be advertised to be made with Pasco water and could legitimately bear the slogan, "It's not just for lawns and swimming pools any more."

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