Florida, especially the Tampa Bay area, has turned into very fertile ground for aspiring beer brewers and up-and-coming microbreweries.
That spirit will be on display Saturday in Sarasota as an all-Florida craft beer festival takes over Nathan Benderson Park.
"There will be about 50 brewers, 110 beers for folks to try," said Joe Askren, an instructor with the program. "The best part about it is USFSM, our Hospitality Program and our Brewing Science class, is going to be part of it, so we're going to have our own tent, we're going to have four beers that our students have made with local breweries around town."
In addition, Askren and USFSM chemistry instructor, Dr. Ken Caswell, are creating a golden ale with Sarasota's Calusa Brewing and Dr. Paul Kirchman, the dean of the USFSM College of Science & Mathematics, is making "Nitrous," a double India pale ale (DIPA), with Bradenton's Motorworks Brewing Co.
Askren said that the program's cooperation with local breweries isn't limited to Sip the Sunshine.
"Our Intro to Beer Sceince class is helping a couple of breweries with starting up their own lab facilities, so it's not just drinking beer, it's learning about the brewing process and brewpub operations," Askren said.
Sip the Sunshine runs from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday in Nathan Benderson Park, 5851 Nathan Benderson Circle. There's also live music, including headliner act Blues Traveler, from 5 until 9 p.m.