Webb’s City Cellar
For multiple decades the city of St. Petersburg held the historc drug store, Webb’s City. An interesting and unusual drug store that spanned 10 blocks. Having been shut down for many years, recently it has served Green Bench Brewing Company as a temperature controlled room for their barrel program. Home to barrels filled with mead, cider, and beer, Green Bench was piloting toward a future time in Florida.
Understandably Florida is a little late to the beer scene that fills the country. With container size laws, batch size control, and other disadvantages on brewers for years, it took a while for beer to become a thing. But like all things, it takes time to build an audience and then to educate that audience on all the subtlety’s.
Green Bench has always been creative and looked for ways to push the limits of imagination. They have shown a true level of commitment to educating the area about what beer can be. Even beyond just the beer they make, with shows like Foeder for Thought we have slowly seen a new era developing in Florida.
With the opening of Webb’s City Cellar I truly believe that in the future we will look at this place as a pioneer and historical marker for Florida’s brewing industry. It’s true that Florida is already exploding and making a name for itself in the beer world. However, I think we are quickly approaching a time when Florida becomes a leader in brewing because of places like this.
Anyone who has ever visited Green Bench knows the crowded and lively atmosphere that surrounds it. The place is popular for a reason and they are regularly busy. Although, Webb’s City Cellar offers something different. Despite being next door, you walk up to an entrance that states 21 and up only, thankfully dogs are still allowed. Walking in, you see a beautiful rustic bar dimly lit by lanterns that look like hop flowers.
A stroll past the bar you see a menu of what’s on tap and a cooler full of amazing bottles. This says something for what to expect at Webb’s City Cellar.
This is not the kid friendly atmosphere to throw a few back while the kids run around. Nor is it a place for simply grabbing a beer without caring. This is the place you sit down and have intimate conversation with friends over a shared bottle. A gem where you take your time to explore the subtle nuances of what your drinking, and perhaps having a friendly debate over the beer industry as a whole.
One thing that the beer industry often struggles with is education. Webb’s City Cellar is magical in that sense. The bartenders were very friendly and helpful. They gladly explained each beer, cider, and mead in order to steer us in the direction we were seeking. And that was there goal, to create a place where people could ask questions and take their time.
Samplings of Webb’s City Cellar
To start off my night I went for Helter Spelter. Brewed with Spelt and Brettanomyces and hopped with Denali & Eukanot. It was an interesting brew. There was a definite bitter tang with good amounts of funk.
The smell instantly made me think of a farm with strong hay characteristics. Even with the earthiness there was still a subtle sweetness to the aroma.
It was an interesting beer. Light and refreshing for an easy drink yet complex enough to make you think.
My co-hosts Coco being gluten free had decided to start with the Abricot Cider. This truly an amazing cider. This is not your typical icky sweet store bought cider. The Abricot is nicely dry with only a hint of sweetness. Made 100% with Baldwin apple juice from New York and co-fermented with French saison and neutral white wine yeast.
Apricot is added post fermentation for a subtle compliment. Yet there was no denying its flavor in there. The apricot was so fresh tasting you could not miss it. I think the best part of this cider was that it’s tart punch was smoothed out by the brief barrel aging in American white oak. The attention to detail resulted in a cider that was smooth, crisp, and clean.
Even if you are not a cider drinker, or regard yourself as only a beer drinker, this is one cider that might change your way of thinking.
Alice ales are foeder fermented golden sour ales. Often aged in wine barrels with a house mix of cultured yeasts and bacteria. Newly arrived in the series was there peach and raspberry Alice’s. I opted for the raspberry over the peach for my 2nd glass.
First sniff of the glass and I was instantly reminded of Fruit Loops cereal for breakfast when I was a tot. The punch of raspberry tartness was accompanied by a bready quality. The smell was amazing and was one of those beers that I could sit and just smell for hours.
I am a beer drinker and as such, I had to taste the ale. I was greeted with a slap in the face of tartness. The raspberry comes out swinging. Mind you, this is not in your face tartness like you would get in a kettle sour. The strong tart flavor is refined and excellent.
As you sip and explore you way through the beer, your palate calms the tart and realizes many subtle nuances of sweetness and stony flavors.
The cider and mead program is very small still at Green Bench. That being the case the meads are not up for little samples. With such small quantities you really need to rely on the bartender to help describe each one of your choices. Honestly, I doubt you could go wrong with any of them but when picking just one, it is nice to have assistance.
Coco had opted for the Zambian Traditional. Made with Zambian wild flower honey, this was a truly unique mead. Described as being a little sweeter than the others, we found it to be quite crisp and not overly sweet.
What really stood out was the smoky and leather flavors accompanied by light hints of fruit. A truly remarkable mead and we look forward to trying others another day.
Webb’s City Cellar is open Thursday through Sunday. After having been around for roughly a month, Green Bench has created something extraordinary. A chill spot to really sit back and unwind with amazing drinks. This is a place we will frequent regularly.
If you have not been yet, take advantage of visiting Friday April 5th. At 5:30 pm there will be an official ribbon cutting event. While this is another step forward for Green Bench, this is a huge monument for Florida in growing awareness for Sour and Wild ales, Ciders, and Meads.