St. Petersburg is becoming famous for all their craft breweries, but in 2017 a very special one was born. The Flying Boat Brewing Company was the first fully air conditioned brewery in St. Pete, and it was brewed up alongside the local history of the first commercial air flight. Back in 1913 Percival Elliot Fansler was dreaming of a new way to travel: an airplane flying back and forth between two points as a scheduled service.
Fansler traveled to St. Pete where his idea was welcomed with open arms. The city fathers promised to build a hanger and back Fansler’s idea with a pledge of $1,200 with the Board of Trade matching their pledge. Tom Benoist, an aviator, aircraft manufacturer and Fansler’s partner, signed a contract with Fansler and L.A. Whitney on December 17, 1913 to create the first airline company. It was 10 years to the day since the Wright Brothers first flew at Kitty Field, North Carolina.
Benoist had the airplane, the Benoist XIV, nicknamed the Flying Boat since it took off and landed in water. On January 1, 1914, Tony Jannus, flying for the St. Petersburg-Tampa Airboat Line, made the first scheduled commercial flight and forever changed how humans traveled. Inspired by the people who made their dreams a reality, Flying Boat Brewing Company took their name from Benoist’s plane, and have been flying high ever since.
Flying Boat Brewing Company wanted to more than just be named after an historic trivia tidbit, and so they made their Tasting Room an immersive historical experience. Partnering with the St. Petersburg Museum of History, they have created a space full of St. Pete’s aviation history from 1900 on, with plenty of stories unique to Florida.
Partnering with the local community is truly important to Flying Boat, and that’s why they’ve also partnered with Johns Hopkins All Children’s Hospital. Their belief in the power a great community has is why portions of the proceeds from every beer sold in the tasting room benefit the Children’s Hospital.
Of course, the biggest reason to swing by is to pick up a local brew. They’ve brought the best ingredients and newest styles to create fresh, pioneering beers. Try their Green’s Lantern, an American IPA for Florida’s citrus-y taste, or their Crescent Lake Lager for a mild sweetcorn flavor. And don’t forget Batch 100, their one-hundredth batch and their first sweet stout. Batch 100 includes lactose, chocolate, vanilla and toasted coconut for a well-balanced, sweet chocolate and coconut flavor. Or pick one of the other 12, and find your favorite.
Once you have a beer you need to have fun, and Flying Boat delivers with weekly events. Stop by every Wednesday for trivia night, come by Thursdays for watch parties, Fridays and Saturdays are live music night and Sundays finish off the week with laughs during open mic comedy nights. Keep an eye on their social media calendars for bingo nights, community events, DIY craft making classes, and the super-special pet photo shoots with local photographer Adam Gold.
If you’re interested in spending some time tasting and discovering at Flying Boat, table reservations are available. Simply visit their website and fill on the online form to reserve a table in the main tasting room during normal operating hours at no charge. If you love what you see you can even rent out the production space or the whole facility on Mondays for large events and parties.
Cover photo courtesy of Flying Boat Brewing Company Facebook