By Katelyn Massarelli

It started with Shawn Goechner, owner of Bootleggers Brewworx in Brandon, visiting his friend in Northern San Francisco. The enjoyment he got from visiting his friend and always leaving with a six-pack led to Goechner reading up on brewing beer, so the California-native didn’t have to travel 100 miles for a good beer.

“I get a great deal of enjoyment out of making minor tweeks [while brewing a beer] and seeing how it changes the product,” Goechner said.

His enjoyment led to the opening of Bootleggers Brewworx in Brandon. The store is a place customers can come to learn how to brew their own beer or wine with classes sometimes taught by Goechner. Brewworx offers beer and wine brewed in the shop, at local breweries and in different counties such as Pinellas, Sarasota and Manatee.

Despite the common thinking of leaving the kids at home, Brewworx in Brandon offers a family and pet-friendly environment. There is a special corner for kids and no hard liquor offered because of the family-friendly environment. The pet-friendly environment is inspired by the common theme in England that the husband takes the dog for a walk and sneaks off to get a beer.

“I love pets and I love bringing my dogs every now and then,” Goechner said.

Goechner’s purpose in offering brewing classes for customers is not only to spread his love for brewing his own beer, but also to let others try it for themselves. There are many aspects to brewing a beer, but it doesn’t have to be difficult, according to Goechner.

“We want to get you comfortable making beer,” Goechner said. “We’ll talk to clients about what beer they like and select kits that fit the style. We’ll take them through the process and the beer stays here in a temperature controlled environment for 1-2 weeks.”

Having a brewery so close to Tampa offers more options for the wide variety of beers kept on tap at the shop. Goechner said his store has atleast half a dozen beers kept on tap at all times.

“Tampa is the beer Mecca of the South,” Goechner said.

Bootleggers Brewworx in Brandon is located at 650 Oakfield Drive in Brandon. For more information, call (813) 643-9463 or email them at

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