By Brian Bokor

When Mary and George Taylor teamed up with Dan Castanera and decided to open Alafia Brewing Co. at 11106 U.S. Hwy. 41 in Gibsonton, they knew having the support of the surrounding ‘Gibtown’ community would be crucial for their success.

Designing a space where they could not only share their unique beer creations with the public but also providing a place where locals felt welcome to showcase their talents were two main objectives of the owners.

“We wanted to put people to work,” the Taylors stated, with Castanera adding, “It’s a creative space for creative people serving creative beer,” stressing the importance of acceptance to all when it comes to patrons of Alafia Brewing.

The Taylors—Mary taught English at East Bay High for 35 years, with George currently working for Tampa as a traffic engineer—have been homebrewing for 25 years and wanted to open their own operation. The couple acquired 70 medals and accomplishments over that span and were regulars at events such as MOSI’s Science After Dark and Tampa’s Movie in the Park, partnering with Jump for Kids charity.

They wanted to share their passion with the rest of the community on a more permanent basis, but knew one key ingredient was missing: they needed someone with the experience and desire to take on the task of setting up and then running a large-scale brewery on a daily basis.

Castanera, who runs his own software development company, has been involved in the Brandon beer scene for years, being associated with Water to Fire Brewers Collective, D.I.Y. Brew Supply, Bootleggers Brewing Co., and Bullfrog Creek Brewing Co. From his time spent in the industry, he knew George and Mary as well as the ins and outs of what it would take to set up and then operate a brewery, so when the Taylors asked Castanera if he was up for the task, he knew this challenge was one he was ready to conquer.

The festively decorated 6,000 sq. ft. taproom/entertainment venue offers up to 26 small batch beers, meads, hard ciders and seltzers along with wine, mimosas and root beer. Catering is being provided by DiMisa Gourmet, well-known locally for its authentic Italian dishes, toffee and award-winning chili.

Carnival-style entertainment (fire breathers, aerial acrobats, trapeze artists, among others) randomly perform daily, with weekly events taking place, including open mic, karaoke and trivia. Every weekend, live bands perform Friday and Saturday nights with ‘Family Fun Day’ Sundays offering brunch and shows throughout the afternoon.

For more information, visit the Facebook page or www.alafiabrewing.com.