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© By Dave Paradine

   Florida's Oldest Brewery, Founded in 1896 by several Cigar Industrialist.
The oringinal building cost $200,000 to build, stood 75 feet (6 stories),
and was modeled after the Castle Brewery in Johannesburg, South Africa.

For awhile it was Tampa's tallest building, it still is the tallest in
Ybor City. The Height was needed for the brewing process, starting on the
top, (Gravity fed system) Grains were mixed and brewed till it reached
the bottom for storage and shipment.
The building was one of the first in the area to have a cooling system.
Its walls were heavily insulated with clay tiles, 4 inches of cork and
thick brick, in order to combat Florida's Famed Humidity. An Article written by Clifford C. (Kip) Clark, titled "The Tampa Florida
Brewery, Inc. Florida's first Brewery" is an Excellent Historical
reference describing this Brewery in detail.
In the article He describes the building, who was in charge, how much
Beer was produced, very Detailed, from it's opening till it's closing.
The Article also goes into some Great stories from before Prohibition,
during Prohibition and after Prohibition. Another Article written by Michael Zane titled......
"A Tropical Visit with the Florida Brewing Company"
also is an Excellent Historical reference. He starts the Article
with the Grand Opening Celebration of the Brewery on Febuary 15, 1897.
His Article also details before Prohibition until it's closing.
Great attention is given to dating the various Bottles and Cans that
this Brewery produced. I have seen some of the items that Michael has
obtained and in my opinion are Museum Quality. His Collection must be Awesome!!!!

The 2 Bottles Pictured I believe are pre-pro. Actually they could be from Prohibition, since the Brewery still made Beer all the way up till 1927. The Bottle (to your left) is from there earlier days, probably dating back to the early 1900's. Very heavy embossed glass, Huthinson style, still has a metal stopper on top (cork is long gone).

The Bottle to your right also dates way back, notice the "The" is omitted. Very heavy embossed Glass.

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The right bottle is new to my Collection
I just added the Bottle to the right to my Collection (August, 2003). It is slightly taller, different color, thinner and more rounded than the other. Dan Potochniak suggested that these may have been used for Soda or Mineral water and not Beer. They also produced a bottle similar to my left bottle, but it had embossed "FLA Brewing Co." then a embossed full length picture of a Alligator then "Tampa Fla".
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Very early Picture of the Brewery

   "Prohibition in Tampa" by Frank Alduino is a Loaded
with Great stories of what was happening in Tampa during Prohibition.
One story stands out to me more than the others. Prohibition started in
Florida in 1918 (Nationaly 1920) so everyone dealing in the illegal
contraband were coming up with ways of smuggling the brew in
and out of the Bay. In 1921 Tampa had a Hurricane blow thru and in
the debris lay a Hollowed out log (Picture from the Tampa Library)
that must have been 4 to 5 feet in diameter and 15 foot long that served
as a hiding place for fine Spirits. Back then logging in the Bay
was common because they needed the wood for Tampa's famous Cigar boxes.... Someone got "Busted". But actually Miami and Tampa were known to be the "Wettest" Cities
in the Nation. The Florida Brewery still produced beer well into the 20's.
In 1927 they were finally raided and closed. Police corruption was
prevailant and also the attitude that Tourism was more important than
bringing the bad publicity to the war over smugglers. I'm sure the tourist
also demanded a good Beer or a good Spirit. The End of Prohibition came in 1933 the Brewery was renamed

  La Tropical Beer, La Tropical Ale, and La Tropical Bock were there main
Beers that they produced in bottles at first, up until 1947. FLA Beer
and Fla 6 (6 percent alcohol) were produced up until 1944. Reportedly GA
and ALA were produced for a short period. (must have been sold in
Georgia and Alabama)
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La Tropical Beer and Ale Metal Sign.
Rare, but has condition problems.
Has lightning crack over face which needs to be glued back down.
Someone put clear box tape over it, probably saved it.
Does come off though, and look forward to preserving this.
The large lettering is actually embossed downward,
giving it a 3 dimensional look.
Dates probably in 30's??

Mike Zane sent me this Picture of a La Tropical Bock advertisement.
I told ya His Collection must be Awesome!!!!

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Fla Beer Label.
Foil construction, IRTP, Dated between 1933 and 1944.
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Fla 6% Bottle Cap
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Linen Post Card from Business District Kissimmee Fla. Has a La Tropical Beer sign along street on the right side.
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La Tropical Bottle Label

 In around 1947 the Brewery dropped the "La" out of "La Tropical".
Tropical Beer, Ale, and Bock were produced

Baseball program St. Petersburg Fla. 1947 (shown below)
Has 10 pages and packed full of advertisements from around the Bay area. St. Petersburg "Saints", President W.D. Curd, Manager Lou Finney. Game times 8:00 pm Sundays, 2:30. Al Lang Field with Grandstand Capacity at 4000 and bleachers at 1500. Ticket prices = Box Seats $1.20, Grandstand .74, Bleachers .50. Has Ground rules, directions on how to score game, and scedule for all home games. The league consisted of 7 Florida cities and 1 from Havana..."Cubans", interesting... Miami Beach was nicknamed the "Flamingos". The center pages has the score card for that day between the "Cubans" and the "Saints". Someone penciled in the scores of each batter thru out the game. According to there scedule they played Havana May 1-2-3-4 and in July 2-3-4-4 and again on Sept 5-6-7 of 1947. Excellent historical reference giving the Tropical Beer (label) date within (at least) those dates of 1947.

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Front Cover
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Back of Program
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Bottle used for ad
Hey!!! it could be!!!

Bottle Labels

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Tropical Beer IRTP, Dated 1949-1950.
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Tropical Ale IRTP, Dated 1949-1950.
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Tropical Ale.
The lettering "Ale" is Green
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Tropical Ale.
The lettering "Ale" is Red.
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Tropical Golden Beer , Dated late 50s.

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Tropical Ale
Quart size Bottle Label
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Tropical Ale
12 oz Bottle Label
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Tropical Bock
12 oz Bottle Label

         In around 1949 they added a cone top canning line
I am in debate on this date, the IRTP label Can seems more common than the
non IRTP. (watching auctions and shows) The government no longer required
the IRTP statement in 1950. It is possible that the brewery had thousands
of these in storage and used them well after 1950??? Or they started
canning earlier 47-48?
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Tropical Ale IRTP,
dates between 1949-1950
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Tropical Ale Non IRTP,
dates between 1950-1953
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They also produced these in Beer
Both IRTP and Non IRTP
yet to add to collection!

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Tropical Beer,
dates between 1950-1953
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Tropical Ale, dates between 1950-1953
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Tropical Ale,
dates between 1950-1953

  In 1953 the Cone Top canning line was replaced by a Flat Top
canning line. These were produced until the Brewery's closing in
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Tropical Beer,
dates between 1953-1961
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Tropical Ale, dates between 1953-1961
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Tropical Ale,
dates between 1953-1961
Probably 53-55
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Tropical Beer,
dates between 1953-1961
Probably 53-55

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Tropical Beer/Ale Coaster, Dated probably later 50's
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Tropical Coaster
probably early 50's
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Tropical Beer Tap
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Tropical Beer Bottle Cap
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2 Different Tropical Beer and Ale Glasses

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Tropical Patch
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Kent Ale crown
at this time I'm not sure about this one


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Tropical Beer + Ale wire opener
Bronze color
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Tropical Beer + Ale wire opener
Silver color
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4 inches long
Pat # 1996550
Walden Inc. Cambridge 38 Mass
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3 1/4 inch long
Pat Pending
one is sharper than other
and has red lettering.
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4 1/4 inches long.

  The Brewery closed in 1961, several factors determined there demise.
Including the opening of Anhueser Busch and the Schlitz Breweries in Tampa,
along with Fidel Castro gaining power in 1959 which closed all US
businesses in Cuba. There ties to Cuba must have been great, I haven't yet
read anything what there relationship to each other were. I know in the
early years they heavily shipped to Cuba. But Cuba had there own Brewery
"La Tropical", (this post card was on Ebay) so I look forward
to doing research in this area.
In around 1961 after closing the "Tropical" Trademark was sold to
International Breweries, Inc.(IBI) They owned another plant in Tampa
(Formerly the "Southern Brewery") and Plants in Detroit, Buffalo,
and Covington. IBI produced some advertisement's such as this Tropical
Ale Tap. I've also seen a large lighted Tropical Ale and Beer Sign by them
that sold at a recent Gator Trader Show.
Pat Taylor, an avid Florida Collector answered my Question. "Did they
ever Can or Bottle Tropical from IBI?" He said He has a Tropical Beer
Flat with IBI in different color around bottom. Sure hope to see this
Can and maybe photograph it.
IBI was short lived, they then closed in 1964, under to much pressure
from the Major Brewers.
The Building itself became a storage warehouse space for Corral
Wodiska y Ca, which produced a Cigar brand "Bering".
That Company closed around 1985 and the building sat vacant until 1999.
In 1995 the Shipyard Brewing Company of Portland Maine began negotiating
to buy the Building for a Micro-Brewery, employing 20 people.
Chris Corral whose Family owned the Building at that time only had
renovation details, government and building approvals to work out. Obviously
things didn't work out, but Shipyard Brewing eventually opened a facility
in the Orlando Airport.
In 1998 a Computer Consulting Company called "The Firm"
had plans of renovations for the Building. Those plans also fell thru.

The Brewery House still Remains
The Old Brewery is Still standing Today (2-12-02). Thanks in part to Dale Swope and co-owner contractor Joseph Kokolakis. They have invested $5.6 Million on renovations in 1999. Dale has a 50,000 sq ft Law office in the building. "Thank You" Dale, Joseph, and all those involved, You have saved a part of Florida History!

The sign "The Florida Brewing Co" is still visible on the wall of this 75ft building (still the tallest building in Ybor City).

Here is the front door to the Swope Law Firm. Very nicely done door handels made out of very thick heavy steel.

Brewery Building Update!
At the end of July 2002, the Old Brewery became the first remodeled building to win the Golden Aurora Award, out of 465 entries from 12 Southwestern States. A very Prestigious Award usually awarded to New Construction projects.

On August 10, 2002, the St Petersburg Times ran a 2 page feature about the building and its Awards. They used 9 color photo's of inside and out, highlighting the preservation of the Old to the melting in of the New. The Article also mentions that the building has won 2 Preservation Awards, a Planning Commision Award, and an Aurora, "Best in State" Award, which led to the Golden Aurora.

"Way to Go Guy's"

Dale Swope was kind enough to correct a naming mistake I made on this article and has offered me a chance to tour the building. WoW! I truly look forward to this Day, and will be like a Big Kid in a candy store. Look for my next Update, I hope my story of my visit does the "Ole Brewery" justice.

I have been constantly checking Ebay auctions and other auctions for Fla. items for the last several years. I have acquired hundreds of photo’s and there ending prices. If you have anything Florida Brewery related, I would be happy to reference a value to your item. I would tell you what I would give for it and an Honest opinion of what you may get for it at auction or from another Collector. I can also sell your Florida Brewery item on Ebay, using detailed pictures and a professional layout.

Conditions of items greatly effect the value especially with Cans. But there are items that are “one-of-a-kind” that will demand a higher value regardless of condition.

If you have Florida Beer Items, Fla. Beer Knowledge, or just a Great story about a Brewery in Florida, Please share them with me. I would be more than happy to post them here under your Name and Collection.