Local Places and personalities: New World Brewery

This April will mark the 10 year anniversary of what many Ybor City nightlife regulars consider an oasis off the district’s beaten path, New World Brewery. Nestled between two parking lots at 1313 8th Ave. E., the location is void of 7 Avenue’s much lamented traffic of techno-dazed kids, Paris Hilton wannabes and those patchy olfactory clouds mixing swirls of cologne and vomit.

For owner Steve Bird, the satisfaction is the same now as it was when he first opened the bar’s iron-gated doors.

“I love to hear that buzz when it gets crowded,” he said. “People are unconsciously having a good time.”

“I’ve been a victim to it many times,” said USF student and musician Soraya Zaumeyer, referring to getting stuck in the bar’s infectious environment. “I think alcohol also had something to do with it,” she said.

At $3 to $4 a beer, a happy clientele makes for a happy profit. New World Brewery offers 29 different brews on tap including imports as well as 50 types of Belgian bottled beers. Technically, NWB is a beer bar and no longer a brewery pub.

The idea of creating his business came from Bird’s home brewery. He stopped brewing four years after opening due to inconsistent sales and the effort involved.

“It’s just easier to buy it,” Bird said about his selection of beer.

Bird’s approach to business is essentially the same in his personal life, which can be summed up as a good time is good business. Perhaps more than half of NWB’s asset is its environment. A spacious, open-air patio paved with bricks comes together with well-maintained greenery and a fountain in the middle to create a relaxing garden atmosphere, which is in stark contrast to Ybor City’s cramped club reputation.

This ambience is directly inspired from Bird’s backyard brewing days.

The Inside, where the bar is located, offers a rustic approach without the gimmicky vibe common in chain restaurants such as Chilis or Don Pablos. With a giant stuffed swordfish displaying the business name behind the pinewood bar and plenty of pub classics, including darts, foosball, pinball and possibly the best jukebox in Tampa Bay, NWB continues to be a home away from home for beer and bar connoisseurs.

Another important aspect in the bar’s tradition is its covered deck where live bands perform.

“We’re one of a handful of places (in Tampa) that does original music, and that’s become a really big part of what we do,” said Bird.

Genres of bands performing at NWB usually range from indie to blues and bluegrass, although hip-hop DJs are frequent attractions as well. Performing acts are usually local, although Bird said national acts he’s never heard of draw large crowds from internet popularity. Due to the bar’s focus on beer sales, all shows are 21 and up.

“We’ve got a reputation among musicians as a place that treats them right,” said Bird.

In October of last year, however, The Tampa Tribune reported that two men were stabbed in an argument concerning band equipment. One of the men, 34-year-old David Anderson, later died at Tampa General Hospital.

“Everyone here was saddened about Dave,” Bird said. “That kind of stuff never happens … I’ve never even seen a fight here.”

“I’ve been there since then,” said Zaumeyer. “But it’s Ybor City.”

Zaumeyer noted that the fact a stabbing happened at one of her favorite bars was eerie, in large part because of the bar’s usually peaceful environment.

Bird also mentioned the beer sold at NWB is not the kind people like to “chug,” and that’s why his place isn’t known for violent behavior.

New World Brewery is open from 3 p.m. to 3 a.m. daily. Happy hour is from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. when all drinks are $3. Cover charges for band performances are usually $3 to $5.

For more information, call (813) 248-4969.