Pictured Above: Grand Central Brewhouse has a European twist that will catch everyone’s attention.
Courtesy of Grand Central Brewhouse
By Lauren Kemmish
Grand Central Brewhouse in Midtown St. Petersburg, also known as GCB , is an eco-friendly micro-brewery and beer garden that gives back to the community through charity work.
Even in the midst of a pandemic, GCB still strived for success by not letting anything get in the way of having a successful brewery for the community to come together at the end of the day. There were some unforeseen roadblocks that were out of the brewery’s hands, but it all worked out in the end.
“Initially, the pandemic slowed construction, which delayed our opening,” owner of the brewery, Kevin Milkey, said.
After the opening, the owners implemented extra safety precautions including nightly professional cleaning and an abundance of hand sanitizers.
“All our staff wears masks, and we require customers to wear masks while they order and are walking around. We’ve also limited capacity to 50%. Fortunately, we have so much outdoor space that people feel comfortable being outside.”
St. Petersburg, especially the Midtown area, has quite a few well-known breweries within walking distance from each other but none of them are like GCB.
In Europe, Mueller serving tanks have been used for decades because it is the best way to serve the freshest beer. The Mueller serving tanks have allowed for GCB to be more eco-friendly, by not needing the space for cold room kegs there is a reduced energy cost and more room for production. The tanks also use an air compressor to dispense the beer instead of CO2 that is harmful for the environment.
The tanks are visible to the customers as they sit right behind the bar, but what really catches customers attention are the huge six copper serving tanks that hang over the bars that are self-cooling. The entire look of the brewery is very aesthetically pleasing.
“Customers buy with their eyes, the innovative-looking copper tanks offer a visual advantage in the taproom,” Milkey said.
GCB being eco-friendly is just one of the amazing things that this brewery strives for as charity work and community are a big deal to the brewery too. Some of the charities that GCB works with are Daystar Life Center, Manners Housing Foundation, CASA, Girls Rock St. Pete and Friends of Strays. All brewery team members are able to nominate a charity that they are passionate about each month to help with making personal connections in the community.
“Beer for the Bay” is a beer to support Tampa Bay Watch. 10% of sales from our Peninsular German Pilsner will support Tampa Bay Watch’s mission of protecting and restoring the Tampa Bay estuary through scientific and educational programs,” Milkey said. “This organization aligns with GCB’s concern for the natural environment and commitment to environmental stewardship.”
GCB is known for its easy drinking lagers that other breweries in the area don’t offer, along with pale ales, IPA’s, porters, wheat beers and some unusual beers.
Along with donating to charities, the brewery hosts fundraising events and the entire brewery team participates in volunteer work. The brewery hosts a lot of events for fun as well, such as Dortmunder Day for Tampa Bay Beer Week, but the biggest event is a German Beer Day Celebration, featuring several German beers and food with a Polka band.
The taproom on the first floor is 2,000 square feet that has tables and the main bar and upstairs is a bar that is used for events along with an open terrace with lounge seating. There is plenty of room for all customers to safely spread out inside, but there is even more space for people to socially distance outside.
“GCB has an expansive traditional beer garden with traditional beer garden tables from Germany. Live music is played in the beer garden Friday-Sunday, there are many different environments to enjoy a craft beer,” Milkey said.
Even though Milkey worked in insurance, his passion is in craft beer. His entire family loves to visit breweries, pubs and beer halls all over the U.S. and Europe for inspiration. After retiring from the insurance business, he decided it was time for him to open his own brewery. A lot of GCB is inspired the family’s world travels. Milkey participated in USF St. Petersburg’s Brewing Arts Program where he learned how to brew beer and gained a lot of knowledge that has helped him operate GCB successfully.
“Picking one beer to drink for the rest of my life is a really tough question because I really like all types of beer and usually my favorite is the one, I’m drinking at the time,” Milkey said. “But, for picking one for the rest of my life would have to be our Plzensky Czech Pilsner.”
One of the main goals for the brewery is to brew the best quality beer possible, but the brewery also focuses on the three P’s: People, Planet and Profit. The brewery looks at their positive impact on the community and environment to measure their success.
There is nothing quite like walking into Grand Central Brewhouse, seeing all of the European inspired décor while being able to sit outside in the beer garden or indoors looking over St. Petersburg in the second story.
GCB’s conscious effort to help our planet and help the community is another reason to stop by for a brew. People can catch up with old friends or make new ones as there are new people in the brewery every day.