A Sneak Peek of Green Bench

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Nobody is as excited as we are at iLovetheBurg.com about Green Bench Brewing Company’s opening. In fact, we were so impatient we just had to have a look around, and co-owner Nathan Stonecipher was gracious enough to oblige us with a tour of their soon-to-open location on 1133 Baum Ave N (accessible from Central Ave.). 

Our tour begins where the magic happens. “Here are our fermenters,” Nathan points to the big metal tanks and one giant oak barrel that is designated for their Belgians. The oak barrel actually retains some of the flavors from the previous batches and will contribute to unique Green Bench creations. He also points out the giant beer cellar, which is going to be one of the few of its kind in the southeast. The beauty of a cellar is that you can age kegs for years to make very flavorful, robust, and higher alcohol-content beers. The brewing area is huge but Nathan stressed the need to leave space to grow into, so for the time being the focus is to operate in a tight, well planned fashion to avoid space waste down the road. The conservative approach still translates to over a dozen different Green Bench brews at the taproom, which is where we stopped next.

The taproom has a crisp, industrial feel and it is a personal delight for us to see the Chicago Railroad style counter top installed. In our previous Block by Block article we serendipitously walked in on local artist Jonathan Haywood of Epic Artisan Concrete molding the creation and it is a beauty to behold. Massive windows are behind the bar and on the wall that can open up to the brewing operation and outside, making the establishment very free, fresh, and sunny. As we listen to Nathan highlight the countertop, the custom rebar legs of the tables, the classic St. Pete hexagonal street slabs incorporated into the bar, and the schematics of St. Pete’s green benches on the bathroom walls, one thing becomes very clear. This place is as homegrown, genuine, 100% St. Pete as Nathan is.

“We want to make the city proud and bring home some awards,” Nathan says. He guides us out the side of the taproom and out onto the open lawn, which is about the size of the brewspace and taproom combined. Authentic green benches, covered seating, and ancient machine frames on the walls abound and we soak it in while Nathan describes what’s in store. Their outdoor mural is in progress and on the blank wall opposite Nathan envisions movie projections. Bocce ball, a fire pit, and bike racks are all teasers of the outdoor space’s final form.

We head back in for the icing on the cake, a beer tasting! Their saison, IPA, and stout are all delicious and Nathan talks about the ample experimentation that they will be doing. For example, they recently made ripples with a sour IPA that we’ll all hopefully get to try sometime soon. Above the regular taps is a painting of a massive stag head that lords over an enticing golden tap. We ask if that is for the top-notch stuff from the cellar.

“That’s the idea,” ambitious Nathan says with a gleam in his eye. He gestures around us, “It’d be easier to see what I’m talking about if all this construction stuff was out of here.” Oh, we see it. These are exciting times for them and St. Pete as a whole. If their ambitions pan out, a trip to Green Bench will be just as delicious and noteworthy as a trip to Cigar City. And a whole lot closer.

Nathan is understandably a little dodgy about announcing when exactly they are opening, for nobody wants a circus to deal with on day one. But let’s just say a little bird told us that the opening is sometime very, very soon, so stay tuned and get ready to raise your glass!

Article by Norris Comer, Editor/Writer for iLovetheburg.com

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