Bradenton is now the Corvette of beer, shooting from a standstill to a blazing speed in just months.
From a suds-starved desert, the city has gained one craft brewery after another -- with Darwin Brewery and Motorworks Brewery opening in the so-called "sports and entertainment" district surrounding McKechnie Field. Another one, Little Giant Brewery, is expected to open in July near Tarpon Pointe.
Then this week comes two more announcements: World of Beer, a Tampa-based bar chain, purchased an old bank building on Cortez Road by DeSoto Square mall and will open a franchise there.
And another craft brewpub could be coming to an old market store near McKechnie. That's the early buzz after the building passed into new ownership.
This is all a bonanza for craft beer aficionados and the continuing resurgence of neighborhood long neglected but always holding promise.
With the Pittsburgh Pirates planning even more improvements at McKechnie Field -- already one of the finest small ballparks in the state -- there's obviously interest in piggy-backing on a major attraction.
A walkable entertainment district -- with more restaurants and other businesses -- is the big vision.
As Tim Polk, the executive director of the city's Central Community Redevelopment Agency, stated this week, "Ninth Street (home to McKechnie Field and Motorworks) is going to be a success and now with this latest purchase on 17th Avenue West, we are beginning to see the synergy there."
Yes indeed. Who could have predicted beer would be a major catalyst?