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Florida's Ybor City Brewing Co. closes.

AP -- Ybor Brewing Co., the state's oldest microbrewery, is closing its doors in the city's historic district but will continue to produce its three brands at another brewery.

The Ybor Gold, Ybor Calusa Wheat and Ybor Brown Ale brands will be brewed by Indian River Beverage Corp. in Melbourne, but headquarters will remain in Ybor City, company President Humberto Perez said. The company's name was changed to Florida Beer Co. Three workers were laid off.

After producing the microbrews for 10 years in a converted cigar factory, Perez said he wants to focus on expanding the business and marketing to other cities.

Perez added that he hopes to create a regional brewing force that would put Florida on the nation's beer map.

In the past three years, the company acquired Key West Brewery and Miami Brewing Company. It brews Key West and Hurricane Reef beers as well as Ybor brands and has rights to brew Cuba's La Tropical in the United States.

"We want to expand to cities with an interest in Cuban cuisine," Perez said. "Cities like Chicago, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco."

The 3,000-square-foot Ybor City building will be converted into office space, most of which will be leased.

In all, Indian River will produce 11 established labels for Florida Beer Co., including Ybor Gold, Calusa Wheat, Brown Ale and the seasonal Gaspar's Ale; Hurricane Reef Caribbean Pilsner, Raspberry Wheat and Pale Ale; and Key West Sunset Ale and Pilsner Light.

Perez said he is confident that fans of Ybor Gold won't be able to taste the difference once production moves to Melbourne. "We have devoted very special attention to consistency of quality," he said.
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Title Annotation:Weekly Specialty Beer Report
Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Article Type:Brief Article
Geographic Code:8AUST
Date:Aug 25, 2003
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