Ybor's BarrieHaus Beer Co: the small brewery with a big reputation

Ybor City is known for many things - Cuban heritage, nightlife, historic brick buildings and streets, free-roaming chickens and an eclectic arts scene. Over the last decade, Ybor's also built a reputation for top-notch craft breweries, drawing attention to a beer scene with roots stretching back to early 1997, when the Tampa Bay Brewing Company opened its original 15th Street location, one of the state’s first microbreweries.

Between Tampa Bay Brewing Company, Coppertail, BarrieHaus, Bastet, Cigar City Cider & Mead,  Big Storm's taproom and a slew of pubs and bars with strong selections on draft, there’s something for almost any taste and always something going on. Case in point, it’s late on a Friday afternoon in early May and, in southwest Ybor, BarrieHaus’ tap room and beer garden are gradually filling up. It’s the first Friday of the month, which means the brewery’s mug club members get their first beer on the house. On this Friday, the Mexican Lager is freshly tapped, just in time for Cinco de Mayo weekend. 

BarrieHaus opened in late 2019. A few months later, the COVID-19 pandemic hit and BarrieHaus faced a monthslong shutdown and uncertain future. After reopening, the brewery survived and eventually thrived. In less than five years, it’s built a reputation for brewing brilliance and brought home some big-time international awards for its beer. 

During April’s 2024 World Beer Cup in Las Vegas, the brewery's Bublina Czech-Style Pilsner won the gold medal in the Bohemian-style Pilsener category, beating out 151 other entries. That latest accolade for brewing excellence follows on the heels of March’s 2024 Best Florida Beer Competition, where BarrieHaus earned Best Small Brewery of the Year and won medals in four beer styles categories.

The award for Bublina is BarrieHaus’ second gold medal in three years at the World Beer Cup, a prestigious competition that attracted entries from more than 2,000 breweries in 50 countries this year. The Family Tradition Vienna Lager won gold in 2022.

BarrieHausYbor City's BarrieHaus Beer Co. is a small brewery with a big reputation. The brewery has won two gold medals in three years at the prestigious World Beer Cup and Best Small Brewery of the Year at the 2024 Florida Best Beer Competition. “It’s a real honor to get recognized in that fashion,” says co-founder, co-owner and head brewer Jim Barrie. “There are a ton of great brewers out there. It’s a big deal.”

It’s also the latest chapter in a family history of brewing that dates back to the mid-19th century.
A family tradition

“Beer is in my blood,” Barrie says. “I’m a fourth-generation brewer.”

Barrie’s great-great-great-grandfather Philip Kling immigrated to the United States from Germany in the mid-19th and settled in Michigan. A barrel maker by trade, Philip Kling was part of a wave of German immigrants who brought their culture with them. That included their taste and recipes for lager-style beer. In 1863, he opened Peninsular Brewing, which was later renamed Ph. Kling Brewing.  

In 1897, Barrie’s great-great-grandfather Louis Schimmel, the husband of Philip’s daughter, founded Tivoli Brewing. Tivoli’s Altes Lager became one of Michigan’s most popular beers. Then, Prohibition became the law of the land, killing the Kling brewery and driving Tivoli underground. Post-Prohibition, Barrie’s great-grandfather ran the Altes brand, eventually selling it to a larger company. 

Fast forward several decades to 2008. When a knee injury ended Barrie’s college football career at the University of Florida, he revived the family’s brewing tradition. Like his family forefathers, he specialized in European-style lagers.

“I got into home brewing because I had so much time on my hands,” he says. “It slowly progressed into a real passion. It’s the stereotypical home brewer becomes professional brewer.” 

In December 2019, Barrie, his wife Brittney Barrie, who oversees business “hoperations,” and their fellow co-founder and co-owner Junbae Lee, who’s in charge of sales, marketing and promotions, opened BarrieHaus in a spacious location in southwest Ybor that had previous lives as the offices of a surveying firm and, before that, an auto garage. 

BarrieHaus’ slogan is “Established in 1863, reinvented in 2019” and memorabilia from Kling and Tivoli pay respect to the family’s history in brewing. On top of the can cooler in the main tap room, there’s a circa 1918 Kling wood beer box - a gift from one of the distant cousins Barrie connected with while returning to the family’s brewing roots - and a Tivoli wooden beer box. One wall in the brewery’s comfortable den area is a mini history exhibit on the Kling and Tivoli breweries. There are photos of “The OG” Philip Kling, beer labels, brewery ads and news clippings, including a photo of a Prohibition raid. 

Establishing a niche 

At the brewery in Ybor, BarrieHaus can have close to two dozen beers on tap, a mix of year-round and seasonal offerings. Some brews are regularly distributed on draft across the Tampa Bay area and shipped quarterly to watering holes in Georgia, Virginia and New York.

Barrie says specializing in the same type of European-style lagers as his family’s earlier generations of brewers offers beer drinkers something they won’t find at another brewery. And that helps set BarrieHaus apart, he says. Provided by BarrieHausBarrieHaus co-founders Junbae Lee, Jim Barrie and Brittney Barrie raise a beer to being named Best Small Brewery of the Year at the 2024 Best Florida Beer Competition.

“We’ve established a niche and it’s been working out really well for us,” Barrie says.

Brittney Barrie says the success is due to the hard work and collaboration of the brewery’s small but dedicated team. The front-of-house staff creates a hospitable, welcoming, fun environment for the patrons while the back-of-house team “brews incredible beers,” she says. 

There is nothing glamorous about brewing beer, Brittney Barrie adds. It’s long hours of physical work in a hot, loud, industrial environment. Awards like the World Beer Cup gold medal are the product of that hard work, she says.

Looking ahead

What’s next for BarrieHaus? First, the brewery is rearranging its production schedule to have another batch of the award-winning Bublina ready for an August 24th celebration of the World Beer Cup win, complete with the ceremonial unveiling of a banner commemorating the brewery’s gold medal. The celebration will also be the debut Bub Light, a lighter-bodied, lower-alcohol version of Bublina. 

In the fall, BarrieHaus will expand with its first satellite location- a taproom in the fast-growing Pasco County community of Trinity. BarrieHaus will move into the space on Trinity Boulevard that Escape Brewing, known for its IPAs, is leaving as part of an expansion and brand new food hall.

For more information, go to BarrieHaus.
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Read more articles by Christopher Curry.

Chris Curry has been a writer for the 83 Degrees Media team since 2017. Chris also served as the development editor for a time before assuming the role of managing editor in May 2022. Chris lives in Clearwater. His professional career includes more than 15 years as a newspaper reporter, primarily in Ocala and Gainesville, before moving back home to the Tampa Bay Area. He enjoys the local music scene, the warm winters and Tampa Bay's abundance of outdoor festivals and events. When he's not working or spending time with family, he can frequently be found hoofing the trails at one of Pinellas County's nature parks.