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Fat Point Brewing to join UTC lineup in Sarasota by early 2023

The Punta Gorda-based brewery is opening a new location at University Town Center.

Fat Point Brewing is targeted for an early 2023 opening at UTC in Sarasota.
Fat Point Brewing is targeted for an early 2023 opening at UTC in Sarasota.
Courtesy photo
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One executive is stepping up his game plan to continue a brewery he said is important to the Southwest Florida region.

Leo “L.J.” Govoni, CEO and co-founder of Seaboard Craft Beer Holdings, has selected University Town Center for the next Fat Point Brewing location.

Although the brewery is named for its original location of Punta Gorda, which means “Fat Point” in Spanish, Govoni said successful craft beer establishments in Florida require multiple locations.

“Fat Point needs outposts,” he said, calling the UTC area a “fantastically managed and well planned-out shopping and hospitality center.”

Fat Point's beer lineup includes the tropical pale ale Hoppin' Harbor, the ale Big Boca, the wheat ale Going Mintal, and the fruited wheat ale Cape Haze.
Courtesy photo

The new 2,500-square-foot venue, which will be located along Cattlemen Road between Rocco’s Tacos and Tequila Bar and Ford’s Garage, has targeted a first quarter of 2023 opening, although he said he would open sooner if construction is finished.

Govoni said the site, which will offer beers brewed on location, will shift the company's focus to small batch beers in order to allow "experimentation" with the brand.

The new location is expected to give to as many of 60 new beers a year.

Some of those will join the brewery’s signature lineup of coastal Florida-inspired beers.

The site will feature either a three-barrel or one-barrel brewing system, with four fermenters, in contrast to the 15-barrel system at Fat Point’s original Punta Gorda location.

“If you miss, you miss small,” he said.

He said the small size would also increase the ease of experimentation, as adding a small amount of ingredients impacts the final product “dramatically.”

Another reason he said he is expanding to Sarasota is the brewery’s Punta Gorda branch is currently closed and in the process of being moved across the street.

He said it was important for the company to keep the Fat Point brand present in Florida.

Fat Point Brewing was founded in 2014 by Bill Frazer and his brother-in-law Duncan Scarry, but Seaboard Craft Beer Holdings took over the struggling brewery in 2017. Govoni said in purchasing the brand, he wanted to keep craft beer relevant in the area.

“Buying the brand was important to what we're doing, because it was important to Southwest Florida,” he said.

The majority of current flagship beers, he said, was inherited from the original owners.

Govoni strives for cleanliness and complexity.

He also said customers can expect bold flavors.

“I think if we're going to brew a tangerine wheat, that means that tangerine needs to kick you in the face,” he said. “You need to have the aromatics as soon as you put that glass to your nose and mouth, the flavor needs to be there, and the finish needs to be perfect.”

He said the base product would also be of high quality, and that flavors would not be used to mask deficiencies.

“It’s very easy to take a bad or bland beer and add 100 things on top of it,” he said.

Govoni said the product would reflect the quality of the ingredients, the high levels of staff experience, and the quality of the equipment.

"I think all three of those triangulate together to consistently get that balanced beer we're looking for,” he said.

One notable aspect of most of Fat Point’s beers, he said, is that they are typically low in alcohol levels.

“You're going to have a couple of them in a session and still feel good,” he said, describing them as a product someone could “consume all day in the sun.”

In addition to the newly created beers, customers will be able to experience items which were already popular at the original Fat Point location.

The restaurant will offer a variety of food items, with seafood as well as comfort foods.
Courtesy photo

Govoni said of all beers inherited from the original brewery, he was proudest of the main flagship beer, the Big Boca, which features aromatic hops added for spicy and citrus flavors.

“We’re really proud of what of what Big Boca is,” he said. "We're proud of what it's become and where it's going.”

He described the product as “a really well-done and balanced, slightly sweet, approachable-style beer,” noting that it was also relatively simple in its makeup.

Another personal favorite, he said, is Bru Man Chu, a Belgian Trippel which took home gold medals at the 2018 U.S. Open Beer Championship and the 2019 Best Florida Beer Professional Championship.

He also encouraged guests to try the Winter Warmer.

This spiced ale, he said, was the company’s attempt to replicate Christmas and winter-inspired beers from the Great Lakes region.

“We just kind of went for it and I think we came close,” he said. “It was complex, a little nuanced, but well within style, well within intention.”

The question of who will ultimately assume the task of overseeing the brewing is not yet determined, he said. He said the business could promote a staff member internally, although he was also drawn to the possibility of a newcomer.

“I also think there's something uniquely exciting about someone with a new vision, and new expectations,” he said.

The brand, he said, will grow to the strengths of whomever is chosen to lead the brewing process.

Featuring food items in addition to beers, the location will aim for a wide appeal.

Moving away from a previous pizza-centered concept, the menu will focus on coastal-inspired seafood fare, although other items including familiar comfort foods will be offered.

"We hope to attract families, we hope to attract individual craft beer snobs, we hope to attract the guy that wants a place to get a beer,” he said.



Ian Swaby

Ian Swaby is a reporter for the East County Observer. Ian is a Florida State University graduate of Editing, Writing, and Media and previously worked in the publishing industry in the Cayman Islands. You will find Ian at everything from Music on Main in Lakewood Ranch to Manatee County Commission meetings.

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