Wawa's Latest Beer Collaboration Debuts in Florida
After successful partnerships with Pennsylvania-based brewers, the convenience store brand is headed south.
The fourth of Wawa’s four ‘Brew Tour’ beers will be available across The Sunshine State while supplies last.
When Wawa first began opening up locations in Florida in 2012, fans of the Pennsylvania-based convenience store chain renowned for its sandwiches and other own-brand products couldn’t be more excited. Unless those fans were beer lovers as well—in which case, it might be time to get more excited.
We knew this day was coming—Wawa announced it back in December—but tomorrow, it’s finally here: For the first time, Wawa will debut its own craft beer in Florida—and it will be sold in limited quantities across the state.
Back in the winter of 2018, Wawa brought Philadelphia craft beer aficionados to the brink of insanity by teaming up with the nearby 2SP Brewing Company to release the chain’s first-ever beer collaboration, Winter Reserve Coffee Stout. The preview event resulted in two hour wait times to get an early taste of the dark brew—which I found surprisingly solid, offering a relatively light body with a mix of both sweet and bitter coffee notes. Overall, the response was so strong that, this past winter, Wawa decided to quadruple the excitement, releasing four beers and, for the first time, selling them outside of Pennsylvania (in New Jersey, Delaware, and Virginia) as part of a Wawa “Brew Tour.”
The first three beers were released in December, and now, it’s Florida’s turn. In collaboration with Tampa’s Coppertail Brewing, Wawa and 2SP Brewing are releasing Snow Bird Reserve—billed as “a robust porter with sweetness derived from malted barley, intensified by Wawa Winter Reserve Coffee and balanced by a hint of vanilla”—tomorrow, February 20, at 4 p.m. at Wawa stores and distributors across the state.
The porter—named after the term used for people who travel south for the winter to soak up the sun instead of getting buried in blizzards—was crafted by 2SP’s Head Brewer Bob Barrar, Coppertail’s Brewmaster Casey Hughes, and Wawa’s Concept Development Manager and World Traveling Coffee Guru Michael McLaughlin.
“When our friends at Wawa spoke about doing a beer for their family in Florida, we immediately knew we wanted to collaborate with Tampa natives, Coppertail,” explained 2SP. “We have known Coppertail's head brewer Casey Hughes for over 15 years and have collaborated with him a few times so we knew we could do something special. Adding Michael McLaughlin, the one and only coffee guru at Wawa into the mix, we created a very approachable Coffee Vanilla Porter. It was a great experience working with our friends and neighbors and we hope Floridians enjoy drinking it as much as we did brewing it.”
Floridians interested in scoring the brew have a couple of opportunities. The official preview event (which hopefully won’t, but possibly could, result in two-hour waits) is taking place on February 20 at 3:45 p.m. at the Wawa located at 3660 W. Gandy Blvd. in Tampa. A firkin (a.k.a. a small cask) will be tapped, the brewers will be on hand, and the first 100 customers can get an official Wawa Brew Tour t-shirt while supplies last.
After that, the chain explains that “with limited quantities and availability, customers should visit the official Brew Tour website to confirm which stores receive product and are advised to get to stores as quickly as possible.”
Worth noting for non-Floridians, though Wawa says the other three beers have sold well, you might still be able to score them if you know where to look. In Pennsylvania, Wawa’s two locations licensed to sell beer sold out in a week, but other beer retailers may still have cans available. And in Virginia, the launch store sold out in a month, but Wawa brews are still available in some locations in Richmond, according to the company.
Meanwhile, Wawa’s Chief Product Marketing Officer Mike Sherlock spoke to just how important The Sunshine State has been to Wawa over the past eight years. “With recently celebrating Wawa’s 200th store opening in the state of Florida, we’re grateful for 2SP Brewing Company’s introduction to longtime friends at Coppertail Brewing Company to collaborate on this innovative product that brings excitement to our Florida friends and neighbors,” he said in the announcement. “It’s just one more way for us to Fulfill Lives in our community.”