When most St. Petersburg residents hear the words ‘green bench,’ they think of the city’s infamous brewery. However, this name was actually pulled from a marketing tool directed towards tourists in the 1900s. Back then, over 3,500 benches brimmed the sidewalks and stood before stores, all uniform in size and color. While St. Petersburg was commonly referred to as “The Sunshine City,” it also gained the title, “The City of Green Benches.” Although some saw the benches as a way to attract visitors, they remind others of segregation in the city.
Nathan Stonecipher, co-owner of Green Bench Brewing, explained the reason for the company’s name. “It was an unfortunate and ugly thing that we went through as a city here,” he said. “Our idea was to bring it back and take new ownership of the green benches and really show that there’s a place for all.” With this goal in mind, Nathan and his fellow owners settled on this piece of history for their brewery’s name. “We really wanted a name that would pay homage to our area, but would also challenge us too as we looked at our history,” he explained.
Green Bench Brewing began about seven years ago with co-owners Khris Johnson, Nathan Stonecipher and Steven Duffy. The three were raised in St. Petersburg and wanted to start a project that would add to their city. “For us, this was a labor of love for many years before we got to a point where we could open our doors,” Nathan told us. Over the years, each co-owner has inherited different tasks in order to make their company the best it can be. Khris, the “creative guru,” comes up with and tweaks the beer recipes. Nathan works primarily with management, accounting, and in his own words, “all the boring stuff.” Steven looks at the construction side of things, building and expanding as they see fit.
Recently, Green Bench Brewing opened an additional space called Webb’s City Cellar. The facility focuses on sour beers, saisons, Belgium and Northern French inspired beers, with production in mead and cider too. Unlike anything else in Florida, Webb’s City Cellar showcases their large scale aging process for beers and ciders. “We really wanted something that would give people in the state of Florida a different type of space to go see… and this is what we envisioned,” Nathan said.
“We’re never quite sure how these beers are going to end up, which is part of what makes it exciting for us.”
Along with the new space, Green Bench Brewing has begun to introduce new kinds of drinks and flavors. Among these is Alice, which is a new line of sours. With flavors like raspberry and peach, this take on golden sours is already becoming a huge hit. “We’re never quite sure how these beers are going to end up, which is part of what makes it exciting for us,” Nathan admitted. Green Bench Brewing is constantly tweaking recipes towards the taste of the changing market. “We’re always experimenting with something new around here, which is what makes it fun.” Stop by at Green Bench to see what’s brewing!