Hot sun, cold beer: Great Bay Distributors does it right!

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Hot summer months – especially FLORIDA summer months – make the challenge of keeping cold beer cold a difficult one. That’s especially true if you are storing, cataloguing, sorting, packing and shipping literally acres of the stuff.

Nobody wants their beer sitting in an oven as it moves through the system, because it can ruin the beer and shorten its shelf life. That is why Florida’s wholesalers keep their warehouses at a relatively cool 60° F for cans and bottles and 34° F for kegs.

And, with the continued rise in specialty, needs-to-be-cold-at-all-times craft brews, the battle to keep these beers in a constantly cool climate is even more critical – I mean, who wants to spend $11 for a six-pack of skunk-infused Double IPA?

So, with a surface temperature of about 10,000 degrees, what could be a better ally than the Florida sun? That seems only logical, right?

Actually, it’s as logical as it gets. St. Pete’s Great Bay Distributors is harnessing the sun, in part, to keep its 340 different brands of beer (249 of them craft) frosty cold. In their new quarter-million-square-foot facility, they are including the largest private- sector solar array in Florida and are investing over $2.5 million to do it. According to one source (Green Peacers take note) it will cut carbon dioxide emissions by an amount equal to planting 1.1 million trees.

OK. Pause and take that in for a second. 1.1 million trees is a LOT of timber!

And if geeking up the environmentalist in you isn’t enough, stand proudly under the nearest American flag, put your hand over your heart and take note that owner Ron Petrini chose a U.S. manufacturer to make these panels.

Sure, Petrini paid a little more for the Made in America panels, but it’s all for a great cause. When he began his journey he said, “it’s the right thing to do” – and karma seems to agree.  In a little more than a half-dozen years, Great Bay will recoup most of the investment in the panels through reduced utility bills.

It’s a great story. After all, it contains three of my three favorite subjects:  beer, sun and St. Pete. I can’t wait until it opens early next year and will be happy to put in a few shameless plugs hoping to get an invite to the ribbon cutting.

Hope they’ll be serving up free samples.


Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including,,, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.