SPRING HILL — Brewing his own beer was a hobby for Dave Peitzman back in his college days. He threw out his first batch, but it’s been pretty smooth drinking ever since.

Today he’s got 15 distinctive brews he sells at Tidal Brewing Company, which he and his wife opened at 14311 Spring Hill Drive, in the summer. Both school teachers in Hernando County, the couple hope to retire from teaching to run the brewery full time.

Peitzman said, so far, so good, as more and more residents have discovered his craft brewery and they like what’s on tap. His specialties are European lagers.

“There was a need for a place like this,” said Peitzman, who spent six months scouting for a location for his new business. “It’s so relaxing here, and obviously we have good beer.”

The rustic tap room is in a former convenience store and gas station at the corner of Barclay Avenue; the brewery is in the former carwash next door. What he’s turning out in his brewing tanks is the stuff that converts people into beer connoisseurs.

Peitzman’s conversion to craft beers began when he visited the Abita Tap Room in Louisiana years ago.

“It blew my mind how much higher quality it was and the complexity of it,” he recalled.

He was hooked. He stumbled upon a brewing supply store and bought a beginner’s kit.

“The first batch was terrible,” Peitzman said. “The second batch turned out pretty good.”

Over the years his recipes got better, and he expanded his brews. Meanwhile, during the 1990s craft brewing and micro-breweries took off.

Wine has sommeliers, now beer drinkers have cicerones, who specialize in the knowledge of beer, said Peitzman. The trend has made beer connoisseurs of many, making places like Tampa and downtown Dunedin popular centers for craft brewing. Except for Marker 48 Brewing, on Cortez Boulevard, there wasn’t anything equivalent around Spring Hill, said Peitzman, so he jumped in with both feet. It takes time, but with interest in craft beers growing, and with more word of mouth, he thinks his brewery will be booming one day like those in Dunedin or Tampa.

“It takes time,” Peitzman said. “It’s starting to grow here; it’s amazing how many people are starting to enjoy it.”

One of those enjoying is Dale Urbas, a local connoisseur who’s a regular at Tidal Brewing.

“The beer is as good as anyone brewing,” said Urbas of the Tidal offerings. “They are well-crafted recipes; very well thought out.”

One of Urbas’ favorites is the French Saison, a farmhouse style brew. As a home brewer himself, Urbas knows what it takes to develop a good beer, and he appreciates having a place close to home where he can drop in for a pint.

“These days it’s all about the smaller, craft breweries,” he said. “If you go to Germany or Belgium, every small town has a couple, and thankfully we’re starting to see that here.”

Events like pairings of chocolate or cookies with beer at Tidal Brewing have been a hit, said Urbas, and help foster relationships and fun for local beer drinkers.

“It’s just a great place to stop in, hang out and have good beer,” he said.

That’s what Peitzman likes to hear.

Customers like Urbas “really appreciate that there is someone sweating over it (brewing) and trying to take it to another level,” he said.