Bay-area Beer Guide
Check out some of Tampa Bay’s best craft breweries
Tampa Bay’s burgeoning craft brewery scene is sparking national attention from a growing crowd of beer enthusiasts who crave more out of their adult beverages. If you’re new to the area or just want to expand your beer palate, here are a few local brewpubs and breweries that are serving up some cold pints daily.
St. Somewhere Brewing Company
For fans of traditional Belgian-style ales, St. Somewhere Brewing Company handcrafts small batches of beer that are unfiltered and re-fermented in the bottles to develop a simple, authentic saison. Brewer Bob Sylvester founded his small brewery outside the sponge docks of Tarpon Springs just a few short years ago but his bottles are now located as far as Portland, OR and New York City. You can also find his beer on tap at local bars in Tarpon Springs and beyond.
Our top pick: Saison Athene
1441 Savannah Ave., Tarpon Springs, FL 34689
The state’s oldest microbrewery combines the Scottish roots of Dunedin with an eclectic mix of beers that reflect the local beer enthusiasts. Since 1996, Dunedin Brewery has served some of the best beers in the southeast, evolving from a small production warehouse facility to a destination brewpub. The beer is made in small batches or 20 barrels at a time and is expertly crafted regardless of style. The bar always has at least 10 year-round drafts, as well as single release, experimental, seasonal and guest brews.
Our top pick: House pale ale or apricot wheat beer
937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, FL 34698
7venth Sun Brewing
For being so fresh to the local brewery scene, 7venth Sun Brewing co-owner Devon Kreps is well traveled in the beer industry. Having worked for both Anheuser-Busch and Sweetwater, Devon knows her way around the mash tung. She and Justin Stange opened their craft brewery in January 2012 and have received a warm welcome from the beer enthusiasts in Pinellas County. Although small, the tasting room is laid-back and welcoming. The beer packs big flavor and ranges from IPAs and Belgians to limited barrel-aged productions.
Our top pick: Graffiti Orange
1012 Broadway St., Dunedin, FL 34698
Sarasota Brewing Company
Wanna watch the game and have a few cold ones but you crave something more than the standard domestic bottles and drafts? Sarasota Brewing Company is the place for you. Opened 23 years, the brewery is one of the oldest in the state. Resident brewmaster Vincent Pelosi has been pouring his traditional American and European-style beers for more than a decade and offers a nice balance of beers, including a house-made ale, lager, porter and IPA.
Out top pick: Sarasota Gold
6607 Gateway Ave., Sarasota, FL 34231
Cigar City Brewing Company
Cigar City’s recognition exploded from the moment it opened in 2008, gaining recognition as the No. 3 Best Brewery in the World by RateBeer.com in 2010. Tampa native Joey Redner, Jr. and brewmaster Wayne Wambles create not only the most clever concoctions (cucumber saison, anyone?), they’ve also come up with some of the best names for their beers, including the Tampa Bay-influenced brews Humidor, Jai Alai and Xenu. The brewery will have a newly expanded tasting room in the coming months and is now canning some of hits most popular beers.
Our top pick: Jai Alai
3924 W. Spruce St., Ste. A, Tampa, FL 33607
Tampa Bay Brewing Company
Upscale pub fare marries amazing craft beer at Tampa Bay Brewing Company, a staple in Ybor City. Opened by the Doble family on Gasparilla weekend in 1997, this modern brewpub packs a punch with about 10 in-house beers that range from the Old Elephant Foot IPA to the Redeye Ale and Iron Rat Stout. The names a creative and so are the dishes, which include several dishes that are infused with craft beer. The staff is friendly, the bartenders are knowledgeable and best of all, the brewers are always willing to chat about beer.
Our top pick: Old Elephant Foot IPA
1600 E. 8th Ave., Tampa, FL 33602
Darwin’s on Fourth
The Latin flavors of Peru meet the brilliant minds of Chef Darwin Santa Maria and brewmaster Jared Barnes at this trail-blazing Sarasota gastropub. Opened in January, Darwin’s on Fourth has amassed statewide attention for its clever concoctions and urban street food. Forget what you know about traditional beers; Barnes is brewing with a refined blend of exotic Central and South American ingredients. With about 10 beers always rotating at the bar, you’re just as likely to find your brew hinted with Peruvian purple corn, as you are to order a Belgian dubbel. Look out for an expanded canning and keg distribution facility next year.
Our top pick: Ayawasca
1525 4th Street, Sarasota, FL 34236
Green Bench Brewing
The Edge District near Tropicana Field has an anchor business in the newly opened Green Bench Brewery. Created by St. Petersburg High School class of 2000 graduates Nathan Stonecipher and Steve Duffy, this upstart craft brewery has given Tampa Bay residents a great reason to visit the northern Central Avenue area. Brew master Khris Johnson is crafting some killer ale and has experimented with an oak foudre fermentation process to produce authentic Beligian beers. Obviously the Green Bench Brewery is paying homage to St. Pete’s history with its name, but Stonecipher has a better explanation of the thought behind the name: “We found symbolism in what we’re doing and what the green benches once stood for,” he said. “They were a place where everyone could socialize, do business and build relationships. That’s what we want to do with our pints of beer.”
1133 Baum Ave N, St Petersburg, FL 33705
Honorable mentions: Rapp Brewing, www.rappbrewing.com; Big Storm Brewery, www.bigstormbrewery.com; Barley Mow Brewing Company, www.barleymowbrewingco.com; Six Ten Brewing, www.sixtenbrewing.com