Napa has their wine tours, so why can’t Florida have a beer tour? If you happen to have a few days as well as a few tanks of gas to spare consider you can pull it off. As much as I make fun of Florida, we do host some great breweries, a few of which are distributing in the surrounding states.
Crooked Can Brewing Company – Winter Garden, FL
Winter Garden could easily be named Mayberry. Plant Street runs through the middle of town, and it’s lined with small businesses. Most Saturday’s the city hosts a farmers market with local honey, local produce and local crafts. Crooked Can is located behind City Hall inside the Plant Street Market. The market is completely laidback and consists of 20 vendors featuring natural, organic food and handmade products. On-site my favorite is their McStagger Imperial IPA, ABV: 9.0%. This is a heavy beer with lots of kick, so pace yourself. They do offer beer flights so you can zero in on your favorite. If you can’t make it in Publix distributes their High Stepper. An American IPA with less of a kick at ABV: 7.0%.
Brew Hub – Lakeland, FL
I drove past Brew Hub dozen of times before I bothered to stop in.. My biggest gripe with breweries is that most don’t serve food, well Brew Hub does it, and does it well. This evening that had 20+ beers on tap and they even offer an app to help you in the selection process. I went with a flight (4) 5oz. samples, 3 IPA’s & 1 stout, which paired perfectly with my BB-Quban. This is one of the few breweries I’ve been to that fill cans “Crowler” as well as growlers. I left with a 32oz Neon “Crowler”. Brew Hub also distributes and their KeyBilly, Diver Down and Rome City can easily be found.
Two Henry’s Brewing Company – Plant City, FL
Two Henry’s is north of I4. Exit at Dinosaur World and turn right. The brewery is named after two Henry’s who was instrumental in Florida’s development and growth, Henry B. Plant and Henry M. Flagler. The tasting room is open with a towering ceiling that gave off a very Key West vibe. They offer a huge selection of fruit-infused beers as well as Sangria. I passed on both and went with their 7 Mile Bridge English Style IPA. I gave it a 3-star review.
Cigar City Brewing – Tampa, FL
As much time as I’ve spent in Tampa Cigar City is a place I’ve yet to stop in at. Each time I’ve gone by the parking lot has been packed and it really didn’ call my name. But, that doesn’t take anything away from their beer. I routinely throwback Jai Alai and at 7.5% ABV, it can change your viewpoint on life. Want something very light then check out Florida Cracker. It’s a citrus-infused white ale full of taste but only 5.5% ABV. At one point they offered a yearly bottle pour release that had people waiting hours just to grab a couple of bottles to take home.
3 Daughters Brewing – St. Petersburg, FL
We found ourselves at 3 Daughters after a failed college tour or a family photo shoot, can’t remember which. It’s named after the owners 3 Daughters… duh…. and the bar contains all three of their handprints. My last visit I went with the Imperial Brown Ale (Nitro). A true heavyweight at 10% ABV and too carbonated for my liking. Their
Bimini Twist IPA is available damn near everywhere and is worth trying.
Big Top Brewing Company – Sarasota, FL
One of my favorite West coast stops. Following the Cinderella story vibe of Caddy Shack, this is a local brewer that listens to his friends and begins brewing for the masses. Most of the beers are named with some sort of a circus theme, and their brewery offers enough entertainment to rival a sideshow. My last visit I ordered the Ashley Gang Outlaw Imperial IPA. This isn’t a beer for sissies, at 120 IBU’s
** Side Note ** The IBU’s in beer refers to the International Bitterness Unit scale which is a standard for measuring the amount of hops in one’s beer. For example, a hoppy beer like an IPA will have a very high IBU rating, like a 75, while a malty beer like a stout will usually (but not always) have a low IBU rating at around a 30.
I often leave with a 22oz. bomber of Ashley Gang with full intentions of bringing it home. Most times it doesn’t survive the night in the hotel room. If you’re interested, their Circus City IPA is available all across Central Florida.
Old Soul Brewing – Fort Myers, FL
Old Soul is tucked in the back of an industrial park, and it’s the perfect place to wind down a crazy day. If you go with a flight, it’s served on a miniature picnic bench. My last visit I started with the Ole Hootie IPA which was OK and I finished with a Salty Walter. The Salty Walter was interesting as it was infused with salt water, and it tasted better than it sounds.
Riverside Market – Fort Lauderdale, FL
While the Riverside Market isn’t a brewery they accurately represent what good beer is all about. If you’re a beer person, this is a must stop. The interior is eclectic and welcoming. We were greeted and given the explanation on selecting a beer. The beer selection is based on the honor system. There is cooler after cooler stocked with beer. Each cooler has a number on it. When you’re done tell your server how many beers you had out of each cooler, and they ring you up… simple. Their Ft Lauderdale location offers great food, take it from a foodie, their BBQ Pizza is one of the best around.
Funky Buddha Brewery – Oakland Park, FL
The very first brewery that I ever visited and toured. This is another brewery gone viral, one location then two and finally, Funky Buddha was purchased by Constellation Brands. Who also own Ballast Point and Corona to name a few. At this point, the only real change I’ve seen is more distribution. My standard is their Hop Gun IPA and after it’s any of their specialty runs. Recently I picked up a four-pack of their “No Crusts” and PB&J infused brew, and not cheap at almost $3.00 per bottle. If you ever get the rare chance to sample the January release of their Maple Bacon Coffee Porter do it is a hyped beer that’s worth it. They’ve recently added food to their Oakland Park location.
Florida Beer Company – Cape Canaveral, FL
This is another brewery that I’ve yet to visit, but I do enjoy their beer. Yelp has them rated at 4+ stars so it’s on the “to visit” list. I do enjoy their Swamp Ape Double IPA. This is another 4-pack offering and the reason is it’s 10% ABV. It’s heavy but tasty, and one of the few 10% that I enjoy. Most of their beers are sold at Publix.
There you have it, thanks for listening and safe travels.
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