Amidst heavy, sticky heat, Floridians have always found refreshment in a cold and carbonated beer. But until recently, their coolers were always and only packed with the same-old bland macrobrews. Now, over sixty breweries have splashed onto the Florida coast near Tampa, offering Floridians something a little more satisfying to sip on. Here at Bellhops (we’re a modern alternative to traditional Tampa movers, by the way), these are the breweries that “bubble up” to the top of our list:
Six Ten makes both the local and visitor feel at home in the clean but laid-back environment of their taproom. Maggie, the breweries regular pup, is commonly hanging out amidst people sitting around wooden tables and at bar stools and is featured in the names of some of Six Ten’s beers – like their Magpie Rye – as well as some of the wall art. Bring your pet along, this brewery is very fido-friendly. Join Six Ten for their weekday regulars, like their grilled cheese nights on Wednesdays, Beer and Bingo nights on Thursdays and food trucks on most Fridays or Saturdays.
Highly drinkable, but still flavorful, this beer is a great replacer of the many macrobrews that ran the show among Floridians just 10 years ago. This Munich Lager, named after its perfect setting, has a crisp, clean flavor, light body and slight bready and toasty quality.
This new popular stop on the Tampa’s Riverwalk is also a brewery! Named after the young Native American princess, Ulele aspires to create a food and drink menu using the vibrant ingredients from Florida’s land and sea. Between bites and sips, let your eyes wander over the art-filled walls and floor of the restaurant’s dining rooms – like “The Laughing Horse” sculpture which towers near the entrance of the building, the 500-pound bronze sculpture of Princess Ulele which stands in the center of flames, rock, and water, or the Stained Glass Panels from 1789 which glow above the kitchen doors. Don’t forget to look down. Each table and the front door, as well as other scattered items throughout the restaurant, were designed by local artists and craftsmen.
Ulele proudly offers a beer list dominated by lagers. And this lager, in our opinion, is best in the group. One of their flagships, this beer’s base stays the same, but its flavor changes depending on what fruit is in season. In late summer months, you’ll most likely find this traditional unfiltered lager infused with a light blend of black and red berries. Altogether, balanced, light, delicate, and malty.
Pair this fruity brew with Ulele’s Roasted Beets and Poached Pear Salad, served over watercress and with balsamic charred red onions, whipped goat cheese, blackberry honey gastrique, and toasted almonds.
Everyone has an angry chair. At least, that’s what the folks at Angry Chair Brewing believe. This business named itself in honor of those things each of us gets riled up about – traffic, hair that won’t submit to our efforts, loud chewing, gluten-free fanatics, etc. Angry Chair accepts, even chuckles at these angry battles we all face. They make light of what some think of as darkness, and the taproom certainly mirrors this sentiment. Amidst the happy, quirky staff, sketches of fantastical ghouls, white-eyed skeletons and the grim reaper haunt the walls. Even the laced metal stools look skeletal. And Angry Chair doesn’t hesitate to dive into experimenting with dark brews. Stouts are their specialty, but you will also find gold-medal winning pilsners and interesting IPAs, sours, and porters on tap.
Brewed with coconuts (of course) this hazelnut coffee porter is incredibly balanced for a strong, sweet drink. No flavors overpower another, and the brew ends with a smooth finish.
Not a fan of coconut? Try the original version of this coffee porter: Fionn.
Devon Kreps, 7venth Sun’s visionary and founder, knew she wanted to open her own brewery in Tampa early on in her career. After graduating from Oregon State University with a degree in Fermentation Science, working as Anheuser-Busch’s brewer and manager in their Cartersville location, and then moving to Atlanta, GA’s Sweetwater Brewing as the Production Manager, Kreps felt fully prepared to open a brewery of her own. Though the brewery was originally located in Dunedin, Devon’s dream of building a taproom in Tampa came true in August of 2017, in a small brewpub just one block inland from the Gulf of Mexico. By this point, many locals knew the brews, and attracting a crowd to their new location wasn’t a problem. 7venth Sun makes everything from dry-hopped double IPAs to sweet, malty milk stouts. But, during your next visit, be sure to….
Kremps collaborated with other brewers to develop her own variations of a locally-famous brew style, the Florida Weisse. This brew style falls closely to the sour German-style Berliner Weisse, but made local with Florida fruits for a juicy, tropical drink. The brew would be highly tart if it weren’t for the sweet whole or pureed fruits added to the fermentation, and you can taste that mouth-watering balance in 7venth Sun’s Wolfman’s Berliner. This golden yellow sour smells and tastes like tart white grapes and apples. It is extremely refreshing and thirst-quenching, ideal for the steamy Florida climate.
Inspired to brew traditionally and simply, with only real ingredients, husband and wife team Bob and Anne Sylvester created Saint Somewhere Brewery in 2006. Nothing you will taste on their tap menu or sip out of their green, corked, and caged bottles were made with syrups or extracts. Their exclusive specialty beer, you’ll soon find upon your visit, is the Farmhouse Ale, a beer style which originated in Belgium using open fermentation brewing methods. Traditionally, brewers would open the roofs and doors to their barns or brewhouses and allow the natural yeast from the fauna and flora in the air to ferment their drinks. Similarly, each beer made in Saint Somewhere is fermented with their special house yeast strain and the wild yeast strains of Floridian air.
Adding a second nod to this old Belgian brewing method, the Sylvesters nestled their taproom into a quaint house in Tarpon Springs. Though not quite as ancient and beautiful as true Belgian homes, Saint Somewhere does carry the farmhouse theme with some interior timber framing like that of which you’d see on a thatched cottage in Limberg.
Experience what it felt like drinking a beer in Belgium 150 years ago – the funky wild yeast, the moderately hoppy profile, the peppery, fruity characteristics. Brewed, like the rest, with open fermentation, this bottle conditioned Saison has been spiced with chamomile, rosemary, and black pepper.
Tampa owes its thanks to Cigar City for opening the world of craft beer (and the largest brewery) to the area. In 2007, this foundation for Tampa’s beer scene began producing products that reflect and highlight the Latin culture and tobacco-manufacturing history of Tampa Bay. The taproom presents over twenty-five signature beers on draft (some of which can only be found at this location) in addition to hand-packed and rolled stogies. And in 2014, Cigar City’s expansion brought specialty ciders and mead to Tampa’s drink menu.
Ever tried the coveted and limited Hunahpu’s Imperial Stout? Well, many who have are willing to dish out $200 to get another taste of the sweet, spiced, creamy brew. Every year, Cigar City throws the Hunahpu’s Day festival, where paying patrons receive four bottles of the precious Hunahpu brew and taste free 2 oz beer samples from more than 150 guest breweries. While Cigar City welcomes all to their taproom, this exclusive event has thousands flocking to get a taste of Hunahpu.
Though most of us avoid desserts with wrinkled old grapes in them, this beer puts Grandma’s years of baking in the shadows. Somehow, with the addition of just three ingredients – lactose, raisins, and cinnamon – to Maduro, Cigar City’s English-style Brown Ale, this beer billows with flavors of caramelized sugar and toffee, a.k.a. the delicious part of an oatmeal raisin cookie, and just a hint of sweet, dark fruit notes.
Aspiring to bring more Florida-inspired quality brews to the thirsty locals, Coppertail opened in 2014 and captivated its customers with its alluring, nautical, story-book style branding and thoughtfully crafted beers, using old-world production techniques. Coppertail’s beers are carbonated naturally, bittered with whole-leaf hops, and unfiltered. Their brews have won numerous awards as well as the hearts of Floridian locals.
An IPA that finishes dry? Yes, please! Who enjoys layer after layer of lingering hop bitters when sipping on IPAs anyway? This India Pale Ale, on the other hand, ends crisper and dryer than others in its style. Citrus and piney aromas with a strong malt foundation, this is a beer you want to take out with you on the boat.
Enjoying this brew in-house? Pair it with the Baja Fish Tacos, topped with their Roasted Corn Salsa & Avocado Salad, lemon, and lime. Or try the Drunken Shrimp, sautéed with onions, garlic, spices and served in a house cream reduction.
A few breweries you don’t want to miss sit right beyond Tampa in the greater area. We can’t leave you without mentioning these sweet sudsy stops.
Cycle Brewery: Hop over to St. Petersburgh for an inspiring assortment of brews from Cycle Brewery. They’re known for their specialty stout bottle releases, and often brew tasty and experimental stouts that are available on tap. Try their Birthday Cake Stout.
Rapp Brewing Company: Rapp Brewing, located in Pinellas County, makes all types of beer for all types of people. Visit their taproom to see variant country flags pillowing from their ceilings. Try their Rapp Guava Saison
Green Bench Brewing Co.: Named after St. Petersburg’s 1900’s nickname, “City of Green Benches,” Green Bench Brewing created a brewery to encourage and invite passers-by to slow down, make friends among strangers, and promote community and cheer. Try their Les Grisettes, an ale that is spiced rather than hopped.
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