Let’s start with this piece of truth: following Chris for a staff pick list is about the worst position one could be in. Not only does he brew his own beer (which is delicious, by the way), but he also has a refined and educated palette. My palette works a little like this: I like beer, in particular beer that is in my general vicinity when I am thirsty. Sure, I can get choosy, but for the most part I’ll take a beer if you’re offering. So, yes, let’s open with a request for leniency if my picks don’t quite meet Chris’ awesome standards.
Beer in the ‘Burg.
Being a proud resident of good ol’ St. Pete, I prefer to do my consuming within city limits, so let’s start here in Big Sea’s backyard. It took what felt like an eternity for breweries to finally make their way into town (thanks bureaucratic red tape!), but when they finally did it was Cycle Brewing that crossed the finish line first. And for me, Cycle continues to cross the finish line as my number one spot for grabbing a few pints, or filling up growlers for the week. I honestly haven’t had a beer here that I wasn’t happy with and the options are great – from an Irish Red to a Pilsner brewed for Evan Longoria’s Ducky’s Sports Lounge. From the Bottom of the 9th brown all the way to the Cream and Sugar Please porter – you’ll stay busy trying them all. With outdoor seating (and indoor seating that is practically outdoors thanks to a roll top front door), a friendly staff and damn convenient location, you just can’t go wrong at Cycle.
Wait, beer within walking distance? Yep, I’m in.
When 3 Daughters opened their tasting room, the office could barely contain our excitement – beer brewed 3 blocks from Big Sea World Headquarters? We just found a new home for all of our meetings. By the time they opened the tasting room (about a year after beginning their brewing operations), 3 Daughters had already jumped into the deep end of the brewing pool with a huge facility, enormous brewing operation, live music, games, food trucks and a soon to arrive canning line. This was no homebrew operation, they were showing a commitment to the craft that you just couldn’t ignore. The amazing thing is that they pulled it off – the place has great atmosphere to go along with a great selection of beer. You can’t miss with the Beach Blonde, not necessarily an adventurous beer, but a good one for drinking while playing massive Jenga. The ESB is another one I’m always happy to convert into an empty glass and the Pale Ale manages to be smooth and enjoyable – something that can be sort of tricky these days with the shenanigans some brewers are pulling with PA/IPAs.
And now for a curveball.
So we started with Cycle, which grew out of the back door of Peg’s Cantina. And then we graduated up to a local operation with national aspirations. So here’s the curveball, my next pick is only local on a technicality: Sea Dog Brewpub. Now hear me out before you call me a traitor for not sticking with true locals: I have a soft spot for Maine, lobster rolls and dogs. But seriously, the big things going for Sea Dog are the fact that: 1) This is the only location allowed to brew outside of Maine, which is a pretty big nod to someone recognizing the future of brewing in the Sunshine State. 2) Clearwater is seriously lacking in decent beer drinking options, so if you’re stuck there you might as well enjoy it. 3) No joke, lobster rolls, so good.
So there you go, my three picks from our growing pool of local breweries. The great thing about The Brewery Bay is that you don’t have to take our word for it, click on those filters on the homepage and build your own adventure – find the perfect brewery for you to visit next!