I’m from the small town of Ocala, Florida, so I wasn’t exposed to craft beer until I was in college and moved to Jacksonville. I certainly didn’t know the different between an IPA or an ale – or a wheat beer from a cider.
Once I started experiencing a fresh new spectrum of beers I’ve never heard of, so began my love for craft beer. I craved something with flavor and aroma – something I would actually enjoy drinking.
During my last year in college, I lived within walking distance of Intuition Ale Works. I started going to the brewery and fell in love with craft beer. But it didn’t stop there – if I couldn’t physically go to a local brewery, I managed to find other Florida-based beers at local restaurants.
When I finally moved to the Tampa Bay area, I realized my discovery for craft beer had only just begun. I began working with Big Sea and started working on projects with The Brewery Bay – and that’s where I really discovered just how many breweries are within my 30-mile radius.
Cigar City – tasting room and brewpub
One of my favorite things about Cigar City are the flights – you choose four beers for around $6 and share with your friends. Pictured left is the flight from my most recent visit to the tasting room. Although it was sweet, my favorite was the Guava Grove – a sour. The Tocobaga red ale was a close second.
I typically go for the lighter, fruitier ales – but I certainly don’t shy away from chocolate or coffee stouts, either. The Puppy’s Breath is a seasonal porter that serves as a nice change from my usual beer of choice. If I’m drinking a cider, a porter might be my next choice as I can usually only stomach one or two sweet beers.
If you get hungry at the tasting room, food trucks are available on a Friday-Sunday basis. Check the Cigar City website for scheduled vendors.
The brewpub is a completely different facility – they have more choices, a full bar and food options.
Pictured above is Fountain of Youth Belgium Wit (left) and Lilith Strong Ale (right.) I had the Lilith and absolutely loved it. A couple of these will have you feeling pretty good.
The Flying Pig Taphouse
The Flying Pig is an ideal happy hour spot for us here at Big Sea – as it’s only a few minutes down the road. While it’s not an actual brewery, it’s a great place to go to try a variety of beers.
They have a small food menu perfect for those who need something in their stomachs while having a few brews (the Frito Pie is pretty interesting.) I tried a mead called “Kill All the Golfers” from B. Nektar Meadery which was pretty tasty and very sweet.
I switched to a Kentucky Peach Barrel Wheat Ale (pictured above) and was quite happy with my decision. I’m a sucker for beers with fruit in them, and this one was no exception.
I’ve only been to this brewery once, but I was very happy with this Apricot Peach Ale (their most popular) – and the service was great, too. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to stay for long so I didn’t get to try any others, but I will most definitely get this beer again next time I visit this brewery.
Three Daughters Brewing
When I first went to Three Daughters, I walked into the warehouse with all the games.
It’s always great when breweries have fun activities on site to do when you’re drinking. Once we found the bar around the corner, I was anxious to try the Beach Blonde Ale – the cherry cream ale. It was pretty tasty, but not my favorite. Check out the more extensive blog when I had the opportunity to go back and try some new beers, such as Mission to Marzen.
Cycle is another hotspot in downtown St. Pete and just minutes from Big Sea. I tried the Freewheel Pale Ale and liked it because of the passionfruit and pineapple aromas. This convenient location and delicious beer makes it a great place to hang out with friends or happy hours with coworkers.
Although I have many more breweries to try (many in my own neighborhood) – I think I’m off to a good start.