Tampa Bay craft beer – some of the best breweries lie beyond the Bay Area’s bridges.
Now anyone who has ever visited Tampa Bay knows that there is far more to the area than just Hillsborough County. The City of Tampa is just one part of the many counties that call Tampa Bay home, and Tampa’s craft breweries are only one part of the mosaic of craft beer in the area.
For those who may be staying in town for only a day or don’t have much time to look for beer, check out our article about Ten Tampa beers to look for.
For those who may be staying in town longer or are seeking adventure outside of Hillsborough county, there is so much more to Tampa’s craft beer scene than just the namesake city.
Rapp Brewing Company Gose (Gose; 4.5% ABV; Year-round Availability): One of the breweries that helped lead the rebirth of this slightly sour salted wheat beer, Rapp Gose is a classic German-inspired beer from this small family-owned brewery in the tiny hamlet of Seminole in Pinellas County. Visit Rapp for the gose, but stay for any number of the traditional or avant garde beers on tap.
Calusa Brewing Citronius Big IPA (New England IPA; 8.8% ABV; Limited Availability): One of the best brewers of New England-style IPA in the Sunshine State, Calusa Brewing is nestled away in an industrial plaza in the city of Sarasota. Citronius Big, like the non-imperial version, often sells out quickly, so best to check with the brewery or their social media before making the trek to the southern reaches of the Tampa Bay area. If you are lucky enough to score some, you’ll know just what you’re in for when you open the can and the big Citra hop burst fills the room.
Cycle Brewing Any Imperial Stout Available (Varying ABV; Varying Availability): St. Petersburg’s first craft brewery to open in the city limits, Cycle Brewing’s tasting room looks like a nondescript storefront from the outside, but on the inside it’s anything but. It’s tough to keep up with exactly which barrel-aged imperial stouts head brewer Doug Dozark has released lately, but chances are they will be available by the bottle (if there are non on draft, which is rare). Dozark made his reputation by experimenting with single-origin coffee in stouts as well as sourcing vanilla from single countries, allowing drinkers to seek the nuanced differences between beers. Also one of the most prolific barrel-agers in the Bay area, Cycle is cloud nine for any seeker of stouts.
Green Bench Brewing Random Reality Shift (Foeder-Fermented & BA Imperial Mixed Culture Golden Ale w/ Balaton Cherry; Limited Availability; 10.1% ABV): St. Petersburg’s Green Bench Brewing has a foeder program that consistently turns out some of the most unique wild and mixed-culture fermented beers in Florida. After releasing the beers, Green Bench then serves them in a one-of-a-kind have-to-see-it-to-believe-it facility called Webb’s City Cellars right next to the original brewery. The beer, Random Reality Shift, was released at the end of January – this “Imperial Mixed Culture, Foeder Fermented & Wine Barrel Aged, Golden Ale Refermented on Balaton Cherries.”
Escape Brewing The Other West Coast IPA (IPA; 7.2% ABV; Year-round Beer): An IPA-lovers IPA! Don’t be fooled by this otherwise ordinary-looking IPA made in Trinity, Florida. The Other West Coast is everything that is awesome about the West Coast IPA – bursts of tropical fruit and embers of stone from emanate from this gem of an IPA. Served on draft or in 16oz cans, this is one West Coast you won’t soon forget.
Arkane Ale Works Gimme Swelter (Florida Berliner Weisse; 3.4% ABV; Limited Availability): The lowest ABV beer on the list, Arkane Ale Works of Largo specializes in a little of every kind of beer, and Gimme Swelter is one of the brewery’s calling cards. This mango and habanero Florida-style Berliner Weisse is light in body and alcohol but huge in flavor. Bursts of tropical mango and citrusy habanero surge with every sip, making Swelter sweeter than most fruit-inspired Berliner weisses.
Dunedin Brewery Red Head Red (Amber Ale; 5.6% ABV: Year-round Availability): One of the oldest of OG craft breweries in Florida, Dunedin Brewery in Pinellas County has been making their signature red ale for over a decade. Balancing the flavors of caramel, toffee, and orchard fruit with a noticeable and distinguished hop presence, Red Head Red Ale is one to enjoy with the brewery’s bratwurst or cheese curds or to take home in a crowler or cans.
Woodwright Brewery Hefeweizen (Hefeweizen; 5.9% ABV; Year-round Availability): Just like Dunderbrau in Tampa proper, Woodwright has made their name seeing to all of the details of beers from the traditional German and European heritage. From the homey and wood-rich heart of their brewery and tasting room, all of Woodwright’s beers go well with the Florida lifestyle, but none so much as their beautiful banana and clove-rich hefeweizen.
Gulfport Brewery + Eatery Restless Hearts (Imperial Stout; 11.0% ABV; Limited Availability): Every so often a craft brewery in the Tampa area gets chosen to work with the legendary Bern’s Steak House to craft a special beer to age in their private-select spirits barrels. Recently, Gulfport Brewery + Eatery head brewer Jason Toft got to do just that and he made Restless Hearts Imperial Stout, “an 11% Rye Imperial Stout aged nearly a year in a Bern’s Select Knob Creek 120 barrel. Featuring the same percentage of rye that is in the Knob Creek mash, this rich, dark ale features notes of dark fruit, toasted bread, spicy rye, vanilla, and oak from the barrel aging.” This beer will be available in limited quantities at both Gulfport Brewery + Eats and Bern’s Steak House.
Brew Hub Brewing Rome City IPA (Session IPA; 5.8% ABV; Year-round Availability): Combining the hefty hops of a traditional IPA with the light body of a session beer, Lakeland’s Brew Hub Rome City IPA is perfect for bringing hops to any party (Super Bowl or otherwise). This award-winning session beer is available in all counties of the Bay area and is one of the best kept secrets of Tampa Bay craft beer.
The different corners of Tampa Bay’s craft beer scene all combine to make the complete mosaic of one of the finest arrangement of breweries in the United States. No matter which brewery you have time to visit, enjoy the visit and follow us at Florida Beer News for all of the news and stories coming out of the Sunshine State.