Gulf Coast? More like the “Gulp Coast,” thanks to the rise of Florida craft breweries popping up in Clearwater and St. Petersburg. We highlight five of our favorites.
It wasn’t until recently that Florida started becoming known for its craft breweries – and that’s largely because of Clearwater and St. Petersburg, where the craft beer boom really started. Here, we take a look at five of the best Florida breweries – and beers you can’t miss – along the St. Pete/Clearwater Craft Beer Trail, featuring over 30 craft breweries.
A Flight of Fancy
Big Storm Pinellas, the Clearwater-based taproom for Big Storm Brewery, is a glassy, 16,000-square-foot heaven for beer enthusiasts. There’s a large bar with TVs and a restaurant for people looking for a bite to eat. We recommend ordering a flight to see what you like of the four readily available beers: IPAs, sours, stouts/porters, and pilsners/lagers. If you’re feeling creative, you can also mix and match your own.
Beer for College Tuition
3 Daughters Brewing in St. Petersburg, named after the co-owners’ goal to put their three daughters through college, has a fun, relaxed tasting room and a calendar booked solid with events: trivia, a ping pong league, live music, and more. When it’s time to pick a drink, there are 18 taps, so there’s something for everyone. One that is always available year-round: Stern Line Stout, featuring a blend of flavors including dark-roasted coffee, semisweet chocolate, and toasted oatmeal.
Taking St. Petersburg Back to its Roots
Just after the turn of the century, St. Petersburg was referred to as the “City of Green Benches,” after the purposeful way the benches were arranged to encourage strangers to connect. Named with the same ethos in mind, Green Bench Brewing in St. Petersburg aims to bring beer lovers together. The air-conditioned (and Wi-Fi connected) tasting room opens up into the beer garden – a 6,000-square-foot area with seating, lawn games, an original Nintendo, and sometimes, live music and food trucks. The brewery is kid-friendly – and dog friendly – so bring the whole family.
Welcome to Paradise
Pair O’ Dice Brewing (Get it? Paradise?) quickly established its reputation in the craft beer world since opening their doors in 2013 by winning not one, not two, but five Best Florida Beer Championship medals. In addition to hosting themed days like Industry Night, “Drink Like a German” Liter Night, and #FridayFillUp, their intimate tasting room features an observation window overlooking the brewery, so you can watch all the brewing action. If in the neighborhood, try their latest creation, Lucky Lucy Strawberry Blonde, a seasonal blonde ale brewed with fresh local strawberries.
A Beer Lover’s Dream Brought to Life
We saved one of the best for last. At one time this brewery was just a pipe dream – you can see the evidence in the tap room, where pages of the owner’s diary are on display – but now, Cigar City Brewing is an absolute icon of the craft beer scene in this area. Their 40 beers on tap include the beloved Jai Alai India Pale Ale, which currently has a rating of 99 on RateBeer.com. There’s plenty of bar space, but no restaurant, though various food trucks come by to serve the patrons.