Craft beer has been having a moment all over the country and while I’m happy to see things finally picking up in Orlando, the Tampa Bay area is one of my go-tos for local, quality breweries.
Last year, John and I set out to celebrate our birthdays with a 2-day brewery tour between our home and Tampa and since then we’ve been visiting new breweries whenever we can. If you want to squeeze in a craft beer before heading home from the beach or want to plan a brewery tour of your own, check out some of my recommended spots below.
1. Motorworks Brewing – Bradenton, FL
Heading over to Anna Maria Island for the day? Add in a stop to nearby Motorworks Brewing in Bradenton, FL. Unique brews on tap (like the Lavender Ale, light and refreshing) and a stunning outdoor beer garden will definitely win you over. One of the things I love about this brewery is the outdoor area – the atmosphere really can’t be beat. Large oak trees, friendly service, rotating food trucks, sunshine, and cold brews.
They do offer brewery tours, but based on my experience I’d call ahead before visiting to see if someone is available to do the tour. The day I visited, the usual tour guide wasn’t in so we missed out. Oh well, just an excuse to visit again!
2. 7venth Sun Brewery – Dunedin, FL
This is the ultimate neighborhood brewery. It’s also one of the smallest breweries I’ve ever been to, but it’s small size is all part of the friendly, inviting atmosphere. With only a few large picnic tables outside and limited seating inside, this is the place to go if you want to make new friends while enjoying a beer (or 5). Plenty of Belgian-style brews and IPAs are on tap and selections change regularly. I’m a big fan of the Graffiti Orange Creamsicle Wheat. Don’t be surprised if you end up spending 3 hours longer than you intended to here.
3. Dunedin Brewery – Dunedin, FL
One of the first breweries I ever visited in Florida and just a short walk away from 7venth Sun, this is a mandatory stop anytime I’m nearby. I will confess I have never tried anything besides the Apricot Peach Ale but it’s just so good I can’t stray!
Food wise, the offerings are diverse and so far above your typical bar food. The tater tot poutine is a huge serving but reheats well (even after a 2 hour car ride home) and the black bean tacos are a great lighter option. Check their website for live music and event info. If you’re brewery hopping and get hungry, this is the perfect place to sample brews and refuel.
4. Crooked Thumb Brewery – Safety Harbor, FL
Safety Harbor isn’t far from Dunedin, so it’s a good spot to stop at on your way home. Make a day of it with stops at Honeymoon Island and downtown Dunedin. This brewery is very new (it just opened in late 2015) and when I visited with friends it still had a new smell to it. It’s a large, open space with a variety of brews on tap. You can even partake in a game of giant jenga! The building is an old auto body shop and much of the original character and charm is intact. The feeling overall is casual, rustic and very chill.
5. Keel & Curly Winery / Two Henrys Brewing Co – Plant City, FL
Keel & Curly features a winery and a brewery on the same property, and you can order everything from their central taproom. It’s also conveniently located about a mile off of I-4, so it’s an easy stop if you’re headed to or from the beach (or the Strawberry Festival). The brewery is named after Henry Plant and Henry Flagler (the two Henrys), two prominent figures in Florida history. Their tour is fun and informative but seemed more heavily weighted on the winery side of things, which makes sense since the brewery is still relatively new. The Biltmore Blueberry Vanilla Wheat beer is my top choice, but John is a fan of the 7Mile Bridge IPA if you’re into hops. On the wine side, I prefer the Wild Berry and the Peach Chardonnay.
You can purchase most of the offerings in cans (including the wine, cheaper by the can) and I’ve never noticed a taste difference between can vs. bottle. There are grape based wines available, but this is a blueberry farm after all, so definitely try one of their blueberry based beverages when you’re there. If you’re hungry, check and see if food is available outside. The gator sausage makes a great lunch.
Cigar City Brewing – Tampa, FL
Hands down one of the BEST brewery tours. If I had to choose just one brewery on this list to recommend, this would be the one. Cigar City is a major brewery in the area and should definitely be on your list to visit next time you’re in Tampa. The taproom is incredibly spacious and the servers beyond friendly. John and I asked for suggestions on local breweries to check out and were presented with a handwritten list. We couldn’t visit them all in a day and a half, so it’s still hanging on our fridge for future visits.
The highlight of this brewery? Definitely the tour. For $5 you get a souvenir pint glass, an incredibly informative tour, and samples of 5 different brews. Our tour guide was very generous with the pours. You’ll also get to see their canning machines and learn about the process from super knowledgable guides.
Next up on the brewery bucket list: St. Pete! Cycle Brewing (a bike themed brewery), 3 Daughters, and The Ale and the Witch are all on my list. I’m also antsy to explore the Orlando craft beer scene with new breweries popping up everywhere. Looks like it’s time for another brew-hop weekend!
What are your favorite breweries in and around Tampa Bay?