Local Beer Restaurant – Courtesy: Shutterstock – Image by Siriwat Sriphojaroen
Looking for the best beer in Florida? Florida is home to countless large breweries, but what many don’t know is that the Sunshine State has hundreds of small microbreweries hidden within. Most of these breweries have tasting rooms where visitors can sample different brews.
Here are some favorites from around the Sunshine State.
Big Top Brewing Company
6111 Porter Way, Sarasota; 21 W. Romana St., Pensacola; 201 SE Second Ave. #101, Gainesville
Founded back in 2013, Sarasota’s Big Top Brewing Company has continued to expand with a recent announcement about planning to reopen a large new location, as well as their plan to take over long-running craft beer bar Cock & Bull’s space as a taproom.
As the brewery’s name suggests, many of Big Top’s most famous beers feature a circus theme, such as Trapeze Monk witbier and Circus City IPA, very Sarasota-appropriate. It also brews a Conch Republic Key Lime wheat ale and a knockout Hawaiian Lion coconut coffee porter, as well as special and seasonal offerings. Recently, the brewery collaborated with Tampa Bay singer-guitarist Damon Fowler on a Fowler’s IPA.
Fowler is among many of the Southwest Florida musicians who perform at the Sarasota spot, which also serves a selection of pub grub including tacos and sandwiches.
In 2018, Big Top locations were opened in Pensacola and Downtown Gainesville.
Cigar City Brewing
3924 W. Spruce St., Tampa
Beer connoisseurs from all over the country visit Cigar City Brewing’s Spruce Street facility located in Tampa to see where the first-ever batches of fan favorites such as Maduro, Jai Alai, and Florida Cracker were first brewed over a decade ago. In addition to having 24 beers on tap, Cigar City Brewing also hosts a full-service kitchen featuring delicious Tampa Bay food and brew pairings such as the Maduro steak sandwich, the Fritas Queso burger that goes with Jai Alai, and the grouper sandwich and Florida Cracker combination.
Ranked the No. 3 best brewery in the world in 2010 by Ratebeer.com, Cigar City Brewing was sold to Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado in 2016.
Fort Myers Brewing
2811 Commerce Lakes Drive #28, Fort Myers
In 2013, Rob Whyte and Jen Gratz-Whyte opened Fort Myers Brewing Co. in a local industrial park. Lee County’s first craft brewery quickly became one of the area’s most award-winning, with it being named as the Best Large Brewery in the state in 2016 and its Russian Imperial Stout winning silver at the World Beer Cup in Nashville in 2018.
What began as a simple 1,500-square-foot brewing space with a small taproom has grown into a 16,000-square-foot entertainment venue with daily food trucks, live entertainment, and trivia nights. With eight core beers, including its famous Gateway Gold and High 5 IPA, and dozens of small-batch and seasonal creations, the Fort Myers Brewing Co. has no limits when it comes to creating a beer.
Intracoastal Brewing Company
652 W. Eau Galle Blvd, Melbourne
Since its opening in 2013, Intracoastal Brewing Company has become a huge part of Melbourne’s Eau Gallie Arts District community. In addition to its original taproom, the brewery features an expansive beer garden with an additional bar.
Intra’s resident food truck, the Bearded Chef, offers guests burgers, fried chicken sandwiches, and birria tacos.
Each fall the brewery hosts the annual Rocky Water Brew Festival in conjunction with the Eau Gallie Rotary Club.
Intuition Ale Works
929 E. Bay St., Jacksonville
At Intuition, location is what it’s all about. Concentrating on four core beers, Intuition is down the street from Jacksonville’s arena, minor league ballpark, and fairgrounds, and basically across the street from where the Jaguars play. A rooftop bar is a favorite hangout pre-game or pre-concert. Recently, a kitchen and live music nights have been added.
1014 Ninth St. W., Bradenton; 131 N. Orange Ave. #106, Orlando
Since its opening in 2014, Bradenton’s Motorworks Brewing has become extremely successful with award-winning beers including its V Twin Vienna Lager and its Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA. It has become a destination drinking spot thanks to its taproom and brewery which features an expansive beer garden that regularly hosts food trucks and live music.
Motorworks has attracted national attention including an appearance on “The Ellen DeGeneres Show” and continues to brew seasonal and special beers such as the Gronkzilla Red IPA. The beer was brewed when former Patriot Rob Gronkowski joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It is “brewed with genuine New England tears.”
Naples Beach Brewery
4120 Enterprise Ave., Ste. 116, Naples
Opened in 2013, Naples Beach Brewery was the first microbrewery to appear in Southwest Florida. The laidback brewery is known for the range and quantity of its tap list, featuring 35 house-brewed beers at once.
Latitude Adjustment, a 7.2 percent ABV American IPA, is the fan-favorite, but the brewery has a wide variety of styles that you won’t find at most breweries throughout Florida. They include a coffee blonde, a black IPA, a peanut butter stout, a brown porter, a jalapeno-blackberry wheat, an 11-percent double IPA, and a few others.
Perfect Plain Brewing Co.
50 E. Garden St., Pensacola
A brewery manifestation happened between 2017 and 2020 when six microbreweries opened within that time frame, all within a 20-mile radius of each other. At the front of that movement was Perfect Plain Brewing Co., which became a favorite to Pensacola through its community giveback efforts and open warehouse atmosphere just as much as it did through its famed beers, the Holy Spin American IPA and Sabine Rations Kolsch. The brewery has opened three sister bars and breweries over the last two years.
Persimmon Hollow Brewing Co.
11 W. Georgia St., DeLand; 227 N. Eola Drive, Orlando
“Drink sensibly, but get weird” is this brewery’s slogan. Persimmon Hollow began in downtown DeLand. Its brewery and taproom have opened a second location in Orlando’s Lake Eola neighborhood, which includes a restaurant and a “Get Weird Brunch” every weekend.
Longtime fans recommend the Funky Freddy Fritz Stout, and the Daytona Dirty Blonde Ale is a popular pick. Their Beach Hippie IPA is the brewery’s highest-rated beer on ratebeer.com.
Proof Brewing Co.
1320 S. Monroe St., Tallahassee
This pub is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, but Wednesday is when the party starts. Here you’ll find the best fried Oyster BLT sliders to ever exist, along with a constantly rotating menu of Southern favorites. With several house-brewed beers to choose from, drinkers can try the Coconut Royal Bloodline imperial stout, which has a whopping 12.5 percent alcohol level.
Located a walk away from the FSU and FAMU campuses, Proof offers students and guests a covered patio, beer garden, and curbside pickup!
Swamp Head Brewery
3650 SW 42nd Ave., Gainesville
Luke Kemper opened Swamp Head back in 2008 after moving back to his hometown. Swamp Head’s theme is centered around conserving and appreciating Florida’s natural landscapes. Its bar and indoor tables are made from reclaimed river wood, while its outdoor picnic tables have a beautiful view of trees growing around a Floridian pond that is home to its own alligator, named Growler.
Swamp Head’s draft list is constantly rotating. The main favorites, Big Nose IPA and Midnight Oil, an oatmeal coffee stout, are always available. Swamp Head won gold at the 2020 Best Florida Beer Professional Championship for its Stump Knocker beer, an American pale ale.
Tequesta Brewing Company
287 U.S. Hwy 1, Tequesta
Tequesta Brewing Company, aka “TBC,” is a pioneer on Palm Beach County’s fast-growing brewery map. Owners Matt Webster and Fran Andrewlevich opened the north-county microbrewery just eleven years ago, but the partners have opened two other craft beer spots. Their Twisted Trunk microbrewery is located in Palm Beach Gardens while their Steam Horse Brewing taproom is near downtown West Palm Beach.
At TBC, some of the county’s favorite beers are the Gnarley Barley American pale ale and the Der Chancellor German Kolsch. There are plenty of beers to choose from, but these will give you a true taste of TBC.
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Born and raised in South Florida, Krystal is a recent graduate from the University of Miami with professional writing experience at the collegiate and national news outlet levels. She’s a foodie who loves all things travel, the beach, & visiting new places throughout Florida.