Appropriately dubbed the “Gulp Coast,” Pinellas County is a hotbed for hop-heads. The Gulf Coast of Florida in the Tampa Bay area is home to the highest concentration of breweries in the state. Twenty-seven craft brewers pour throughout small beach towns and quaint villages in addiiton to the major metro areas of Tampa, St. Petersburg and Clearwater, each taking on the unique personality of their surroundings.
For visitors who like suds with their sand and sun, the Tampa Bay Craft Beer Trail is the perfect way to soak up the local culture while sipping on signature varieties of beer cultivated unlike anywhere else in the world. Only an hour’s drive end-to-end, it’s easy to spend a day tasting your way south through taprooms and taverns in Tarpon Springs, beachside breweries along the coast and hip, urban hop-houses downtown. Don’t want to risk the drive? Hop on a brew bus such as Thirsty Pelican Tours.
Here are some toast-worthy breweries thirsty travelers would be remiss to miss.
Florida's oldest microbrewery features a menu of great pub fare and live music throughout the week. Fermenting since 1996, hand-crafted small batches are brewed on-site in 15 barrels at a time. Come for the laid-back, old Florida vibe mixed with a touch of Scottish culture dating back to the town’s earliest settlers. Then stay for the fruity sweetness of the Apricot Peach Ale, its most popular pour, or the flavors of locally roasted coffee and chocolate in the brewery’s signature Biere de Cafe. 937 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, Florida.727.736.0606.
Mad Beach Craft Brewing
When was the last time you had beer brewed on an island? This beachside brewery on Treasure Island is the place to be at sunset with plentiful pub fare and tropical taps including Dolphin Drool Pale Ale, Life's a Beach Wheat Ale and Kalypso Key Lime Cider. John's Pass Village, 12945 Village Blvd., Madeira Beach, Florida. 727.362.0008.
Cycle Brewing Co.
Sip one of the signature beers (Fixie or Free Wheel) or buy a pint for $5 from this cash-only brewery and tap room located on bustling and hip Central Avenue in downtown St. Pete. Can't decide what to order? Have a taste of everything on tap—it's free. 534 Central Ave., St. Petersburg, Florida. 727.320.7954.
Big Storm Brewing Co.
An eye-catching, 16,000-square-foot facility in Clearwater is the new headquarters and pour-house for this famed Tampa-based brewery. A great spot for happy hour, the brewery’s award-winning suds include Oktoberfest Märzen Lager, Belgian Single and Helicity Pilsner, all of which swept the 2016 Florida Beer Championships. 12707 49th St. N, Clearwater, Florida. 727.201.4186; 2330 Success Drive, Odessa, Florida. 727.376.2890.
Pair O' Dice Brewing
The first microbrewery in Clearwater, Florida, this one focuses on fresh, aromatic and flavorful hop-forward ales inspired by the paradise-filled West coast. Closed on Mondays and Tuesdays, the cozy taproom has 16 brews on tap offering bold flavors. Here, it's all about making "damn good" beer, and everything else (music, TV, games) takes a back seat. Lucky Lucy Strawberry Blonde, Hobo's Delight Winter Warmer and Bubble Gum Darkness Imperial Belgian are among the popular standouts. 4400 118th Ave. N, Ste. 208, Clearwater, Florida. 727.755.3423.
3 Daughters Brewing
With the goal of creating bold, innovative and amazing beer, this family-owned brewery in St. Pete is a fairly large place with 14 taps, friendly staff and lots of kid-like games to chill out for hours. Stop by for trivia night Mondays, discounted growler fills and food trucks on Thursdays and live music on Fridays and Saturdays. 222 2nd St. S, St. Petersburg, Florida. 727.495.6002.
Tampa Bay Brewing
In the heart of Ybor City, this brewery opened up shop in 1994 and started a brewpub in 1997. Along with the Dunedin Brewery and Cigar City Brewing, Tampa Bay Brewing is considered to have paved the way for the area's thriving craft-beer scene. 13937 Monroes Business Park, Tampa, Florida. 813.247.1422.
St. Pete Brewing
Quench your thirst with a St. Pete Orange Wheat from the newest brewery on the craft-beer scene, St. Pete Brewing. You'll find it just off Central Avenue at First Avenue North, between Fifth and Sixth streets. Avid beer lovers will be pleased with the selection of stouts, ales and IPAs. 544 1st Ave. N. St. Petersburg, Florida. 727.623.4837.
Cigar City Brewing
A winding tour through a series of warehouses off the bustle of North Dale Mabry Highway reveals a sophisticated brewing operation by men who love their craft and the area's Latin culture. Many of the beers produced here— Jai Alai IPA and Cubano-style Espresso Brown Ale—incorporate local ingredients. A tour of the brewery is only $5, which gets you a beer of your choice, a pint glass to keep and about a half-hour tour to learn everything you can handle about beer-making. 3924 W. Spruce St., Tampa, Florida. 813.348.6363.