There’s been an explosion of micro and craft breweries all over the state of Florida in settings from historic warehouses to restored garages. With so many cropping up it’s impossible to name them all. Here are some notable independently owned breweries with some out-of-this-world brews.
Our tour begins on the west coast of Florida in Dunedin, which from Gaelic translates to the name Edinburgh, the capital of Scotland. The Dunedin Brewery opened in 1995 and is said to be Florida’s oldest craft microbrewery.
A Route 66 sign hangs on the wall next to the numerous medals it has won for its beers made right on-property.
The brewery offers lively entertainment on select nights and bar food like burgers, wraps and sandwiches. Its top seller is the Apricot Peach Ale, according to Michael Lyn Bryant, vice president of the brewery.
Capacity is about 150 total using all indoor and outdoor areas.
Traveling south to St. Pete Beach, Mastry’s Brewing Company is housed in a 1952 converted auto mechanic shop with garage doors that open to the outside. Matt Dahm, whose family has been in St. Pete since the 1920s, opened the brewery last year.
“It’s casual and doesn’t feel too industrial,” he said. “People feel at home here. Our bartenders are knowledgeable and can answer questions about the beer and people love our family pictures on the wall, especially of my grandmother Juliette Mastry.”
Groups of up to 40 can take over part or the entire brewery and tours are given on an individual basis. Meals aren’t served here, but groups have been known to hire local food trucks.
Further down the west coast to Sarasota, JDubs Brewing Company is the brainchild of Jeremy Joerger, who tried his hand at home brewing using the book The Joy of Home Brewing.
He said his first attempts weren’t very successful but he fell in love with brewing nonetheless. So he left a job in government in Washington, D.C., and with his father-in-law’s urging opened the brewery.
One of the favorites at the brewery, according to Joerger, is Bell Cow, a milk-chocolate porter.
“It’s a great introduction to beer for people who don’t like beer,” he said.
For special events, the garden can accommodate about 150.
“Much of the activity is in the garden where yoga and beer nights take place,” he said. “People like coming to a community-focused venue that is welcoming. It’s all about having a good time.”
Naples is home to Riptide Brewing Company, opened in 2015 by three friends, Bob Menzies, Scott Alexander and Norm Scherner, who outgrew brewing beer in their garages.
Their collective man cave is now the brewery in a warehouse in the downtown Naples Design District. They not only serve their own beer, they also have “guest taps” from other craft breweries.
On any given night there’s live music, food trucks and craft beer pairings.
Housed in the original office of Pan Am, the First Flight Island Restaurant & Brewery in Key West is the southernmost brewery in the U.S.
The recently opened two-level restaurant can accommodate groups up to 350.
“We host a lot of special events here,” said Jacki Gibson, sales and catering manager. “The indoor-outdoor Treetop Terrace includes a private bar and a comfy seating area great for small groups. The Canopy Garden, surrounded by banyan trees, is great for larger groups for up to 150 seated, 200 for cocktails.”
Also located in the Keys is Cheryl and Craig McBay’s Florida Keys Brewing Company. Cheryl encouraged Craig to brew professionally, but their small apartment became too small for production. Today they have two brewing systems, 10 tap lines and a vintage VW bus (complete with six working tap lines, available for events).
This February they opened their second taproom, just down the street, outfitted with 20 tap lines and a beer garden. Both the original taproom and beer garden are available for private events, according to the brewery’s self-titled “executive hot mess,” Rio Campbell.
One of their more popular brews is the Iguana Bait, a kolsch brewed with local honey and hibiscus.
In Miami’s Wynwood Arts District, the Brignoni family, hailing from Puerto Rico, opened Wynwood Brewing Co. just north of downtown Miami and set out to make bold beers and “to create a work of art in every glass.”
Once known as the Puerto Rican Barrio due to the settlement of large Puerto Rican families during the ’70s and ’80s, the area is now a haven for artists and is well known for its Wynwood Murals.
Brewery tours are offered over the weekends and include a complimentary Wynwood Brewing branded glass and a 16-ounce pour of Wynwood brew.
Plans are in the works for an Ale Trail in the Palm Beaches next year. One location on the trail’s list is Accomplice Brewery & Ciderworks in Palm Beach, south Florida’s first and only ciderworks. It features 11 flavors on tap every day. The taproom serves beers from other local breweries, as well.
Located in the historic West King street district in St. Augustine, the Bog Brewing Company opened in 2016 and features Belgian, English and American-style brews. One of the brews, the Smoked Datil Ale, features the indigenous datil hot peppers—needless to say, it's a pretty spicy beverage!
The brewery constantly rotates half of the draft list, so there’s always something new to try.
Starting as a hobby, brewing beer became a passion for Ron Gamble, who opened Veterans United Craft Brewery in 2014 in Jacksonville. True to the brewery’s name, Gamble counts 80 percent of its workforce as veterans. Gamble, a U.S. Navy veteran himself, started the brewery because of his passion for beer and chose Jacksonville because that’s where he flew his jets.
“Groups love meeting here because we give special tours in between meetings,” Gamble said. “The events room holds up to 50 people, where they do a lot of charity events as well as meetings.
"We’re raising awareness of military causes, and beer is such a fun way to do it.”
The Pensacola Bay Brewery is in a charming red brick building right across the street from Pensacola Bay in the Historic Seville District.
“Most people don’t know that we’re vying for the oldest city status with St. Augustine. It’s a friendly feud,” said Mark Robertson, brewmaster and co-founder of the brewery.
Favorite beers at the brewery are the Riptide Amber, which, along with the Sawgrass Wheat, Li’l Napoleon IPA and Lighthouse Porter, is distributed locally and regionally.
Groups lucky enough to be there on a special cask night may get to sample a one-night-only flavor.
In seasonal Santa Rosa Beach in South Walton, former Mississippians Jamey and wife Candace Price came to the area 15 years ago and thought they would help the local economy by opening a brewery 12 months a year.
Since then, Santa Rosa is thriving year-round as a destination, and Grayton Beer Company has become a hub of sorts for the town.
“There’s not a lot of large spaces here in Walton County, so we’ve become a great gathering place for events for up to 300,” Jamey said.
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