There are plenty of avid beer drinkers in Tampa, but until fairly recently the region has been woefully behind the national trend in craft beer creation. Now all that is changing fast, thanks in part to recent adjustments in Florida’s archaic beer bottling laws. In the past eighteen months, there have been a slew of microbreweries popping up all over the area and more slated to open in the coming months.
First on the scene was Cigar City Brewing. Opened in 2009, this small brewery is quickly achieving its goal of making the best beer in the world. Their Hunahpu's Imperial Stout was recently named one of the top five beers in the world by the popular website RateBeer.com.
Described as a pitch black ale with a thick brown head, the aroma and flavor is rich and complex with fruit and chocolate undertones. Happily, visitors and residents are now able to enjoy Cigar City brews at their new kiosk in Tampa International Airport and at their new brew pub in the Northdale neighborhood.
Happy Hour at Tampa Bay Brewing Company — Photo courtesy of Tampa Bay Brewing CompanyAnother local favorite is the Tampa Bay Brewing Company located in Ybor City. This bar and restaurant boasts an onsite microbrewery providing nine house beers on tap. Best known for their Old Elephant Foot IPA, this beer is deep amber in color with a white head and a hoppy citrus taste and aroma. If you visit during happy hour, you can sample six of the house beers for one low price.
Southern Brewing and Winemaking is a new entrant into the microbrew market place, and is probably better described as a nanobrewery. For years the owners have operated a retail and wholesale business providing supplies for local breweries, brew pubs and home beer and winemaking enthusiasts.
Recently, they moved down the street so they could add an onsite brewery, beer gardens and expand their retail space. Southern Brewing specializes in small batch craft beers with many specialty and one-off brews.