The Quest for the Holy Grain - Best Brew Pubs
Florida

 

 

Atlantic Beach

Fort Myers

Gainesville

Jacksonville

Lake Buena Vista

Punta Gorda

Tampa

 

 

 

 

Fat Point Brewing
611 Charlotte St
Punta Gorda, FL 33950
Phone: (800) 380-7405

Fat Point Brewing is a brewpub in a small industrial area off the beaten path in Punta Gorda.
A stand-alone building that looks kinda warehousey...the brewing operation is in the back.
There is a large U-shaped bar in the center of the one room and plenty of tables scattered about as well as plenty of standing-around room.
Fat Point has about 10 beers on tap and a very limited menu.
The beers are tasty and a little off the wall such as Pumpka Gourda, which is a pumpkin saison, or a mint wheat, known as Going Mintal.

 

 

 

 

Bury Me Brewing
4224 S Cleveland Ave
Fort Myers, FL 33901
Phone: (239) 236-2337

Bury Me Brewing is a cozy brewpub on the busy main street of Ft. Myers.
One storefront wide, it is located on the edge of a busy strip mall, so there is plenty of parking but not necessarily near by.
Upon entering, one encounters the bar with about 8 seats and opposite that about 5 booths. There is a moderate amount of standing-around room.
The brewing operation is in the rear, separated from the bar by a rope.
Bury Me has 15 of their beers on tap and also available for growlers.
The beers are tasty if not true to style...for example, a hoppy scotch ale.
The menu consists of a "make your own" sandwich, with an option of chips.

 

 

 

Ragtime Taproom and Brewery
207 Atlantic Blvd
Atlantic Beach, FL 32233
(904) 241-7877

Also known as Ragtime Tavern Seafood & Grille, this local landmark packs ‘em in more nights than not. Half dining room and half pick-up bar/club the Ragtime takes up a full block along the city square, one block from the Atlantic Ocean. What distinguishes this from other local establishments is four standard microbrews and a seasonal. If you like the street names in Columbia, Maryland you’ll love the beer names at Ragtime. Red Brick Ale shows no originality but A Strange Stout piques your curiosity and any chick will say “Awwww!” when ordering a Dolphin’s Breath Lager. The other standard is a pale ale. The seasonal on our visit was a Seinfeldesque “Big Pilsner” that was an impressive imperial pils. Let the record show I paid for the Big Pilsner. But make no mistake...these are beach beers. Like beach music they want to make you happy. No heavy themes in beach music, no driving rock, no heavy flavors or get up and dance beers here.

The food is good by Atlantic Beach standards, okay by most others. They are a Cajun wannabe. There are three bars and varying decors all working with wood and brick. No offense to Pete’s Bar (the place to be since ’33) but this is where you want to drink beer in Atlantic Beach.

 

 

 

Tampa Bay Brewing Company
1600 E. 8th Avenue
Tampa, Florida
813-247-1422

Amongst Ybor City's restaurants, bars, tattoo parlors and cigar stores is Tampa Bay Brewing Company. Located in the faux-mall-like Centro Ybor, Tampa Bay provides choices from the usual suspects: blonde, weizen, red, pale ale, IPA, porter, stout. We tried three and I can only recall the IPA - it was exceedingly OK, as was the hummus appetizer. The place is spacious and dark and a welcome relief from the Florida heat. Still, this was our second time here and neither trip left us with much to write home about, or to even write a Questor review. When in Ybor there's better food elsewhere (The Columbia and Bernini's) and much better beer at New World.

 

BJ's Restaurant & Brewhouse
6611 Newberry Road
Gainesville, Florida
352-331-8070  

BJ's Restuarant and Brewhouse is a stand-alone restaurant in front of a shopping mall.  Part of a very large chain, they actually make no beer, although they have 5 propriatary beers on tap.  They also have 28 guest beers, 14 American craft brews as well as 14 European brands.   The interior is all open space with a very large bar. The BJ's beers are tasty and seem true to style. The food comes in large portions and is quite reasonably priced.

 

 

Seven Bridges Grille & Brewery
9735 Gate Parkway North
Jacksonville, FL 32246
phone: 904-997-1999

Seven Bridges Grille and Brewery, part of the Gordon Biersch group, is a large stand- alone brewpub near the trendy suburban shopping area just outside Jacksonville.  The main door opens on the hostess-stand and the restaurant portion that has perhaps 50 tables and booths.  To the left, the large bar area also has booths, tables and about 50 seats around the bar and near the perimeter shelves.  The four year-round beers are dictated by the larger corporation, but the two seasonals and the hand pull are unique to this restaurant.  All the beers were tasty and seemed true to style.  The brewing operation is visible on the upper balcony.  The barmaid said the manager would be glad to give me a tour, but because of time constraints, I had to refuse.  The food looked good and the portions were large, but seemed quite pricey. 


 

 

River City Brewing Company
853 Museum Circle
Jacksonville, FL 32207
904-398-2299

You driving to Florida? You gotta stop at River City BC and have some beers. At $2 a pint from 4 to 7 PM a twenty dollar bill can get you into some serious trouble. Here you will find some of the most flavorful beers this side of Portland, Oregon. That we did not care for any of the styles the first time through the beer list, reflects poorly on us. After the first $10 was gone those beers got better and better. Jackson Pale Ale, Amber Bock (A seasonal), Riptide Porter, Red Rooster, and Jackson Light rounded out the microbrews, while the locals drank from the Bud suite of swill. Go figure.

A glass-walled bar and generous deck provide indoor and outdoor seating with spectacular views of the city, its shoreline and bridges. A tacky black-stuff-and-wood motif is more than offset by the fermentation tanks and works of the brewery on display in a glass enclosure that looks like a giant beerquarium. There is a dining room and the staff wear Florida shirts, i.e., Hawaiian shirts with less color. And the waitresses got legs, man they’ve got legs.

 

 

Big River Grille & Brewing Works
2101 North Epcot Resort Boulevard
Lake Buena Vista, Florida 32830
407-560-0253

Disney World's only brewpub is in the Boardwalk development and a short boat ride from Epcot. On tap at Big River are a set of year-round "signature" beers: light lager, pilsner, pale ale, red ale, brown ale and wheat. During our visit they were joined by a seasonal winter bock. After a Space Mountain-quality wait for a table we split a plate of nachos for a late lunch and sampled the bock and pale ale. While the placemats acknowledge a couple of GABF medals, the atmosphere, food and beer had all the charm of a school cafeteria (...what, your cafeteria didn't serve beer?...). The beers were uninspired, hopless thirst-quenchers at best. Don't go out of your way for this place, which is one in a small chain owned by Gordon-Biersch - what are they thinking? Head back to Epcot or Downtown Disney if you're looking for beer (...c'mon, after a few hours at Disney who's NOT looking for a beer?...)