A few years ago lovers of craft beer were out of luck when they visited Fort Lauderdale and its surrounding neighborhoods. Today, a beer aficionado’s vacation might end before they’ve had a chance to visit all of the region’s ever-growing number of craft breweries and taprooms.
The boom in local beer production started in 2011, when a small brewpub in nearby Boca Raton gained acclaim in beer circles for its Maple Bacon Coffee Porter.
Named Funky Buddha, the craft brewery was virtually unknown outside of beer nerds. But its Maple Bacon Coffee Porter had buzz, and soon bottles of it were being traded all over the nation.
With this success, founders (and brothers) Ryan and KC Sentz launched a production brewery and taproom in Oakland Park, a community near Fort Lauderdale, in 2013. It opened with a staff of 12 and a 5,000-barrel-per-year capacity. Now Funky Buddha’s 140 employees help produce nearly eight times that volume of beer.
As Funky Buddha grew, so did the craft beer scene in the Fort Lauderdale area. Today there are at least 30 breweries in the area, with more set to open.
Curious travelers can take their own beer tour of the region, starting with these local favorites.
Any craft beer tour should begin at Funky Buddha in Oakland Park. Housed in a former Sears warehouse, the space has a bright, industrial feel, with high ceilings and big windows. It’s one of the few breweries that serves food beyond bar snacks. Its best-selling beers are the Floridian Hefeweizen and Hop Gun IPA, but its limited-release beers, like the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, often inspire great enthusiasm.
26° Brewing Company
A 20-minute drive from Funky Buddah, 26° Brewing Company sits in a shopping center on a busy boulevard a half-mile from Pompano Beach. The brewery, named after the region’s global latitude, has a game room and hosts food trucks.
It’s known for its IPA1A (an IPA named for the beach-side state road, A1A) and Ziko’s Bourbon Barrel Rage (a stout aged in bourbon barrels).
Flagler Village Brewery
Head into downtown Fort Lauderdale to the multistory pub The Brass Tap, where you’ll find Flagler Village Brewery, which brews small batches of unusual beers. Take a sip of one of the brewery’s flagship beers, like the Dankness Monster IPA, a Red Ale or the Hopshake, a pale wheat beer. The brewery’s wares change regularly and typically feature experimental brews on tap.
A Few More:
Most other breweries in the Fort Lauderdale area are located in hard-to-find warehouses with smaller spaces, but sometimes the hunt is part of the fun. Here are three definitely worth seeking out:
Bangin’ Banjo Brewing‘s avid fans wind their way through warehouses in the far reaches of Pompano Beach to reach this cozy taproom. Favorite brews include Hop of the Muffin IPA, but you’ll also find more than a dozen other brews to try.
For an international flavor, hit up Khoffner Brewery in a warehouse near downtown Fort Lauderdale. The founder is a third-generation German brewer who whips up brews using 100-year-old recipes. Not surprisingly, they make a good German pilsner.
LauderAle Brewery has more than a clever name. The building that houses this nanobrewery (an output of 1,000 barrels or less per year) is built largely out of recycled materials and is located in a steel warehouse near Fort Lauderdale’s cruise-ship port.
It has the coolest vibe of any of the Fort Lauderdale breweries — despite lacking air conditioning. Even though it’s small, you’ll still find plenty of beers to try, including a Belgian tripel called Pieces of 8 and an IPA called Guava Therapy Session.