Florida’s craft beer scene has been growing like mad, thrilling beer drinkers. (Photo: Courtesy of Funky Buddha)
Florida has a reputation for its beautiful beaches, and depending on the area, either peaceful neighborhoods or bustling nightlife. What few people realize is that the Sunshine State also has a growing brewery scene that’s well-worth investigating. Years ago, you were lucky to find one brewery in any of Florida’s major cities, but thanks to the rising number of craft beer drinkers, they’re popping up across the state. For beer lovers will to do a bit of road tripping around the state, consider dropping in to my favorite bustling breweries.
J. Wakefield Brewery | Miami
Miami’s burgeoning brewery renaissance is a wonderful thing, but if you’re only able to try one spot, visit the ever-popular J. Wakefield. Located in the heart of Miami’s trendy Arts District, it’s certainly the most colorful brewery in town thanks to the vibrant floor-to-ceiling murals, both inside and out, which were all created by local artists. In fact, there are so many depictions of Star Wars on the walls that it’s often known as the Star Wars brewery. It’s the perfect place to end your beer-drinking tour of Miami.
The Funky Buddha | Ft. Lauderdale
Funky Buddha Brewery is South Florida’s largest microbrewery and well worth a trip to Oakland Park. Here is where you’ll find some of the most popular local beers like the Floridian Hefeweizen and Hop Gun IPA, which are available year round. If you’ve got time, make it part of your stop aboard the South Florida Brew Bus. Definitely try some of the Funky Buddha’s seasonal and special-release brews, and take a growler or two back to your hotel room at the end of the day for safekeeping.
Engine 15 | Jacksonville
Start your brew tour in Jacksonville Beach where you’ll find the Engine 15 Brewpub. With 50 tap lines at their disposal, a third of which pour the house’s brews, folks here take their beer seriously. You’ll find quirky names for many of the Engine 15 selections, like Totes MaGoats, Two If By Sea, and I’ll Have Another. Can’t decide what flavor to try? Flights of four are just $5. Then pick a pint of your favorite and order a frito pie or maybe some beer brats for good measure.
Cigar City Brewing and Coppertail Brewing Co. | Tampa
Heading southwest to Tampa? Your next stop should be at the infamous Cigar City Brewing. Start by taking a brewery tour (offered Wednesdays through Sundays), where $8 will get you a behind-the-scenes look at the brewing process that creates some of the state’s best beers, plus samples and a commemorative glass. Stick around after for a couple of pints, or if you’re feeling adventurous, you can always hop over to another local brewery (Tampa’s got them in spades). At Coppertail Brewing Co. in the Ybor neighborhood where you’ll find roughly 12 signature beers and a handful of guest brews.