By Christian Haitz
For 16 days, the city of Munich is consumed with bright lights, crowded tents and enough beer to submerge Florida below sea level. The city-wide celebration of Oktoberfest has been a staple in Bavarian culture since 1810, with many other cities modeling their own Oktoberfest after the original.
Tampa is no different. With many places holding Oktoberfest celebrations, it’s easy to get caught up in the madness and drink your standard Bud or Coors Light. However, Tampa has some amazing craft breweries just itching to become part of your regular drinking routine.
I’m not the only one who thinks these breweries are top-notch. Websites like RateBeer and Beer Advocate hold Tampa breweries in very high esteem for their culturally inspired and delicious brews.
Here is a well-rounded list of breweries that anyone would enjoy:
Tampa Bay Brewing Company
Founded in 1995, Tampa Bay Brewing Company (TBBC) has become the dominant brewery in Centro Ybor. To this day it still remains a family affair with multiple members serving key roles within the company.
Tampa Bay Brewing Company offers eight core beers with 38 cyclical beers popping up every season. So there will be something new to try each time you go.
Their core beers range from a traditional Blonde Ale to a 12% ABV Barleywine and everything in between. Also worth mentioning are their award-winning Old Elephant Foot IPA, Reef Donkey APA, and Red Eye Amber Ale. However, my personal favorites are their rich porter with hints of chocolate and banana and the full-bodied stout filled with intense alcohol, chocolate and coffee tones.
It’s not just the beer that draws people in. Tampa Bay Brewing Company has a unique menu that you won’t see at any typical pub. Many of these menu items are infused with their beers to accentuate the alcohol and create mouth-watering entrees and appetizers, like their famous beer cheese soup, and shepherd’s pie.
The food is so good that Guy Fieri featured Tampa Bay Brewing Company on his show Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. Notable favorites from the show include a humongous meatloaf, award-winning chicken wings and a cheeseburger wrapped in pizza dough.
If you aren’t into beer, TBBC also handcrafts their own root beer which any soda enthusiast will enjoy.
For more than 20 years this family-run brewery has quenched the thirst of both Tampanians and tourist alike.
Cigar City Brewery
Another prominent safehaven for the booze-inclined is Cigar City Brewery. John Holl, author of The American Craft Beer Cookbook, calls the brewery, “a major attraction for those who appreciate and seek out excellent beer.” Located west of Dale Mabry on Spruce St., this renowned brewery is named after Tampa’s long history in the cigar rolling industry.
Featuring 7 year-round beers that capture the essence and ingredients of Florida, Cigar City has garnered critical acclaim, both online and domestic.
Of all their beers Cigar City’s most popular is the IPA Jai Alai. Filled with citrus and intense hops, this beer is enjoyed by both connoisseurs and novices.
Other beers include the refreshing Florida Cracker, sensational Invasion, and robust Maduro.
A downside to the otherwise perfect brewery is they do not advertise food. However, this drawback is not as severe because of the fleet of rotating food trucks ready to cure you of the afternoon munchies.
If you want to enjoy the deliciousness that is Cigar City Brewery in the comfort of your own home, their wide distribution ensures you of finding the right beer where ever you look.
Cigar City’s dedication to the art of beer is even seen in their packaging. Only bottling their beers in cans allows them to chill faster.This helps to prevent spoiling due to light penetration and is safer for consumers to enjoy where glass bottles are not allowed-like the beach. This world-class brewery is sure to not disappoint.
Though not as big as the other two breweries, Coppertail Brewing is no slouch. Established just last year, this brewery has caught on like wildfire, with beers sprouting up in restaurants and gas stations alike.
Owners Kent Bailey and Casey Hughes created Coppertail to emulate the hop-forward mantra of Belgian style brewers; crafting refreshing beers with a distinct aroma and taste.
With four core beers in their lineup, it’s no problem to try each one twice. Their styles range from a classic American wheat to a religiously inspired trippel, a beer originally crafted by monks in Belgium.
Like Cigar City, Coppertail does not have a kitchen on premise but complementary food trucks will the void.
Being a newcomer in the craft brew industry has had no effect on Coppertail, in fact it has only proven that this brewery is in it for the long haul.
If you plan on busting out your beer stein for some Oktoberfest celebration just make sure you fill it up with something Tampa brewed.
Christian Haitz can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.