Craft beer finds its own in the area

Microbreweries rise up around many areas of Sarasota and Manatee counties

Motorworks in Bradenton
Motorworks - Co-owner Frank Tschida enjoys one of his own creations from his brewery in Bradenton

Do you want to make and sell craft beer as a living? The rise of microbreweries in Florida has been constant, now almost every major city in the state can claim multiple breweries where consumers can order the beer made on site. The name brewpubs is the shortened combination of brewery pubs, but you likely won’t find that in marketing. They just advertise the brewery in the name.

Typically multiple flavors of beer display the taste and invention of the brewmaster in these microbreweries. In the local breweries it is common to see up to 22 different tastes of ales, IPAs and stouts. Some are marketed with fruity flavors or seasonal based on the holiday, pumpkin in the fall is popular.

And the alcoholic content varies as much with the taste. What used to be 6 percent Alcohol by Volume, now is pushing 9 percent by some breweries. Although common wisdom in the brewing industry is that 14 percent ABV is the upper limit, Samuel Adams introduced the Triple Bock in 1994 that contained 17.5 percent ABV. The higher content beers are also considered premium liquids and can get a higher price. Local breweries have also introduced their own high content beers.

So why has the phenomenon taken off in recent years? Since 1979 the number of microbreweries have climbed, federal laws deregulated the industry that year under President Carter. It was left up to the states to set their own limits which Florida has done. With a $500 license you can brew up to 10,000 kegs per year. That is more than enough for personal consumption. You can opt for a higher license and become a distributor of your own craft beer. Before jumping in though, you will need to check zoning laws and register with state and federal agencies for permits.

You can actually see some of the beers on shelves at your local grocery stores. In 2016, 99 percent of the 5,301 breweries in the United States have been classified as microbreweries. The growth has slowed a little in the past three years but still represents a significant number.

You can find a number of these breweries locally in wet zones around the city. JDub’s in Sarasota is located near the Ed Smith baseball stadium, while Motorworks and the Darwin Brewing Co. are within a block of each other around the LECOM baseball diamond in Bradenton. Baseball fans do love to consume: peanuts, Cracker Jacks and beer.

Other breweries are off the beaten path. The Naughty Monk in Lakewood Ranch is located miles from Main Street. Big Top Brewing is located near I-75 in Sarasota but thankfully away from any entrance ramps. The Corporate Ladder Brewing Company in Palmetto is near an I-75 ramp on Moccasin Wallow Road.

Owners join organizations that promote the industry, a camaraderie all to itself. Many join the Florida Brewers Guild that is devoted to advocacy and education. The Brewers Association is a national group that promotes craft beers. This month six breweries gathered at Off the Wagon Bar in Venice for a Brewery-vs-Brewery Family Feud. Teams from the Naughty Monk, JDub’s, Darwin, Corporate Ladder, Big Top and Off the Wagon faced off against each for charity.

JDub's beer garden
JDub's Beer Garden - Near Ed Smith Stadium in Sarasota, this brewery has special events and food truck rallies when it opens up its grounds.

JDub’s is popular with its Food Truck Rallies. Food trucks are the main source of restaurant food at most of the local breweries and it’s not bad either. The trucks compete for bragging rights in the parking lot of JDub’s while patron parking is moved to the side lots, of which there is plenty. During regular business days the trucks rotate so there is one in the parking lot on most open days. The pub and beer garden courtyard serve as gathering points for guests. This brewing company has four flagship beers around 5 percent ABV and two yearly offerings of 10 and 11 percent ABV. They also promote a fruits of Florida series.

Formerly a Hudson Motors car dealership, some of the motif can still be seen in the taproom of Motorworks in Bradenton. Owners Frank and Denise Tschida have created an arena for beer competitive sports such as corn bag tossing and bocce ball in their beer garden with a 150 year old oak tree in the center. The food truck is the 9th Street West side of the building, opposite the main stage. Sporting events are projected on two large screens, one in the tap room and one in the beer garden. They have a number of award-winning beers to choose from and a full liquor bar. Also, check out their Groupon deals on a flight of beer tastings.

Darwin Brewing Company
Darwin Brewing - A second brewery near LECOM baseball stadium in the heart of Bradenton

Down the road and across from LECOM field is the Darwin Brewing Company. Its crafted IPAs, ales, stouts and pilsners are highly respected artisan ales and lagers. This brewing company opened its doors in 2012 serving Andean cuisine. Craft beers were added later when the brewery began its operations soon after the opening. They have a good selection of seasonal and core beers to select from. Darwin is closed Mondays and Tuesdays and may have seasonal hours so you may want to check ahead.

Get your circus mind in gear under the Big Top Brewing Company in Sarasota. One of the first breweries in Sarasota, this company near Nathan Benderson Park will coordinate some of its big events around rowing championships there. They are open seven days a week until 10 PM on weekdays but are open until midnight on Fridays and Saturdays. They have a special blend of 22 special night, core and specialty brews on tap. Join the Big Top Beer Club to receive news about events and new offerings on tap.

Off the Wagon
Off the Wagon - This bar serves Three Bridges Brewing selections from its location in Venice

Head on down to Venice on Tamiami Trail to the Off the Wagon Bar and its own award-winning 3 Bridges Brewery serving high quality cuisine at good prices and cocktails. Open seven days a week, this venue books some of the best entertainment in the area and has something for everyone every night of the week. Mondays are trivia night and karaoke spins with DJ Tony on Thursday nights.

The Corporate Ladder Brewing Company in Palmetto where the owners boast they quit work and started brewing beer. They are open seven days a week until 10 PM, midnight on Friday and Saturday. Sunday is their day of rest when they close at 8 PM. They have 15 of their own beers on tap and 8 guest taps, including a Fruit-Full Fort, a strong ale with 17.2 percent ABV. Of their own brewing, the Nepotism stout is an 11.9 percent ABV and the Where’s My Bonus Check is an ale served with 9.1 percent ABV.

Naughty Monk Brewing
Naughty Monk - The brewery is in full view from the taproom in Lakewood Ranch

Brewmasters have crafted 22 flavors of Belgian-inspired beers and one cider on tap at the Naughty Monk in Lakewood Ranch. A variety of wines are also available for consumption. The taproom is nicely configured with plenty of seating, activities and two prestigious Diamond pool tables. You have a full view of the brewery through glass walls and possibly arrange for a tour. Check out the daily food truck for food, but outside restaurant orders are encouraged. Gather on Tuesdays for 2-for-1 beer specials and Thursdays for trivia competitions. The Pump Queen is an ale that boasts 9.8 percent ABV with a pumpkin pie aroma.

If you are thirsty for a good craft beer check out any of these breweries or do your own search for more discoveries. While on a discovery tour, check out my three new listings last week including this stunning home on Yawl Lane in Country Club Shores. I increased options for Grand Bay with a listing there and now have a new listing at the popular Promenade, which has recently undergone a renovation. Please contact me at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing or if you have a property to sell or buy.

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536 Yawl Lane $1,825,000 Video Photo Slideshow
3030 Grand Bay Blvd, #332 $879,000 Video Photo Slideshow
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Call us at (941) 387-1840 for an exclusive showing