Friday, April 30, 2021

Exploring the Tampa Ale Trail

This week we spent several days in the St. Pete - Clearwater area in order to attend a couple MLB games (saw Vlad's three dingers) which afforded opportunities to visit several breweries along the Tampa Ale Trail. There are 81 breweries participating in the 2021 passport program - located as far north as the Greek community in Tarpon Springs through the BlueJay city of Dunedin to Tampa then St. Petersburg and ending at rejuvenated Gulfport. 

Cigar City Brewing
Located within a mile of the Tampa Airport, this iconic Florida brewery recently expanded its tasting room since my last visit. At this location, they also provide in-house only offerings like the Terrifyingly Competent -- a juicy American Pale Ale. This pairs nicely with the Cuban Meatloaf. Follow with a taster of the Bon Vivant's Companion - an American sour ale with raspberries aged in rum and orange curacao barrels.

Clearwater Brewing Company
Housed on a formal gas station this brewery is situated on the outskirts of north Clearwater on the short drive to Dunedin. Although there are about eight breweries within a 3/4 mile radius in that town, don't overlook Clearwater Brewing. The front and back patios provide enough open space to enjoy the Comfy Cream Ale - one of the best of these styles we've tasted.  For the sour lover, go for the raspberry puree Raspberry Romper Calzone Berliner Weisse -- this is richer than others. 

Cycle Brewing
Located in downtown St. Pete and part of an easy walking brewery tour this brewery specializes in its barrel program - most notably aging stout with different ingredients.  Our favorite is the Cherry Wine - a rare DOS aged in Frederiksdal Cherry Wine barrels for 34 months. This is dense with notes of dark chocolate covered cherries. The Saturday is equally dense with copious amounts of chocolate and for a little kick try the Rare DOS 1 Year Aged -- aged one year in a used whiskey barrel. 

Gulfport Brewery + Eatery
This brewery was a great find - not only the establishment itself but also walking the small downtown area of Gulfport. This town had experienced depressed conditions for a number of years until receiving a Federal revitalization grant which they put to good use. Plenty of food is available - which is a condition for any business selling alcohol in the town - plus another barrel program based on the Gulfporter, an American Porter.  Of the four, the Toasted Walnut & Honey was the favorite -- this reminiscent of a Walnut liqueur. But don't skip the Tahitian Vanilla & Coconut, Peanut Butter Dark Chocolate, or the Mocha Coffee.  And definitely, don't skip the Disston City Lager, named after Gulfport's former name and a fantastic representation of a Pre-Prohibition Pilsner.  Love it when breweries produce solid lighter beers where there's no place to hide defects.

Overflow Brewing Company
Another downtown St. Pete brewery and with an extensive beer list, particularly for those who enjoy a sour lineup. The Obsidian Currants is reminiscent of a Flemish sour and extremely tart. The Persimmon Punch is a tropical fruit drink and the Flowers Just Because is a tasty and light Berliner Weisse. The favorite however is the Going Green, a Gose made like a superfoods smoothie - kale, spinach, celery, apples, and more. The veggies are subtle.

St. Pete Brewing Company
The original St. Pete brewery, this one offers both several IPAs and lighter-styled beers. For the latter, the Put Me In Kolsch is your daytime quaffer - packing plenty of flavors. In the evening theirs a Scottish Ale, Imperial Stout, Tripel -- but Localtopia IPA with the aromatic hops was our choice. 

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