In the shadow of Tropicana Field, a few blocks away from 3 Daughters Brewing (literally), is the corner of 1st Avenue South and 20th Street South. On the southeast corner is the brand new Pinellas Ale Works.
Directly across, on the northwest corner, is the relatively new Cage Brewing. Look for the octopus and you can’t miss it.
There’s a story both behind the name and the octopus. First, the reason it’s called Cage Brewing harkens back to the first place that owner Robert Hughes and head brewer Eric Richardson worked at, R Bar. At the time, they brewed beers in the kitchen.
The Man, however, was quick to let them know this was strictly verboten, and the beers needed to be brewed in a separate area. Instead of building a new facility, a fence was erected around the equipment, effectively creating a ‘cage’ around the brewing area.
When Robert and Eric opened Cage brewing, they needed to bring in the name (and fences to block off the brewing area) as an homage to R Bar and their beginnings. They have a lot of real estate to cover, and they brought in area artist Danial Ryan to decorate. One of the murals had a lot of creatures, including an octopus.
Andrew, hanging out behind the bar with the equally nice Molly, was quick to let me know that the octopus, in particular, is the mythical Kraken. And, as it so happened, the Kraken made its first appearance at the exact moment the old inverted-pyramid St. Pete Pier was being demolished.
Above the bar is a giant, mixed-media piece of said Kraken dragging the old pier into the depths of the sea. It’s quite remarkable and once that was installed, the Kraken became an indelible part of Cage Brewing.
Cage has an impressive collection of pinball and board games, plus a gorgeous covered patio area just outside. Plus their tap list runs an impressive gamut of strong and soft, fruity and hoppy. Andrew gave me samples of quite a few, and it took a lot for me to keep up.
But when it came time to order a good, solid glass of beer, I decided on PBS (Stout, 8.6% ABV, 62 IBU), their peanut butter stout.
It was quite something. Yes, the peanut butter is unmistakable, with a fantastically deep, fresh-roasted flavor. You can almost hear the pop of the vacuum seal on the peanut jar.
Malt flavor is strong and heady, with a strong biscuity and molasses flavor that highlights the peanut sweetness, not overpowering it. Hops are light (but trust me, Cage knows how to be hoppy).
It’s a big, bold beer with a fantastic flavor. Put this sucker on nitro, and it would be incredible. But it’s not necessary, with how well the lineup of beers they have on tap will be.
Cage Brewing is a great addition to what is becoming a fantastic beer destination. As long as a giant octobeast doesn’t drag the entire city into the depths of Tampa Bay first.
Drink Florida Craft,