From a resident’s perspective, Tarpon Springs, Florida is pretty much like every other place in the state.
From a tourism perspective, Tarpon Springs is that Greek city on the Gulf Coast, and really doesn’t exist past Dodecanese Street.
What the locals know a little bit better than the tourists do is that Tarpon Springs goes far behind those couple blocks on the water by the Sponge Docks. It actually has a rather cute, if a bit small, downtown strip on Tarpon Avenue. There’s an old train station has been turned into a local history museum, some really good antiquing if you’re into that, and home to two of the city’s three breweries.
Of those breweries, I recently had the chance to visit the newest one, Two Frogs brewing, with my family. Two Frogs opened a little over a year ago by the father and son team of Michael and Chad Croake. And it was Chad, their brew master, who let me in on the name Two Frogs.
It’s a play on their last name (insert rim shot here).
Chad’s been in brewing for some time now, having a lineage of beer makers that goes back to his great-grandfather. He himself has been home brewing and turned that interest into a degree at USF St. Pete’s new Brewing Arts program.
Accomplishing that, he and his father found and converted an old 1906 drug store, across the street from that train station turned history museum. And it’s there that Two Frogs, with their charming logo of two frogs on a tandem bicycle, has been for over a year.
Passing through the creaky wooden door, you enter a building that has been lovingly restored and still has the musty smell of 100+ year old wood railings piled high to the ceiling. A couple gallon brew system in the back is what Chad uses to make his concoctions, a fairly impressive selection already being built by him:
Mandarin Dreams (Wheat Ale, 5.8% ABV) – This orange wheat ale has a light citra-like nose, meaty pilsner-esque body, with a piquant orange flavor. Bold and refreshing.
Snowmass (Brown Ale, 5% ABV) – This chocolate, coconut brown ale has a solid biscuity nose, and a flavor with lots of cocoa, caramel, and slight notes of roasted coconut. Chad let me know all of his flavors are natural and usually prepared by him, such as the coconut coasting.
Admiral Nelson (Barleywine, 13% ABV) – Massively flavorful beer aged in 14 year old Knob Creek barrels. It has a strong caramel nose, and a massive malt sweetness with a very boozy underlay. What’s amazing is that, with all of that, it still doesn’t feel heavy. This is a beer that will definitely sneak up on you.
Chad has some interesting things coming, including a big, bold barrel-aged chocolate stout that will be tapped in time for Valentine’s Day. Even if you miss that release, it’s still a great, charming place to grab a fantastic beer and avoid the tourists.
Unless the flaming saganaki is your thing.
Drink Florida Craft,