Madeira Beach is just north of St. Pete Beach, all part of the hustle and tourist bustle that is the Pinellas Co. seashore.
Along the main strip that is Gulf Blvd. is Johns Pass Village. If you can picture a strip mall in a heavily tourist-centered area, you’ve imagined Johns Pass Village quite nicely. Ice cream parlors, racks full of tourist brochures, chain restaurants with 2-hour waits, and kitchy souvenir stores selling shot glasses with breasts and black shirts that say ‘The beatings will continue until morale improves.’
If you look closely, however, the first floor has what appears to be fermentation tanks situated between one of those souvenir stores and a local winery. If you head upstairs from there, you’ll be at Mad Beach Brewing. And it’s pretty easy to assume how cheesy and awful a tourist-area brewery can be.
Mad Beach is the complete opposite of that.
Mad Beach, a common nickname for many businesses that make their home in MADeira Beach, opened as a simple tap room in 2014 with a wide variety of on-site brewed beers, ciders, and wines. The next year they added a full kitchen, and operate as a very family-friendly brewpub. Indeed, the massive industrial warehouse-esque space was full of both families and groups of adults wanting drinks.
It has the standard jenga and cornhole, plus pool, air hockey, and even a video gave lounge on the stage. The kitchen is cleverly hidden inside the sawed-off and painted side of an old school bus. In fact, there is artwork all over the facility, much of which is large-format versions of labels for their take-home crowlers.
With the exception of the rather grumpy hostess we had, service was fantastic and quick. We were (oddly) offered seats at the bar, but I’m not sure our 2 year old would have been welcomed, so we took one of Mad Beach’s many metal-topped tables. I ended up getting quite the sizeable plate of nachos and needed assistance from my wife and daughter to finish it off.
My wife’s entrée was rather interesting. The entrée itself, locally caught grouper, was excellent and the green tea rice that accompanied said fish was fantastic. But it came with what looked like a tiny real estate sign.
That sign is actually information on how local their sourcing of the fish truly was. It actually gave you the date and location the fish was caught, the name of the spearfisher, the name of their boat, and what may have actually been a picture of swimming around before it became an entrée. It’s both interesting and slightly morose at the same time.
That’s great, how’s the beer? Quick word to the wise, make sure to look in some of those local tourism booklets before going. One of the booklets had a coupon for a free beer or sangria at Mad Beach, and my lovely wife decided on a house made sangria. Yes, they made everything, even the wine.
Of course I went for a flight. I couldn’t do the flight I wanted to do, what they call Walking the Plank. That is a 5 oz. pour of each of their 28 taps, and requires 3 adults to order. That’s a bit much, really. I went for a smaller flight of the following:
Life’s A Beach (Hefeweizen, 5% ABV) – This Orange Blossom Honey wheat ale packs a big citrus punch with a slight, electric honey base.
I Yam What I Yam (Pumpkin Beer, 9% ABV) – It’s interesting to see a brewery that has an Imperial Pumpkin ale on tap year round. Strong, rich pumpkin pie flavor with the interesting touch of a brown sugar-rimmed glass.
Treat Yo Self (Imperial Brown Ale, 9% ABV, 35 IBU) – This bold ale is strong, malty and chewy, with massive notes of vanilla and coffee.
Beach Slap (Wheat Ale, 5% ABV, 12 IBU) – An interesting pina colada-style wheat ale. It’s big on orange, with some pineapple coming big on the finish.
Dad Bod (Oatmeal Stout, 6% ABV) – This bold stout has a sweet, maple nose and a moderate coffee flavor entwined with that maple sweetness.
Blood Orange Cider (Cider, 5% ABV) Surprisingly enough, they had some pretty delicious ciders as well. This one had a fantastic, almost Sunkist-style amount of orange that was massively enjoyable.
I was completely unaware of everything that Mad Beach had to offer, and pretty impressed with how good it all was. It’s completely my fault for assuming less of them just because they happen to be firmly entrenched in beachside tourist hell and not an industrial park like most other breweries.
It may not be the easiest brewery to get to, but it’s so worth the drive and finding parking. There’s an absolute ton of stuff for everyone, making it a good time. I will definitely want to go back.
I’ll bypass those souvenir stores, though.
Drink Florida Craft,