St. Pete Brewing is one of those breweries that I’ve seen so often, but just never managed to make it in. It’s the signature anchor and oars in the classic skull and crossbones formation behind the bar that I’ve always seen, at least on digital media.
And then there I was, in downtown St. Pete, sweating ever so much on a warm Florida day (because they’re all warm) a flight in front of me and the anchor and oars off in the distance. I had finally made it to one of the breweries I had always wanted to go to.
St. Pete Brewing is, in essence, the story of a collaboration between two couples. One are the Williams, Tom and Michele. Tom had spent many years helping to finance breweries while brewing at home and wanting a place of his own. The other couple are the McCrackens, Jon and Aida. Jon had brewed with several different outfits in Florida and around the U.S. Jon and Tom managed to connect just as Jon had found the perfect building for his brewery, and a partnership was born.
St. Pete Brewing can be found in area stores with their two perennial canned releases, Milo’s IPA and Orange Wheat. Naturally, I avoided both of those beers since I can get them at any time. Instead, I went for a more varied flight of the following:
Watermelon Wheat (Wheat Ale, 5.3% ABV) – A crisp aroma with the tiniest hint of the 17 pounds of watermelon used, but there’s a bit more in the flavor of the beer, bouncing around with the light wheat flavors.
Banyan Blonde Ale (Blonde Ale, 5.4% ABV) – While not native to Florida, Banyan trees have been introduced to the area by visitors and now make a unique addition to the local foliage. As an homage, this blonde ale was created, fermenting at a lower temperature to give the beer a light body and subtle malt sweetness.
Put Me In Kolsch (Kolsch, 5.8% ABV) – A lighter version of the classic style, with a more noticeable floral hop bouquet.
Riptide Rye (Pale Ale, 4.6% ABV) – This was a collaboration with St. Pete’s Cage Brewing, and has a solid touch of rye in addition to a light golden malt profile and flavor.
I-275 Imperial Red (Red Ale, 8% ABV) – If you drove to St. Pete, chances are very strong you drove on Interstate 275. I sure did. While it’s not as bad as some other interstates (cough 4 cough), the sweet imperial red with which it shares its name is a lot more fun. Brewed with two kinds of Caramunich for a great light caramel sweetness and then hopped with Chinook and Columbus for an earthy rounding.
Grateful Stout (Stout, 5% ABV) – Jon McCracken is a big Grateful Dead fan, and his following the band led him to try a lot of fantastic beers, launching his interest in brewing himself. The beer he christened with the band’s name is a dry stout, perhaps a bit meatier and bolder than a traditional Irish Dry Stout.
Of course, it is not the only brewery in St Pete. But it’s the one that carries the city’s name, giving it a lot to live up to. And it manages to live up to that honorific quite well.
It managed to grow quite a nice selection of fellow breweries around it, with Cycle just around the corner and Inoculum having just opened two doors down. But for one of the oldest and most varied beer experiences in St Petersburg, St Pete Brewing is the place to go.
And you’ll get to see the oars and anchor in person as well.
Drink Florida Craft,