You do not remember a time when Sunken Gardens did not exist in St Petersburg. If you do, you are very, very old and I congratulate you for reading this blog.
The Sunken Gardens is a lush, tropical paradise that still exists on 4th Street, next to a children’s museum and across the street from Crescent Lake. It’s maybe 10 or so minutes north of the Central Avenue area, of which my family is so fond.
It’s not very big, for what has been a traditional Florida tourist stop for decades. It actually started in 1903 when George Turner purchased land that he was interested in using for a house and to pursue his horticultural hobby.
Being close to an old sinkhole, the soil that was suitable for planting was 15 feet below the regular street level. Over the years, he brought in plants, fruit trees, and in the 20’s started charging $0.25 per person for people to stroll around. They added birds, and even temporarily had a religious wax museum on the grounds.
In the seventies, once Disney came to the state, tourism declined and eventually the doors were shuttered. After some potential buyers, the City of St. Petersburg declared the park an historic landmark and purchased it in 1998. Once restoration was complete, it was opened and continues to be open to this day.
The reason I bring this up was I recently had an interview with Josh Perian at St. Pete’s Flying Boat Brewing, possibly the closest brewery to the Sunken Gardens. He was gracious enough to give me a pint while we chatted, and you can hear on the interview us talk a little bit about their homage to Sunken Gardens (Pale Ale, 5.4% ABV, 56 IBU).
It’s good that the beer is as lush and tropical as its namesake. You don’t get a heavy dose of alpha acids, instead going more for a liberal outpouring of citrus hobby flavors. There’s definitely a lot of lemon and grapefruit flavors in a light and refreshing beer.
It’s easy to drink, has a beautiful slightly hazy golden color, and a refreshingly drinkable body that is easy to wash down.
As a history fan, I am always appreciative whenever breweries take on the task to celebrate local landmarks like this. Here’s hoping that it will be around several more decades to come.
The gardens, not the beer. I don’t know if I can handle a pale ale that’s been sitting around that long.
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