The craft brewery scene is Tampa is growing like a wildfire. Breweries are cropping up all over the bay, and local beer can be found in almost any bar. Beer aficionado or no, there is something for everyone in the Tampa brew scene, and what better way to discover your favorite adult beverages than with a brew tour?
Brew tours come in all shapes and sizes. You can tour an individual brewery, hop on a bus that takes you around town, or even head to the water for a brews cruise!
Below are the three best Brew Tours in Tampa. Get ready to try out some seriously fantastic local beer.
Cigar City Brewing Brewery Tour
Cigar City Brewing is what most people think of when they think Tampa Beer. It is by far the most pervasive and can be found on bar menus an in liquor stores across the country. In The American Craft Beer Cookbook, John Hall had the following to say:
“In a state known for theme parks, Cigar City Brewing has become a major attraction for those who appreciate and seek out excellent beer. It opened with a flourish and spread its reach quickly, appealing to both hardened beer geeks and brew novices with eyebrow-raising flavors and commitment to quality. Capitalizing on the Latin culture and tobacco-manufacturing history of Tampa Bay, Cigar City highlights those strengths on its labels and in its beer names and recipes. Many of the beers it produces – Jai Alai IPA, Improv Oatmeal Rye India-Style Brown Ale, Cubano-Style Espresso Brown Ale – reflect the sensibilities and ingredients of Florida.” (source)
Cigar City (it is even named after Tampa itself!) does, in fact, have a variety of central-Florida inspired flavors, including beers named after infamous Florida Crackers and the Gasparilla Pirate Festival.
Despite the names, this beer is anything but gimmicky. The ingredients are fresh, the flavors pronounced, and the overall quality is truly something to behold. The brewery staff will even educate you on Florida brewing history, starting with this fantastic webpage. If you are interested in unique, well-crafted beverages, then this is a tour you absolutely should not miss.
Brew tours are held Wednesday-Sunday at a variety of times. $8 buys you a 35-45 minute window into the Cigar City operation, and the price of admission also includes a collectible tasting glass, beer sampling along the tour, and a history lesson to boot.
Do not miss this tour.
Coppertail Brewing Co., located in the historic Ybor neighborhood, lives by the motto of “Florida Inspired. Tampa Brewed.” Their impressive brewery and tasting room is trendy and inviting, much like their name! According to the brewery, this is how the magnificent Coppertail came to be:
“Coppertail is a sea monster that lives in Tampa Bay. We know this because our owner and founder’s 5-year old daughter (at the time) told us about it. Coppertail is dreaming of the impossible. Kind of like the craft brewing industry going up against the giant mega-brewers. Or like a home-brewer putting everything on the line to start a brewery.” (source).
Coppertail is home to a 20-tap,full-servicee bar, and it always hosting community events. Add to that the menu from their fabulous kitchen, and you have no excuse not to visit this new but impactful local brewery. Every beer they make is designed with a Floridian in mind. Just check out the description for Free Tim, an IPA they brew year-round: “Whether you’re diving for stone crabs under Tampa Bay’s Sunshine Skyway or just wishing you were, this beer’s got you covered. Expect huge hits of citrus and pine aromas layered over a bright malt backbone. Perfect for a day on the water.” (source).
If that doesn’t pique your interest, then consider Night Swim, a Robust Porter: “Dark and luxurious like a midnight dip in the warm gulf waters off St. Pete Beach. Rich and Roasty with a hint of chocolate. Both this porter, and a night swim, are best enjoyed with a friend.”
If the beers themselves don’t impress you, the design of their tasting room and labels certainly will. This is a hip craft brewery doing everything right. If you want to check it out from the inside out, definitely take a tour. You sign up with your bartender, and $7 entry fee covers a 30-45 minute guided tour, a beer to drink along the way (along with additional tastings), and a souvenir pint glass. If you are interested in how the craft beer scene is growing, then definitely check out Coppertail.
If you are looking for more than just a single brewery tour, then hop on the Brew Bus and check out all of them! Brew Bus is truly unique, one part tasting room offering all of the best local beer on the market, and one part Brew Tour, you can stay put or travel around the city! The ever-rotating menu in the tasting room allow you to try a 5oz, 16oz, or 32oz pour of seasonal local beers, and the eatery tucked away in the corner dishes up some fantastic bar snacks. But while the tasting room is great, the real magic here is in the bus tour.
With the Brew Bus, you can decide what kind of Tampa Brew Tour you want to have. You’ve got Friday Night Heights, The Full Pour, and the Local Loop to choose from.
First, Friday Night Heights. For under $15 you can jump on the Brew Bus from any location on the route and be gracefully whisked away to the next location! Shuttle stops include the Brew Bus Tasting Room, Seminole Heights City Wine Bar, Lowry Parcade, Red Star Rock Bar, Armature Works, Rock Brothers, and Brewing Hall on Franklin. This tour is a fantastic way for absolutely anyone to do a Tampa Bar crawl, since most of the shuttle stops are at full service bars! This is a fantastic way to introduce yourself to the bar/beer scene in Seminole Heights, Tampa Heights, and the surrounding areas. No actual beer included.
Next, the Full Pour. This tour is definitely more inclusive, and at almost $60 the price reflect that. The experience still may be considered a bargain though, considering that the four and a half hour tour consists of all-inclusive stops at three different breweries. The tour is guided, and you are guaranteed a full pint at each stop! You will also get a behind-the-scenes look at each brewery with a brewery representative. In addition to all of that, you are invited to enjoy two complimentary craft beers from Brew Bus Brewing. This is the Cadillac of Brew Tours, and a fantastic way to familiarize yourself with the local craft scene in Tampa.
Lastly, the Local Loop. This tour is a lot like the Friday Night Heights Tour. For just $10, you can enjoy transportation to local bars and breweries around Tampa. You can jump on at any location on the route, and your ticket is good all day! Stops include the Brew Bus Brewery, Hidden Springs Ale Works, Franklin Manor, the Pour House, and Coppertail Brewing. You will visit Seminole Heights, Ybor City, and Downtown Tampa all for less than the price of an Uber. No actual beer is included.
If those beer tours just aren’t enough, you can schedule a private tour, or hop on the Brew Bus Shuttle down to the infamous First Friday in Downtown St. Petersburg.
If you are a brewery fiend, then you will feel right at home at the Brew Bus. Here’s is how founder Anthony Derby came to start up such an incredible beer tour:
“The Brew Bus fermented in 2011 when our Founder Anthony Derby was a student at The University of Colorado. When he tried to visit 3 breweries in one day he quickly realized the need for a transportation service. In 2012 we started brewing our own craft beer under the simple mission to make high quality beer that we like to drink. Today, the good times continue to roll with our own independent brewery and tasting room.” (source)
Brew Bus tours are fantastic, inexpensive, and wholly unique. If you are looking for a 100% authentic Tampa Experience, then hop on a bus and drink around the city! Your liver may not thank you, but your memory bank will.
Craft Brewing is not unique to Tampa, but there are a few spots that are getting it 100% right. If you are sick of drinking Bud Lights by the pool and want to try something a bit more interesting while learning something along the way, check out any of these fantastic Brew Tours to taste the passion, creativity, and exuberance that makes up the Tampa Craft Beer scene. The next time you travel, look out for Florida Cracker and Unholy on craft menus, and remember what it is like to be behind-the-scenes at these operations. The Tampa Bay Beer Scene has something for everyone – go find your favorite brew!
Other great local Breweries in Tampa:
Hidden Springs Aleworks: “Locally Crafted”
81Bay Brewing Company: “Founded in 2016 in Tampa, Fla., 81Bay Brewing Company was established by three native Floridians and longtime friends with the idea of crafting an environment to celebrate beer, relaxation and recreation. Open seven days a week, the indoor taproom specializes in quality craft beer and features an immersive communal setting, multi-media murals, taproom games and live music. Whether you are looking for relief from responsibility and daily stress, your favorite liquid treat or just the satisfaction of trying and finding something new – we welcome all into our home.
Angry Chair Brewing: “Everyone has an angry chair, even if you think you don’t… you do, trust us. You don’t like sitting in traffic after a long day at the office? That’s your angry chair. You can’t stand listening to people talk while chewing on their food? That’s your angry chair. You have one spot of hair on your head that just stands up all crazy no matter how much gel you put on it and it makes you want to rip all of it out? Angry chair! The angry chair is symbolic of a place, time, or situation that you have experienced. It is something you have had to overcome or something that sparked a change in your lifestyle. Your angry chair is unique and is something only you can conquer. We don’t intend on being a one-note brewery and are constantly pushing ourselves to do more. At any given time our tap list will feature a variety of styles, stouts, and IPAs being more common, but we make a lot of sours and porters as well. We don’t serve flights but do have 5oz. pours. Our staff is very knowledgeable and can help you find the perfect beer for your taste.”
Southern Brewing & Wine Making: “Southern Brewing & Winemaking was a vision born from Kelly and Brian’s passion for craft beer and wine. Coincidentally, they met in 1996 at a Belgian beer festival at Atlanta Brewing Company, where Brian was the brewmaster. Five years later, they moved to Tampa, where Brian accepted another head brewer position with Ybor City Brewing. In 2008, the demand for products from local homebrewers prompted the owners to open a homebrew shop. Kelly left her 25-year banking career and ventured into the retail aspect of craft brewing and winemaking. Borrowing 2,000 sf of warehouse space from the wholesale company, Southern Brewing & Winemaking opened its doors to the home brewers and winemakers of Tampa in June of 2008.”
Six Ten Brewing: “We offer a selection of great beers brewed right in our brewery as well as guest taps. We gladly fill growlers of 32, 64 or 128oz sizes of most of our tap selections. Six Ten Brewing offers a variety of hand-crafted ales and lagers made with the finest quality malted barley, hops, yeast and water. These delicious brews are served in our tasting room which offers a great view of the brewery. We are pet-friendly so feel free to bring Fido – Maggie is usually around and loves the company!”