Suncoast Beaches, FL - Bradenton, Longboat Key, Sarasota, Lido Key, Siesta Key & Venice - Vacation Travel Guide

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Suncoast Beaches Area Features

Locally-Made Beer and Spirits

For adults seeking to explore the array of beverages that are being brewed and distilled in southwestern Florida, a number of opportunities are close at hand. Microbreweries and even a distillery are popping up everywhere in the Sunshine State. Within a half-hour of the beaches, you’ll find a quaff that quenches your thirst.

Breweries

Many have come to know Sarasota Brewing Company since it is the oldest microbrewery in the region. It has also proven itself to be a great beer destination with a stellar lineup including Sarasota Gold, made with Czechoslovakian hops, and the Midnight Pass Porter, which uses a touch of chocolate liqueur in the recipe. The Sequoia Amber Lager is one of their best, having medaled at the Great American Beer Festival. While they only carry about 5 of their own brews on tap, Sarasota Brewing Company also has beers from around the world so you can try different styles and compare flavors. Once you have found your favorite, try pairing it with a dish from their extensive food menu.

One of the first businesses in the region that launched strictly as a brewery was JDubs Brewing Company—and that was as recent as 2013. This brewery laid the groundwork for the beer-making craft to expand in the Sarasota region. Try the easy-drinking Passion Wheat on a hot summer’s day or maybe one of their Fruits of Florida series that combines an IPA with a great seasonal flavor like blueberry or lychee. Currently, over a half-dozen beers are on tap, but they are also expanding so you can expect more flavors in the near future. Hungry? Food trucks are regularly scheduled to be nearby for those of you looking for a bite to eat.

Veteran-owned 3 Keys Brewing is a recent newcomer in Sarasota, having opened in 2015. They believe in good beer and the importance of family. Bring the kids, the dogs, and come enjoy a pint of beer. The beer list options are varied and range from their What Mama Says Gose to a Trust Issues Brown (oatmeal raisin brown ale). A light menu featuring pizza, appetizers and sandwiches is available, and there are games and activities for the kids in a space made just for them.

Named for the circus-oriented town they are created in, the beers at Big Top Brewing Company are just as big and boisterous as the shows themselves. The Circus City IPA is perhaps their best-seller and can be purchased in cans from local stores (as can many of their others) to take home as a cool souvenir. But it’s definitely worth a stop at the brewery where you can sample other beers including their Conch Republic Key Lime Wheat or the Trapeze Monk Belgian Wit. New beers are constantly being released and with about 15 on tap, you’re going to find something different on every visit.

Years ago, the Gulf Coast was home to the Calusa Native Americans. Because they honored Florida’s waters and natural surroundings, it seemed appropriate to name a beer company that strives to do the same in their honor. Calusa Brewing was born. At this micro-brewery, you’ll find about 10 beers on tap. Their very hoppy Focus IPA (72IBU) combines 4 different types of hops and is a favorite among those who love bitter ales. Meanwhile, Dissonance, their nitro brown ale, has a creamy finish accented by notes of cinnamon and coffee. If you’re hungry for a bite after sampling their beers, a food truck is likely to be on-site to satiate any food craving.

The aptly named Motorworks Brewing is housed in what used to be an old auto dealership. The large amount of space gives them the ability to brew and barrel their 30 craft beers and accommodate a fully stocked bar. Mainstays include the Pulp Friction IPA and the V Twin Vienna Lager, but they also have a large variety of seasonals and small batches that appeal to lovers of sours and other unique flavors of beer. Don’t miss the biggest dog- and kid-friendly beer garden in Florida with a huge oak, twinkling lights, bocce courts, a 22-foot projection screen and so much more. This garden is a draw all by itself, however, the food trucks and the neighboring delivery restaurant make the experience complete.

Charles Darwin proposed the “Theory of Evolution” in 1859. Today, its namesake brewery in Bradenton, Darwin Brewing Co., produces what they call an “evolved” Florida beer. The brewmaster began with small batches at Darwin’s on 4th—a former local restaurant that celebrated Andean cuisine. The beer was so popular that they opened DBC a few blocks away from the restaurant. Now, the beers on tap (including mainstays such as Pirata Pilsner, Summadayze IPA, Llama Mama Milk Stout, and Circa 1926 Tangerine Wheat) use many native Florida ingredients and are also influenced by the pairings they once did for Peruvian cuisine. It was a true evolution for Darwin Brewing Co. and they have not stopped growing.

For a uniquely funny story about how this business came into existence and a taste of what makes Belgium famous (aside from the chocolate and waffles), visit the Naughty Monk Brewery. Here, large assortments of Belgian beer styles await you including the Four Play Belgian Quad and the Naughty Trap Door (a strong Belgian Trappist Ale). Of course, they also have IPAs, Stouts, Porters and more. The tap list is extensive and wine and cider are also offered, but bring your own food—or have some delivered—because this place specializes in their beers.

Off The Wagon Brewery & Kitchen is Venice’s first microbrewery. Just opened in 2015, this brewery serves up nearly a dozen beers of alternating flavors. Some you may see on tap include their Angry Rabbit—a Belgian Golden Strong—or their Gate Keeper—an English Porter. All of their current beers pair well with the chef-inspired menu that always uses fresh ingredients. You’ll typically find themed nights and live music at this late-night hot spot.

Brew Life Brewery is the newest addition to the local market. Having just opened in 2017, this craft brewery offers nearly two-dozen beers to choose from on a rotating basis. One of the mainstays is their Tuk Tuk IPA featuring New Zealand hops. Other beers are available for a short time and feature flavors that are truly creative such as the Dude! Itz Brown—a brown ale flavored by raisins soaked in apple brandy, cinnamon, and maple syrup. Swing by to try something different!

Distillery

Drum Circle Distilling has been making their own Siesta Key rums since 2013 using the finest ingredients. If you like great cocktails, take a tour of this distillery and after tasting them, you’ll definitely want to bring some home to drink straight up or with your favorite mixer. Currently, the Siesta Key label carries gold, white, coconut, spiced, and beer barrel spiced rums—and these liquors are met with great acclaim. They’ve won countless awards and many who have tried them say that these rums are some of the best they’ve ever had. Swing by and take a tour. You’ll learn a lot about distilling rum and you’ll love the samples!

Please be safe while enjoying these beverage destinations. There are always bottles for sale, growlers to fill, and other to-go options so you can sip these beverages safely at home or at your hotel. And don’t forget—these items make great gifts and souvenirs. Cheers!

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