7venth Sun – If you can visit just one brewery in the area, 7venth Sun would be my pick. There used to be just one location in Dunedin. Jess and I would drive to Largo, ride our bikes north to Dunedin on the Pinellas Trail, eat lunch at Eli’s and head over to 7venth Sun for a couple brews before riding back. Talk about a perfect day! Now that they’ve opened a second location in Seminole Heights, their beer is so much more accessible. The Mangrove Double IPA is, in my opinion, the best beer you can get in Tampa Bay. Alas, when I visited on Jan. 18, it wasn’t available. But the Cat Daddy Milk Stout quickly made my disappointment disappear. Every beer here is phenomenal.
Angry Chair – Awesome IPAs, stouts and porters. They usually have a couple different IPAs on tap to choose from. If they have a DIPA available, get it. I guarantee it will taste delicious. They usually have some interesting guest taps as well.
Green Bench – There might not be a better cap to a night out in St. Petersburg than enjoying a freshly-poured Sunshine City IPA while sitting on an Adirondack chair in the beer garden grass. The indoor/outdoor setup at Green Bench might be the most attractive of all the local breweries. They typically have about 20 or so brews on tap to try with a wide array of different types to choose from (meads, ciders, farmhouse ales, Belgians, etc.)
Cycle – One of the original breweries in St. Petersburg and still one of the best, Cycle churns out local favorites like Crank IPA and Cream and Sugar, Please coffee porter. Don’t miss the Sharrow DIPA if it’s on tap. The 32 oz. crowlers are a good option for taking their tasty offerings to go (or, if you’re like me, packing into a checked suitcase and bringing home).
Cigar City – If you’re not from the area and you’ve had craft beer from Tampa already, it’s probably been Cigar City, the most well-known of the area breweries and the one that put Tampa Bay craft beer on the map. The Jai Alai IPA is well-known among hop heads as one of the top IPAs in the country. Nothing beats drinking it fresh from the source. If their Florida Man double IPA is available, it’s a must try.