Historians disagree which was created first: bread or beer.
My Greek friend Wikipedia said they found evidence of beer dating back to Mesopotamia 4,000 years ago. Wow, huh? We sure have come a long way since then.
The skyrocketing craze for craft beers, the microbrews, has created a multimillion-dollar industry — thankfully for beer snobs!
However, you don’t have to go to a Belgian monastery to enjoy a fresh brew. Inspired local artisans have taken hops into their own hands. Several local breweries have tapped into the Pensacola Bay Area, sharing the love of creation, fresh hops and a distinct flavor of Pensacola.
So, come on, grab your Growler, or your Crowler (they’re different!) and let’s take a tap tour of our own Pensacola craft breweries — each with distinct flavors and atmosphere. We will even veer off the beer path and sample a meadery too. Yes, Pensacola, we have mead!
Perfect Plain Brewery
50 E. Garden St. Pensacola, Florida
Named in honor of words scribed by Rachel Jackson, the wife of President Andrew Jackson, Perfect Plain opened in the heart of Downtown Pensacola in December of 2017.
Way back in 1821, Mrs. Jackson joined then-future President Andrew Jackson to the area to accept the territory from Spain. She wrote that Pensacola was “the Perfect Plain.” I’ll brew to that! The brewery founders shared this glimpse of history along with the fresh flavors and an open, family-friendly atmosphere.
Long communal tables welcome guests at the10-barrel brewhouse. Brews rotate with seasons, with some anchors to keep the locals returning. I liked the Holy Spin Citra IPA — it’s refreshing with a kick, and the hops are tingly on the nostrils. Try the Fruited Pale Ale and its opposite, the Winter Stout.
Perfect Plain offers a Crowler service. A self-serve dispenses and seals your favorite brew in an aluminum Crowler. Try that trick, Mesopotamians!
Spahr Brewing Company
3541 W Fairfield Dr, 32505 Pensacola
The father and son brewmasters tapped into their German family heritage when they founded Spahr Brewery, just a short drive between Pensacola and Pensacola Naval Air Station.
They brought a German Oktoberfest feel with traditional communal Biergarten tables and hefty German mugs. There’s a certain pride that German brews have, and you get that feel here.
Try the refreshing German Pils or the Hefeweizen. They also brew an Irish Red and a hoppy Belgian IPA.
Swan Neck Meadery & Winery
2115 West Nine Mile Road
Pensacola, FL 32526
A honey-based wine, mead has deep roots. The Egyptians called it “nectar of the gods.”
But the Pharos never dreamed of a Mead-Jito — like the folks at Swan Neck. It’s a mojito-inspired honey wine with brewed with strawberries, lime, and mint.
Swan Neck offers 16 organic, honey-based mead and wines. You can embrace the deceptively strong organic sweetness of the Traditional Mead, smooth and slow-fermented. Locals adore the Honey Orange — an ode to Florida with blood orange, tangerine and citrus peel, which gives it a mild citrus tang.
Try a sampler flight with a variety of flavors:
Spiced Mead — a blend of cloves, Ceylon cinnamon, and whole vanilla beans; or Mead Blueberry — a special blend of pureed blueberry, elderberry, and raw honey.
Schedule a tour of the brewery and see all that sweetness in action. It’s open Thursday through Sunday.
Pensacola Bay Brewery
225 E Zaragoza St, Pensacola, FL 32502
The festival crowd loves the Pensacola Bay Brewery. Perched between Old Seville Square and Bartram Park in Downtown Pensacola, the PBB lets festivalgoers escape the plastic cup beer tent world for seasonal and favorite local brews.
Six years and some change after tapping Maiden Voyage — a DeLuna Kolsch, the Pensacola Bay Brewery has expanded with 17 varieties. The hoppy favorite Little Napoleon IPA and Riptide Amber Ale are poured in bars and restaurants throughout the Pensacola Bay Area, and some labels now are bottled. My new favorite is the Treasure Grove Pale Ale.
Chill in the covered pet-friendly seating outside with a bay breeze and open parks, or cozy up inside and view the brewing. Stop by and fill up a growler on your travels.
Gulf Coast Brewery
500 East Heinberg Street
Pensacola, FL 32502
It’s elegant, with a walk-in humidor and a wine room and comfy loungers. But at its core, Gulf Coast Brewery is all about the brew.
Inside the taproom, the west wall windows overlook the beer vats. It’s like watching Michelangelo at the chapel. The 18 brews range from the Gulf Coast Blonde Ale and the Blueberry Wave to the Mindbender Double IPA (8.5%) and the Baltic Imperial Porter (10.6%).
Confession? I like the Sandbar Red. Blueberries belong in pies.
McGuire’s Irish Pub
600 E Gregory St
Pensacola, FL 32502
Our famous iconic neighborhood Irish pub is known for its steaks, bagpipe band and Irish crooners — and for the walls layered with hundreds of thousands of patron-autographed dollar bills. For decades, maybe under-appreciated, McGuire’s has been brewing its own beer.
The McGuire’s Irish Red, Raspberry Wheat and seasonal brews are worth the wait.
Depending on the seasonal, you can try such brews as the Millennial Imperial Stout and other treasures. Save your dollar bills to tip those bartenders and wait-staff.
116 E. Gonzalez St.
Pensacola, FL 32501
Don Tristan DeLuna Wine was a dream born out of a backyard business. It offers fruit-laden wines created right here in Pensacola. The Pomegranate Pop and Strawberry Kiwi Splash will welcome your sweet tooth. The Deluna Wine tasting room opened in October 2017 on Gonzalez St in the heart of Downtown Pensacola.
A Little Madness Brewing Company
9838 North Davis Highway
A Little Madness is finishing up their taproom and will open in 2018 at 9838 North Davis Highway near the University of West Florida and Scenic Highway. The brewmasters pride themselves on sustainable practices and I can’t wait to taste after hearing about their homebrews
Whew! I hope you got drafted into some good ideas for your tap tour. Keep those palates ready!