I couldn’t tell if a beer has notes of apricot or was casked in Naval Live Oak barrels. But in Pensacola, you don’t have to be a brewmaster to enjoy our down-home crafty brews.

What I can tell is when it’s a beer I enjoy drinking, one that rolls off my tongue and leaves a little bit of zip from the hops — a beer good enough to break my train of thought.

Now, what was I talking about again? Oh yes, breweries.

The microbreweries and brewpubs in Pensacola each stand alone as great venues with a lively atmosphere. Each offers something a little different — oh and great local brews while you’re at it.

 

Casks & Flights

121 S Palafox St Pensacola, FL 32502

casksandflights.com

When Edgar Allan Poe offered his buddy a cask of Amontillado, it didn’t end well. If only they had the EnoMatic Wine dispensing system like Casks & Flights— a new gourmet wine, beer and mead tasting room on South Palafox.

Swan Neck Winery, modern local brewers of ancient mead — the honey wine/beer — boldly opened the new concept downtown.

Cask & Flights puts a beer, wine and mead twist to the downtown brew scene. You can sample them yourself without having to sniff the cork, or hear needless banter about oak barrels and sun, soil and slope composition. Create your own story!

How? Insert a taster card and select your pour: 1.5-ounce, 3-ounce or 6-ounce samples. It’s a modern, fun twist to the wine tastings of old in a casual atmosphere. Or just sidle up to the bar and order from the selection of 12 local craft brews and locally brewed mead from Swan Neck. The staff offers charcuterie boards for your meat and cheese delight, but also encourage you to bring your own food!

 

Big Top Brewing

21 W Romano Street

bigtopbrewing.com

Do you want good food with your brew? Renowned Pensacola chef Dan Dunn recently opened the brewery/restaurant combo to Downtown Pensacola with Sarasota-based Big Top Brewing Company.

There’s a circus theme to the menu, and Chef Dano brewed up some of his creative, fun fair fare like Mullet fish sticks and fries with jalapeño malt vinegar tartar. It gets bigger and better with the Smoking Cannon Cuban pressed panini and The Juggler: oysters and brioche with arugula and that now-famous jalapeño tartar.

The brewery is set to start soon with six varieties, but Big Top carries about 20 of its Florida-famous Big Top brews, from the Trapeze Monk Witbier and Circus City IPA to the Peanut Butter & Jelly Pale Ale and the Barrel Aged Insane Clown Stout.

Isn’t beer fun? Love the names — but it’s more fun to drink them.

 

Pensacola Bay Brewery - and the Pensacola Pedal Trolley

225 E Zaragoza St, Pensacola, FL 32502

pbbrew.com

pensacolapedals.com

The Founding Lager of the downtown brewery scene opened seven years ago. Today, the Pensacola Bay Brewery has grown to produce close to 20 brews, including some fun seasonal beers along with the “old” favorites: Little Napoleon IPA, Sawgrass Wheat and Riptide Amber Ale. Their brews are poured — some bottled — and served in bars and restaurants throughout the Pensacola Bay Area.

It’s a dog-friendly favorite stop for the downtown festival scene. You can swing by for a sip or tour while you’re cruising the numerous festivals at adjacent Seville Square and get a proper pint — or a flight!

Check out their array of brews and fill your crowlers, which I mysteriously keep calling “growlers.”

However, if you want to try something new, grab some friends and take a bar for a spin! The Pedal Trolley sure beats a Segway.

You and your chums slide up to the barstools on the trolley parked at Pensacola Bay Brewery. When the driver says “go,” start pumping those pedals! You’re off to tour downtown, with such fun pit stops like World of Beer and O’Riley’s, you’ll sample brews while you get your cycle on. Craft beer is so much more fulfilling when you’re providing the pedal power. And relax beer tasters, you’ll be driving but you don’t have to steer.

You might want to set your fitness watch to “other.” Book it online or call.

 

Perfect Plain Brewery

50 E. Garden St. Pensacola, Florida

850.471.8998

perfectplain.com

Rachel Jackson, the wife of President Andrew Jackson, once called Pensacola a “Perfect Plain.” Those great words have inspired a great little brewery with a Pensacola flavor.

The 10-barrel brewhouse has an open, family-and-dog-friendly appeal. Communal benches recently welcomed fans of all nations watching World Cup games on the massive wall projector. And now it’s football season.

The next phase for Perfect Plain is an expanded outdoor beer garden - set for January or thereabouts.

Names highlight the fun for craft beer releases, with Chasing Ghosts New England-style IPA and the deceptively named Fine Flowers Lavender Tripel (9.0%)! Want some fun? Try the Tart Blackberry Saison…

Perfect Plain offers a Crowler service. A self-serve dispenses and seals your favorite brew in an aluminum Crowler. Ah, technology…

 

McGuire’s Irish Pub

600 E Gregory St

Pensacola, FL 32502

mcguiresirishpub.com

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. Sometimes under thought, McGuire’s Craft Brewery opened in 1988, making it Florida's olden craft brewery.  Since then they have been offering fine Ale’s, Porters and Stouts brewed on-premise in its traditional oak and copper brewery.

On tap, you can typically find McGuire’s Light Ale, McGuire’s Irish Red Ale, McGuire's IPA, McGuire’s Porter and McGuire’s Irish Stout. Our seasonal selections include Raspberry Wheat, Belgian Ale, India Pale Ale, Octoberfest, Hefeweizen, Millennium, Christmas Ale and various Spring and Fall Lagers; just to name a few. They also make a very popular root beer served draft, right out of the keg.

 

Spahr Brewing Company

3541 W Fairfield Dr, 32505 Pensacola

spahrbrewery.com

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.

 

Gulf Coast Brewery

500 East Heinberg Street

Pensacola, FL 32502

gulfcoastbrewery.net

850-696-2335

It’s elegant, with a walk-in humidor, wine room, and comfy loungers, but at its core, Gulf Coast Brewery is all about the brew. With 14 beers regularly on tap, you'll see everything from a fruity Blood Orange Sunset Ale, to the staple Gulf Coast Red Ale and even a seasonal Oktoberfest. An open taproom allows for ping pong tournaments, corn hole, and even barre at the bar to take place. Make sure you say hello to the local Brew-dog when you pass through!

From a self-propelled bar to a garden setting bar to self-serve tasters, the brews are always hopping in Pensacola.

And don’t worry, there’s plenty more beer where that came from. For a list of all local breweries in the Pensacola Bay Area, click here.