It’s finally summer. The heat bears down on my skin. The sun rides high in the clear, blue sky, and all I really want, most days, is an ice-cold pint and a patch of grass to while the hours away. Some other schmuck might settle for a watered-down Corona Light, but I know better. A day and place as extraordinary as this calls for something special. Luckily, Pensacola has its fair share of good brews — whether you prefer to do your mid-summer boozing in the sun or the dim light of a cozy bar.
Today, I’m setting sail for Pensacola Bay Brewery, located just steps from the live-oak-draped lawns of Olde Seville Square and within view of the brewery’s namesake body of water. In the five years since they opened shop, founders Elliot Eckland and Mark Robertson have cranked out an impressive variety of crowd-pleasing creations, all of which pay homage to the city’s deep colonial roots. A visit to their taproom is almost like a trip to the museum — with less standing and a lot more hops. Start with the DeLuna, a German Style Kolsch named after the Spanish conquistador who first colonized Pensacola in 1559. Then, reach for the Blackbeard Stout — my personal favorite — which harkens back to a time when pirates cruised the Gulf and — legend has it — buried their treasure along the sandy shores of Perdido Bay.
By the time you've sampled the brewery’s 15-odd varieties of beer, you’ll have drunk your way clear through the afternoon — and 450 years of Pensacola history. You’ll likely also be badly in need of a good steak. Fortunately, McGuire’s Irish Pub is just a short walk away. The landmark restaurant and bar is famed around the world for its bizarre traditions, which include inviting guests to staple autographed dollar bills to the walls and ceiling and demanding that first-time patrons kiss a mounted moose head.The pub also boasts a traditional oak-and-copper brewery, which churns out gallon after gallon of the pub’s five signature beers, as well as a rotating selection of seasonal brews. The Irish Red is the crowd favorite and goes especially well with McGuire’s signature steaks. My recommendation? Go for the New York Strip, 16 ounces of prime USDA-certified, aged beef grilled over a wood fire and served sizzling in garlic butter. It’ll cure what ails you and, probably, send you packing again for that warm patch of grass.