Cheers! Pensacola Breweries Tap into a Thriving Beer Culture
Years ago, I toured Munich and was awed visiting the city’s seven major breweries and the festive lifestyle within each brauhaus. Well, Munchen, move over, bitte. Soon, Pensacola will have 10 microbreweries— yes, 11 microbreweries, I mean 12, wait, I can’t keep up.
Can there really be too much of a good thing?
Nope. Not when we’re talking about locally brewed beer.
The marketing research firm C+R Research revealed that Pensacola has the ninth most breweries per capita in the United States — and that was before several new brewhouses tap into our beer-friendly vacay-economy later this year.
McGuire’s is the granddaddy of them all (born in 1988!), but since then new-boy Pensacola Bay Brewery fermented its first brew in 2010, and now even bottles its beer for sale in local and regional retail and locales, a keg-load of brewhouses have popped up all over the Pensacola Bay Area.
From eastside to the west side, grab yourself a designated driver and tour our microbreweries. But as I found out, each microbrewery has, or plans, its own unique atmosphere — seeing the hops drop is just a small part of the experience.
To the East: Solar Powers A Little Madness Brewing
A Little Madness Brewing Co
9838 N Davis Highway, Pensacola 32514
A Little Madness opened last year near the University of West Florida campus.
It’s the first solar powered brewery in Pensacola, and the brewmasters pride themselves in sustainable practices.
The family/woman-owned microbrewery focuses on the subtle science in the taproom, with a motto of “Quality, Community, Sustainability.” Their signature beers include Dusty’s Blonde Ale, Lavender Iron Wit, and The Nightwatchman Coffee Stout. They are currently serving eight beers and working up to having 13 beers on tap.
West Side: A Little Bit of German Brew
Spahr Brewing Company
3541 W Fairfield Dr., 32505 Pensacola
If you tap it, they will come! We started this blog talking about Germany. Well, the Spahr family is sharing its German heritage with its brewery and biergarten on the western edge of Pensacola.
Spahr Brewery opened two years ago in an industrial area along West Fairfield. German-style biergarten tables and an indoor/outdoor seating area — and enough space to host puppy rescue fairs and festivals. There is often a food truck serving the hungry.
The beers rotate, but I sampled the Belgian IPA, Dunkel and the lovely Marzen. They also have small batches, such as the recent lightweight Keller Pils and the refreshing but lurking (8%) Brut IPA.
Spahr also brews sodas for the kiddos.
Gary’s Brewery and Biergarten
208 Newman Ave., Pensacola, 32507
A common theme among our breweries is each has its own personality and some activities tailored to those they serve. Gary’s a strolling 2.5 acres with trivia nights, a corn hole league (yes, it’s a thing), Bingo and more.
Gary’s is a cool hangout that oh, by the way, brews some great beer too! The microbrewery and taproom offer 18 taps with beer and ciders brewed in-house and from around the world.
Gary’s recently took food trucks and food pairings to a new level with a beer pairing with partner food trucks, and they created a collaboration beer they brewed with many local favorite watering holes.
Downtown is Where the Taps Are At (and will be more!)
Perfect Plain Brewery
50 E. Garden St. Pensacola, Florida
Steeped in the history of Pensacola, Perfect Plain opened in the heart of downtown in 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 drink a brew to that! But which one? Brews rotate frequently at the 10-barrel brewhouse, so there’s always a fresh brew to sample.
Inside, long communal tables make strangers friends, with a massive projector screen that shows the big games. Around here, that’s college football and The Saints, but our Women’s World Cup triumph was a festival.
And now, you can get a cocktail in the Garden & Grain courtyard. Located behind Perfect Plain, Garden & Grain includes a city garden bar, a large outdoor seating area with active garden, and The Grainhouse, a private event house in a carefully restored warehouse. Perfect Plain also offers a Crowler service. A self-serve station dispenses and seals your favorite brew in an aluminum Crowler.
Pensacola Bay Brewery
225 E Zaragoza St, Pensacola, FL 32502
Pensacola Bay Brewery launched our microbrewery craze when they opened next to the popular festival site at Seville Square. Perched between Old Seville Square and Bertram Park in downtown Pensacola, the Pensacola Bay Brewery lets festivalgoers escape the plastic cup beer tent world for seasonal and favorite local brews.
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.
After tapping Maiden Voyage — a DeLuna Kolsch — Pensacola Bay Brewery has expanded to produce brews bottled, tapped and poured in bars and restaurants throughout the Pensacola Bay Area. The Li’l Napoleon and Riptide Amber are among the favorites. Personally, I love those — but always opt for the Treasure Grove Pale Ale — it combines a fresh citrus taste to help beat that warm weather and a hoppy zip for my IPA-honed taste buds.
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. Then there’s the casual deck with picnic tables, and game center with ping-pong and corn hole in the brewhouse where the beer is made. This place is a lot of things, 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 brews include Blood Orange IPA and the Gulf Coast Red - a popular tap at area restaurants.
You can bring your running gear too. On Thursdays GCB hosts the Gulf Coast Brewery Run Club - runners lope through the East Hill neighborhood and cap it with a cold one, brewed in house.
Big Top Brewing
21 W Romano Street
With 23 craft beers and ciders on tap, the gastro pub Big Top Brewing combines craft beer and crafted pub food. Renowned Pensacola chef Dan Dunn brought 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 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.
With fun brews, like the Peanut Butter & Jelly Pale Ale and the Cuban Love Craft Espresso Stout (beware- 7% ABV), Big Top offers a menu fir craft beer and pub food lovers.
And Now … More Breweries … Coming Soon!
The 5 Barrel Brewery & Taproom
121 South Palafox
In the heart of Palafox Street on Pensacola’s blooming downtown strip, some partners are putting together a brewery based on a 1920’s Industrial theme, with back-to-basics beer on the menu. No frilly stuff here!
They are aiming for late fall of 2019. We’ll update you.
Coastal County Brewing Co
3041 E. Olive Road (December)
Owner and Master Brewer Fred Thibodeaux plans a 2,000-square-foot patio, an artificial turf beer garden, a fountain area, two volleyball courts, a small disc golf putting green and a dog play area.
The brews will be lighter - for the activity minded. Look for it by December!
Odd Colony Brewing Co.
260 N. Palafox St.
Looks like we are really close with Odd Colony… Update soon!
This historic building housing the soon-to-open Odd Colony was built in 1930 and was an eclectic list of businesses including a grocery shop, a remote control car racetrack and a print shop (not Dunder Mifflin). But finally, beer has landed.
The Odd Colony crew was working with Pensacola Bay Brewery and other breweries on a collaboration pale ale. Around here, breweries offer more flavors — not competition — and the Odd Colony crew is giving plenty of shout-outs to the others who have helped advise them as they turn from brew-masters to breweries.
Emerald Republic Brewing Co.
1414 W. Government St.
The Emerald Republic Brewing Co. is setting sights on opening in the fall at 1414 W. Government St., the western flank of downtown Pensacola.
Phillip Zayas, a certified cicerone, founded Emerald Republic to enhance the craft beer culture in Pensacola. Live music and art will serve as the backdrop for a culture targeting the fine art of craft brewing.
Well, that’s all for now. I don’t have the skills to brew a beer, but I certainly will dedicate myself to sampling these craft brews and crafted cultures. It just goes to show that in Pensacola, you don’t have to be a brewmaster to enjoy our down-home crafty brews.
Sean Smith is a native of Liverpool, England, but has been Gulf Coastified since he moved to Pensacola in 1992 after serving as a weather specialist in the Air Force. A journalist and writer for more than 20 years, he loves to share his affection for the natural beauty of Pensacola and the Northwest Florida Gulf Coast.