In Part 1 of my Tampa breweries coverage I discussed breweries in downtown Tampa area. In this second part I venture out into the Tampa Bay area and explore some highly-rated breweries out there.
Seventh Sun Brewing
Seventh Sun is considered by some to be the best brewery in the Tampa Bay area and from the few I visited I would agree. They have a nice open tasting room with a good variety of beers available. I tried the session IPA, saison de soleil, Intergalactic Pale, Bierre de Pommes, Double IPA, Imperial Porter, and Blackberry Saison. The Session IPA was well-named because it was seriously bitter with a dry finish, sporting lemon and tangerine notes. I thought the bitterness was a bit heavy here for what it was but it still is a tasty beer and seemed popular around the tasting room. The Intergalactic Pale is a galaxy hop pale ale but I found again it to be too bitter for such a light beer such that I didn’t get a ton of the fruity flavors from the galaxy hops. It was tasty but I have had much more impressive versions of this type of beer from Tijuana breweries and of course Alpine.
The saison de soleil was a delicious dry earthy saison with mild pepper and medium funk and more medium body than the cider. I really enjoyed the play of flavors here and found it balanced really nicely, making a great farmhouse ale. Biere de Pommes is described as a Saison brewed with apples so it is not a full cider and you can tell it has a great mix from the flavors dancing carefully between saison and cider with a funky, dry, and earthy finish. The apple flavors blended really well with the typical saison flavors. The Blackberry Saison was really juicy and balanced with a good mix of cherry and blackberry and a nice balance such that it wasn’t too tart or too sweet but just right. I considered filling a growler of this but instead went for the double IPA though it was a close call.
The Double IPA was super impressive. I almost didn’t order it after trying the session IPAs but it was highly recommended and wow! It is surprisingly balanced for the high alcohol, 10%, and tastes unlike any double IPA I have had. Flavors burst with grapefruit and mango in a way reminiscent of Keene Idea from Alpine or Wallaby Hunter from Pacific Brewing. Though it reminded me of a few other beers it was still quite unique. I ended with the super delicious imperial porter that balanced caramel, mild smoke, and a mild amount of bitter coffee quite nicely. It is a bit sweet on the finish and quite thick. Another very impressive beer.
Though the saisons were a highlight I was also blown away by the fantastic double IPA and imperial porter at seventh sun. If I was back in the area I would certainly stop by to see what is brewing and get more of that delicious double IPA. I was glad to see that they purged their growlers with CO2 before filling so I should enjoy the double IPA at home as well.
Top 3 Seventh Sun
Saison de Soleil
Less than a mile from 7th Sun is Dunedin Brewing, a brewery with a nice medieval feel that serves food. They had a few delicious stouts leftover from a takeover and so I didn’t taste any of their core beers in part because I was planning on hitting two more breweries after this. I tried the oak aged mundofobock, cherry cholate stout, coffee stout, and Fruits of Leisure fruited sour. The Cherry Chocolate Stout was delicious and nicely balanced with a smooth mix of cherry and chocolate and a sweet finish. With a light body you could easily have two pints of this and love it. Looking forward to popping my crowler later. The Coffee Stout was a nice balance of coffee and chocolate with medium body but it could have used more coffee or roast. A solid beer but got overshadowed by some others.
The Oak Aged Mundofobock was a beast and the base stout has plenty of thick delicious plum and molasses. The oak comes on strong but not overpowering leaving a mildly acidic finish. This was a beast of a beer and really quite tasty. My husband really liked it. The fruits of leisure was honestly disappointing. Though it had a nice balance of fruits and a dry finish none of the fruits came through prominent and it didn’t do anything fantastic. Overall the combination of things I tried at Dunedin was enough to make me want to try it again if I happen to be in the area. I loved the vibe and the beers. Though rating a brewery on specialties isn’t my typical style I just couldn’t pass up the delicious options.
Top 2 Dunedin Brewing
Cherry Chocolate Stout
Oak Aged Mundofobock
From everything I heard Rapp has a rabid following for their sours and I can see why. Though they are on the mild side (not puckering at all) they are delicious and most everything else was awesome too. I tried the gose, gratezer (accidentally, due to the numbers they use to order), a Polish style smoked ale, chocolate cherry hazelnut stout, double IPA, Berliner Weisse, and sour with pilsner malts. The Gose is their most popular and award winning and I can see why. It has a flavor almost like lemonade with tons of flavor and a smooth finish. The polish smoked ale was surprisingly tasty for a beer I accidentally ordered. It had a mellow smoke and light body but went back easy thanks to low carbonation.
The chocolate cherry hazelnut porter was really awesome and balanced with medium body and had a nice sweet cherry finish with a slight nutty flavor from the hazelnuts. Chocolate was very subdued and in the background. The Double IPA was a total malt bomb and overly sweet with some fruity tropical hops. I did not finish the taster. The Berliner Weisse was surprisingly strong for the style though it hid it really nicely with a super light body and dry finish. The sour with pilsner malts was really delicious with plenty of fruit that balanced with the sweet malt finish and a mild tart kick. I liked this the best of the bunch and left with a growler fill. Overall Rapp is a great little brewery that does a ton of experimental styles but most impressed me with their sours. I wouldn’t get an IPA there unless you want a malt bomb though.
Top 2 Rapp Brewing
Pilsner Malt Sour
Though I was very excited to visit Cycle because of the good things I heard I found it to be a fairly underwhelming experience mostly because they don’t serve tasters so you instead can do half pints only. Apparently the bartenders think it is too much work to do taster flights but don’t mind giving you splashes of everything. Totally strange. So I only tasted two beers and they were good but nothing that screamed to be brought home with me. The IPA was dry and citrus forward with a heavy bitter finish with floral hops and some pine. I thought the bitterness was too much and didn’t get enough hop aromas from it. A pretty standard IPA but nothing special. The Brett Saison was quite tasty with an earthy malt flavor, a dry finish and medium funk. It hit all the right notes for a saison. If you are visiting for longer or aren’t so much into flights you might enjoy Cycle a little more but I was underwhelmed. I had better beers from each style at the other breweries. Though it is hard to follow Seventh Sun and Rapp.
As you can see from above, Rapp and Seventh Sun were the two most impressive breweries in my second day around Tampa. Both hit it out of the park with delicious beers that would make me come back the next time I am in the area.