Tag Archives: Tampa Bay

Tampa Breweries Part 2 – Seventh Sun, Dunedin, Rapp, and Cycle

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
Double IPA
Imperial Porter
Saison de Soleil

Dunedin Brewing

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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.

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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.

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Top 2 Dunedin Brewing
Cherry Chocolate Stout
Oak Aged Mundofobock

Rapp Brewing

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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.

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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.

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Top 2 Rapp Brewing
Pilsner Malt Sour

Cycle Brewing
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.

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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.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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Tampa Breweries Part 1 – Cigar City, Angry Chair, and Coppertail

Any town like Tampa with the reputation of Cigar City and the breweries that have sprouted around its success can be exciting and sometimes awesome. I had a great experience overall and some solid beers from the seven breweries I visited in two days with at least two really tasty beers from each brewery I visited of the ones I tasted. In order to visit so many breweries in 2 days I had to limit myself in the number of tasters to the ones that sounded the most exciting, so I may have missed something awesome on tap and if so that is always sad.

Side Note – I visited Tampa prior to Cigar City’s sale to Oskar Blues. Though I probably would have visited Cigar City anyway even after the sale because thankfully it was not to AB InBev.

Cigar City Brewing Company
Sometimes the biggest breweries are great but are missing the charm of the other places, whether from the crowds or just the massive selection on tap. I couldn’t possibly try everything at Cigar City so I focused on the hoppy beers, a sour, and dark beers. I tried the Invasion Pale, Jai Alai IPA, Tropical IPA, India Style Porter, Juniper Aged Sour, and a big collaboration imperial stout. I found the Invasion Pale to be much better overall than the two IPAs. It is a super tropical light-bodied beer with a low malt bill and medium bitterness sporting flavors of mango and tangerine. I loved this one so much I left with two six packs and would have likely ordered a pint if I had more time to hang.

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Main flight at Cigar City.
Main flight at Cigar City.

In comparison, the Jai Alai IPA was fairly disappointing. I’ve enjoyed it before on tap in other parts of Florida but I found it a bit too sweet, sticky, and heavy with more malt balance than I expected. It is a solid IPA for sure and nicely dank balanced with some carmel malts but it wasn’t as delightful as the pale ale. The tropical IPA was well-balanced with a chewy bread finish and a solid bitterness. It was nice and tropical but I again found the malts a little too overpowering and the hops just weren’t bursting out as they could have.

Two stouts I tried at Cigar City.
Two stouts I tried at Cigar City.

The India Style Porter was massively smoky and bitter with mild notes of caramel. While well-crafted, it was just too much smoke for my tastes and I didn’t drink much. In comparison the collaboration imperial stout on tap was much more complex and balanced with everything including chocolate, smoke, molasses, licorice, cherry, plum, and other flavors all blending together in a super thick and chewy stout. Though I don’t know that I would want to grab a bottle of it I very much respected the complex flavors and my husband was very impressed. Finally, the Juniper Sour was really not my thing. My husband described it as under-ripe fruit with an off-putting finish. Others described it as a gin bomb because Juniper is often used in gin. I just couldn’t point out any of the flavors or finish it and wouldn’t recommend it to anyone.

An idea of how large it is inside Cigar City Brewing.
An idea of how large it is inside Cigar City Brewing.

There were a ton of other beers I didn’t get to try including the pilsner that is apparently so popular they have to limit how much people can buy, but with a huge crowd and after the generally underwhelming IPAs I didn’t feel drawn to order a second flight. I was most impressed by the pale ale and will be enjoying that at home for a while because I left with two six-packs.

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Cigar City Top 2:
Invasion Pale
Collaboration Imperial Stout

Angry Chair Brewing
I immediately found the atmosphere at Angry Chair more inviting than Cigar City with a smaller size, slightly smaller crowd, and some great locals to chat with about the area and beers. I skipped the hoppy beers here because everyone was raving about the two heavy stouts and I had one more to go for the night. Plus after a massive Cuban sandwich earlier I didn’t want to go overboard. But everything I tried at Angry Chair was really impressive. I tried the gose, raspberry berliner weisse, German Chocolate Cake, and Tiramissu Stout.

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The gose was crisp and refreshing with very mild tartness and a little salt with a solid balance of yeast flavors. The raspberry berliner weisse was really fruity and not too tart with a dry finish and a delightful pink color. I considered getting a growler of the raspberry but they weren’t doing fills. The Cerman Chocolate Cake was a massive delicious mix of chocolate and intense coconut. The coconut lingers a little bit on the finish, just enough to balance out the chocolate. The tiramissu stout was really thick and a little too sweet for my tastes. While it had a nice intense coffee start the end was like sheet cake frosting a little too heavy and it coated the mouth, unbalancing the whole thing.

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Angry Chair has a nice small tasting room with a great local presence and a nice set of taps. If you like stouts or sours this is a must-visit in the area. I was also glad that this and many local breweries didn’t treat the gose and berliner weisse beers as super special and still only charged $2 a taster.

Angry Chair Top 2:
German Chocolate Cake
Raspberry Beliner Weisse

Coppertail Brewing

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Coppertail was the last brewery in Tampa proper I visited but there are plenty more to come in Day 2 that I visited in the surrounding areas. Coppertail is in a large building and slightly bigger overall than Cigar City. I tried a number of beers there but I almost left a bit early because of the massively loud music playing. I tried the gose, berliner weisse, sour session IPA, Free Dive IPA, and Unholy Belgian Tripel. The gose was crisp and refreshing with a nice citrusy finish and a pilsner malt finish. I really liked the flavor of this one. The Berliner weisse was a little lighter in body with less flavor than the gose so I would suggest people go with the gose. It didn’t have much that stood out about it.

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The sour session IPA was a really interesting different flavor with powerful grapefruit kick at the front and a mild tart finish. All 3 of the “sours” were highly carbonated and tasty. The Free Dive IPA was a solid balanced IPA with tons of citrus and grapefruit and a medium bitterness. I preferred it to the Jai Alai as it felt the malts were more subdued. The Unholy Belgian Tripel is a super hoppy version of the classic style. It could easily be described as a Belgian style Double IPA. Everything balanced nicely with the American hops taking center stage and balancing nicely with the sweeter finish and Belgian yeast. I really savored that taster.

Coppertail has some quite unique artwork at their tasting room.
Coppertail has some quite unique artwork at their tasting room.

Coppertail Brewing Top 2:
Unholy Belgian Tripel

Out of the three breweries I visited on my first day the one I found most welcoming was Angry Chair. Not only did they have some very tasty beers they were the quietest of the bunch. They have a very neighborhood feel and don’t try to turn the tasting room into a bar.

Come back next week for my post on Day 2 of my Tampa experience, where I visited other breweries in the Tampa Bay area.

Paul McGuire

Paul McGuire is a craft beer enthusiast. He likes to travel with his husband and enjoy the great outdoors. In his day job, Paul is a divorce attorney serving clients in San Diego California.

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