We decided to visit the Tampa Bay area towards the tail end of August. There are a lot of reasons why this was a poor idea, that we didn’t really consider when we initiated the plan. It, unsurprisingly, was hot and humid. Beyond the general discomfort variable, we elected to travel during hurricane season. We were blissfully ignorant of this factor, but were reminded of the potential for travel woes when a tropical storm landed the day after we returned home.
Even though our timing would be considered by many to be poor, our time in Tampa wound up being one of the most enjoyable trips we’ve ever had! I could write different posts on the amazing food destination options, sight-seeing opportunities, and awesome people. If you find yourself in the area, and you’d like to learn about some of the places we visited, please send us a note. The remainder of this post will focus on the amazing dog friendly breweries that are peppered throughout the Tampa Bay area.
If you’re on A Dog Walks into a Bar, you already know that we love dogs and drinking! So, it is always a pleasure when we are able to marry the two. Imagine our excitement when we learned that so many of the breweries in Tampa welcome dogs (some even have “brew dogs” on staff) with open arms! So, without further delay, let me introduce you to the breweries we visited (in chronological order): Cigar City Brewery, Hidden Springs Ale Works, Cycle Brewing, Coppertail Brewing Company and Angry Chair Brewing.
Cigar City Brewing
If you speak with folks who are familiar with the craft beer scene in the Tampa Bay area, Cigar City brewing will likely be one of the first breweries mentioned. The scale of their operation and the types of beer they produce is out of this world. In addition to welcoming dogs in the brewery and their outdoor patio area, there are at least two “brew dogs” that join their humans while they work for the brewery. Next week, we will be talking more about Cigar City, and have an exclusive interview with Egg, one of the brew dogs and her human! I will keep my overview of the brewery purposefully vague right now, to bait you to return for a more thorough post soon! Egg helped to give us a tour of the brewery...I would be remiss not to at least share a photo of her tour guide experience while I have your attention.
Hidden Springs Ale Works
I always love to learn of new breweries achieving success quickly! Hidden Springs is just about a year old and has earned a reputation for making some awesome brews and having a very eclectic place to grab a pint. In addition to having at least six beers on tap the brewery is home to a continual rotating art display featuring local artists and a range of styles. The husband tried to concoct an effective persuasive essay why we should own a variety of pieces featuring the silhouettes of superheroes. In the end, the need to keep space in our luggage meant he went home empty-handed, but he did give it the good old college try! This was the only brewery that we visited that didn’t have a dog there at the time of our visit. I did chat with one of the brewers (his amazing knuckle tattoos are shown below) and he did share that dogs are always welcome. Should you find yourself at Hidden Springs, their “Teeny Bikini” micro IPA is out of this world. Crisp, clear, and wonderfully hoppy!
This brewery is located in St. Petersburg, in a downtown area with tons of fun shops and restaurants. We enjoyed walking up and down the street, window shopping, and saying hello to the multitude of folks walking their dogs. The brewery also features local artwork and the entire front of the building can be opened, which allowed for a nice breeze. Cycle Brewing is known for their daily (yes, you read that correctly...daily, Monday-Friday) bottle releases of barrel aged stouts. Each with their own unique characteristics. They regularly have long lines, and sell out of the daily releases. We were able to get our hands on “Monday” and “Thursday” for that particular week. They were mighty tasty! I am a sucker for stouts, which is also what I tried while we were at the brewery.
Cycle Brewing was the first time we met a Bull Terrier puppy named Zoe. She, in all her black and white wiggle butt goodness greeted me with licks and smiles while her owners enjoyed their beers. She was the only dog we met while visited this particular brewery, but she made up for it with her energy and affection. We didn’t know it then, but would be our beer buddy at some of the other breweries were were about to visit!
The Coppertail brewery is located in a huge, cavernous factory building. It is also a young brewery and its lineup of brews on tap is quite large. They had IPAs, and other varieties, but are known for their sours. I tried a sour that included the essence of hibiscus and raspberry. I’m still working on liking sours, but I must say that theirs were amazing. Light, refreshing, and tart.
The large space can accommodate a decent crowd. As a result, they have trivia nights, and frequently host food trucks (actually, I think most of the breweries listed have frequent food truck visitors that change frequently). There were at least four dogs in the building when we first arrived, including a bulldog mix and, our pal Zoe. They were happily playing with each other while their owners enjoyed their beers at the bar. I must say, I always enjoy spaces that are re-purposed factory buildings, and Coppertail did an awesome job with designing a brewery that was modern but also paid homage to the building’s past.
Angry Chair Brewing
Like heavy metal? Old School Wrestling? Beer? How about dogs? If you said yes to anything on the list, Angry Chair Brewing should be a must visit for you! Tucked away in a nondescript area, the building is tiny, as is the parking lot. Pay attention to the signage, the neighbors get cranky if you park in the residential area close to the brewery. The brewery pays homage to classic (if that’s a term folks use in relation to wrestling) WWF Wrestler Rick Flair. He’s EVERYWHERE and it’s hysterical! Paintings and figurines of Rick Flair are nestled in nooks and crannies throughout the brewery.
The brewery is also young, but has developed a reputation for making some amazing brews in a wide variety of styles. There was a brew on tap that included cayenne peppers for some heat and depth. They also had stouts and sours.
Remember our furry friend Zoe? She (and her humans) hopped over to Angry Chair after their time at Coppertail Brewing, so we were able to visit with her again. She was the only dog visiting the brewery while we were there, but all of the patrons enjoyed saying hello to her while she relaxed on the cool concrete floor.
If you find yourself in the Tampa Bay area, bring your dog! Not only are the breweries dog friendly, there are tons of places to go with your pup. There’s a well-maintained and centrally located River Walk that is near the main downtown area, along with museums, classic art deco hotels, restaurants, and the University of Tampa campus.
The city of Ybor is a subset of Tampa, which includes a rich history of cigar making and a mixture of heritages. Visiting the downtown area is like traveling to another world! The buildings have retained their historical facades and you can watch cigars being hand rolled while sipping on a dark, rich Cuban coffee. While some of the shops are not dog friendly, many are. Note, if your dog has any desire to chase and nomnomnomnom on birds, roosters and chickens roam free in Ybor and are protected (you have to stop your car if they’re crossing the street). If your dog is easily distracted by this type of thing, you might want to forgo visiting Ybor.
Not far away (about 20 minutes) was Fort De Soto park, a string of amazing beaches, places to kayak, and picnic areas. There was a dog park that was fenced, along with a dog beach, which was essentially my dream come true. Dogs bounding on sand, grinning, with wet fur and frolicking friends. Dogs catching the waves with their humans or lounging in the sun. It was a glorious land and I wish I was there longer but a storm rolled through, and I decided getting hit by lightning was going to really put a damper on our trip, so we hurried back to the rental car.
I hope you get a chance to visit Tampa Bay with your dog(s) sometime soon! If you do, share photos with us! If you live in the area and frequent some of the places we’ve mentioned, we’d also love to see photos of you enjoying a pint with your pup! Be on the lookout next week for our feature of Cigar City Brewing and our interview with Egg the brewpup!
What is your favorite Dog Friendly destination? Comment below!