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Home » Featured Trip

The top seven beer bars in Sarasota

Submitted by on August 30, 2010 – 4:00 am19 Comments

Photo by Gerard WalenA rising tide threatens to engulf Sarasota.

The flood of double IPAs, chocolate porters and Belgian witbier is welcomed by the thriving craft beer community in the Southwest Florida city on the Gulf of Mexico.

Four new craft beer bars have opened in the past year, and word on the street is that the wave will continue.

Road Trips for Beer recently visited some of these locations.  We can safely report that the craft beer scene is exploding in the city that many consider a magnet for wealthy retirees and beach lovers. Visitors can hit these brew houses during a long beer-focused weekend, or space them out during a longer stay, saving the fermented fun for the nights after a day chilling at the beach or visiting some of Sarasota’s many museums and attractions.

Here are the city’s best beer bars, going roughly from north to south, along with a little information about what you’ll find at each.

World of Beer

Photo by Gerard WalenOne of a chain of 10 pubs across Florida, this slick bar offers more than 500 American craft beers and quality imports, as well as multiple HDTV screens and live music.

  • Address: 8210 Tourist Center Drive, Bradenton FL, 34201
  • Phone : (941) 306-5868
  • Number of taps: 40
  • Number of bottles: 500 to 560
  • Food: No
  • Smoking: On outside patio
  • Website: http://wobsarasota.com
  • Facebook: Yes
  • Twitter:  Yes

Growlers

Photo by Gerard WalenSarasota’s newest craft beer bar, as of this writing, Growlers serves a diverse clientele, but its location across from Ringling College of Art and Design and New College of Florida brings in a lot of the college crowd.

  • Address: 2831 N. Tamiami Trail, Sarasota FL, 34235
  • Phone : (941) 487-7373
  • Number of taps: 30
  • Number of bottles: 30-35
  • Food: No, but you can have food delivered from Big E’s Café next door.
  • Smoking: On outside patio
  • Website: www.growlersonline.com
  • Facebook: Yes
  • Twitter:  Yes

Stairway to Belgium

Photo by Gerard WalenThis gastropub in downtown Sarasota offers Belgian cuisine paired with an impressive lineup of beers, mostly Belgian and Belgian-style brews, as you may have guessed from its name. And yes, you do need to climb a stairway to get there. Or take the Elevator to Belgium.

  • Address: 1359 Main St., Second Floor, Sarasota FL 34236
  • Phone : (941) 343-2862
  • Number of taps: Two bars with 10 draft lines each. Both bars offer the same selection.
  • Number of bottles: 150-175
  • Food: Yes, full restaurant.
  • Smoking:  Outside at sidewalk seating but you have to go down stairs or elevator to get there.
  • Website: www.stairwaytobelgium.com
  • Facebook:  Yes
  • Twitter:  No

Shamrock Pub

Photo by Gerard WalenJust a couple of years ago, this pub might have been generously described as “seedy.” But new owner Derek Anderson has spent the past year and a half remodeling it and converting it into a friendly haven for craft beer lovers. Leave your credit and debit cards at home, though; the pub is cash only.

  • Address: 2257 Ringling Blvd., Sarasota FL 34237
  • Phone : (941) 952-1730
  • Number of taps: 11
  • Number of bottles: 95
  • Food: No
  • Smoking: On outside patio.
  • Website:  No
  • Facebook: Yes
  • Twitter:  No

Cock & Bull

Photo by Gerard WalenConsidered by some to be the godfather of Sarasota’s craft beer scene, Howie Hochberg opened the Cock & Bull in downtown Sarasota in 1997 before moving it to a larger space farther east in September 2002. Expect local bands playing on the outdoor stage.

  • Address: 975 Cattlemen Road, Sarasota FL 34232
  • Phone : (941) 341-9785
  • Number of taps: 40
  • Number of bottles: Just under 1,000
  • Food: Pizza, subs and homemade pretzels.
  • Smoking: On back deck and in outdoor stage area.
  • Website: http://the-cock-n-bull.com/
  • Facebook: Yes
  • Twitter: Yes

Mr. Beery’s

Photo by Gerard WalenWhen speaking to owner Mark Tuchman, you quickly realize that his love of all things craft beer approaches zealotry – which isn’t a bad thing, in this case. In just a few short months, Mr. Beery’s has become one the more esoteric, yet still welcoming, beer bars in Sarasota. Follow on Twitter and Facebook to keep track of its many special events and exclusive limited-release beers.

  • Address: 2645 Mall Drive, Sarasota FL 34231
  • Phone : (941) 343-2854
  • Number of taps: 24, frequently rotating
  • Number of bottles: At least 30
  • Food: No, but 19 nearby restaurants will deliver “right to your bar stool.” Ask to see the menu book.
  • Smoking: Bench out front
  • Website: http://www.mrbeeryssrq.com
  • Facebook: Yes
  • Twitter: Yes

Sarasota Brewing Co.

Pnoto courtesy of Sarasota Brewing CompanyThe only pub in Sarasota that brews its own beer, Sarasota Brewing Co. offers a solid lineup of six or seven year-round and seasonal offerings.

During our visit, we heard rumors of a new brewpub being planned in downtown Sarasota.

(UPDATE: A Sarasota Herald-Tribune report posted on Sept. 3, 2010, confirms this. Read it here. )

And out on Anna Maria Island, just north of Sarasota, Little Giant Brewery is taking baby steps toward some larger scale production.

Sarasota may not yet have the craft-beer cachet of microbrewery-rich cities such as Philadelphia, Portland, Oregon, or Asheville, North Carolina, but the beer road tripper certainly will not go thirsty there.

For more information on things to do in the Sarasota area, click here. And to keep up to date with the latest doings in the Sarasota craft beer scene, be sure to check in with Alan Shaw, who writes the Beer Geek column and blog for the local newspaper.

19 Comments »

  • Gerard,

    Anytime that I see the craft beer scene moving forward like this, it just makes me so happy. It’s proof of everything we’re all gunning for. I’ll have to ReTweet this no doubt, but I think that the most important thing here is the fact that more and more places are opening up across Sarasota that are allowing people to not only enjoy great craft beer, but enjoy it with great company in a great setting. Believe me when I say that it makes a huge difference. The setting that is, and the attitude and personality of that setting.

    I think Florida is one of those states that is still playing catch up in the craft beer scene, but is gaining more traction than a lot of other states in the deep south and central plans. Let’s face it, for right now it seems that the east cost and west coast hold “the craft beer title” overall. But we’re all getting closer and closer. ;)

    Road Trips For Beer has to make their way down to Texas one day soon here. I’ll plan everything out and make it one hell of a craft beer trip to the Lonestar state!

    Ilya

  • Gerard says:

    Thanks for the comment, Ilya.

    What really propelled the craft beer scene in Florida was about a decade ago, when a restrictive law on bottle sizes was nullified.

    After that, things really started popping on the craft beer scene.

    My friend Alan Shaw, who writes the Beer Geek column and blog for the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, wrote about it earlier this year.

    Here’s the link: http://bit.ly/biq7AJ

    Now I have to start thinking about a Texas road trip.

  • […] his article and check out his photos of the top seven beer bars in Sarasota. Share and […]

  • Rick says:

    Great job on the list Gerard. These are all fine craft beer establishments…and there are even a few more here in SRQ if you know where to look. Next time you are in town, I can meet you at Shakespeare’s Pub.

    Sarasota is becoming beer savvy in a great way. Cheers!

  • Lael Hazan says:

    I’m looking forward to meeting you in person and finding out more details on the radio show! That our craft beer scene is growing is exciting!

  • Gerard says:

    Thanks Rick,

    I did leave out a few places like Shakespeare’s, but I really concentrated on the more beer-centric places. There are a few craft taps in many more places these days, not just in Sarasota. And that’s a great thing!

  • Gerard says:

    I agree. I look forward to meeting you too, Lael!

  • Cock & Bull says:

    Thanks so much for the shout out. Having been a part of the formerly, underground beer scene since 1997, we are proud to still be here in Sarasota.

    Sarasotans are just beginning to realize how lucky they are, many people come back from travels to the Northeast or Northwest and tell us they couldn’t find anything better than their regular pub.

    Now, with others like Derek and Mark adding their passion and knowledge to the beer scene we have a couple more people with the expertise to bring great beers to more folks without offering a canned/chain experience.

    Thanks for the support!

  • Gerard says:

    Absolutely.
    The best craft beer cities have a tight-knit community whose members support each other. Kudos to you for being the ground-breaker in Sarasota and holding down the fort for so many years. May the movement continue onward and upward!

  • Mark says:

    Thanks for mentioning our little craft beer haven…
    Look forward to seeing you on your next trip to Sarasota, as the craft beer scene here is growing exponentially…
    Mark
    Mr. Beery’s

  • Gerard says:

    Thanks for taking the time to talk to me, Mark. You have a great place there; I just wish it wasn’t two hours away!

  • Rick says:

    Gerard,
    Great article! I’m a big supporter of the local beer scene and every place you mentioned is a good beer destination. I’m partial to the W.O.B. and the Cock and Bull, they always make me feel right at home. There was a month long running joke at the W.O.B. when they were featuring “Phuket” lager. Be careful how you order it! Keep up the fantastic work.

  • Gerard says:

    Thanks, Rick. I’ve always been fan of the CnB, but all of the newer places really impressed me. Wish I lived closer.

  • Daniel Richards says:

    The Cock n Bull is a low profile Pub that has repeat customers and new ones. Its unique style of inhouse night life is second to none..The managament, crew and the beer is out of this world. Almost 1000 beers to try…over time of course. One sip and you will come back for more..

  • […] there are plenty of options out there for scoring your Thin Mint fix. If you don’t live in the Sarasota area, it certainly sounds worthy of a road trip. And now that we’ve come full circle […]

  • […] Mr. Beery’s Bell’s Circus that is, taking place Saturday at the craft beer bar in Sarasota’s Gulf Gate neighborhood. And it also marks the beginning of a chance to win a keg of one of the […]

  • […] the column, I write about the latest addition to Sarasota’s growing craft beer scene: Hoppy […]

  • […] FL, USA – Gerard Walen presents: Best beer bars in Sarasota, Florida | Road Trips for Beer posted at Road Trips for Beer, saying, “The craft beer scene is exploding in Sarasota, […]

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