The growler of local microbreweries is foaming like crazy; there’s so much variety that there’s a need for help to get acquainted with it all.
Not only have we crossed the threshold of home-grown taprooms with the recently opened Eight-Foot Brewing in Cape Coral and Coastal Dayz Brewery in Fort Myers, but the number of places making ales and lagers keeps rising. It’s hard to think that only one existed in 2012 (thank you, Naples Beach Brewery). Coming any day now (or just opened) is Ankrolab Brewing Co. on Naples’ Bayshore Drive, and the expanded Bone Hook Brewing with its taproom refashioned as a lively gastropub with the help of the folks behind Deep Lagoon Seafood and Texas Tony’s.
At the new bar Southern Latitudes in Naples’ Bayfront, you can sample the best of what’s here and beyond with 64 taps (yes, you read that right—64—plus double that number by the bottle and can) from Florida microbreweries alone, including the perennially celebrated Funky Buddha in Tampa. The premiere draught menu is a dizzying Excel sheet listing provenance, ABV and tasting notes.
The Southwest Florida Ale Trail, an incentive program for regular imbibers, also encourages trying new libations. It has recruited most of the local craft brewers to participate, and you get a passport to record what sips you’ve tasted and earn rewards at the same time.
But because true beer snobs are notoriously quick to complain that not all local breweries are created equal, No. 3 Craft Brews Beer Bar that launched a few years ago in Cape Coral has a finely calibrated selection of local, statewide and national brews that would earn blue ribbons from the pickiest of experts (and can proudly boast a perfect 5 out of 5-star rating culled from 49 Yelp reviews).