Have you ever seen that scene in “Sweet Home Alabama” where Reese Witherspoon’s character, Melanie, says to a childhood friend “you have a baby…in a bar?” (with a “trying not to judge” tone)? While it generally is frowned upon to take our kids out to bars, breweries are a whole different story! Most breweries are very family friendly, and some even have games and outdoor areas where kids can play. The Tampa Bay area is known for being one of the best craft beer regions in the country. You’re in luck, we’ve got plenty of great breweries right here in Sarasota!
JDubs Brewing Company
JDubs Brewing Company, just north of downtown Sarasota, is one of the best-known breweries in the area. You can find their beers in lots of local stores and restaurants. If you enjoy sweeter beer the Passion Wheat and Bell Cow Milk Stout are two of my favorites. I definitely recommend a visit to the taproom and brewery, where they have a backyard area with toys and games to occupy the kids. The area is fenced and dogs are allowed, on a leash. Most days, a local food truck is on site in the evenings, and the schedule is updated on their website and Facebook page.
Big Top Brewing Company
Big Top Brewing Company has a cozy and friendly taproom with over 20 rotating beers on tap. They’ve got something for everyone with several different styles of beer all inspired by Sarasota’s artful history. Food trucks make regular appearances and Big Top has tons of community centered events. Check out their Facebook page for a full schedule! Events can get pretty busy; my favorite visit to Big Top was actually on a weekday afternoon. We got to have a great conversation with the brewer and really enjoyed learning more about their beer and story from the knowledgeable staff.
Calusa Brewing is a newer brewery and tasting room in south Sarasota that is quickly making a name for itself. This family-owned brewery creates great beer influenced by Florida’s coastal lifestyle. With outdoor tables and corn hole it’s a good spot to enjoy a beautiful Florida evening. They’ve got a regular food truck schedule if you are looking to plan a low key dinner out with the family!
Sarasota Brewing Company
Sarasota Brewing Company and Brew Life Brewing are two more craft beer spots to check out in south Sarasota. Sarasota Brewing Company is Sarasota’s first micro brew pub and it always has five unique brews on tap as well as several others from around the world. It offers a full menu and sports bar vibe if you are looking for a good brewery to hang out and watch a game.
Brew Life Brewing
Brew Life, near Gulf Gate, is an uber small batch brewery with a great reputation for a friendly atmosphere and tasty unique brews. It was opened by a couple of guys who have been in the craft beer and bar business for many years; sometime they even brew special small batches right on the bartop for everyone to see and try. The small tasting room has a pine derby track, so you and your kids and bring in your own little pine derby cars or use the ones there to race.
Bradenton & Lakewood Ranch Breweries
Darwin Brewing Company
Darwin Brewing Company has a nice tap room and brewery in downtown Bradenton, just across the street from LECOM Park. On nice days the tap room is opened up to the beer garden, which is a great place for kids to play corn hole and run around. The horseshoe-shaped bar is an awesome place to chat with other locals and try one of the 14 beers on tap. Food trucks make occasional appearances so check its Facebook page for the latest events and schedule.
Motorworks Brewing is also located in downtown Bradenton and boasts one of the largest outdoor beer gardens in the state. They’ve got corn hole, bocce ball, Jenga and connect 4, plus tons of outdoor seating. If you are an IPA fan the Pulp Friction Grapefruit IPA and Intellectual Property Ale are two of the best in the area. My son’s favorite part of Motorworks is the free popcorn, but they’ve always got food available from local food trucks and restaurants! Check out their Facebook page for a long list of events and local and national bands making an appearance.
3 Keys Brewing & Eatery
3 Keys Brewing & Eatery is the newest brewery in Bradenton, and it has followed the trend of providing a family friendly taproom. With a full menu plus over 20 beers on tap, there is something for everyone. The taproom offers two dedicated areas for kids with books, toys, and video games and the outdoor deck has comfy couches, Jenga, corn hole, and foosball.
Naughty Monk is currently the only brewery located in Lakewood Ranch, but it does not disappoint. With over 20 Belgian inspired beers on tap, the friendly staff will be happy to guide you to find your favorite. The spacious taproom has pool tables, darts, games and plenty of seating for a friendly and relaxed vibe. Food isn’t served, but outside food is allowed and a few local restaurants will deliver.
Palmetto, St. Pete & Northern Breweries
Corporate Ladder Brewing
Corporate Ladder Brewing opened in May 2018 and is the first brewery in the Palmetto, Parrish, and Ellenton area. Located just off I-75 and Moccasin Wallow Road, the tasting room was planned with family in mind.
4 Stacks Brewing Company
Just a short drive up US 41, 4 Stacks Brewing Company in Apollo Beach is a great stop to plan when visiting the Manatee Viewing Center. The friendly tasting room has popcorn and games for the kids and 17 beers on tap for the adults. 4 Stacks offers a weekly run club and trivia night giving you a good opportunity to meet other local craft beer fans.
3 Daughters Brewing and Cage Brewing
As you cross the Skyway Bridge into St. Pete you are entering the hub of the craft beer scene in Tampa Bay. My family’s favorite spots north of the bridge are 3 Daughters Brewing and Cage Brewing. Both have big outdoor areas with tons of games for the kids and fantastic beer for the adults. I’ve seen kids’ birthday parties hosted at both breweries so they are known for being a good time for all ages.
Green Bench Brewing Co. and St. Pete Brewing Company
Green Bench Brewing Co. and St. Pete Brewing Company are both located in downtown St. Pete and have great spaces for kids. Green Bench has a large fenced in beer garden perfect for kids and dogs, right on Central Avenue. It’s within walking distance of several other St. Pete hot spots. St. Pete Brewing Company has corn hole, video games, and board games to entertain the family and is right in the middle of the energetic downtown scene.
Why visit a brewery?
The coolest thing about the craft beer community is really the people. Great people who are passionate about great beer. These small businesses and their patrons support their local community, and that’s a fun thing to expose your family to. Very rarely have I visited a brewery and not met friendly people. Getting out to a local brewery is a fun way to meet your neighbors and toast your town!