For all of you out-of-towners who may not have been to Gainesville before, the following is a listing of Gainesville locations for Craft Beer. I will break it down by breweries, craft beer businesses with food, and craft beer bars. FYI – The order that I am listing them in is not indicative of any preference. Besides as with all things craft… your taste vary.
If you’ve never been to Gainesville before then you’re in for a treat. While we may not have a lot of breweries, the ones we do have been bringing home medals from state and national events for a few years. So while the quantity of breweries may be low the quality is way above the normal.
Swamp Head Brewing – This is the Big Daddy in this town. They were the first production brewery in Gainesville and have brought home both national and state medals for their ales. Located of off south 34th Street this place is the largest brewer in Gainesville. They started as as the only large scale brewer which was an innovation in Gainesville. Then they kinda of tapered off on the innovation until the last year or so. Now they are putting out really good experimental styles. As well as their flagship ales.
First Magnitude Brewing – Two local couples started this brewery with the idea that the springs in north central Florida were of the First Magnitude in quality water. They carried that idea of quality into their recipes for beer. They have also been bringing home medals at both the state and national levels for a few years. Where Swamp Head started out as hop heavy and varied on that, First Mag came at it from the style of the beer they were making and focused on making it the best of that style that they could.
Blackadder Brewing – Unlike the first two listed, Blackadder is not a production brewery, they don’t do canning and only bottle limited releases. Their primary business is as a microbrewery/pub. But they do that very well. The pub has been modeled after some olde style English pubs, certainly an influence from Chris and Cissy’s adventures to beer breweries and pubs in Europe. They brew they own ales, usually having 8 on tap and many of them in a Belgian or German beer style, and also feature over twenty other taps of guest beers which are always from a very good quality brewer.
Cypress & Grove – The newest homegrown brewery in Gainesville has actually moved into an old abandoned ice house where large blocks of ice were shipped to back before refrigeration came into being. They started out slow with a half dozen flagship brews, of which I thought their Porter stood out. They have since had some very good examples added to their line-up.
All of these are great examples of homegrown craft beer. Warning: none of them have kitchens for food preparation but there is almost always a food truck or two on sight.
Big Top Brewing – This company started in Sarasota and have now expanded to Pensacola and right here in downtown Gainesville. When they first opened they were limited to the beers brewed at their Sarasota location and shipped to them but they have recently gotten all the papers approved for brewing to commence in Gainesville. So some of the beers at the local location will only be available there. This brewery also serves food. And their are unique spin on some old bar food classics are worth sampling.
Non-Brewery Craft Beer Bars
I will break this out by those who do and do not serve food. And I will also only include those that I have been to as I can’t honestly recommend a place I haven’t visited on my own. And while there a quite a few restaurants in Gainesville that have some of our local breweries on at least one or two taps, I will focus more on those that have multiple taps of CRAFT beer. So for all of you Bud Light/Miller Light/Coors Light drinkers… You’re on your own.
The Top – It isn’t the name that puts them at the top of the list (pun intended) that is purely coincidental. They are one of the oldest existing businesses in Gainesville that have a really great selection of Craft Beer and they have some of the best food menu items available. Not to mention the uniquely Floridian décor and the great service this place is one I always enjoy visiting.
Public & General – A little hidden gem in the northeast part of Gainesville, and probably the closest to the Hoggetown Beerfest location, is a little pub called Public & General. I like to frequent this place at least once a week for lunch but I also occasionally make an early evening visit there. While the among of taps is not as vast as some others the ones they have on tap contain really good beers. And they have a great bottle selection to choose from as wellas some great wines. The menu is limited but the selections on it are great and flavorful.
Crafty Bastards – This establishment is only a few years old but features a great selection of craft beers both on tap and in bottles. Their food selection is pretty good and you will find some original recipes from the area. They rotate the tap selections frequently and I can honestly say I haven’t had a food dish there yet I haven’t liked though I haven’t had them all.
Curia on the Drag – This little Curious collection of unique bric-a-brac, coffee shop, diner, and craft beer is something that needs to be seen. Especially if you like kitschy décor and flavors. I haven’t been there in a while but I keep hearing goods things and think I need to go back soon.
World of Beer Gainesville – They have a wide selection of craft beers though I do see some influences from the ABInBev distributor. The last time I went it didn’t seem like the tap rotation was that frequent. But it has been a while since I have been there. The food selection is fairly good and it’s the only place in town (that I know of) where I can get Schnitzel. It isn’t the greatest Schnitzel I have ever had but it will do until I can perfect my own recipe or find someone better.
The next three are local Pizza places I have included because not only do they carry craft beers on their taps they also have great food menus.
Satchel’s Pizza – A fire wiped Satchel’s out for a brief period a couple years ago, but they have come back better than ever. They served fresh made pizzas with Satchel’s own tomato sauce which I love because it has just a slight hint of spice in it. I also am a big fan of their house salad. If you get the chance try both. I can also recommend the Calzone and they have a great wine selection as well. Oops!!… I almost forgot to mention the back part of Satchel’s – Lightning Salvage where you can find many paraphernalia that will remind you of your childhood. And they have local talent playing on the back bandstand. Satchel’s is the only place I have ever been where the dessert menu is brought out to you on a ViewMaster 3D viewer for you to choose from. If you have to ask what a ViewMaster is then you can move along now. Great section of craft beer featuring Florida beers, but be forewarned that the draft beer selection inside the restaurant and in the Lightning Salvage area are sometimes different.
Big Lou’s NY Style Pizzeria – The name says it all, NY style pizza with a classic marinara sauce and your choice of toppings. They also have other Italian dishes, excellent salads and garlic rolls. Great wings and sandwiches and a centrally located venue in downtown. One of my favorite places if I am working downtown at lunch time. And at night they carry a good selection of beer both on tap and in bottles.
V Pizza – Another option for downtown they have stone fired pizza as well as a good salad selection and great wings, but they also have a lot of other selections on the menu which I haven’t tried yet. Nice crispy crust and a good selectin for toppings for both their pizzas and calzones.
Now I will includes some other really good restaurants that also serve craft beer.
Dragonfly Sushi – So you should guess that this is a Sushi place and they have some really great food. They also have a decent craft beer selection but more importantly they have a wide variety of Sakes, which in my mind is a craft product that deserves much more attention. This place definitely deserves a visit if your in a Sushi frame of mind.
Ker’s Winghouse – Located on Archer Rd, this is what some would consider a Hooters clone, though I think the food is better. This location currently runs 15 beer taps and about 8 are holding craft beer, and four of those are local.The craft beer selections are actually pretty good. If you’re looking good wings and sandwiches, a decent beer list and a wait staff dressed to please then this is your place.
Hogan’s Great Sandwiches – If your in the mood for a great sub, then you have to stop at Hogan’s on NW 13th Street. Great deli meats and cheeses and of the best add ons loaded into great bread. This place has the best subs in town, in my opinion and they have a little bar at the back called the Fallout Shelter (the original name of the business was “Hogan’s Heros” which of course was a play on the 60s TV show about WW2 POW commandos – thus the name of the bar) that serves along with some Macro brews and good selection of craft beers.
Miller’s Ale House – I list this one reluctantly because it is a popular spot. But my reluctance is due to the fact that several of their beers they have identified as “Craft” may have started out that way but now they have been bought out by ABInBev. They do have some independents who have bigger brewing power, like Sierra Nevada and Sam Adams, but in my opinion it’s not a craft beer restaurant. However, depending on the dish the food can be pretty good. Your mileage may vary.
Now I will give you a short list of bars that specialize in Craft Beer but do not serve food. However, they are okay with your bringing your own food in if you desire. But then you could just go there for a good drink.
Gainesville House of Beer – If you have been reading this blog at all then you know that I frequent this location a lot. They keep a good rotating tap going and the downtown location for me is really convenient. The staff are very knowledgeable and if you visit frequently they learn what your likes and dislikes are over time. They also have their own line of craft beers brewed at their original location in Dunedin, which is then shipped to Gainesville. They usually have a pretty good showing of Florida beers.
Hop Top – This place is one of those little hidden gems that locals know about but may not get a lot of business if it weren’t for word of mouth. Not a grandiose location but what they do have that is great and keeps getting better is a great selection of craft beers both on tap and bottled and the taps rotate fairly frequently. The staff that I have encountered know the product pretty good nd have been fairly helpful it guiding me to a good tasting craft beer.
There are other restaurants and bars in town but their beer selections are often one or two craft beers and some high end Macro Beers so they can charge more. They will have delicious food and then serve it with ordinary beers. That can be a crime in my book. And the wait staff’s knowledge of these beers is hit and miss. If you’re lucky you get a waitperson that has knowledge of craft beer because they like it themselves. If you find something you like I haven’t mentioned in here then let me know so I can investigate.
A little bit of sad news. If any of you are looking for either Tall Paul’s Brewhouse/Alligator Brewing or Brass Tap, I’m afraid both those businesses have closed. The reasons why have been speculated on but all I will say for certain is that we lost two great resources of craft beer. Hopefully others can fill their place.
One last thing….