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Five Tampa Bay brewery tours to wet your whistle


Published:   |   Updated: June 21, 2013 at 04:50 PM

Without a doubt, the Tampa Bay area craft beer scene is thriving, with several local breweries making a name for themselves nationally.

But have you ever wanted to see where all those millions of gallons of cold gold come from?

Here are five local breweries where you can take a free or inexpensive tour and sample some brew straight from the source:

Cold Storage Craft Brewery - Since 2011, a nondescript former grocery store in Seminole Heights has been brewing and distributing what its founders call "drinkable craft beers for the unique Florida climate." They offer guided brewery tours every Saturday at 2 and 3 p.m. There's no air conditioning in the brewing area, so dress accordingly. Fortunately, you can cool down with a sample in their tasting room after the tour. Their Tampa-themed brews (featuring a pirate ship on the label), include Florida Avenue Blueberry, Florida Avenue IPA and their flagship beer, Florida Avenue Ale. 4101 N Florida Ave., coldstoragecraftbrewery.com

Yeungling - Yeungling is the oldest brewer operating in the United States and one of the largest American-owned beer makers left, distributing millions of barrels yearly across the east coast. Their brewery in Pottsville, Pa., was founded in 1829, but the company opened a second facility in a former Stroh's brewery near Busch Gardens in 1999. Free tours are Monday through Friday at 10 a.m., 11:30 a.m. and 1 p.m., and Saturdays at 10:30 a.m. and noon. Along with getting to see the brew tanks and the bottling line in action, tour groups pass through the quality assurance lab for a Q&A with the head chemist and beer taster (yes, that's a real job). Guests get to sample harder-to-find varieties, such as Porter, Black & Tan and Lord Chesterfield Ale. 11111 N 30th St., Tampa; yuengling.com/breweries/tampa

Cigar City Brewing - They're known for making some of the most critically-acclaimed and creative beers in the country, including their popular Jai Alai IPA and Cubano-Style Espresso brown ale. The brewery hosts thousands of beer geeks during it's yearly Hunahpu Imperial Stout release, but you can get a less crowded peak at the operation during tours on Wednesdays and Thursdays (hourly from noon to 2 p.m.), Fridays (11:30 a.m. and hourly from noon to 3 p.m.) or Saturdays and Sundays (11:30 a.m. and hourly from noon to 4 p.m.). Tours are $5, including beer and a souvenir pint glass. Their tasting room generally has 20-plus beers on tap, including some rarities still in the testing phase. Register ahead online. 3924 W Spruce St., Tampa, cigarcitybrewing.com

Dunedin Brewery - Florida's oldest microbrewery is known for its crisp, refreshing brews, such as the light Gold Ale, Apricot Peach Ale (their best seller) and limited releases like Local Honey, an ale brewed with raw Florida honey. The brewery produces beer in small batches, mostly to serve on-site, although they do distribute to some local bars. They offer $5 tours every Thursday, Friday and Saturday at 5 p.m., including beer samples and a logo glass to take home. Stop by the pub after the tour for a black angus pub burger or a fish taco with hand-cut fries. 37 Douglas Ave., Dunedin, dunedinbrewery.com

Saint Somewhere - This small batch brewery claims the largest distribution of any Florida craft brewer, shipping its Belgian-style "Florida saisons" to 42 states, Montreal and Denmark. They make their three beers, Saison Athene, Lectio Divina and Pays du Soleil, with a 100-year-old method of open fermentation, leaving them unfiltered and re-fermented in the bottle. They offer a tour, open house and tasting every Thursday and Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. For $10 you get a Saint Somewhere glass to keep plus three tickets to redeeem for 9 ounces of Saint Somewhere beer each. 1441 Savannah Ave., Tarpon Springs, facebook.com/saintsomewhere

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