Today I am sharing a post all about Cigar City Brewing, located in Tampa. If you like craft beer, you are in luck, because I have a lot of brewery series reviews coming up! As I mentioned in my St. Petersburg post, I took a weekend trip to St. Petersburg with Andrew, my sister, Nancy and my parents, and one of our goals was to try lots of breweries while we were there.
We succeeded and now I have 4 brewery series coming up so you can find out where to get the best beer on the Gulf Coast! I figured I would start with one of the most well-known Florida breweries, which would have to be Cigar City. This brewery is about half an hour away from Downtown St. Pete, but we have been loving their Jai Alai IPA for years so we had to drive over.
How to Try Cigar City Beer
Cigar City has been open for almost 10 years and it is a huge facility. They distribute beer all over the country, so if you are not in Florida look for their Invasion Pale Ale, Florida Cracker White Ale, or my favorite the Jai Alai IPA, in stores. If you are in Florida, you will be more likely to find their seasonal and newly released brews in stores, which are often extremely innovative beers. They save the best beer for the taproom and we were excited to see over 20 beers on tap. They do flights, so we were ready to try as many types as possible!
Flight #1 – Cookies and Sours
Here is my flight and as you can see they offered some very dark beers. The dark ones are surprisingly both cookie flavored! I was in a sweet mood so I decided to get the Look to the Cookie Stout and the Oatmeal Raisin Cookie Brown Ale. The oatmeal raisin cookie one was just what I was in the mood for, as it was sweet with a hint of cinnamon and not too heavy. The Look to the Cookie was the complete opposite, it was extremely strong and way too malty. It is supposedly like a New York Black and White cookies, but it does not taste anything like it to me.
The other two I got were the Margarita Gose and the Cucumber Saison. The Gose was your classic lime-y sour beer which I enjoyed, but the cucumber was a lot more unique and almost reminiscent of sushi. I liked having a taster of it, but I couldn’t drink a whole pint glass.
Flight #2 – Fruit with Some Hops
Andrew’s flight went in the complete other direction and he focused more on the fruity beers, which is rare for him. He got the Lactobacillus Cherry Grove, and we found it to be of the best sour cherry beers we have had. A lot of them taste like cough medicine, but this one was tart with a hint of sweet. He also got the Margarita Gose and the After Sesh Lager which had flavors of orange, lime and salt. Both of these are really delicious and perfect for a hot summer day. I wish they would can and distribute them!
Then he got Nitro Invasion Pale Ale with added hops. Here they took one of their signature beers, but made a special Nitro version. I thought that was a cool part of the brewery, and they had a bunch of variations of their beers with a twist.
The Taproom Experience
Andrew was the only one of us who liked every beer in his flight though. The rest of each found at least one dud like the Cigar City Brewing Golden Ale and the Tocobago Red IPA. I am not that picky with beer, so I was surprised to find a few I didn’t like at such a renowned brewery! This is part of what led to our experience being a mixed bag. The taproom atmosphere was really lacking. It’s just a windowless room with super fluorescent lights and a bunch of tables squished together. We had a hard time finding room for five people at 3 PM on a Saturday, so I wonder if it’s much busier at night. After going to Three Daughter’s the night before where there’s indoor and outdoor space in addition to games and music, we found this taproom to be really dull in comparison.
I think every Cigar City fan should check this brewery out at least once, mainly to try the unique options on tap. I just wanted to get it out there that’s its not the type of place I would hang out at for while. They do have a 45 minute brewery tour that we did not have a chance to do, so if you love their beer that would probably add a lot to this experience. It costs $8 and includes samples and a tasting glass, so check out the times here if you are interested. They also have a large store and I ended up getting a tank top at because it was pretty cute compared to other often plan brewery shirts.
Cigar City has some amazing beer options so make sure to give them a try. They even offer growler fills so we could take one of their rare flavors home. My sister got this DrinkTanks Growler for her birthday that I have to mention because of how awesome it is. It is expensive, but it works way better than the typical glass growlers, and keeps your beer cold and carbonated. It is definitely worth it if you love craft beer like we do!
Let me know if you have been to any Tampa/St. Pete breweries in the comments. Next up is Cycle Brewing, which was one of the best spots in Downtown St. Pete!