Whether lager lover or ale aficionado, locals and visitors alike venture to Gainesville’s breweries to immerse themselves in its vibrant craft beer culture. The various tap lists and tasting rooms found in Greater Gainesville are as diverse as the community in which they live and celebrate innovation by putting a fun and funky spin on the century’s old tradition.
Blackadder Brewing Company
With wooden tables and wrought iron chandeliers, this enchanting Tudor-style taproom transports patrons into a centuries-old English tavern. The smell of malted barley and fermenting yeast permeates the room as tradition and innovation flow from the taps. Challenge someone to a game of darts or cozy up in a comfy chair around the fireplace while sipping on one of the Belgian-inspired creations. Be sure to steal a snuggle from Edmund, Blackadder’s fluffy brew cat.
Established in 2016, this 3 ½ barrel system regularly churns out unique new flavors. Brewer Chris Hart is always discovering exciting, fresh ingredients to add to the mix, such as elderflower, marsh rosemary or locally grown hemp. He has won two Best Florida Beer awards for his juniper saison and roasted chestnut old ale.
Aside from the 12 in-house brews found on tap, Blackadder boasts an extensive variety of more than 20 unique and sometimes rare kegs on their draft list. Ciders and wines are also available, as well as cream and lime ginger sodas made in-house for those interested in something nonalcoholic. The family-friendly tasting room offers an assortment of board games and snacks to keep the kiddos entertained, and the staff are all warm and inviting.
To see what is new at Blackadder, visit blackadderbrewing.com.
Big Top Brewing Company
The exposed brick wall and dangling Edison bulbs give off a trendy urban vibe that sets Big Top Brewing Company apart. Between the convenient downtown location and unique beer menu, it is the perfect place for a post-work brew or a fun night out. Patrons can either sit inside or relax under strings of market-lighting in the outdoor beer garden. Aside from their eclectic beer selections, the food menu offers a variety of appetizers and handhelds, as well as brunch on weekends.
Joining the local brewery scene in 2018, this Sarasota-born brand embodies its mantra, “Let every sip defy what you thought possible in beer.” While delightfully challenging even the most daring beer enthusiasts, Big Top redefines craft beer with creative concoctions, such as the chocolate raspberry lava cake stout and the banana cinnamon sour. Big Top has something for everyone, including its classic core beers such as conch republic key lime wheat and circus city IPA.
Big Top was voted the best brewery in Sarasota and boasts more than 25 medals from multiple awards ceremonies, including Best Florida Beer and Great American Brew Festival, as well as a gold medal for the launcher lager in the U.S. Beer Open. Gainesville brewer, Josh Wilson, has been brewing with Big Top for seven years.
For information, visit bigtopbrewing.com/gainesville.
Cypress and Grove Brewing Co.
Tucked away in the charming Grove Street neighborhood, Cypress and Grove brings creative brews to the community while telling the story of its rich history. Breathing new life into the old ice plant, Cypress and Grove restored the original early 20th-century building and kept the old 400-foot well that taps right into the Floridan aquifer and serves the main ingredient for their beer. Haunts of the old ice plant live in Cypress and Grove’s brick room, with visible ice pick marks embedded in the floor and tables made with reclaimed rafters.
As if frozen in time, this architectural artifact once provided local residents and the Seaboard Air Line Railroad with fresh ice. Now, patrons get fresh beer. When microbiologist, Gary Heil, and water hydrologist, Pat Burger, found the dilapidated building in 2017, they turned their home-brewing hobby into this 15-barrel brewery and tasting room. Now, patrons can relax in the open-air taproom or around a fire pit in the outdoor beer garden while taking in the neighborhood’s vibrant surroundings.
Observing German purity standards, the brewery offers a variety of staple beers from blonde to stout that will suit even the pickiest palates. Cypress and Grove brews unique flavors year-round, such as the hibiscus blonde or the spicy mango habanero IPA. For non-beer drinkers, there are red and white wine selections and various seltzers.
To check out the current tap list and upcoming events, visit cypressandgrove.com.
First Magnitude Brewing Company
Whether sitting inside the open-air warehouse or outside in the fenced-in beer garden, First Magnitude Brewing Company is the perfect destination for anything from a fun first date to a kid’s birthday party. First Magnitude rests on the edge of downtown in the historic Depot neighborhood and brings to Gainesville a fun, relaxed place to enjoy great beer while supporting environmental awareness efforts.
Brewer John Denny and his wife, Christine, merged their obsession for brewing beer and their passion for springs preservation to found Gainesville’s second brewery in 2014. With the highest concentration of natural springs in the world surrounding Greater Gainesville, the aptly named First Magnitude has made it their mission to support these geological gems.
In a place where tradition and trends meet, this beer mecca offers a wide range of classic beer styles and introduces exotic new flavors, from vega blonde to the saltwater intrusion series. First Magnitude’s drift session brown ale boasts gold medals from both the Great American Beer Festival and the Florida Beer Competition. Homebrewed kombucha and nonalcoholic drinks can also be found in the taproom, as well as various cider and wine selections. This 15-barrel system brews for local pints and around the state as well, made possible with onsite canning.
To find out about special releases and food truck offers, visit fmbrewing.com.
High Springs Brewing Co.
Nestled in the arms of charming downtown High Springs, this family-friendly brewery brings delicious beer to the flourishing Greater Gainesville area. With its surrounding nearby natural springs and other recreational activities, High Springs Brewing Co. attracts anyone looking to quench their thirst after a sunny day on the river. Drinkability is their mantra, and refreshing beer selections and an open-air environment make this the perfect place to unwind.
When four brothers bonded over their passion for craft beer and a love for their community, High Springs Brewing Co. was born. Since its opening in 2019, the brewery celebrates the town’s rich history and industrial heritage with their refreshing beer. This bike-friendly brewery often hosts live music, as well as its resident and sister-owned food truck, Sister’s Swank, or other food pop-ups.
Pumping out quality pints to the local community, Head Brewer Kiffin Ayers has been part of the Gainesville homebrewers community for 12 years. Together with his band of brothers, High Springs Brewing Co. is excited to expand from its three-barrel system and continue to grow product offerings. The tap list consists of six core beers found year-round, 10 to 13 other special releases or local guest beers and a variety of ciders and seltzers.
For upcoming events, visit highspringsbrewing.com.
Swamp Head Brewery
Surrounded by lush wetlands and wildlife, this aptly named brewery sits right on the edge of a preservation area. A wooden boardwalk extends into the natural scenery, leading patrons into the serene pavilion resting over a marshy swamp. Various birds and deer can be seen while relaxing in this wildlife haven, including the resident alligator, Growler.
Living through their motto, “Inherently Floridian,” Swamp Head pioneered the way for Gainesville’s craft beer scene and, since its inception in 2008, has significantly grown its brand. Its massive 30-barrel system pumps out four or five new releases almost weekly and distributes core beers statewide. The tasting room features 28 taps and attracts everyone from families to college students for a pint of liquid magic.
While embracing sustainability and preservation, Swamp Head has been known to challenge traditional beer expectations. Swamp Head embraces local sourcing while exploring interesting ingredients for their unique recipes, such as everything but the ham sour ale and Doug’s rocky road. The brewery holds two World Beer Cup awards for the smoke signals robust smoked porter and cranberry beet wild night honey cream ale.
To see the current tap list and events, visit swamphead.com.
Daft Cow Brewery –– coming soon
Slated to open in phase two of San Felasco Tech City in the City of Alachua, Daft Cow Brewery will join Greater Gainesville’s craft beer scene in early 2022. Owner and brewer Scott Brown is excited to bring his fun, relaxed concept to the area and become the next neighborhood taproom. With a 3 ½ barrel system, the brewery will specialize in English and Irish style beers and some new American styles as well. Follow Daft Cow Brewery on Facebook and Instagram for updates.
Check out more things to do around Greater Gainesville here https://guidetogreatergainesville.com/100-things-to-do-in-greater-gainesville/
Written by: Laura Parrinello