Calusa Brewing
Big Top Brewing

An Ode to Local Craft Brews

For craft beer lovers,  this guide will lead you to the best breweries and taprooms from Lakewood Ranch to Sarasota and Venice.

April 18, 2022

If you're the kind of traveler that visiting the area's offering of craft breweries and beer gardens is on the top of the list, you'll be pleasantly pleased to find that Sarasota County has a number of flagship liquid creations.

And thanks to creative ingredients, innovative recipes, talented brewmasters a surge in food trucks to supplement the beer tasting experience, Sarasota County is now home to some of the best breweries and craft beer bars in the state of Florida. With a growing and receptive group of area aficionados, you'll likely find a friendly and knowledgeable local, or a fellow visitor with the same idea of fun as you, to chat up and cheers while sipping your flight. 

Lakewood Ranch & UTC Area

Find husband-wife duo at Good Liquid Brewing Company, a secondary location found at the newly-built Waterside Place town center. This year, Good Liquid took home the Gold during the annual Best Florida Beer Competition, which celebrated its 20th anniversary this year. Its winning creation is named Peachy O'Rings Smoothie Style Sour and won in the Experimental Category, which this microbrewery is certainly known for—offering a myriad of experimental, off-the-cuff sour and fruit combinations—including a Sour Patch Kids-flavored sour that put them on the map.

More brew-tastic spots in the Lakewood Ranch and UTC area include Craft Growlers To Go & Tasting Room on Main Street, Scullers Draft House, and Oak & Stone, a New American tavern featuring the largest RFID technology self-serve brew wall in the region, with rotating draughts along the wall, ranging from 40 - 60 taps you can self-pour by the ounce.

Sarasota—Downtown & Beyond

You'll find quite a few microbreweries of local creations either bottled, tapped or canned. One of the most award-winning is Calusa Brewing, a deep-sea-themed brewery with an epic logo featuring the mystical Kraken (octopus) creature. Calusa is comprised of an eclectic crew of brewers, production personnel and beer-tenders. ​The brothers-in-law, Veteran-owned craft brewery is passionate about making a wide variety of styles including traditional offerings, but their bread and butter seem to be the unfiltered, hop-forward beers and mixed-fermentation —including locally-acclaimed cans and kegs of Zote, The Rip, and Citronius IPAs, as well as oak-aged wild ales bottled beautifully, which include Seas of Infinity The Narrows and more. The brewery is currently in the works of moving to an expanded location to have more space for its Tasting Room, while keeping the original location exclusively for brewing operations. Be sure to check their socials on their rotating selection of food trucks and community events.

Another microbrewery that is no stranger to putting on fun community events and hosting various food trucks is the quirky and circus-themed, Big Top Brewing Company. With sought-after seasonal beers like the aptly named Ringmaster Raspberry Berliner Weiss, along with a fleet of recognizable core and flagship beers—including Circus City IPA, Conch Republic Key Lime, Hazy Sky Wire NEIPA, and Trapeze Monk Belgian Style Wit—Big Top has made a name for itself in this town full of deep-rooted circus history and beer lovers looking for uniquely Florida-flavored styles. Plus, the live music every day and weekly trivia nights certainly don't hurt drawing in a lively crowd. 

In addition, stop into more local staples such as Sun King Brewery (set to open Spring 2022 in the old JDub's Brewing Co. location), Sarasota Brewing Co,  Brew Life Brewing, as well as many more Sarasota-based brewpubs that offer a multitude of Florida-made beers and other nationally renowned creations. A few favorites include 99 Bottles Taproom & Bottleshop, Origin Craft Beer & Pizza Cafe, Cock & Bull Farmhouse Pub, Mandeville Beer Garden, Shakespeare's Craft Beer & Pub, Brewster's, and Pizza N' Brew.

Venice Island

Further south, you'll stumble upon more selections on your brew tour. The town's local breweries include the husband-wife owned, Off The Wagon Brewery & Kitchen—Venice's first microbrewery—and their second location, 3 Bridges Brewing. Along with roots that date back to 1947, the owners raised their family within the confines of the “south”, “middle” and “north” bridges of Venice Island. This eventually spawned the inspiration for the name 3 Bridges Brewing. Their beers have won seven gold, three silver, three bronze and three "People’s Choice" awards.  The partnership with Off The Wagon allowed the creation of Off The Wagon Brewery and Kitchen, a place they can call home and showcase their award-winning brews. 

More crafty stops on your ale trail in Venice should include Linkster's Tap Room, Venice Ale House, and Off-Trail Bike & Brew, which takes you on a fun bicycle ride and tour around the island of Venice, followed by socializing and sipping some fine Florida suds.

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