St. Pete Beach: Gulp Coasting

Gulf Boulevard sweeps southward, tracing a 15 mile stretch of Florida’s west coast. Crossing bridges and passing sun drenched towns, this gentle drive joins the barrier islands of Pinellas County that sit in the warm waters of the Gulf of Mexico. At the southern end is St. Pete Beach, replete with an award winning expanse of pristine white sand. The beach has drawn tourists for decades and while I agree it is spectacular… I must not be swayed. I am here for another, newer attraction at the southern terminus of the Gulp Coast trail.

St. Pete Beach’s beach

Heading into downtown St. Petersburg is quick and easy. This is a smart and scenic downtown of tree-lined avenues and red brick buildings that boasts a growing cultural scene with a Museum of Fine Arts and the new Dali Museum. It also has a very walkable and considerately laid-out line of breweries running along, and just off, Central Ave!

Cycle Brewing was my first stop as I did not want to miss their lineup of pastry stouts even on a warm day like this. There are a few tables under the trees on the sidewalk but I stayed at the bar for ease of access, starting on their Cream & Sugar, Please coffee porter and the Hazelnut upgrade version. I could resist no longer and dived into a 10% ABV Joyous Almond, brewed with almonds and coconuts then aged in a bourbon barrel. Well hello! Best pastry stout ever. Next up was the Cinnamon Bun Dos with an amazingly subtle cinnamon spiciness. Hell of a beer also.

Cycle Brewing

Just a block away is the unassuming door of Inoculum Ale Works. Head inside and you’ll find a dark interior that appears to be part sinister science lab and part tap room. Maybe it is just that. Nice touch though: the beer list is delivered via an old school overhead projector. Inoculum is a sours-only brewery and they pride themselves on really digging the best out of their beer styles. On hearing that I am not yet into, but trying to get into, sours Nick was generous with the samplers and I worked my way through the beer list. Wild ale, Berliner weisse, gose… I enjoyed them all with notable favourite Spectrally Macabre, the gose.

Inoculum Ale Works

After beers in the dark I needed some sunshine and got a seat outside with the locals at Overflow Brewing Company. Fun and friendly, this is why I love drinking in the States. You can always make friends for the day, for the hour or even just for the pint. After half of my Shifty Grifter IPA I already had a Moroccan Dream saison lined up for me so I stuck around and we had a few rounds. Brexit and Trump’s Wall were all sorted before I left for Green Bench Brewing Company. Green Bench has a family party atmosphere with live music, a large lawn and a great mix of people hanging out. Where I had dallied in the last few I only had time for a pint of signature Sunshine City IPA, packed full of tart and citrusy fruits.

Last brewery for the day was 3 Daughters Brewing. Alas they were just closing so I quizzed the barman about where might still be open over a pint of their red ale. Luckily he used to work at a tap room with, what he described as, “an extensive collection of beers”.

3Daughters Brewing

Pour takes the word extensive to a whole new level. On entering you leave your credit card at the bar, as you would setting up a tab, and in return you get a bracelet registered to your card. You can then help yourself to any amount of any of their beers simply by tapping your bracelet above the tap. Ingenious. But the kicker… there are maybe 50 taps to choose from. And these aren’t any old beers. The selection was amazing featuring local and national beers of all styles. I tried some barrel aged 4Beans from Sixpoint, Gingy Imperial Porter from Tampa Bay Brewing and Hopsmack double IPA from Toppling Goliath.

Pour

On that hopped up and ABV’d up bombshell I called it a day. Pour was a fantastic discovery right at the end of my Gulp Coast voyage. If you have more time, which most people do, you could have a super chilled out time cruising this coast, enjoying the beaches, discovering museums and sampling the brews along the way. I didn’t have more time so I made the most of the beer scene – and what a scene it is. This has to be one of the most exciting regions for craft beer in the States, if not the world.

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