A cold beer on a hot day might be the ultimate refreshment, and lots of cold beer on a hot day shared with other beer-lovers is nirvana. Brew fests offer the opportunity to sample a variety of suds—from pales to porters, pumpkins ales to tropical fruit IPAs, coffee to milk stouts—and Florida’s Gulf Coast has some choice views to enjoy while sipping down those delicious pints.
1. SGI Brewfest
St. George Island, Florida, held annually in April
Celebrating its fifth year with a brand-new, on-the-beach location, SGI Brewfest serves craft beer while supporting homeless animals. The annual event is a fundraiser for Franklin County Humane Society—all proceeds go to caring for cats and dogs at the shelter. And there are even some pets at the event available for adoption.
It’s a heart-warming cause, but beyond that, there’s a lot of delicious malted barley to sample. Over 30 breweries participate every year, including local favorites like Oyster City, Salty Oak, and Grayton Beer, as well as further afield brewers like Founder’s from Michigan, Estrella Galicia from Spain, and Kona from Hawaii. Attendees get unlimited tastings, access to food trucks, and live music—all with a view of St. George Island Beach.
This year, the fest moved to its new home, St. George Island Lighthouse Park, and has tiered levels of tickets from “Designated Driver” to “VIP.” All tickets must be purchased in advance of the October 16, 2021, date. But if you miss this fall, SGI Brewfest returns to its normal time slot in April, starting in 2022.
“This is a unique event because you can attend the festival, sample great beer, maybe adopt some animals, and then relax on the beach,” said SGI Brewfest president, Amy Hodson.
Pensacola, Florida, held annually in September
Escambia Bay Homebrewers Club started with some craft beer lovers in the spring of ‘85. Back then, the craft brew scene happened in garages and basements of enthusiasts. Celebrating its silver anniversary, The Emerald Coast Beer Festival brought craft breweries and homebrew clubs together to take over Seville Quarter in Historic Downtown Pensacola for three days of imbibing. The September 2021 event kicked off with a pairing dinner, sponsored by Wicked Weed Brewing. The Grand Tasting in Seville Quarter hosted over 40 breweries offering unlimited tastings of everything from Smoked Habanero Pale Ale, to Hot Damn Hefe, to Coastal Love Hazy IPA, and more.
“The dress is casual, the mood is light, and the eclectic group of people enjoying three stages of music makes this a fun-filled event from start to finish,” said Bernie Hill, Escambia Bay Homebrewers member.
The Dixieland atmosphere extended to Pensacola Beach with Beer Olympics and gumbo. There was cornhole, paddleboard competitions, and relay races all on the sugar-white sand and emerald waters of the Gulf Coast. Keep your calendar open next September.
Tampa, Florida, held annually in March
What better way to kick off Tampa Bay Beer Week, than a celebration of the craft beer scene growing since 2012? On Saturday, March 5, 2022, the annual Florida Brewers Guild Craft Beer Festival returns to Perry Harvey Sr. Park, a vibrant greenspace filled with public art.
For over 20 years, the beer fest has been pouring from breweries all over Florida (in 2019, over 80 breweries were tapping and tasting). Food trucks provide bites, and all attendees receive a commemorative cup. Keep an eye out for tickets that go on presale in early 2022.
Tampa, Florida, held annually in October
A beer festival list would not be complete without a signature Oktoberfest. Though Tampa’s already happened, it’s worth a look for next year.
Held at Curtis Hixon Waterfront Park, attendees experience a Biergarten buzzing with live music, stein-hoisting competitions, lederhosen, and lots of suds. The three-day festival includes a variety of Oktoberfest-style beers, a Bavarian food hall serving favorites like schnitzel and bratwurst, and those dreamy Gulf Coast sunsets to wash it all down.
Sandestin, Florida, held annually in October
The Baytowne Wharf Beer Fest is held in October at the Sandestin Golf & Beach Resort. The two-day event features more than 200 domestic and international craft beers, including new additions Perfect Plain and Odd Colony from Pensacola, Florida. Attendees receive a commemorative tasting glass and enjoy live music.
The beloved “Beer From Around Here” event opens the fest on Friday night, showcasing samples from local breweries paired with cuisine from restaurants in the Village at Baytowne Wharf. On Saturday, fest-goers amble the lush grounds and tap into local favorites Grayton Beer, 3rd Planet, Idyll Hounds, and many more.