South Florida's craft beer scene is exploding faster than any sane person can keep up with, which is why it's high time someone laid out where your favorite local brews are being created. That someone is us. We've got you covered on who's making what, from Tequesta all the way down to Hollywood and all of the territory in between.
So whether you like your beers traditional or experimental, you can rest assured that this guide will be your map to finding the good stuff, made by people who care about their craft and brew it all the hard way.
Broward County Breweries
Big Bear Brewing Co.
1800 N. University Drive, Coral Springs; 954-341-5545; bigbearbrewingco.com.
Signature beer: Hibernating India Pale Ale (IPA)
A ten-barrel brewing system complements the full-scale kitchen at this Coral Springs brewpub. Cheeseburgers, chicken sandwiches, wood-fired pizzas, and salads are mainstays here. Big Bear is a holdout from the brewpub boom of the late '90s, and it's proven to be a mainstay of northwestern Broward County. Jeff Evans leads the brewhouse with beers like Caramel Apple, the Novembear Imperial Porter, and the crowd-pleasing Polar Light.
Sawgrass Brewing Co.
1221 N. University Drive, Coral Springs; 954-227-2337; sawgrassbrewing.com.
Signature beer: Small Batch (Various)
Formerly named the Tampa Bay Brewing Co. Coral Springs Taphouse, Sawgrass Brewing Co. continues in the brewing tradition, just under a different name. Opened as a companion of sorts to the brewery in Tampa, Sawgrass now is seeking to do its own thing. Beers like Raisin Ra-Ja, Poblamo Molé, and Gin-Oak IPA are being brewed, accompanied by a vast selection of guest taps and other local Florida beers. Trivia, poker, and live music keep the place lively during the week.
Funky Buddha Brewery
201 NE 38th St., Oakland Park; 954-440-0046; funkybuddhabrewery.com.
Signature beer: Floridian (Hefeweizen)
With the success of the Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery in Boca Raton, it was only a matter of time before the inevitable expansion into full-on brewery was to occur. In 2013, that happened with the opening of this 40,000-square-foot facility in Oakland Park. It has a humongous taproom capable of holding hundreds of people at a time, which comes in handy during its superpopular beer festivals. Though known for its spread of culinary-inspired beers, Funky Buddha produces and bottles an array of more "standard" styles, such as the Floridian Hefeweizen. This banana-heavy wheat beer is mild and carries a good balance of sweetness and body. Here, the banana flavors aren't from actual bananas but from the flavors produced by a particular strain of yeast.
Native Brewing Co.
Craft Beer Cartel, 557 SW 12th Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-532-8337; nativebrewingco.com.
Signature beer: Native Lager (American Lager)
The Native Brewing Co. has been contract-brewing its beer for years, and owner/brewer Adam Fine has recently settled down (temporarily, at least) at the Craft Beer Cartel in the Riverside neighborhood in Fort Lauderdale. There, he experiments with recipes on a small-scale system while giving out homebrewing advice and helping to further the cause of the brewing scene in South Florida. He started Native in 1999 and has kept the product going ever since. Native Lager is an ode to the old world through and through: German malts, German hops, and German yeast all come together for a refreshing macro-busting beer.
3305 SE 14th Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-214-5334; lauderale.com.
Signature beer: Everglades Porter (Porter)
Nanobreweries are small operations, which makes it even more impressive that such a small brewery has such a good-looking space. Though it may be off the beaten path near Port Everglades, LauderAle makes up for it with a relaxed warehouse atmosphere and a selection of small-batch beers to sample. Brewer Kyle Jones and his team are relatively new to the game, but they have already made a splash in the craft-beer community. From Belgian wits to double IPAs, they will brew just about any style. What they've really honed in on is their Everglades Porter, a balanced and opaquely black porter full of brown sugar and acidity in the style of a solid robust English porter.
The Mack House -- Holy Mackerel Nano Brewery
9118 State Road 84, Fort Lauderdale; 954-474-5040; themackhouse.com.
Signature beer: Downpour (IPA)
As the nanobrewery arm of the Holy Mackerel beer line, the Mack House in Davie has become a hit with locals with its innovative creations. Since 2012, the brewery has been operating in a small space out of a strip mall off of I-595, putting out treatments of popular Holy Mackerel beers as well as original, small-batch creations. Brewer Justin Miles went from customer to employee after sharing some of his homebrewed creations and now can be found putting together beers like Maple Chipotle, Honey Rye, and Pumpkin Pie Hole. Downpour, its IPA, is well-balanced and does everything right.
Hollywood Organic Brewery
290 N. Broadwalk, Hollywood; 305-414-4757; organicbreweryhollywood.com.
Signature beer: German Pilsner (Pilsner)
A brewery on the beach seems like it should be more common, but Organic Brewery in Hollywood is the only one around. Situated right up on the Broadwalk, this brewpub brings European food to the beaches of Florida. Steve Goldsby heads brewing operations. Currently, it's sticking to the traditional styles: stout, pilsner, and organic wheat, among others. In keeping with its name, the brewery strives to keep everything GMO-free.
Next up, Palm Beach County Breweries.
Palm Beach County Breweries
Tequesta Brewing Co.
287 U.S. 1, Tequesta; 561-745-5000; tequestabrewing.com.
Signature beer: Der Chancellor (Kölsch)
Tequesta Brewing Co. is run by a man with his feet firmly planted in the foundation of brewing in South Florida: Fran Andrewlevich. After working at multiple local breweries, Andrewlevich and friend Matt Webster opened Tequesta in 2011. It's a cozy spot, narrow with cool blue light. A massive dark-brown bar is the main attraction, highlighting a suspended tap line. The brewery does beer to the style of its choosing, often mixing some seasonal or creative recipes in with the standards. Of those core beers, Der Chancellor pushes its way forward, claiming its right to the throne of "ultimate warm-weather beer." A clean crisp Kölsch is just what the beachgoers ordered.
Due South Brewing Co.
2900 High Ridge Road, Boynton Beach; 561-463-2337; duesouthbrewing.com.
Signature beer: Caramel Cream Ale (Flavored Ale)
Opening in 2012, Due South Brewing Co. has gone from a fairly small Boynton Beach brewhouse to a regional powerhouse serving customers all the way into Central Florida. As a primarily manufacturing-oriented brewery, it may not look like much, but it has it where it counts. New fermenters seem to pop up monthly, and the taproom is nearly always abuzz with tour groups and returning tourists coming to check out the Florida brewing scene. The Caramel Cream Ale is a lesson in perseverance: It took almost 100 batches to perfect the recipe, which has now become one of the most popular offerings, highlighting a slightly malty beer with the joys of the vanilla bean.
1701 W Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561-865-5373; saltwaterbrewery.com.
Signature beer: Sea Cow (Milk Stout)
This Delray Beach brewery puts a western end cap on the downtown section of Atlantic Avenue, providing a gorgeous venue for beer enthusiasts to enjoy themselves. A large beer garden with big tables lets people take in the outdoors, while Dade County pine adorns the interior. The building itself is unmistakable, a large repurposed barn with red walls and a white roof, and is run by locals who like the finer things in life: fishing and brewing. From West Coast-style IPAs to English pale ales to Belgian tripels to barrel-aged sours, Saltwater Brewery is making a name for itself with the beer crowd and beyond. On any given day, you can find businessmen, trendsetters, fishermen, and college kids all in the same place.
Brewzzi Boca Raton
2222 Glades Road, Boca Raton; 561-392-2739; brewzzi.com.
Signature beer: City Fest (Marzen)
Boca Raton is getting its first production brewery this year, but it's had a beer producer for quite a few years in Brewzzi. The brewpub just west of I-95 on Glades Road has been a beacon of locally produced beer for more than a decade, serving the house-made brews alongside Italian-inspired fare like pastas and pizzas. Many of its beers have won awards, including the malty and balanced City Fest Vienna lager, which won a silver medal at the Great American Beer Festival in 2011.
The Funky Buddha Lounge and Brewery
2621 N. Federal Highway, Boca Raton; 561-368-4643; thefunkybuddha.com.
Signature beer: Maple Bacon Coffee Porter (Flavored Porter)
Eastern Boca Raton is where it all began for Ryan Sentz and his Funky Buddha team in 2010, when they decided to open the brewery portion of what was then simply a beer lounge. A funky vibe exudes throughout, from the wall art to the rugs, from the sofas galore to the prolific use of hookahs. It's no wonder, then, that this is the birthplace of so many odd recipes, such as Last Snow, a white chocolate and coconut coffee porter; Muy Bonita brown ale, chock-full of cinnamon, vanilla, and apples; or any number of sour and tart Berliner Weisses. As a beacon of the culinary brew world, Funky Buddha made headlines with the success of Maple Bacon Coffee Porter, but you wouldn't know it from the lounge. It's still a small, beer-centered music venue.
Doug Fairall is a craft beer blogger who focuses on Florida beers, and has been a homebrewer since 2010. For beer things in your Twitter feed, follow him @DougFairall and find the latest beer pics on Clean Plate's Instagram.