The west coast of Florida is a popular destination spot for out-of-town tourists and South Floridians alike. Just follow US 80 west and you'll hit Fort Myers, a city that has a revitalized downtown, access to beautiful Gulf beaches, the Boston Red Sox spring training facility nearby, and now it's home to the Fort Myers Brewing Company.
Only open since March 2nd of this year, the brew house is relatively new to the Florida beer scene. Operated by owners Jennifer Gratz and Rob Whyte, the brewery has been oh-so-busy keeping up with the demand at the small taproom. They currently produce the only local craft beer for the area; even placing their kegs in the nearby World of Beer at Bell Tower.
Situated in a bleak industrial park on the edge of town, somewhere past Jetblue Park and the Southwest Florida Regional Airport, the brewery and taproom might be difficult to find for anyone not familiar with the area. It's a little, how do you say, out of the way?
We reach our destination just before noon on Saturday, one of the only two days that the taproom is open (Yep, just a few short hours on Friday nights and Saturday afternoons. Rob has a day job -- yeah, we know, crazy). Already there are a few people coming in to fill up growlers.
Inside is a bright, cool, and cheerful atmosphere. Although just opened, a couple of residents of the nearby housing development and employees of the surrounding industrial complex stop off for a snifter of this weekend's release: a smoked vanilla porter.
Brewmaster Rob keeps the patrons happy with a stream of beers produced with a seemingly small system. He produces four standards and some rotating specials with only two 20bbl fermenters. Oh, and the brite tanks are put to double duty as well.
"We're brewing every Sunday right now, and doing it to keep up with the demand," he says.