Six years ago, you would have been hard-pressed to find a locally brewed beer on tap anywhere in the tri-county area. In 2010, there wasn't a single production brewery in Broward or Palm Beach County — and there was only a handful of brewpubs crafting their own suds. Then, it happened: the birth of craft beer in South Florida.
Today, there are over a dozen independent brew houses where South Floridians are crafting some truly incredible beers. While some breweries like to keep it traditional and true to style, others are experimenting with crazy flavors and brewing methods, creating new categories you'll only find in the Sunshine State (think Florida weisse).
To help you navigate the robust scene (or just give you a little more background), we visited every brewery in Broward and Palm Beach to find out what each considers to be their personal best beer. These are their flagship, core, or — if it's a production brewery — most popular beers chosen for distribution.
Some you can find in bottles or cans at your local grocery or liquor store. Others are mainstays on draft at each respective taproom and possibly some of your favorite area bars and restaurants. No matter which way you pour it, however, they've each helped make South Florida a better place for finding great craft beer.
Many will be poured at New Times' 19th-Annual "Original" Beerfest Saturday, October 22, at C.B. Smith Park. (In honor of National Drink Beer Day, save up to $86 on Four Pour 4-Pack connoisseur tickets today.)
Break out your pint glass, people: It's time to knock back some of South Florida's best brews. From Tequesta to Hollywood, here is each brewer's favorite beer from each brewery (in no particular order):
17. Tequesta Brewing Co.
287 U.S. 1, Tequesta; 561-745-5000; tequestabrewing.com.
Best known for: being South Florida's first dedicated microbrewery
Try the: Der Chancellor German Kolsch
Matt Webster and Fran Andrewlevich opened Palm Beach County's first fully dedicated brewery together in early 2011. Their mission: prove South Florida could make some pretty good brews right here at home. Originally from Colorado, Webster began homebrewing some of his favorite recipes before they were ever on tap. These include the Der Chancellor, the beer that officially kicked off Webster's brewing career after it won a silver medal during the 1995 National Homebrew Competition. Today, the German-style kolsch — brewed with whole Noble hops and offering a grainy cracker finish with light spicy notes — is one of three beers you'll always find on tap at Tequesta Brewing Co. in Jupiter; Webster officially began brewing and serving it at the Corner Cafe next door in 2008, making it one of South Florida's oldest beers on tap today. The brewery is also known for its Gnarly Barley, a twist on the classic American Pale Ale and Terminally Ale American Brown Ale, that offers a ton of coffee and chocolate notes. They're also an organically certified brewer there offering more than 40 specialty and seasonal brews available throughout the year.
16. Twisted Trunk Brewing
2000 PGA Blvd., Palm Beach Gardens; 561-671-2337; twistedtrunkbrewing.com.
Best known for: well-balanced beers served in a spacious air-conditioned taproom made from 100-year-old elm
Try the: Palm Beach Pilz
When Tequesta's Fran Andrewlevich and Matt Webster found they needed more room to brew a few years ago, they headed south to open Twisted Trunk Brewing, a massive 25-barrel brew house, in Palm Beach Gardens, where they could make everything they weren't able to offer guests at their first brewery. Today, this includes five core brews each developed to be as well balanced and easily drunk as possible. Flagships are the IPGA Eldorado-hopped American IPA, the Watermelon Saison, the Loxahatchee Lager, and the Rasta English stout. Andrewlevich's favorite, however, is his Palm Beach Pilz, a traditional German pilsner brewed using whole hops in the traditional German style. Interested in partaking in some South Florida brewing lore? If you see it on tap, try the Finn McCool, an Irish red ale and an award-winning brew beloved by locals. Andrewlevich first served it at Irish Times brewpub in Palm Beach Gardens in the 1990s.
15. Civil Society Brewing Company
1200 Town Center Dr., Jupiter; 561-855-6680; civilsocietybrewing.com.
Best known for: hoppy brews and bold IPAs
Try the: Fresh IPA
Civil Society owners Karl Volstad, Evan Miller, and former Florida Marlins pitcher Chris Volstad opened their brewery in November 2015. Since then, it has become well known for specializing in hop-forward brews. If you're a hop head, these IPAs are for you. The most popular brew here is also the brewery's flagship dubbed Fresh, a 6.2 percent American IPA made with a combination of Columbus, Amarillo, and Citra hops. Because the trio like to do a lot of experimentation in the taproom, Fresh is the one they've tinkered with the most to get "just right." Find it on draft at the brewery or on tap at your local bar or restaurant from West Palm Beach to Miami, and you'll see it pours a beautiful, hazy yellow, emanating grassy aromas with a smooth, juicy, hop-saturated nose. Civil Society is also known for its Blondes Make Me Hoppy American Blonde Ale, which the trio have brewed and tapped in-house using a variety of hops from Mosaic and Vic Secret to Equinox and Galaxy. Head over to their Abacoa taproom any day of the week, and you can always find something new, especially thanks to their regular Subject Series brews, currently a total of eight different hoppy beers — a new one released every few months or so — that they concoct in order to find new crowd pleasers worth adding to the core lineup.
14. Saltwater Brewery
1701 W. Atlantic Ave., Delray Beach; 561-865-5373; saltwaterbrewery.com.
Best known for: approachable, fun beers and marine conservation efforts
Try the: LocAle American Blonde Ale
"Explore the depth of beer": That's the slogan at this Delray Beach brewery founded by Dustin Jeffers, Bo Eaton, Chris Gove, and Peter Agardy in 2013. A team of Floridians, the group is not only dedicated to brewing fun, approachable beers, but it's their mission to advocate marine conservation by supporting local agencies like the Coastal Conservation Association of Florida, the Surfrider Foundation, and the Ocean Foundation’s SeaGrass Grow program. Earlier this year, Saltwater made both local and national news when it became the first brewery to use innovative "edible" six-pack rings they designed. Their way of promoting the use of sustainable beer packaging, the six-pack rings are 100 percent biodegradable, constructed from barley and wheat ribbons left over from the brewing process. That's also why each of their flagship brews has a sea-inspired name, from the core beers like the Screamin' Reels American IPA to the Sea Cow Milk Stout. Starting next week, you can also find Saltwater's LocAle, an easy-drinking American blonde ale and the latest to join their other core beers in Florida distribution, in a can.
13. Due South Brewing Co.
2900 High Ridge Rd., Boynton Beach; 561-463-2337; duesouthbrewing.com.
Best known for: Boynton Beach's first brewery offering a large number of rotating and seasonal beers
Try the: Caramel Cream Ale
Not many people know how Due South Brewing Co. got its start: Founder and brewer Mike Halker wanted to make a sulfite-free wine for his wife, Jodi, but ended up brewing her a beer instead. It was so tasty, friends and family urged the greenhorn home brewer to make more, and voila! Due South Brewing Co. was born. The full-scale brewing facility opened in 2012 in Boynton Beach, Palm Beach County's first production brewery. Four years later, Due South offers a number of popular specialty and seasonal brews, from its wintertime Sweater Weather ginger spice ale and springtime Hopicana orange and rye IPA, to the summertime Grapefruit Radler and new Weekend Weissein a can. There's also a number of specialty releases, like the Mariana Trench Imperial stout. Cores like the Category 3 and 5 IPA, the Craft American Lager, the Legendary Milk Stout, and the Cafe Ole Espresso porter are always on tap at the brewery (or available in cans at your favorite Florida retail outlet). But of all Due South's flagship brews, it's Jodi's Caramel Cream Ale that remains an all-time favorite. An approachable and easy-drinking beer, Halker has tweaked the recipe over the years. Brewed with fresh vanilla bean and an extra dose of specialty malts, the result is a smooth, full-bodied, creamy amber ale that tastes just like — you guessed it — cream soda.
12. Devour Brewing Company
1500 SW 30th Ave., Boynton Beach; 561-806-6011; devourbrewing.com.
Best known for: an ever-rotating selection of small-batch specialty beers brewed using creative, high-quality ingredients
Try the: Fruity Loops Blonde Ale
In 2015, South Florida native Chip Breighner founded Devour Brewing Co. in Boynton Beach. Originally working off a three-barrel system, it became the city's first nanobrewery with a number of small-batch brews that rotate frequently. Today, using a slightly larger system, Breighner is producing an ever-growing lineup of specialty brews crafted using locally-sourced specialty ingredients. While selections change constantly in the taproom, you can be sure to see favorites like his Hefe on Vacation, a Hefeweizen flavored with a tropical tea, making it the perfect South Florida sipper. His Mosaic To My Ears IPA is brewed and dry-hopped with Mosaic hops, making it a popular pick for the hop lovers. Some of the brewer's best beers are also on tap at local Palm Beach County bars and restaurants thanks to a new distribution agreement that began earlier this summer. That includes Breighner's most popular beer to date, his Fruity Loops Blonde Ale, brewed using a whole fresh tea blend he sources from a local company. The tea — rife with dried fruits like mango, currants, blackberry, and papaya, to name a few — is so full of flavor a customer likened it to Fruit Loops cereal. The name stuck (and so did the beer), what is a refreshing, full-bodied, easy-drinking ale that rings in at 5% ABV (17.5 IBU) and offers a slightly-sweet finish.
11. Copperpoint Brewing Company
151 Commerce Rd., Boynton Beach; 561-508-7676; copperpointbrewingcompany.com.
Best known for: beers that are brewed true to style
Try the: Copperpoint Lager
Founder and brewer Matt Cox opened Copperpoint Brewing Company in May 2015 after leaving his longtime position as the head brewer for Big Bear Brewing Co. in Coral Springs. Boynton Beach's third brewery to date, today it's best-known for its impressive 2,000-square-foot air-conditioned taproom created by Boynton Beach's Ed Carey Design. It's also hailed for its consistent, true-to-style brews. Core favorites include the B. Rabbit Espresso Stout, brewed with locally sourced coffee from Rabbit Coffee in Riviera Beach; the viscous Blood Orange Whit; the zippy Grapefruit Saison; the smooth A10 Hop Hog IPA; and the crisp Das Pils pilsner. The most popular, however, is the Copperpoint Lager, a traditional German-style lager that pours a deep amber. Both sessionable and smooth, it's one of the most authentic lagers you'll find in South Florida. If you're feeling more adventurous, you can also find a totally new beer in the taproom each Wednesday, meaning you're guaranteed to find something fresh and fun. Regular seasonal and specialty releases also include the Coxness Monster Imperial Stout, a heavy-hitting intense yet well-balanced brew the color of motor oil that goes down like liquid velvet.
10. Barrel of Monks Brewing
1141 S. Rogers Cir., Boca Raton; 561-510-1253; barrelofmonks.com.
Best known for: South Florida's first and only brewery specializing in Belgian-style beers
Try the: White Wizard Witbier
Barrel of Monks, which opened in Boca Raton in March 2015, is the area's only Belgian-style-centric brewhouse featuring an array of beers produced exclusively with European ingredients and recipes. The 9,136-square-foot brewery includes an 867-square-foot tasting room and an auxiliary room for barrel-aging and bottling. The flagship lineup, or Abbey Series, is inspired by the classic ales made by the original Belgian brewers, the Trappist Monks. This includes the Single in Bruges Singel (also known as an enkel or patersbier), the Abbey Terno Dubbel, the Three Fates Tripel, and the Quadraphonic Quadrupel. A local favorite is another year-round brew that's also available on tap across South Florida dubbed the White Wizard, the brewery's take on the white beers revived by Pierre Celis in the 1960s. This spiced beer is naturally cloudy, pouring an opaque creamy white with notes of coriander and Florida orange peel to create a refreshingly smooth ale.
9. Brewzzi Restaurant & Brewing
2222 Glades Rd., Boca Raton; 561-392-2739; brewzzi.com.
Best known for: traditional German-style beers
Try the: Boca Blonde German Lager
One of the first brewpubs in Palm Beach County, Brewzzi in Boca Raton has been making its own beer since 1997. Today, the restaurant is best known for brewing traditional German-style beer using custom equipment designed for lagering and other various step-brewing methods. Brewmaster Matt Manthe, who took over brewing operations in 2012 after brewing for South Carolina's Thomas Creek Brewery, has since put his own signature touch on each of the microbrewery's most popular core beers, including the City Fest Ale and a Swartzbier called Black Duke. His flagship beer and bestseller, the Boca Blonde, is a unique German lager and ale hybrid. Unfiltered, brewed with kolsch yeast, chockfull of imported German noble hops and German malt, and brewed using a deionizing water filtration system, it won a silver medal at the 2000 Great American Beer Festival. Today, you can find it on tap at the Brewzzi bar inside the restaurant, where Manthe also offers a number of specialty brews he releases regularly throughout the year.
8. Bangin' Banjo Brewing Company
3200 NW 23rd Ave., Pompano Beach; 954-978-3113; banginbanjobrewing.com.
Best known for: creative styles and fruit-infused brews
Try the: Hop of the Muffin American IPA
Bangin' Banjo Brewing Company brewer Matt Giani said he picked Pompano Beach for its location, conveniently situated between Coral Springs and Boca Raton where Giani and brewing partner Adam Feingold respectively live (and grew up). The duo were the first to open a brewery in Pompano Beach, followed by 26° Brewing and upcoming Odd Breed Wild Ales slated to open in 2017. Today, Bangin' Banjo produces a number of beers covering a wide spectrum of styles, from its Odin's Revenge Belgian Red to the popular Gose Getter, a gose beer that uses fresh Florida orange zest. Cores like Judy's Amber Ale, Moodoo Voodoo Milk Stout, and Cypress Creak Cream Ale are popular picks at the 1,500-square-foot taproom too. A favorite, however, is Hop of the Muffin, the flagship IPA that pours a clear amber with a shade toward copper-orange that gives off aromas of Jolly Rancher, tangerine, and sweet and tart citrus in fairly big quantities. The body is thicker and fuller than a traditional IPA, which gives a big, almost chewy, malty backbone that separates it as a favorite of all the local area heavy hop hitters.
7. 26° Brewing Company
2600 E. Atlantic Blvd., Pompano Beach; 954-532-6964; 26brewing.com.
Best known for: Pompano Beach's first production brewery to offer a spacious taproom
Try the: Ziko's Rage Russian Imperial Stout
Named after the 26th parallel meridian line, which covers much of the South Florida region, this Pompano Beach-based brewery founded by co-owners Greg Lieberman and Yonathan Ghersi is all about going big. After a year in operation, 26° Brewing Company named Aaron Anderson head brewer. With 20 years of professional brewing experience, he's helping to create some stellar brews using the facility's impressive 30-barrel system visible from the massive 4,600-square-foot taproom featuring a 54-foot bar and a capacity of up to 400 guests. So what’s brewing at 26° Brewing Company? You'll most likely find core brews, many hailing from Lieberman and Ghersi's homebrew days, from the IPA1A American IPA, the Tri-County Common Lager, and the Lemon Drop Lemon Wheat Ale to the Captain Ron Hefeweizen and the Black Hole black IPA. The flagship brew, however, is the Lieberman imperial Russian stout Ziko’s Rage. A complex beer with notes of sweet roasted chocolate, the name pays homage to a feisty loggerhead sea turtle the brewer helped rehabilitate during his time volunteering at the Loggerhead Marinelife Center in Juno Beach.
3305 SE 14th Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 954-653-9711; lauderale.co.
Best known for: being South Florida's first nanobrewery
Try the: C. Porter Coconut Porter
Known as Broward County's first and only nanobrewery, LauderAle officially opened for business July 24, 2014. Back then, the brewery had just six taps and four beers. Today, the operation has grown considerably, with a total of 18 taps, one nitro line, and more than 20 unique beers to sample. Still, if you want to try these brews, the only place most are available is at the brewery taproom in Fort Lauderdale, where LauderAle cofounder and brewer Kyle Jones always has something new and different to sample. There are several core brews you'll find here most days, including his La Nina mango habanero blonde ale, the Monkey Road red ale, the Hop Mess or Immigration IPAs, and the Heisenberg Hefeweizen. Jones' favorite, however, is the C. Porter, one of South Florida's best iterations of a coconut porter. With a light body and clean finish, this beer manages to be both full-flavored and easy-drinking, making it one of the few porters you can drink and enjoy year-round.
5. Khoffner Brewery
1110 NE Eighth Ave., Fort Lauderdale; 754-701-8860; khoffner.us.
Best known for: Traditional German-style beers
Try the: Russian Romance Imperial Stout
Since opening in December 2015, Khoffner Brewery cofounders Rauf Vagifoglu-Khoffner and Evan Kagan have been offering area residents some of the most authentic German brews around. Brewing beer is in Vagifoglu-Khoffner's blood: He is the son of esteemed German brewer Karl Hoffner, and brewing is a family tradition that spans three generations, beginning with his grandfather. Today, the tradition continues with Khoffner US, a brewery situated in a quiet industrial park just north of Sunrise Boulevard in Fort Lauderdale. The newly reopened taproom features 15 handles that rotate with seasonal and specialty releases. Here, you can find the brewery's more than 20 core beers, a portfolio that focuses on traditional styles brewed using grains and malt sourced directly from Bamberg, Germany, and made using knowledge gleaned from several generations of German brewers (and more than 300 Khoffner family recipes). These include the Russian Romance Imperial Stout, a robust dark beer made using roasted malts and roasted barley.
4. Funky Buddha Brewery
1201 NE 38th St., Oakland Park; 954-440-0046; funkybuddhabrewery.com.
Best known for: innovative, funky, nontraditional brews using food-forward ingredients and regular seasonal releases
Try the: Floridian Hefeweizen
Some will argue the rise in popularity of the South Florida craft beer movement began in 2010 at the Funky Buddha Lounge in Boca Raton, a small hookah and tea lounge turned brewpub that earned notoriety for its crazy, nontraditional beers. These days, Funky Buddha Brewery cofounders and brothers Ryan and K.C. Sentz are still making some funky brews, not only at the original lounge but also at their spacious Oakland Park production brewery that opened in 2013. Today, their beers are known around the country — if not the world — for offering fun flavors, making it the "Willy Wonka's" of South Florida beer. At any time, you can find 25 unique brews in the taproom, an ever-rotating lineup of new experimental flavors, and popular specialty releases. Want some to take home? A new Little Buddha Series beer is released every month, 22-ounce bombers of the brewery's most popular seasonal releases available at the taproom or in local retail stores. While seasonal and specialty release brews like the Maple Bacon Coffee Porter and the Last Snow Coconut Coffee Porter have made them famous, it's Funky Buddha's core beers that keep people coming back for more. These include their bestseller the Floridian, an unfiltered German-style wheat beer that is the perfect balance of bold flavor and drinkability. Brewed with traditional German malts and hops with pilsner yeast, it's perfect for sipping in the South Florida sun, delivering flavors of banana, citrus, and clove. Don't believe us? Last year, the brewery sold over two million pints of it.
3. Flagler Village Brewing
551 N. Federal Hwy., Fort Lauderdale; 754-200-8648; flaglervillagebrewery.com.
Best known for: a daily changing selection of small-batch brews
Try the: BoysenThaHood Boysenberry Berliner Weisse
There's a newish brewery in Fort Lauderdale, and it's one that deserves a lot more attention. Flagler Village Brewery, housed on the second floor of the Brass Tap in Flagler Village, may be smaller than your average brewery, but it's not the size that counts here — it's the beer. This innovative operation has a well-kept secret: brewmaster Corey Artanis. Over the past few years, Artanis has honed his skill brewing at Brewers Tasting Room and Cycle Brewing, both in St. Petersburg, allowing him to master a wide variety of styles, experience that no doubt helped get him the first place win for Best Brewery and Best Beer at the 2015 and 2016 Hunahpu’s Day Festival at Cigar City Brewing in Tampa, Florida. Although the talented brewer has his sights set on opening the doors on his own production facility in Dania Beach later this year, that hasn’t stopped him from making some incredible beers for Brass Tap's onsite brewery. Today, a two-barrel brewing system pumps out new beers on a regular basis. Flagler Village Brewery is only just starting to gain recognition for its vast array of specialty microbrews. While Artanis is already well-known for his three stouts — Lumberjack Morning Break, JBM 35, and Summation — those in the know now head to Brass Tap Fort Lauderdale for a taste of Flagler Village Brewery's most popular flagship brews. These include a sweet Apple Jax cinnamon-apple brown ale and the Dankness Monster, an American IPA with a pine-forward bite at 8 percent ABV. But it doesn't get any more Florida than the BoysenThaHood, a boysenberry Berliner Weisse that pours a cloudy pink-purple while offering the perfect balance of sweet and tart.
2. Big Bear Brewing Company
1800 N. University Dr., Coral Springs; 954-341-5545; bigbearbrewingco.com.
Best known for: food that pairs perfectly with each brew
Try the: Kodiac Belgian Dubbel
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Big Bear Brewing has been producing award-winning microbrews in Coral Springs since 1997. While the Polar Light German Pale Ale, the Hibernating IPA, and the Grizzly Irish Red Ale have each won medals, it's the Kodiac Belgian Dubbel that steals the show. A classically brewed Belgian Abbey ale, it took the gold at the 2002 Great American Beer Festival and is marked by its aromas of clove, banana, plum, and raisin. The brewpub offers eight different styles in total, and their beers travel fewer than 50 feet from the grain mill to your glass. Coral Springs might be a bit further west than most of the other options out there, but for these brews, it's worth the trip.
1. Hollywood Brewing Co.
290 N. Broadwalk, Hollywood; 305-414-4757; hollywood.beer.
Best known for: Beach-easy brews
Try the: Mango IPA
Born on the beach, Hollywood Brewing Co. was among the first breweries to operate in Broward County, creating refreshing and unique beers that are best enjoyed under the sun. Today, Hollywood's recently upgraded offsite custom-brewing facility is the only one of its kind in the US, allowing the brewery to brew, bottle, and keg using significantly lower energy consumption (and operating with a higher level of sanitation). The result: clean, crisp beers that are full of flavor and more consistent. Head to the oceanfront taproom, and you can try any of the brewpub's several core brews, from the Russian Knight stout to the Hollywood Wheat ale. We love the Mango IPA, the perfect South Florida beer that pours a deep gold and offers a crispy, clean finish with just a hint of mango sweetness.
Nicole Danna is a food writer covering Broward and Palm Beach counties. To get the latest in food and drink news in South Florida, follow her @SoFloNicole or find her latest food pics on the BPB New Times Food & Drink Instagram.