Florida brewery growth shows no sign of abating

Beer in Florida logoWhen I last fully updated the Florida Brewery Map and List page on this site in September 2014, I counted 103 operating breweries in the state, with another 31 on the way.

Just four months later? There are 124 Florida breweries producing beer on premises, and 27 that have announced addresses and have taken solid steps toward opening. This doesn’t count another handful or so that have not yet landed a physical address, but likely will be on the next update in a few months.

I’ll do the fuzzy math for you: We’re looking at having about 150 breweries open in Florida by the end of 2015. At least.

For perspective, according to the most recent statistics from the Brewers Association, there were 66 operating breweries in the state at the end of 2013, meaning the number of breweries more than doubled in just a year.

Other happenings in the beer community are not reflected in those numbers. Darwin’s on Fourth in Sarasota is no longer a brewery, but it still serves beer it makes – all of its equipment has been moved to its Bradenton location.

The Hourglass Brewery in Longwood has moved to a larger space down the road from its original location, and Gainesville’s Swamp Head Brewery is in the process of moving its operation. Barley Mow Brewing in Largo has built a new production brewery.

The former Tampa Bay Brewing Co. Taphouse in Coral Springs has been redubbed Sawgrass Brewing Company.

One brewery has shuttered since the last update: Zeke’s Brewing in Tampa.

Here are the criteria I use for a brewery to be included on the map:

  • The brewery or brewpub must produce beer on its premises. This means you will not find companies such as The Abbey Brewing Co. in Miami Beach or Fantasy Brewmasters in Fort Myers that contract their beer at other breweries.
  • It does include breweries such as Grayton Beer Company in Santa Rosa Beach, which recently opened a new brewery and no longer contract brews, and Holy Mackerel Beers, which still contracts the bulk of its production, but opened The Mack House – Holy Mackerel Nano Brewery in Fort Lauderdale in 2013.
  • It includes two brewpubs – Karibrew in Fernandina Beach and Marco Island Brewery – whose brewing process is completed on site but started elsewhere.
  • It does not include BJ’s Restaurant & Brewhouse locations. The chain is one of the brewing partners at BrewHub, the operation in Lakeland that offers brewing and marketing services for other breweries, and contracts at some out-of-state breweries as well. (BrewHub is on the map.)

To be included, a brewery or brewpub must have a physical address – it would be hard to map it otherwise – and if not yet open, it needs to have made solid steps such as ordering or installing equipment, or starting the regulatory process.

Other maps and lists out there are based on different criteria.  The Florida Brewers Guild map only lists those breweries and brewpubs that are members. Others list breweries that haven’t made any steps toward opening other than filing as a business entity, sometimes years ago, with no progress since.

I’d also like to offer a shoutout to the page’s latest sponsors: JDub’s Brewing Company in Sarasota and Dahlia’s Pour House in Jacksonville, who have joined Tampa’s Coppertail Brewing Co. and Taste Vacations.

Anyone interested in becoming a sponsor, please drop a line to gerard@beerinflorida.com, and I’ll send the details.

As always, I appreciate any feedback if I missed a brewery, have one listed as opened that has closed, or any of the myriad other potential errors I might have made. Send me an email or leave a comment below.




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2 Responses to Florida brewery growth shows no sign of abating

  1. Mike Dodge says:

    Hey, I own Lakeland’s Beer Revolution bottle shop in Lakeland, FL. I have been following you for a while and noticed your brewery count is always higher than what keeps being posted in the media. They keep quoting 90 something breweries. Do you know where they might be getting this count from? I get a ton of questions from my customers everyday and trying to understand the discrepancies.

    I appreciate the work you put into all of this. Thanks,

    • Gerard Walen says:

      Hey Mike,
      The post explains my criteria, but to delve into the methodology a little deeper – when I first started this map, I used the sources listed toward the bottom of the map page as a basis to start it. Since then, I rely on reports from readers, direct contacts from brewery owners, and media coverage for the updates. I always try to confirm with at least one other source before I add a brewery. Other media likely rely on official licensing or membership rolls from groups like the Florida Brewers Guild, but not all breweries in Florida are members. Others might count only breweries with on-premise consumption or off-premise sales, or might or might not include contract brewers (I don’t). It’s a tricky business, so I usually use fuzzy numbers when people ask: “Around 125.”
      Hope that helps clarify. Cheers!

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