Wednesday, January 17, 2018
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Iggy's: A craft-beer respite from Seventh Avenue

Ybor is a party town, as evidenced by the crowds of clubgoers and late-night revelers stumbling up and down Seventh Avenue every Friday and Saturday night. If you're out for a wild night, it should be pretty high on your destination list. But if you need to come up for air at some point during the night, you'll want to know a few low-key Ybor spots to kick back in.

It's true — there are a few relatively chill late-night refuges scattered across Ybor, including some mere steps off the main drag. One of them is hardly a secret, namely because it's located within one of the busiest hotspots on the strip.

The Green Iguana crowd gets pretty thick on busy nights, especially on Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays. On those nights, guests can expect karaoke, live music, DJs and a ton of foot traffic coming in and out of the Seventh Avenue entrance. The place can fill up quickly, but there's no need to leave if you need a break from the crowd — just head upstairs to Iggy's Craft Beer Lounge, the Green Iguana's new upstairs hideaway.

Iggy's is a tiny balcony lounge at the top of a narrow flight of stairs, completely inconspicuous but for a sign announcing craft beers on draft. It's sponsored by Tampa's Pepin Distributing's "Brews With Attitudes" program, and anyone familiar with Pepin's craft-beer roster won't be surprised by the choices on the eight rotating taps — Capital Brewery Hop Cream Ale, Southern Tier 2xIPA, Pensacola Bay Lighthouse Porter, and locally brewed Florida Avenue Blueberry Ale were among the familiar faces on draft when I visited.

With a menu of eight different beers on draft and another half-dozen in bottled in the cooler, Iggy's may seem a bit minimalist, and it is — that's one of its strengths. Iggy's is a modest, low-key lounge where beer lovers can enjoy a pint away from the downstairs crowd, whether they sidle up to the tiny bar, sit at one of the few adjacent tables or kick back on the large, sectional sofa that occupies the area on the other side of the staircase entrance, overlooking the Green Iguana stage area.

Putting your feet up while sipping a quality brew in the loft of a busy bar and live music venue has the feel of a VIP lounge, which is not surprising considering the Iggy's space used to be the Green Iguana's VIP place. It's easy to stretch out upstairs while the crowd packs downstairs; the only danger is that other people will realize it's up there.

The beer list is concise rather than limited, featuring an impressive range of styles for such a small selection. Belgian-style golden ale, stout, maibock, IPA, hefeweizen, porter and hard cider are all there — add a few lager styles and you've got a pretty well-rounded menu. I understand that a new cooler is being installed upstairs, so it's only a matter of time before that happens.

If you're not a beer person but still want to escape to a quieter spot, know that Iggy's also keeps a small bottle selection. And the full Green Iguana wine and cocktail list is available downstairs — just be careful on the stairs after having a few.

It's not big, and it doesn't look like much, but Iggy's is a welcome break from the busier nights on the Ybor strip. To anyone whose secret hideout I spoiled, I apologize, but rest assured word would have gotten out eventually. After all, it's only a flight of stairs away.

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